Navigating your way through Complimentary and Alternative Healthcare

Posted on: February 27th, 2020

How to find a good alternative medicine provider?


There are many reasons to seek out Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). In the news we continue to hear about the Opioid Epidemic, and increasing attention is directed towards CAM as a solution for chronic pain. A medline search of “acupuncture” or “chiropractic” or “CAM” will produce over a thousand links referencing a paper or research study. In the Wheaton, Winfield, Downers Grove and Naperville alone there are many good chiropractors and acupuncturists like Steven Paliakas DC. So how do you select an acupuncturist, doctor of chiropractic or other provider of alternative healthcare? How does a person find a good, ethical provider?


Here are some tips to find an effective provider and minimize your risk:

  1. Ask for a referral from you primary physician or someone you trust.

    Someone you know may have already found a provider they have successfully worked with in the past.


Web Search

If you do a Google or Yelp search, check the alternative healthcare provider’s reviews and website. A bad review here and there is to be expected– a repeated complaint is likely indicative of a real problem. This will save you from surprises. More importantly, call on the phone. Talk to the doctor and interview them because if they won’t spend a few minutes with you on the phone, chances are your face-time contact will be the same. It may take some work on your part but you should be able to find a good fit.


World View:

It has to be a good fit. Are they asking you to change your religious beliefs or subscribe to a different world view? Do you have to “believe in” the treatment for it to be effective? This is problematic because “belief” in the treatment should never be a requirement for the treatment to work. If they are saying so, get up and walk out. Race horses who receive acupuncture don’t believe or understand how acupuncture works.


Listen to the Lingo

Pay attention to the words they use, especially note if they rely only on Eastern or New-Age terminology. Be particularly aware of the use of the nebulous term “energy.” Can they translate this concept or the treatment itself into medical terminology that is reasonable, conversational English? If not, this can be problematic, because you need to have understanding, not blind faith. Consider going some place else because a good Eastern Medicine practitioner can speak in terms of Western scientific mechanisms of action of their art just as easily as meridians.


Does it Seem Reasonable?

Does their explanation of how the treatment works seem reasonable with some grounding on science? What kind of scientific research supports this treatment?

What is the treatment plan?
Are they asking you to participate in a long course of treatment on the hopes that you will see the results at the end? If you are not noticing some improvement after a reasonable period of time, consider other options. Ask the provider before treatment begins what you should expect to feel and how soon you should feel it. I present to my patients a therapeutic trial with reasonable benchmarks to assess if the treatment is working. If treatment is not working, try something else.


Beware of Gurus.


Being referred to a specialist from another healthcare provider is one thing. A provider that presents themselves as a specialist without peer or professional validation or credentialing is something entirely different. If the provider claims they are the only one that can correctly address a certain problem, or worse- having secret knowledge, a red flag should go up. If it seems almost too good to be true it probably is. Another red flag is unprofessionalism; beware the provider who bad mouths other providers or entire professions. A person who is comfortable being openly unprofessional will be even more unprofessional privately. A person who claims they “know-it-all” is deceiving others and themselves.


What does it cost?

Fee-for-service rendered is the norm. Think twice about up front payments in the thousands of dollars, especially if you have identified that you are dealing with a guru.


Follow Your Gut

It is usually correct. If you get a feeling that something just isn’t right about the provider (allopathic or alternative medicine) chances are you are correct. Trust your feelings.



Start Natural and Low-Tech

Start with the most natural, conservative, non-invasive treatments first and then give it a chance to work. If it is not working, then proceed to the next level of invasivity.


At Nova Rehabilitation Acupuncture & Chiropractic in Wheaton and Downers Grove, we pride ourselves on safe, effective natural solutions for health and wellness. Our doctors have practiced for 20+ years and is committed to helping you reach your health and wellness goals. Call (630) 588-9200 if you would like to speak with Dr. Steve.

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