Consumer health basics

Can you remember how you got health information before the internet? Your doctor was probably your only trusted source. And that meant going in for an appointment.

Today, you can learn more about healthy lifestyle, integrative medicine, medicines and self-care options online. Respected sites can help you understand your health care choices.

Learn as much as you can using these online resources and take charge of your health.

Integrative medicine

Integrative medicine combines the most well-researched conventional medicine with the most well-researched, evidence-based complementary therapies to achieve the appropriate care for each person. Complementary therapies can include:

  • Meditation.
  • Yoga.
  • Massage.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Use of supplements, such as vitamins, herbs and minerals.
  • Music therapy.

Integrative medicine aims to fit each person's unique needs. It may help people with cancer symptoms, ongoing pain, long-term fatigue and other conditions.

If you use complementary therapies, be sure to take time to research the risks and benefits.

Your health care team can help you choose safe complementary therapies that work well with your main treatment. Always talk with your team before you try a new therapy. They can help make sure it's safe and proven to help and is right for you.


Medicines can be lifesavers. But you need to use them the right way. The risk of side effects and other problems is higher if you don't follow the directions on how to take them.

Be sure to follow directions on the container's label for medicines that you buy at the store. And follow instructions from your doctor for stronger medicines that your doctor prescribes you.

Only take supplements that your doctor prescribes or recommends. Not all supplements sold in stores and online are proven to help. And some can affect other medicines.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have, such as:

  • Why do I need this medicine?
  • How do I take it?
  • What side effects might it cause?
  • Could it affect other treatments I take?

Make sure to tell your doctor if you take any herbs, supplements or medicines, whether or not they need a prescription. This way, your doctor can make sure they won't affect each other.

Nov. 21, 2023