A Practical Guide to Complementary Therapies


Keep a journal when trying a new therapy

When you start any new therapy, whether complementary or conventional, it is wise to keep a journal. A journal allows you to record your experiences so that, in a few weeks or months (depending on the time commitment required), you can decide if the therapy is working. In the journal, record how you feel each day and what changes, if any, you think can be attributed to the new therapy. Record when you feel ill or when you think this therapy is interacting with another one or with food. If you're experimenting with dosage, you should record the various amounts and your observations. If you get the therapy when you see a practitioner, note the date and time of your appointments.

A journal will allow you to evaluate the therapy more objectively. It is a more reliable record than your memory, as we often remember only our most dramatic experiences, whether good or bad. A journal will also help you determine whether changes in your life are associated with a particular therapy. It will give you a record of your therapies, which you can use in discussions with your doctor or practitioner. This type of record-keeping is particularly useful if you are trying a number of therapies. You can also refer back to your journal when other people with HIV ask you about your experiences.

CATIE has two resources that you can use or adapt as your therapy journal. The first is a visual tool called a health map, where you record your treatments, complementary therapies you are using, health conditions or possible side effects you are experiencing and your mood, on a diagram of the human body. The second is a health record that focuses in more detail on the treatments you are taking, the monitoring tests you receive and your complementary therapies. One of these resources may work for you.