5 Reminders before starting Alternative and Complementary Medicine for Baby or You
Complementary and alternative medicine is growing in popularity.
Even in 2012 a study by the National Health Interview Survey found that 11.6 percent of child participants received an alternative health product or treatment to help healing in the previous year
So if you are a new parent considering this type of treatment, you might find yourself asking these questions; how is complementary and alternative medicine different from mainstream medicine? Is it safe for babies?
Here are some of the important things you need to know about Complementary and alternative medicine before you try them out for your baby.
What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine?
Complementary and alternative medicine is a broad term with no strict definition. It generally includes healing practices and products that do not fall within the realm of mainstream medicine. The World Health Organization describes it as a “broad set of health care practices that are not part of the country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant healthcare system.”
Complementary and alternative medicine is used to promote health, often in addition to traditional medicine.
In the United States, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health is tasked with conducting scientific research into this form of medicine
What makes it Different from Traditional Medicine?
A quick clarification first; as the name suggests, complementary medicine is used to complement conventional medical treatments and therapy. In other words, it is used together with traditional medicine. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, is used in place of traditional medicine.
Both complementary and alternative medicine sets itself apart from traditional medicine in that it uses holistic methods to treat the “whole” person and not just the particular disease or illness.
Two General Areas of Complementary and Alternative Care
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine classifies two types of complementary and alternative care. These are:
- Natural products – products like botanicals, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements and probiotics fall under this type. A 2012 National Health Interview Survey found natural products to be the most popular complementary health approach used among children in 2012.
- Mind and body practices – these include procedures administered by trained practitioners and specialists. Examples include healing touch, hypnotherapy, movement therapies, acupuncture, acupressure and relaxation techniques
5 Important Minders to Consider before starting these for Babies, Mothers, Pregnant Women and Children
- Natural does not automatically mean safe. Make sure to talk to your doctor or pediatrician when thinking of letting your children use natural products.
- Unlike prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Pregnant women who are thinking of using any alternative and complementary products and therapy should keep in mind that some treatments contain ingredients that are particularly harmful or poisonous to unborn babies. Be sure to research well before starting
- Babies can be exposed to harmful plant chemicals through their mother’s breast milk. Their livers are not yet capable of processing certain herbal treatments.
- While many U.S. states have licensing boards for practitioners in complementary and alternative care (such as acupuncture or massage), there is no official organization in the country that enforces standards for these treatments. Make sure to be extra careful when choosing a therapist for you or your child.
In the case of each of these minders, it pays to do a little extra research and try for compatibility before you commit yourself to any one therapy. Each body responds differently and you will know what works best for you or your baby over time.
In another piece we will explore various types of alternative therapies that are popular for common ailments. If you have any that you would like to share with our readers, please connect with us on Facebook and leave us a comment. We love hearing from you.