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CMAJ. 1998 May 5; 158(9): 1161–1165.
PMCID: PMC1229274

A patient's guide to choosing unconventional therapies


Unconventional therapies (UTs) are therapies not usually provided by Canadian physicians or other conventionally trained health care providers. Examples of common UTs available in Canada are herbal preparations, reflexology, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. UTs may be used along with conventional therapies (complementary) or instead of conventional therapies (alternative). Surveys have shown that many Canadians use UTs, usually as complementary therapies, for a wide range of diseases and conditions. Reliable information about UTs is often difficult to find. Your doctor may be unable to give you specific advice or recommendations, since UTs are often not in a physician's area of expertise. However, he or she will usually be able to provide some general advice and help supervise your progress. For your own health and safety, it is important to keep your doctor informed of the choices you make. This document is intended to (a) provide you with questions to consider when making your treatment choices, (b) help you find information about UTs, (c) help you decide whether a specific UT is right for you, and (d) provide tips to help you evaluate the information you find.

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