are used along with, and not instead of, your child’s current
treatment plan. Communication between you, your child’s healthcare
provider and complementary medical practitioner is key to a
safe and positive experience with complementary therapies.
What is complementary medicine?
Complementary medicine is
- any kind of medical practice or product that is outside
of what mainstream healthcare professionals provide
- used by conventional medical practitioners to complement
or use together with other more conventional therapies
Many complementary therapies have become incorporated into
pediatric healthcare in the last decade.
Complementary therapies may be suggested as a way to help
- alleviate symptoms
- relax and alleviate stress
- help control side effects of other medications
Complementary medicine can be found all over the world and
some therapies have been used for thousands of years to treat
and heal disease. It is interesting to know that practices
and products that we consider complementary in our Western
culture are actually used as conventional or mainstream practices
in other Eastern cultures.
There are few studies of complementary therapies in children
so it can be easy to believe the personal stories of people
claiming to have had good results with one complementary therapy
or another. Keep in mind that these testimonials are not evidence
or proof. It is important that you discuss any complementary
therapy you are considering for your child with his or her
Communication between you, your child’s healthcare provider
and complementary medical practitioner is necessary for a safe,
successful and positive experience with complementary medicine.
What is the difference between complementary and alternative
Complementary medicine works
- together with your child’s conventional treatment
Alternative medicine is
- a medical practice or product that is used instead or
in place of a conventional treatment plan
Can complementary therapies be used by children?
Complementary therapies can, and are, used by children. There
are important things to consider before deciding to use a complementary
therapy with your child.
Right now, most complementary therapies
have not been well researched in children so it is hard to
know which, if any, complementary therapies really work.
Children are not small adults and because of this, complementary
therapies that have good results for adults with IBD may have
different results in children with Pedi IBD.
It is also important
to know that a complementary therapy may
- interact with medications your child is currently taking
- cause bleeding-related complications with surgery or other
That is why it is important to let your child’s healthcare
providers know if you are considering using one or more complementary
therapies for your child’s Pedi IBD.
What are some examples of complementary therapies?
Examples of complementary therapies include
These can include the leaves, flower and seeds of a plant
used for scent, flavor or therapeutic benefits. Also known
These can include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids.
Fish oil and probiotics are two more common complementary dietary
Massage therapists manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues
of the body using different techniques with their hands, fingers,
Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin, metallic
needles along various pathways along the body. The acupuncturist
can manipulate the needles with his hands or with electricity.
Ayurvedic treatment is tailored specifically to each patient’s
needs. An ayurvedic practitioner uses herbs, oils, spices,
dietary and lifestyle changes with the aim of restoring the
body’s sense of balance and harmony.
Or Naturopathic Medicine focuses on supporting health as opposed
to fighting disease. Naturopaths use natural, non-invasive
treatments such as hydrotherapy, dietary changes, exercise
and fresh air with the aim of allowing the body to heal itself.
Or Homeopathic Medicine centers on the idea that ‘like cures
like’. This theory believes that ingesting a substance that
produces similar symptoms of the disease can cure the disease.
Are there complementary therapies for children with Pedi
has been suggested that the effects of omega-3 fatty acids
on inflammation may be helpful to some patients with Crohn's
disease and ulcerative colitis when used along with standard
therapy. Several studies have been conducted in this area.
At this time,
the results of these studies do not give a clear answer one
way or another. For this reason, further research is needed.
It is known that high doses of omega-3 fatty acids may have
harmful effects such as
- an increased risk of bleeding
when taken along with Pedi IBD meds such as
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS)
including - ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn,
Before making the decision to work with a complementary medicine
practitioner, be sure to ask about his or her
- licensing (states
often have licensing requirements for chiropractors, naturopaths,
massage therapists and acupuncturists)
- education and training
- experience with providing care to children
- experience with providing care to children with Pedi IBD
- willingness to communicate with your child’s healthcare
provider on a regular basis
complementary therapies on the Internet
so many web sites giving information about health issues it
can be confusing and difficult to know if you can trust what
Look for the following basic information clearly stated on
a health information web site
- who runs the web site
- who pays for the site
- what is the purpose of the site
- where was information collected from
- do facts and figures include references
- who reviews the information on this site
- how up to date is the information
- does the site collect information about you and if so why
Knowing the answers to the questions above will help you to
decide whether or not a health information web site provides
reliable, accurate and up to date information.
Paying for complementary therapies
complementary therapies are paid for as out of pocket expenses.
In some cases you may find that your insurance provider covers
partial payment of visits and diagnostic treatments or a limited
number of visits.
It is important to check with your insurance
provider about their policy coverage of a specific complementary
therapy and practitioner before beginning treatment.
Because you will either be paying the costs of the therapy
yourself either in part or in full or will be asked to itemize
the cost of services by your insurance company, it is important
to ask the following questions before deciding to begin a complementary
therapy with your child
- What does the first appointment cost?
The first appointment is often higher or lower than the follow
- What do follow up appointments cost?
Let the practitioner know if you think you cannot afford the
total cost of the treatment visits. Many offer a sliding
pay scale or will allow you to purchase visits ahead of time
at a discount.
- How many appointments does a child with Pedi IBD usually
Find out what the expected timeframe and approximate end date
are for the treatment
- What additional costs can I expect to pay?
Complementary therapies can often involve costs other than
just office visits.
Diagnostic/follow up testing and additional items like supplements
or equipment can quickly raise the cost of the therapy significantly
If your family’s healthcare is provided through the United
States government, your coverage can include the following
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs – covers acupuncture, chiropractic
- Medicare – covers chiropractic care
Talking with your child’s pediatrician about complementary
Parents sometimes look for and try complementary therapies
for their children
- because of dissatisfaction with conventional medical treatments
- because they want to take a more active role in their child’s
- to gain a sense of control over their child's illness
- to improve their child's quality of life
Parents of children with chronic or potentially disabling
disease like Pedi IBD are more likely to research or find complementary
therapies to use with their child because of these reasons.
Because there are very few scientific studies about complementary
therapies in children, it can be easy to believe the personal
stories of people claiming to have had good results with one
complementary therapy or another. Keep in mind that these testimonials
are not evidence or proof.
Your child’s healthcare provider can often be a good resource
for information about a specific complementary therapy. Make
sure to ask your child's physician
- what he or she knows about a therapy
- whether they think that it works
- if it safe for children
To make sure that your child’s experience with a complementary
therapy is as safe and successful as possible, remember to
always discuss any complementary therapy you are considering
for your child with his or her doctor.
When to call your healthcare provider
If your child experiences an effect from a CAM therapy that
concerns you, contact your child's health care provider.
Remember, you know your child best. Trust your judgment. If
your child is experiencing something that you are not sure
about or that makes you feel uncomfortable, let your healthcare
provider know right away.