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New Approaches to Health Care “Alternative” Therapies Now Mainstream for Many Families

Written by Jolene Gensheimer   
Friday, 01 June 2007 00:00
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After enduring 50 hours in labor and the Caesarean Section birth of her son Anson, Kim Pham of Seattle did not head straight home from the hospital to rest.

She took her 3-day-old son directly to a chiropractor because she was concerned about the effects of the difficult labor and the unnatural tugging and pulling from the C-section on her new baby’s spine.

Inna Garkavi of Bellevue regularly takes her 6-year-old son Benji to an acupuncturist to strengthen his immune system and reduce the effects of his asthma. Since beginning acupuncture, Benji has had fewer colds and has not had an asthma attack, allowing him to avoid the steroids commonly used to treat asthma. Garkavi also gives him herbal supplements such as astragalus and elderberry to boost his immune system.

Last spring, now 3-year-old Caden Ward of Seattle was hospitalized three times due to his asthma and suffers from severe food allergies to wheat, oats, soy, peanuts, chocolate and eggs. His mom, Jennifer, sought advice from a registered dietitian. Through diet and the use of supplements such as cod liver oil and acidophilus, Caden has not had another asthma attack and has been able to re-introduce some foods with no allergic reactions.

“I feel it is an important part of parenting to seek out the best treatment for your child. If conventional medicine isn’t giving us the answers we need, then it is our job to seek out as much information as possible and make the best choices for our kids,” Ward says.

Ward and other parents are among a growing number of parents branching out from traditional medicine and approaching health in a more holistic manner. With disturbing questions raised in the news about antibiotic overuse and side effects of various drugs, many parents are incorporating both traditional and holistic health care practitioners into their family’s health care routine.

“There is a lot of concern about very young people becoming increasingly medicated,” says Bruce Milliman, ND, a naturopathic physician at Seattle Healing Arts, who has been practicing for 25 years. “Parents ask, ‘Is it really possible that my child needs to be medicated before 5 years old?’ In the past, that would be unusual, and now it is more commonplace. I think it is disturbing to parents who might be more thoughtful or better educated.”

“On average, about 40 percent of Americans use complementary therapies,” adds Anjana Kundu, an MD and acupuncturist who is the director of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

Recognizing the public’s strong interest in holistic health care, the US federal government in 1998 created the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (replacing the Office of Alternative Medicine, founded in 1992) and is pouring $123 million into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research this year alone.

Given the increasing number of adults now using a variety of health care, it is not surprising that parents are also choosing those options for their children. A study recently conducted in Boston indicates that about 42 percent of children in that city use complementary or alternative medicine. Although a study of children using CAM has not yet been conducted here, local providers suspect that the numbers could be even higher in the Seattle area.