Acupuncture, herbal supplements, massage, yoga, hypnosis and more . . . The list of alternative therapies is long! Which ones are OK for children? The American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a new report on this topic.
This is a complicated area. Some alternative treatments can help. Example: Studies have found that acupuncture may help relieve certain kinds of headaches. But other types of alternative medicine can be harmful. Example: The weight loss drug fen-phen has been linked to serious heart problems.
But for many alternative therapies (if not most), we simply don’t know whether they hurt, help or do nothing. Research has been very limited. And many of these treatments can be costly.
If you’re using or thinking about using an alternative treatment for your child, check with a doctor or nurse first. If you’re pregnant, do the same (see Drugs, Herbs & Dietary Supplements for more info). Together, you can talk about the pro’s and con’s of alternative medicine and decide what’s best.
A word of caution about herbal supplements: Again, we don’t have a lot of research about many of them. The March of Dimes does not support the use of herbal or dietary supplements by women who can become pregnant, by pregnant women, or by children, without approval by a health care provider. While some supplements and herbal ingredients have been tested extensively, many have not been shown to be safe or effective.
For more on this topic, check out the Web site of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. And what do you think about alternative medicine?