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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be a Kaiser Permanente member to receive
The Kaiser Permanente Center for Complementary Medicine is open to
everyone. You do not have to be a Kaiser Permanente member to come
to our facilities and receive chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage
treatment. Whether you are a member or nonmember, you will receive
the same high-quality care.
Do I need a referral from my primary care
No. You may contact the Center for Complementary Medicine directly
to learn more about our services or to book an appointment.
Should I speak with my physician before
If you have any questions or hesitation about these types of
treatment, speak with your primary care physician and tell him or
her about the therapy you are considering. Ask any questions you
may have about safety, effectiveness, or interactions with
medications (prescription or nonprescription). Your physician may
know about the therapy and be able to advise you on its safety and
What is complementary medicine?
Complementary medicine is the term for medical products and
practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what
medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and other health
professionals, such as registered nurses and physical therapists,
practice. Complementary medicine treatments are used in addition to
Complementary care is the use of nontraditional
or alternative methods along with conventional Western medicine.
Complementary care is also referred to as integrative or blended
medicine. Using guided imagery techniques to help lessen your
discomfort and speed recovery following surgery is an example of
Alternative care is used in place of
conventional medical treatments. Using melatonin to treat insomnia
instead of a prescription sleep aid is an example of alternative
Is complementary medicine safe?
Different people will respond to treatments in different ways. How
you might respond to a given treatment depends on many things,
including your overall state of health, how the treatment is
applied, or even your belief in the treatment.
Our practitioners of complementary medicine participate in a
Kaiser Permanente-directed quality assurance program, ensuring the
highest and most accurate quality of care is delivered to our
The Center for Complementary Medicine is part of Kaiser
Permanente's integrated delivery system. If you are a member, you
will receive coordinated care from your whole Kaiser Permanente
team. Your complementary medical practitioner, your primary care
physician, and any specialists you are seeing will be able to
access your electronic medical record to learn your health history
and communicate with each other to design a program of care that
meets your unique needs.
Why do people use complementary medicine?
Complementary and alternative practices can help people make
important health and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking,
lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, and boosting
energy and immune system responses, among other benefits.
Chronic, recurring pain, such as back, neck, head, or joint
aches, are the most common health reasons that Americans use
complementary and alternative care.*
Complementary and alternative approaches may be able to help
treat colds, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, hot
flashes and other menopausal symptoms, sleep problems, and
- Prevention or reduction of side effects
A growing number of people believe that complementary and
alternative care has fewer side effects than some conventional
- To supplement conventional treatment
Some people may turn to complementary practices to help improve
their symptoms if their health problems don't respond to
conventional treatment alone.
Therapeutic massage, aromatherapy, relaxation exercises, and
other rituals can help you manage stress, quiet your mind, and feel
Complementary and alternative therapies often emphasize the
connection between mind and body. Many people respond well to
treatments that address their sense of mental well-being as well as
their physical health.
Some people feel more involved and in control when they are
participating actively in their health by using self-care practices
such as meditation.
- Personal and cultural beliefs
Some religions and cultures include complementary and
alternative practices as part of their approach towards health and
Will my pain stop after visiting the Center for
Many of our patients report a reduction in pain after treatment.
However, not all patients will benefit. Results vary by individual.
Extensive research has shown that these types of procedures can aid
in the reduction of pain.
*Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics