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Dr Russ Blog - Integrative healthcare for children?
Integrative healthcare for children?
Created on 3/19/2009

M wants to know how a parent can identify a pediatrician who is knowledgeable about complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies.

Let me state my bias up front - I don't enjoy the terms "alternative" (implies we're not using conventional medical care at all) or "complementary" (gives no sense of a philosophical change in our healthcare system, where treatment of disease is the centerpiece). I prefer an approach that is integrative, defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (mind, body and spirit) including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.  

A growing number of pediatricians are are becoming learned in the art of integrative pediatrics, where the focus is on the healing relationship between child, family and physician; where all forms of available care are appropriately and critically assessed for their potential benefit to unique children; where it's understood that children are not simply "little adults" but growing humans whose systems are not yet fully developed; and where the emphasis is on the prevention of illness, not simply the treatment of disease. 

It's getting easier to find such pediatricians in our communities - even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a special section on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. So ask around, check out the AAP web site as well as the web site of The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and The American Holistic Medicine Association - there you might be able to find a pediatrician close to where you live who practices integratively.

When it comes to children's health my stance is quite firm - work with a practitioner who understands and uses conventional medicine appropriately, and who is open to select CAM therapies that research shows are safe and effective for children.

There are many good resources for parents interested in integrative medicine. I'm particularly fond of one (!)... Good friend Stuart Ditchek, M.D. (a pediatrician), Lynn Willeford (a knowledgeable and gifted writer) and I just had the second edition of our book Healthy Child, Whole Child (HarperCollins 2009) released in stores, but you can also take it out from your local public library branch for free. I speak for all 3 of us when I say I hope the information found within its covers serves children and parents (and grandparents) alike well.

I hope this helps, M. Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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