Does it benefit to tell your doctor about your religion?

Author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle posted a comment on Google+ which got me thinking. “Educated my doctor about Paganism this morning. Why yes, I am an ambassador of good will!“

Being open with a doctor about your spirituality can provide better medical and social services. My primary physician is a Doctor of Osteopathy meaning he includes holistic medicine in his practice. I explained to him my beliefs and how they are important to my well being. Since he is a D.O. I was lucky he had many of the same ideas about the mind body connection.

It’s important to be comfortable with your doctor, talk with them, and have a doctor that will listen. I’m reminded of the late 80s early 90s TV series Doogie Howser M.D..

Doogie Howser M.D. poster
IMAGE: A poster for a TV series. Captioned in white: Doogie Howser, M.D. A teenage Neil Patrick Harris wears a white lab coat, friendly smile, and his arms are crossed with confidence.

Doogie Howser graduated from medical school and became a doctor when he was just a teen. There is an episode where an elderly couple has come in again because they have been feeling fatigued. Doogie becomes frustrated with their story of travelling to another country, their shopping trip, and the wonderful new serving dish, or was it a pitcher, I don’t remember. He talks with his dad, who is also a doctor, upset that he can’t find out what’s wrong. His dad asks Doogie to tell him everything the couple said then explains Doogie needs to be more compassionate with his bedside manor because people will give clues about what’s going on. In this case it could be as serious as lead poisoning.

Recently I had an issue with antibiotics effecting my psych medication and so my PTSD symptoms became serious.(The Tricky Mind and Body Connection) Herbal supplements can also effect medication or those such as genko and garlic have mild blood thinning side effects and need to be discontinued a week or so before surgery. (Dr. Briffa) When the nurse at the doctors office asks if you are taking anything over the counter, include any supplements.

Here are some tips for clearer communication:

During Your Visit
Tape-record your visit or bring a pencil and notebook to take notes. You also may bring a trusted friend or relative to take notes for you.
Keep your discussion focused, making sure to cover your main questions and concerns, your symptoms and how they impact your life.
Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what you have been told or if you still have questions.

Ask for explanations of treatment goals and side effects.

Ask if there is anyone else you should meet.
Is there another specialist that can fill in the gaps of your doctor’s knowledge?

Let your doctor know if you are seeing other doctors or health care providers.

For example, do you see an acupuncturist or an herbalist?

Share information about any recent medical tests.

Let your doctor know how much information you want and if you have religious or cultural beliefs that affect your treatment.

Stand up for yourself or have a friend or family member advocate for you if your concerns are not addressed.

Balance assertiveness with friendliness and understanding.

Of course how much you tell your doctor about your religion and practice is up to you. It isn’t necessary to say my Reiki master noticed some issues with my energy flow around my heart liver, is it time for a follow up metabolic panel?

Have any of you told your doctor about your beliefs? Why did you make a decision to tell them or not to.

May the inspiration and wisdom of air be a part of your good health.


IMAGE: The scene is gently lit by a candle. On a pile of grey ash sits a coal with an ember of frankincense. Fragrant smoke rises from the resin. Wikicommons

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