Searching for information on a new complementary therapy

Although the use of complementary therapies is fairly common in Canada, depending on where you live, you may have difficulty finding some of the therapies covered in this guide. If you live in a small town, you may have to travel to a larger centre to find a practitioner. But check around first: practitioners are establishing themselves in smaller centres. Check online or read the bulletin boards at your local health food store and pharmacy. You can also ask your local HIV organization for referrals.

If you do have to travel, your practitioner may be willing to do follow-up consultations over the phone or by video chat (such as Skype). These types of distance consultations won't work for hands-on procedures like massage, of course. In some cases, your only alternative may be to do the reading necessary to pursue certain complementary therapies on your own. If that is the case, always discuss your complementary therapy plan with your primary doctor before you start.

You should research any complementary therapy you are interested in. Any complementary therapist you work with can be a good source of information. You may also ask the person selling the treatment or call the manufacturer. The Internet presents a wealth of information of varying degrees of credibility. Reading 10 questions to ask of a new complementary therapy and red flags will help you to gauge the quality of information you find online. Finally, public libraries often have reference books on complementary medicine.

Here are three points to keep in mind when researching complementary therapies:

  • Try to gather information from as many sources as possible to get a number of viewpoints on the same topic. This may help raise questions worth considering.
  • Never rely solely on information from people who make money from your use of the therapy. While many commercial sources provide comprehensive, easy-to-read information, it is in their interest to make their product or service look good.
  • Be careful to separate opinion from fact. Many people feel that complementary therapies have made a difference in their lives. Hearing about another person’s experience is a wonderful way to learn, but it’s important to make sure that their enthusiasm doesn’t blur the line between what they know and have experienced and what they believe to be true.

Finally, CATIE and other HIV organizations may be able to help you find answers to your questions. Check out www.HIV411.ca to find services in your area.

Contact CATIE at info@catie.ca or toll-free at 1-800-263-1638.