Natural Therapies: Where We Stand

When children have a chronic, serious illness or disability, their parents may turn to “natural” therapies. Other terms that describe these therapies include alternative, complementary, and folk remedy.

In some cases, natural therapies may may be used in addition to the care their child receives from their pediatrician or other mainstream practitioner. Families may turn to natural therapies even when they’re happy with this traditional care, because they are willing to try everything and anything to help their child. In some cases, however, may turn to them when they become frustrated with all that mainstream medicine can offer their child.

Better together: how your pediatrician can help

If you’ve made the decision to seek natural therapies for your child’s care, involve your pediatrician in the process. In most cases, such therapies work best when used in combination with traditional medical care. Your doctor may be able to help you better understand these therapies, whether they have scientific merit, whether claims about them are accurate or exaggerated and whether they pose any risks to your child’s well-being.

Natural doesn’t always mean safe

Keep in mind that a “natural” treatment does not always mean a “safe” one. Your pediatrician can help you determine whether there is a risk of interactions with your child’s other medications.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged pediatricians to:

  • Evaluate the scientific merits of natural therapies
  • Determine whether they might cause any direct or indirect harm
  • Advise parents on the full range of treatment options

If you decide to use a natural therapy, your pediatrician also may be able to assist in evaluating your child’s response to that treatment.

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