It is fairly easy to find a Gynecologist, Obstetrician, Pediatrician, Family Doctor, Dentist, Ophthalmologist or other medical health provider by asking friends, family, co-workers for word-of-mouth recommendations, checking with insurance providers, calling local hospitals and reputable clinics for referrals...but it is very time consuming. The American Medical Association (AMA) is a well-known credentialing and certification board that the general public can use to verify medical health providers' credentials, and as patients advocating for ourselves, we can interview our practitioners to gain more insight into their professional experience, research interests, treatment philosophies, etc.
Many women have been asking about "natural" remedies for their conditions, as they are seeking second-opinions, or have tried numerous medications without success and are looking for options before surgery or other invasive procedure.
How can you find a credentialed, certified, qualified "natural" health care provider, who specializes in "complementary and alternative medicine" practices (also known as CAM)?
Start with the Clearinghouse of Health Information online:
National Library of Medicine (NLM): DIRLINE (Directory of Health Organizations) at http://dirline.nlm.nih.gov.
This directory provides information on credible health associations, and you can search using your symptoms/condition ("chronic pain") or you can search using a treatment option ("acupuncture"). The results page provides you with numerous health organizations, where you can search for a practitioner in your area that is credentialed or certified in the specific field.
Please know these tips:
- Some CAM modalities do not have specific credentialing boards, and the qualifications vary by state.
- A practitioner in your area may be on the list of credentialed practitioners, but it is your responsibility to interview them to ensure that they specialize in your specific condition, that their credentials are up-to-date, they are covered by your insurance, etc.
I have compiled a Top Five list of conditions or treatments, with their corresponding health organization for you to locate a CAM, qualified natural healing practitioner or Naturopathic Physician:
1. Pain Management and Acupuncture
-American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA): Find an Acupuncturist
- American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM): Find an Acupuncturist
2. Sleeping Issues
- The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): Sleep Naturally and Find a Doctor (enter zip code in left column)
3. Alternative Therapies for Cancer
- National Cancer Institute (NIH): Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Fact Sheet on "Summaries of Evidence" for specific CAM treatments for cancer
4. Dietary Supplements (to lose weight, balance hormones, increase nutrient consumption, verify potency of OTC vitamins, etc.)
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Botanical Supplement background fact sheet
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database (DSID), use to verify nutrient-content of adult multivitamins
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements (CARDS) Database provides information on ongoing research regarding a myriad of variables that you choose from, including: specific condition called "health outcomes" (choose from hundreds), dietary supplement, state you live in, etc. Results are not provided, but the information can provide a stepping stone to further questions to ask your doctor regarding current/previous research that has been conducted.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): Herbs at a Glance
5. Natural Solutions to Allergies
-AANP: Allergy Relief and Find a Doctor (enter zip code in left column)
Did you know this about the requirements to become a Naturopathic Physician? (Source: AANP):
"Currently, 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from a four-year, residential naturopathic medical school and pass and extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license. For information about the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Board (NPLEX) and the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE)."
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides information regarding interview questions for a selected CAM provider at: How to Find a CAM Practitioner.
Lastly, after reading all of this information and finding a qualified, credentialed and experienced practitioner...do you still feel like you are "cheating on your doctor" by requesting a second opinion from a physician who specializes in naturopathic medicine or complementary and alternative medicine? If so, read this helpful article: AANP: Cheating on Your Doc?
Please add to this list if you know of additional resources from qualified, credentialed and licensed Health Organizations that fall within the realm of complementary and alternative medicine that can help other women looking for information regarding a specific condition or treatment modality. EmpowHER also provides a list of EmpowHER Providers that you can use as a helpful tool to find a practitioner in your area.
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