Integrative Medicine for Children – Holistic healing for the whole child

 

By Dr. Sheila Kilbane

Imagine if your pediatrician could combine the best of traditional and alternative medicine. She could talk to you about penicillin and echinacea, acupuncture and ear tubes, Ritalin and fish oil.

Many pediatricians are making a shift towards integrative medicine, using safe and effective complementary therapies along with traditional allopathic medicine to facilitate the body’s innate healing response.

The focus of integrative medicine is on health, wellness and prevention, not just disease management. It is a holistic and proactive way of healing of the whole child and concentrates on empowering patients and their families. All factors that influence health, wellness and disease are taken into consideration – mind, spirit, community and body.

Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are used whenever possible.

Here are some integrative tips to keep your child healthy this winter:

Eat, Sleep, Play – Kids should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to bump up the body’s natural immune protecting mechanisms. Adequate sleep keeps the body balanced and functioning properly.  Kids should get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night depending upon their age. Physical activity increases circulation, enhance the immune system and elevate the mood.

Vitamin D3 for Immunity – At this time of year, it is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system. A dose of 400-800 IU’s for kids (depending on their age) can be extremely helpful is fending off illness. 

Take a Probiotic Daily – Our guts contain “good” and “bad” bacteria. This bacteria contributes to our overall health by enhancing our immune system, aiding in digestion and preventing and/or decreasing the duration of diarrhea.  

Try a Natural Cough Syrup
-The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against giving over the counter cough medicines to kids under the age of 6 years. Natural cough syrups have extremely low potential for harmful side effects and you can make them yourself.
In a recent study, 1 teaspoon of honey at bedtime was found to be more helpful than dextromethorphan (the ingredient in delsym) for reducing cough. Honey is very safe, but cannot be given to kids under 1 year of age due to the risk of botulism.

Thyme can be put in chicken noodle soup or made into a tea to relieve cough and nasal congestion. To make the tea, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of dried herb to a cup of hot water and steep for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add some honey for taste if needed. This should not be given to kids under the age of 1 year.  

Watch Ear Infections– Often ear infections will go away on their own if we give the body a little time to fight off the infection.  So in most cases of ear pain, it is safe to utilize the “watchful waiting” prior to visiting the pediatrician. 
Ibuprofen (Motrin) is more effective for pain relief than acetaminophen (Tylenol) due to the anti-inflammatory component in Motrin. Ibuprofen can be given every 6 hours to kids over the age of 6 months and Tylenol can be given every 4 hours as needed for kids of all ages.

Prescription ear drops contain benzocaine, a topical anesthetic that numbs the skin, and antipyrine, a pain reliever. A hot water bottle or heating pad (on low heat) placed next to the ear, relaxation/distraction techniques and massage can also help reduce pain.

If the pain continues to get worse over the next few days and a temperature of 1010 F or above develops, a visit to the pediatrician’s office would then be the prudent course of action.

Ginger for the Tummy –Ginger is good for nausea, stomach upset, abdominal pain and aids digestion. Grate fresh ginger and place about 1-2 tsps into 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes then drain. Add 1 tsp of honey. Place in refrigerator. Give 1 tsp as needed. 

Echinacea for Sniffles –The herb Echinacea may help decrease the recurrence of colds and reduce secondary infections. But always remember if a cold lasts longer than 10 days, it’s time to see your doctor to make sure nothing else going on.

Dr. Sheila Kilbane, MD, is a pediatrician who is completing a 2 year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. Her practice, Touchstone Health Associates in Cornelius, treats children and adults and is the first clinic in the Charlotte area with four board-certified physicians who are all classically trained as well as trained in integrative medicine. Dr. Kilbane can be reached at 704-655-6300 or www.touchstonecare.com.

 

Comments are closed.