Are Natural Therapies Safe for Kids?

Jul 16, 2013
Naturopathy If you’ve benefited from natural therapies, you might be wondering if they’re suitable for your children. In this article, we delve into the issue of treating kids with complementary therapies and whether there is cause for concern.

Use of Natural Therapies on the Rise

According to the American Medical Association, in 1997 12 per cent of children in the US used natural therapies. While more recent statistics are unavailable, we can assume that since the usage of natural therapies among adults has increased in recent years, it probably has for children as well. In fact, some experts claim 30 per cent of healthy children and around 50 per cent of children with chronic disease use natural therapies.

Unfortunately, there is little other data on the benefits of children using natural therapies. Often this comes down to a lack of funding, both here and overseas. Since research is limited, it is difficult for experts to determine safe vs. unsafe treatments for children.

Safe Natural Therapies for Children

Dolores Mendelow, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School says, “there is a huge place for [natural therapies] in paediatrics.”

Practitioners recommend the following therapies for kids:
  • Yoga: this healing modality has been shown to help kids with asthma and those have been diagnosed with ADD. It may also help children develop stronger bodies and a greater awareness of themselves and the world in which they live.
  • Tai chi: as a mind and body therapy, tai chi may help lower children’s risk of depression, anxiety and other mood and behavioural issues.
  • Probiotics: yoghurt and natural probiotic remedies may help with kids’ digestive complaints and improve their immunity.
  • Art therapy: through art therapy, children are encouraged to express their feelings and discuss their creative work in a supportive, non-threatening environment. Art therapy can help with bed wetting, grief, loss, abuse, ADHD, autism, learning difficulties and a range of other conditions.
  • Sound, listening and movement therapy: practitioner Harry Armytage says these therapies can help children with learning difficulties. 

Questionable Natural Therapies for Children

Some natural therapies are reportedly unsafe or unsuitable for children. The National Institute of Health’s Center for Complementary Medicine (NCAM) in the US reminds parents that children’s bodies are not fully developed and may react to certain remedies that wouldn’t affect adults. 

Questionable treatments include chiropractic, some herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, creatine and Ma Haung (a common Chinese medicine ingredient).

If in Doubt, Ask

Before treating your child with complementary medicine, you should speak with a natural therapist or health practitioner. They’ll be able to assess your child’s symptoms and devise a safe and suitable treatment plan.

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