complementary medicine

Complementary medicine has become popular in the US. Many people pay out of pocket for treatment by Ayurveda practitioners, massage therapists or chiropractors. Others take a range of herbs and other natural products as dietary supplements. Some of these practices are controversial, but conventional physicians are beginning to integrate some ideas, such as dietary advice or meditation, into their practices.

Kids Taking Alternative Medicines:

A recent analysis of a decade of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2014) showed that approximately one third of youngsters under age 19 are taking some type of dietary supplement or alternative medicine (JAMA Pediatrics, online June 18, 2018).  Many of these youngsters were taking multivitamins or vitamin C or D. Others, however, were using melatonin as a sleep aid or herbs to boost energy. Some teens took bodybuilding supplements, and some children were on probiotics or other digestive aids. Is this use safe? To find out, we talk with Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran, a resident in pediatrics with an interest in integrative medicine.

When Complementary Medicine May Be Especially Helpful:

We also talk with Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician in private practice, about times when doctors might wish to use alternative approaches. Pediatricians are beginning to change their way of treating ear infections, which are a common affliction in children. Instead of prescribing antibiotics immediately, they may now take a watch-and-wait tactic. At the same time, they can give parents ideas on how to calm the child’s pain.

It is important for parents to discuss everything their kids are taking with the pediatrician or other health care provider. That way, everyone can be alert for potential interactions and side effects that may occur.

We also find out about encouraging kids to be active without putting them at high risk for injury. When they are playing outside in the summer, parents need to think about sunscreen and mosquito protection as well. What will parents think about this summer when it comes to keeping children staying safe and healthy?

This Week’s Guests:

Amitha Kalaichandran,MD, is a resident physician in pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. Her interests are in integrative pediatrics, focusing on nutrition and mind-body medicine and specifically innovative ways of improving children’s well-being. Dr. Kalaichandran is a Munk Global Journalism Fellow. Her articles on complementary medicine in children include a publication in Pediatric Emergency Care (online Feb. 28, 2018) and one in Paediatrics & Child Health (Feb. 2018).

Alan Greene, MD, is a pediatrician in private practice and founder of, a premier site for pediatric information. He was the founding president of the Society for Participatory Medicine and is the author of Feeding Baby Green, Raising Baby Green and From First Kicks to First Steps. Dr. Greene consults with a number of online and pediatric companies, including Scanadu, Plum Organics, PanTheryx and Lighting Science. In 2010 he founded the WhiteOut Movement and in 2012 he founded TICC TOCC.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:July 21, 2018

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  1. Jen

    I do agree that alternative medicine may sometimes be better than polluting our systems with chemicals. If you can heal your ailment naturally then, for me, that is the better way to go. I have friends that have done Reiki healing and have had good results.

  2. Charles B
    North Carolina

    The BEST alternative & complementary approach:

    adult to infant —-> child to adult —> child to child reading / exercise interaction / food preferences

    adult to infant: reading and story telling with wordless picture books where the adult is identifying with words details of the wordless picture book and telling stories

    child to adult: identification and story telling by the child to the adult

    child to child: identification and story telling by the child to the another younger child

    same direction with regard to exercise (using first wordless picture books) and food preferences (using wordless picture books with a cultural context)

    And so on in terms of writing out stories, drawing exercise and drawing good foods and not so good foods.

    And THEN so on in outlining, concept mapping and data manipulation together using Kidspiration.

    Adults (BOTH mom & dad & grandparents & foster parents) should commit to do this for their children. More than anything else LITERACY (in all its connotations) makes the MOST difference in chronic disease occurrence, progression, recovery, complication and palliation.

  3. Linda P

    My daughter born in 1982 was given her 1st antibiotic at 6 weeks for ear infection. For the next 11 years she was on antibiotics at least 6 to 8 times a year. Sometimes 2 prescriptions in a row. For sinus infections etc. She suffered serum sickness from Augmentin around 5 years old. At 11 she began with symptoms that turned out to be ulcerative colitis. We had her adenoids removed without our pediatricians consent. Stopped giving antibiotics. We began alternative treatment, after one year of conventional medicine failed. 24 years later I only wish I had started probiotics and other immune building treatments at birth.

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