Although Americans are typically raised to believe that traditional Western medicine is the only solution to most health conditions and ailments, many are now turning their attention to holistic and alternative medicine. Unlike most Western medicine, holistic medicine focuses on the whole person, involving body, mind and spirit in all aspects of healing. The belief that finding proper balance in life is the key to health and wellness is the driving force behind the practice of holistic medicine. Many people are nervous when first visiting a holistic health practitioner, unsure of what to expect and whether or not the treatment will work. Knowing the right questions to ask can alleviate those fears and help you make the most of your first appointment.

What can I expect from my first visit?

Sometimes, putting your mind at ease is as simple as knowing what to expect at your first appointment. Do some research online or call and speak with your holistic health practitioner to find out what you might expect to happen on your first visit. You can also use this opportunity to ask any other questions you might have. 

Have standard medical treatments already been tried?

It's highly recommended that you ask your primary doctor about natural medicine options before seeking out alternative treatments. In some cases, your doctor may even recommend that you try natural medicine to gain relief from symptoms. However, people should always seek expert medical advice before making important decisions about treatment for injuries, illnesses and other health problems.

Is this form of natural medicine supported by science?

Some natural medicine treatments are somewhat supported by scientific research. However, others are supported only by special interest groups that conduct biased research to make natural medicine appear more credible. If you're considering natural treatments, do some research of your own to see which forms of alternative medicine have at least some support from the scientific community.

Is this covered by insurance?

Physical therapy and massage therapy are examples of popular natural treatments that are often fully supported by insurance companies. However, insurance companies are often reluctant to provide reimbursements for treatments that don't provide any clear medical benefits. If you're considering going to a naturopathic doctor, contact your insurance provider and make sure to understand whether your policy covers natural medicine. The last thing you want is to receive a giant bill while also being ill or injured.

What approaches or therapies do you suggest for my condition?

Ask your practitioner what approaches or therapies he suggests for the condition or ailment you're trying to treat, and whether or not he's had experience and success with those approaches in the past. If so, ask for specific examples and success rates to support the claims before you agree to treatment. 

What are your qualifications?

Always ask to find out what a practitioner's qualifications are before beginning treatment. Holistic health practitioners are not held to the same standards as medical doctors, and you want to be sure the person you work with is skilled, experienced and qualified to provide services.