Parents are slammed with a wealth of information about what’s best for their children, and lately the hot topic is ensuring everything you put in your child’s body is natural. Holistic medicine is on the rise, and it’s not uncommon for parents interested in protecting their children and giving them the best to turn to alternative medicine options instead of taking a visit to a traditional doctor’s office.
Unfortunately, alternative medicine is often alternative for a reason, and as more parents have turned to alternative medicine, more parents have also discovered the dangerous and sometimes tragic consequences of skipping traditional treatment.
Failing to adequately research what you’re doing can have dire consequences, which is why most parenting experts will typically recommend you take your child to a doctor when they’re sick. After all, medicine, biology and chemistry are all complex subjects and most parents are not medical experts capable of making a fully informed judgment call about what is best for their child medically.
That doesn’t mean you have to go to a hospital for every bump and bruise, however - there are some alternative medicines you can safely give your child if you want to save on medicine, use a natural treatment or just skip a visit to the doctor’s for a minor issue.
Do if the treatment is harmless
If you do want to look for alternative treatments when you can, the most important thing to do is thoroughly research any treatment you consider for your child thoroughly. Look up whether it has any side effects and the severity of those side effects. Check to make sure it doesn’t interact with any other common medicines or substances - for example, St. John’s worst is a popular natural remedy to treat everything from mild anxiety to an upset stomach to inflammation. But when mixed with common antidepressants, it can lead to Serotonin Syndrome, which can be fatal.
Before you apply any treatment to your child, make sure you understand how it works and why. For example, ginger is one of the most widely recommended treatments for nausea and an upset stomach - people have been chewing on ginger to calm upset stomachs for multiple millenia. It works by increasing stomach motility, encouraging digestion. It’s safe and harmless - ginger is a common side dish in Asian cuisine - and your child won’t suffer any more if you give her a piece of candied ginger to suck on.
The same can be said for using baking soda in your home to treat itchy skin, using prune juice to treat constipation and using honey and lemon to treat a sore throat. But not all illnesses can - or should - be treated at home.
Don’t if the illness is severe
Although alternative medicine is an acceptable alternative for easy-to-handle treatments, or for illnesses that you would normally just let pass, there are a number of conditions that should get immediate medical treatment. Acute symptoms such as a high fever, extreme fatigue, inability to breathe, loss of sensation, or severe pain should be treated in urgent care or the emergency room.
Parents in Canada were convicted in 2016 of failing to provide necessary care after they attempted to treat symptoms of meningitis at home instead of taking their one-year old child to the hospital. He died in 2012, after they attempted for nearly three weeks to treat him at home with remedies such as hot peppers and horseradish.
Serious symptoms require immediate, effective treatment - parents can’t afford to spend days waiting for an alternative treatment to kick in. If after one or two days your child’s symptoms are worsening or remain persistent, it’s time to ditch alternative treatment and go for mainstream medicine.
Although you may worry about what you’re putting in your child’s system when you use traditional medicine, the truth is it will have been more rigorously tested that most home remedies. You don’t have to visit a doctor for every bump and bruise, and you can treat easy symptoms at home. But don’t ditch your pediatrician, and remember to bring your child in to see someone if symptoms persist.