Useful questions on complementary therapies

You may find this checklist helpful when thinking about the questions you want to ask your complementary therapist.

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Things to consider before using complementary therapies

  • What are the benefits?
  • What is the scientific evidence to support its use?
  • Will the therapy potentially harm me because of:
    • its side effects?
    • possible interaction with other medication?
    • the therapist’s advice to stop or delay conventional treatment?
  • Can I afford the cost of the therapies or medicines?

General questions to ask any potential complementary therapist

  • What are your qualifications? Are you a member of a professional association?
  • What training or experience do you have in treating people with cancer? Have you treated anyone with my type of cancer?
  • What exactly is the therapy? How does it work?
  • How long will it take to work?
  • How can the therapies you practise help me?
  • Are there any specific precautions I should take?
  • Has the therapy been tested in clinical trials? Have the findings been published, and are they available to read?
  • Can this therapy be combined with conventional cancer treatment and medicines?
  • Do you expect me to stop my conventional medication and treatments?
  • Are you willing to liaise with my doctors or other health professionals I may need to see?
  • How long should I use this therapy for? How will I know if it’s working?
  • Are you able to do home visits if I am not well enough to attend your clinic?
  • How long are your consultations?
  • What do you charge for a consultation? Can I claim the cost on Medicare or from my health fund?
  • What can I expect during a consultation?
  • How many consultations do you recommend, and how often?
  • Do you dispense your own medicines and supplements?
  • How much can I expect to pay for medicines?
  • Have the products or medicines you dispense been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration?
  • What side effects may occur?

General questions to ask your doctor

  • Are you familiar with complementary therapies or medicines?
  • Do you have any qualifications in complementary therapies?
  • Are there any complementary therapies you think might help me?
  • Would you be happy for me to use complementary therapies? If not, what should I do if I decide to use complementary therapies?
  • Do you know whether the complementary medicines I am taking or wish to take will interfere with any of my treatments?
  • Would you be willing to guide me in my research or choice of complementary therapies?
  • Would you be willing to talk to my complementary therapists?
  • Can you recommend any complementary therapists?

Questions to ask your doctor about specific therapies

Mind–body techniques

  • What type of therapist would you recommend for my concerns?
  • Can you refer me to a psychologist or counsellor?

Body-based practices

  • Are there any forms of massage or bodywork that would help me?
  • Are there any forms of massage or bodywork I shouldn’t have?
  • Can I have acupuncture before and/or after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy?
  • Are there any areas on my body where a massage therapist or acupuncturist needs to take special care?
  • What precautions, if any, should I take?
  • Would I be able to participate in tai chi, qi gong or yoga?
  • What level of exercise intensity would be suitable for me?
  • Can you provide me with a letter giving your approval for me to have massage or other bodywork therapy?
  • Should I see an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist?

Energy therapies

  • Do you think using reiki or healing touch would benefit me?
  • Will I have any side effects from any types of energy therapies?

Therapies based on diet

  • Are there any general dietary changes I should make?
  • Should I eat organic foods?
  • Are there any vitamin or mineral supplements that will help manage specific side effects caused by conventional treatment?
  • Should I be taking any particular nutritional supplements?
  • What can I eat to improve my digestion and bowel movements?
  • Are there any foods or supplements that I should definitely have, or definitely avoid, during and after cancer treatment?
  • Should I see a dietitian or a nutritionist?

Therapies using herbs and plants

  • Are there any herbs you would recommend during or after cancer treatment?
  • What dosage should I take? Does it have side effects?
  • Are there any herbs I shouldn’t take because of my medication, surgery or other conventional treatments?
  • If I use herbal medicine, when should I take it in relation to my other medication or conventional treatments? Is it okay to use at the same time, or should I take it at a different time?
  • Do you think using flower remedies or homeopathy would benefit me?
  • Will I have any side effects from homeopathy remedies?

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on complementary therapies.

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

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Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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