When your baby is feeling pain or discomfort it can be hard to cope. And it’s not just because your kid’s crying is basically designed to elicit an urgent response from you. It’s also because it’s crazy difficult to figure out what’s going on. Also, there are very few ways you can intervene with medication. All of this means you’d do pretty much anything, short of running around the outside of your house, naked, in the snow, 3 times, counter-clockwise, to get your kid to feel better. Actually, scratch that. You’d probably do that for a $2 bet.
And that’s what makes natural and alternative remedies so appealing. Homeopathy, acupuncture and a host of other disciplines promise results safely without dangerous side effects. And while there are alternative remedies that do work well, there are also a lot of alternative options are not without their concern. In fact, you might want to exercise some serious caution before you sprint down the homeopath.
The Naturally Good News
Happily, there are plenty of natural home remedies that actually can help your kid. These are often the ones that have been passed down from great-grandmother to grandmother to Pinterest. Because a pretty font over a crappy picture of a teacup will get hella pins, yo!
So, yes! Saline solution can help congestion. Cold and hot compresses ease pain. Chicken soup is actually good for the body (though the science is still out on the soul). Ginger tea can help nausea and chamomile can soothe while also making you feel a little less manly as you sip and sigh.
That said, you still need to use caution. For instance, honey, which works as well as many cough relievers, should not be given to kids under a year-old because there is a risk of botulism.
Alternative Medicine Caution
The fields of alternative medicine that include homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic are best used in parallel with conventional medicine. This makes their use “complementary”. Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) is best when performed with the full knowledge and support of your pediatrician. Here’s why:
Alternative Medicine Can Be Dangerous
This is not to say that every CAM treatment is dangerous. But they can be. In 2016, for instance, the FDA issued a dire warning regarding an over-the-counter homeopathic teething remedy. Turns out it contained an herb known as Belladonna, which can be absolutely deadly. And in fact, the FDA investigated 10 infant deaths possibly connected to the teething tablets.
And here’s where people say, “It’s just an herb”. But remember this: there are nearly 120 plant-based compounds that are the basis of many conventional medications. These are medications that often come with serious warnings about side effects. In other words, terms like plant-based, herbal or natural do not necessarily equal safe. After all, beer is natural, but you can still drown in it.
Delayed Treatment Can Cause Greater Harm
There can be a huge danger if you opt for alternative medicine before going down the conventional path. By doing so, you could be delaying some good early intervention and wind up making the medical issue that much worse. That’s why it’s always important to speak to your pediatrician before getting into any alternative treatments. You don’t want your kid slowly developing pneumonia as you poke tiny needles into their skin.
Studies Can Be Misleading
A recent study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine suggested that acupuncture could be shockingly effective for getting colicky babies to stop crying. But that study caused quite a stir among scientists who loudly criticized not only its methods but also its statistical analysis.
The main complaints were that the researchers didn’t take into account that it might have simply been the novelty of the acupuncture ritual that made the babies stop crying. Also, the researchers were measuring so many outcomes that they were bound to come across something that was statistically significant.
It should be noted that there is a very good reason you’d try alternative natural medicines in order to make your kid feel better. Because when you have a kid that can’t tell you what’s going on, and there are so few ways to intervene, it’s easy to feel helpless.
But often times the best intervention for a sick kid is to take some deep breaths and hold them closer. Know that by being there and giving them love and affection, you are in fact helping them heal. Particularly if you’ve already called your pediatrician.
And if your doc says to go ahead and give the naked snow run a shot? Why not. Your buddy’ll probably bet you $2 you’ll never do it.