Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Alternative Heart Medicine

        Health | Heart

Heart Health Image Gallery

blushing girl holding heart
Steve Wisbauer/Digital Vision/Getty Images
What have you done for your heart today? See more heart health pictures.

The heart pounds when we get excited, skips a beat when our crush walks by and pumps the blood that makes our cheeks blush after tripping in front of the boss. It's also a great host, inviting oxygen-poor blood in and bidding it goodbye when it's feeling refreshed. Its likeness can even be used to dot our "I"s.

It's important to take care of the little pumper. Without such care, the dependable heart may exhibit its neglect in the form of chest pain, breathing trouble, weakness, dizziness -- and pudgy ankles. Even healthy hearts require preventive maintenance, while those with wear and tear may need a few different types of therapies and medications. The mention of medication might bring to mind clever pill commercials that end with a list of alarming side effects. However, when it comes to the heart, alternative medicine may be all you need to keep it happy.

Even a mere 10 years ago, alternative medicine was largely regarded as about as valuable as an IOU from your deadbeat brother. But today, many alternative medicines are regarded as bona fide treatments for a myriad of ailments including those that affect the heart, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Using its broader definition, alternative medicine includes herbs, vitamins, yoga and meditation. Simply put, alternative medicine includes therapies that aren't likely taught in traditional Western medical schools. The term "alternative" isn't really accurate, as these therapies don't necessarily replace Western medicine. Today, the term complementary medicine is often used to describe these therapies, as the combination of these two approaches can be beneficial. (It's important to note that, like their more expensive prescription counterparts, alternative medicines can prove harmful to some patients. So before you go out and buy out the entire herbal aisle at your local drugstore, head to your doctor's office.)

In this article, we'll tell you the top five questions you need to ask once you get there. ­

More to Explore