Alternative Therapies Safely Help Kids

Sunday, April 12, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: alternative medicine, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Alternative and complementary therapies are no longer written off as useless quackery or unproven folklore by a growing number of mainstream physicians. A case in point: Dolores Mendelow, M.D., clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School (UMHS), says these approaches can be successful against many illnesses in youngsters, including the common cold or skin rashes. In fact, they can work quicker and more safely than many typical over-the-counter medications.

In a statement to the media, Dr. Mendelow explained that recent studies show approximately 30 percent of healthy children and up to 50 percent of children with chronic disease are using various kinds of alternative therapies. "In terms of complementary medicine, we're using acupuncture, dietary supplementation and herbal or botanical therapies," she stated.

"There is a huge place for complementary and alternative medicine in pediatrics. Complementary and alternative therapies are becoming a more prevalent treatment for children. If individuals follow the directions of their physicians, these treatments are a safe and effective way to get and stay healthy."

Here are examples of alternative therapies Dr. Mendelow says can be beneficial for children's health:

* Yoga can help kids with asthma learn to practice and use deep breathing and remain calm when faced with shortness of breath. Yoga also helps teens faced with stress.

* Honey can be used to soothe coughs caused by the common cold. However, only give this age-old remedy to children age one or older.

* Tai chi helps reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in adolescents. Tai chi and yoga also help to decrease blood pressure and sympathetic activity in children, producing a feeling of relaxation and calmness.

* Probiotics, live bacteria found in dietary supplements or in food such as yogurt, are useful in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and controlled studies have shown they are safe for children. (Dr. Mendelow cautions they are not recommended for children on any immunosuppressive drugs or those who are immuno-compromised, however.)

Not all complementary and alternative therapies are safe for children, so it is common sense to consult a pediatrician -- preferably one familiar with herbs and other alternative health modalities -- before beginning any new treatment. For example, Ma Haung, a popular Chinese medicine used to treat asthma, can lead to heart palpitations and other dangerous cardiac-related events, Dr. Mendelow said in the media statement.

For more information:
UMHS Alternative Medicine Database:
UMHS Integrative Family Medicine Clinic:
American Academy of Pediatrics:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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