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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Special Section

Time to Talk

A woman reading a handout

It is important to discuss with your health care providers any complementary and alternative medicines you take or are thinking about starting.
Photo: NCCAM

For your safety, check with your health care provider before using CAM.

Almost two-thirds of adults 50 and older use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). But less than one-third who use CAM talk about it with their health care providers. Doing so helps to ensure your coordinated, safe care. NCCAM's Time to Talk program is just right for talking openly and clearly about CAM.

"It's very important that health care providers know about your CAM use so they can really be partners in your health care," emphasizes NCCAM director Josephine Briggs, M.D. "Health care providers need to know and patients need to talk."

Tips for Talking to Your Health Care Provider about CAM

  • For filling out health history forms, make a list in advance of your CAM therapies, including all dietary supplements and vitamins.
  • Be proactive. Tell your health care providers what you do to maintain your health. Don't wait for them to ask about your CAM use.
  • In considering a new CAM therapy, first ask about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with medications (both prescription and nonprescription).

For more information about Time to Talk, please visit

Download "Time To Talk" Wallet Card PDF

Winter 2009 Issue: Volume 4 Number 1 Page 20