By Sarah Harris, FGHG Paediatric & Family Naturopath
Did you know Australians spend more on vitamins and supplements than on prescription drugs? With over 11,000 complementary medicine products for sale in Australia it’s no surprise to find bewildered parents doing their best to choose a supplement that might help their child feel better, healthier or happier. As a naturopath I often feel compelled to stand beside these parents in supermarkets and chemists to offer assistance; but ultimately it is better to direct my focus toward lovingly consulting with children and parents to determine their real treatment needs.
Children’s health requirements are special given their immature physiology and varied nutritional requirements. Self- prescribing, whilst appropriate in simple cases, could end up costing more than you expect in time, money and results if you make the wrong selection. In many cases it is very important to seek advice on individual treatment. When you are clear about the real needs for your child’s health, you can be confident if and when you choose to buy natural medicines off the shelf.
Different stages of development require a tailored approach for every age and size, degree of fussiness, absorption ability, and consideration given to any possible underlying health condition. Professional prescribing for your child ensures appropriate dosing, directions and advice on various ways to get the right medicines into kids, with more fun and palatable options.
Spending time with a naturopath to understand your child’s health can be both educational and reassuring. Along with prescribing appropriate treatments, we often share fantastic traditional remedies that can have the same or better effect as some of the off the shelf remedies found in the chemist or supermarket. Many traditional remedies have been confirmed by scientific studies to have healing effects and they are readily available, if you know what you’re looking for. For example:
German Chamomile tea enhances sleep and is well known for its calming effect. Beneficial for children who are distressed and unable to sleep and many children enjoy the taste. Research shows that it improves the ability to fall asleep without affecting daytime functioning and cognitive performance. It is also useful for teething, and for irritable children with “nervous tummies”, having a soothing effect on digestive upsets, a common symptom of stress in children.
Using food as medicine is also a fabulous way to improve the long term health of your child. But with so many different opinions in the media and online, it can be difficult to know whose opinion you can trust. Many issues can be resolved through proper assessment and appropriate recommendations for your child’s diet. When a child has a nutritionally balanced diet and you use foods as medicine; naturopathic advice, supplementation and herbal medicines can be the additional layer of treatment when you need the big guns to prevent illness and treat acute or chronic conditions.
When there is so much to know and understand about your child’s health, it makes sense to seek tailored naturopathic advice and invest in child-friendly medicines, suitable for even the fussiest of kids. Taking the guess work out of choosing remedies for your family can give you peace of mind, better results and reassurance that the medicines going in will be safe and effective.
Sarah Harris, FGHG paediatric naturopath and nutritionist
Sarah is a qualified and experienced naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist with more than a decade of knowledge and practice in complementary medicine. As a mother of three children and highly skilled in providing naturopathic care, Sarah has a special interest in treating children of all ages. Her empathetic and kind nature instills comfort and confidence when providing advice to parents about their child’s health and she works well with families and individuals to find solutions for health concerns.