Ask a parent what could be more important than their children’s health and the answer is swift: “Nothing.” Parents instinctively place the health of their kids above all else.
That concern has led some parents to explore holistic pediatrics. Focusing on much more than just a quick fix for a specific ailment or issue, holistic pediatricians are intent on getting to the root of an illness.
“Holistic pediatrics involves patience, time and gaining an understanding of the process of healing,” explains Lawrence Palevsky, MD.
The holistic approach extends beyond the physical to the emotional, environmental and mental well-being of a child. Holistic pediatricians investigate how symptoms initially arose and then prescribe overall lifestyle changes that don’t involve harmful side effects.
What’s more, Palevsky notes that the holistic approach to pediatrics fosters a family “wellness team,” in which parents become aware of how their own actions impact their children and what steps may be taken to promote whole-family health.
Letting the Body Heal Itself
One of the key elements in the holistic approach to pediatrics is the use of natural substances for health support. In many instances, the recommended substance isn’t necessarily designed to cure the illness. Rather, it is intended to kick-start the body into more effectively healing itself.†
Though self-healing is an appealing notion, holistic pediatricians stress to parents that there are rarely any easy, surefire remedies, particularly since there are many factors involved in each child’s situation.
Although some parents bring in kids with what may be a one-time ailment, most of the children that Palevsky sees have some form of chronic illness. Common ailments include neurological disorders, asthma, allergies, behavioral problems, sleep issues, ear infections and eczema.†
Palevsky has found that some clients are looking to further their education, exploring every possible path to peak wellness. Others are often well educated on many holistic therapies.
“These parents are pretty independent,” Palevsky explains. “They use me as their doctor, but primarily as a backup. They are the primary care providers for their children and they’re looking for a consultant.”
To ensure that the whole family is on the same holistic health page, Palevsky addresses concerned parents’ questions with sensitivity.
“I offer them proof that where I’m coming from is not manufactured and it’s not from outer space—that it has validity and it has scientific backing,” Palevsky explains.
Holistic-minded pediatricians consistently see improper diet as contributing to children’s ailments.
Palevsky notes that of all the possible factors contributing to a child’s condition, “diet does seem to have the greatest impact, not only in the healing of the children, but how quickly they heal.”†
Holistic pediatricians tend to focus on food preparation. Slight changes in the kitchen—such as foregoing convenience foods for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and other whole foods—may lead to significantly better health.†
All in the Family
Intriguingly, many of the recommendations made by holistic doctors aren’t merely intended for the child—they extend to the whole family.
“If parents are willing to, they’ll see that what I’m recommending for the child is just as beneficial for them,” Palevsky says. “Even though the recommendations are targeted to the child, a lot of the shifts must happen with parents as well.”
Obviously, health crises such as a broken bone or severe asthma attack will require immediate conventional care. Further, to decrease the risk of neglecting symptoms, parents should always work with healthcare practitioners who diagnose illness using all available techniques as needed.
It is important to note, though, that the holistic approach to pediatrics does not shun conventional medicine; it exists to complement the beneficial aspects of these standard practices.
Take ear infections, for example. A parent may wish to discuss all treatment options with the doctor and then use home-based therapies first, keeping antibiotics—often used as a first-line approach in standard pediatrics—in reserve if an infection proves difficult to clear through more holistic means.†
“What I’m most interested in is the education of the parent and then watching them take the information, go off into their lives and fly,” says Palevsky. “Once they do that, they see the fruits of their labor.”
There is no association of holistic pediatricians, which means you’ll have to look for a practitioner yourself.
In addition to searching locally, you can do an internet search for “naturopathic physicians” in your state. Most of these sites have a find-a-doctor tab; see if this function lets you search by specialty. Keep in mind, though, that pediatricians who practice holistically may come from any number of backgrounds, including conventional medicine (MD).
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.