Many adults have incorporated integrative medicine into their lives, such as yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy. But did you know children can also greatly benefit from these health-boosting modalities? Integrative pediatric care is a specialized type of pediatric medicine that blends conventional Western medicine with holistic healing methods. The underlying concept is to create a relationship with the child, family, and medical team where trust and communication can be nurtured to understand the patient and their unique situation better. This enables a deeper understanding of their medical condition’s etiology (causes). It also allows the patient and their medical team to openly discuss the risks, benefits, and efficacy of a large spectrum of therapeutic options safely and appropriately.
Well-rested children often have more emotional stability and improved mental clarity. They are also more physically active and better able to focus at school, which leads to improved academic performance. Lack of sleep can lead to a host of issues, from difficulty paying attention in school to depression. An integrative pediatrician at IPHC will consider environmental hazards, diet, and genetics to develop a treatment plan to enhance your child’s sleep habits. Integrative practitioners use an evidence-based approach that evaluates all therapeutic options, including complementary therapies. They are also trained to understand the safety and efficacy of conventional medicine, which helps them determine when specific treatments can best help their patients.
Children need to feel confident and capable of taking care of themselves. Using mind-body therapies can help them feel more empowered in their bodies, especially those who have physical limitations such as limited mobility or chronic illness. Pediatricians need to have access to all therapeutic options that are safe and appropriate for their patients. This includes conventional medicine as well as alternative treatment modalities. Medical schools, residencies, and hospitals will incorporate integrative medicine training, and healthcare teams will consist of various safe and effective modalities for children and their parents.
In addition to making sure your child eats well and gets enough sleep, try to limit stressors in your family, such as marital discord, excessive television, violent media, and over-scheduled activities. Stress mitigation can also include the regular practice of relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or a warm bath with aromatherapy. Integrative Pediatrics takes a holistic approach to wellness that includes looking at a child’s lifestyle, diet, genetics, and conventional medical therapy and testing. They often order specialty lab tests to evaluate for food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, and toxic buildup in the body. They may also use acupuncture, mindfulness, and other therapies not generally provided in hospitals to help manage pain or anxiety.
A healthy immune system helps children ward off viruses and bacteria. Boosting their immunity can include eating nutrient-rich foods, especially zinc (excellent food sources: beef, cashews, garbanzo beans, lamb), reducing sugar and dairy intake, and getting more sleep. It is also a good idea to ensure kids wash their hands frequently and keep up with vaccinations. Pediatric integrative medicine is a new field evolving to meet today’s children’s needs. Academic medical centers are ideal locations for developing this emerging discipline because of patient diversity and research support. Stanford’s one-year clinical fellowship in pediatric integrative medicine trains physician trainees to provide both conventional and complementary therapies to their pediatric patients. In addition, the company offers a wellness curriculum emphasizing stress mitigation, self-care, and resiliency.
Integrative pediatrics offers a healthier alternative to conventional Western medicine with an emphasis on prevention and holistic healing methods that are proven safe with children. Whether your child is dealing with an illness, a developmental delay, or a mental health issue, regular pediatric care will ensure that they get the help they need to live their best lives. Parents need to tell their physicians about the treatments they are using, including over-the-counter medications and natural or herbal remedies. This way, they can provide their kids with the best advice. Research suggests that patients who report this information receive better care and are more likely to adhere to their treatment plan. It also helps prevent duplication of services and promotes open communication and trust between doctors and their patients.