At Children’s Wellness Center (CWC), we’ve certainly seen evidence of the growing trend toward using as many natural products and foods as possible. For the most part, wanting to keep your child’s diet and routine as natural and wholesome as possible is wonderful, because we seem to be learning more and more every day about the dangers of certain processed foods and overmedicating. But unfortunately, not all “natural products” and “home remedies” are as safe or effective as they claim to be. As a parent, as good as your intentions are, it can be difficult to know what is truly the best for your child. So our board-certified pediatricians and other licensed providers are weighing in on some popular trends you should be cautious about.
Colloidal silver is made from tiny particles of silver (yes, the metal used in jewelry) mixed into liquid. It’s been sold as a home remedy for nearly any illness you can imagine—bacterial infections, viruses, and even cancer and HIV/AIDS. However, the FDA has rejected colloidal silver. Not only is the product ineffective for treating any known medical condition, but it has been found to cause a number of potential health problems. The most common issue from ingesting silver is a condition called argyria, a blue-gray discoloration of the skin which, unfortunately, does not go away when you stop taking colloidal silver, and because no effective treatment has been found, the discoloration is usually life-long. In some cases, colloidal silver can also interfere with medications a child needs, like antibiotics and thyroid medicine, and in rare cases, it can also lead to kidney damage or seizures.
While mentholated chest rubs can make a child feel like some of their congestion has been relieved by producing a cool sensation, research has shown that these rubs actually have little or no effect on cold symptoms. And sadly, these products do have potential problems. If they are incorrectly placed directly under the nose (as opposed to on the chest, back, or throat as instructed), they can irritate the airways and make breathing difficulties worse, especially for children with asthma. If they are accidentally or purposely ingested, they can have more serious health consequences.
Chiropractics for Allergies, Asthma, etc.
Chiropractics is a legitimate medical field that can treat a variety of issues with the musculoskeletal system. However, some chiropractors claim to treat problems that they cannot. While spinal adjustments can sometimes be effective in treating back pain, they cannot address other types of illness, like asthma, ear infections, allergies, or acid reflux. If your child is suffering from these or any other health conditions, be sure to schedule an appointment in our pediatric patient portal for a medical exam so we can treat the issue safely and effectively, or refer you to a qualified specialist if necessary.
As one of the latest and most popular health trends, essential oils are now being used in homes everywhere. But even though they are a natural product, these oils are so highly concentrated that they carry some risks, especially for children. Because children and infants have thinner skin, they absorb topical products more easily. Some oils can have unintended harmful effects when they get into the child’s system. As one example, endocrinologists are concerned that lavender and tea tree oils may be endocrine disrupters, which can lead to precocious puberty. Children also tend to try to ingest essential oils, but they choke on the bitter taste, sending some of the oil into their lungs, which is particularly dangerous. If you do use essential oils, be sure to follow these tips:
- Check to make sure all of your oils are safe for use around children. Certain oils are more dangerous than others, including tea tree, eucalyptus, camphor, lavender, clove, thyme, and wintergreen oils, and more.
- Keep all of your oils in a secure place out of your child’s reach.
- Do not use oils on or around children under two years old.
- If you use topical oils, always dilute them heavily in a skin-safe “carrier oil” like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil.
- Keep oils away from a child’s airways.
- Avoid using essential oils with vaporizers if your child or another family member has respiratory issues.
- Do not use essential oils in teething recipes.
- Never give essential oils to a child by mouth, or take essential oils by mouth if you are pregnant.
While honey is a go-to sweetener for parents who want to avoid processed sugars, it should never be given to babies less than twelve months old. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, honey can contain a specific type of spore that causes infant botulism in babies under one year old.
At Children’s Wellness Center, we have the same goal you do: seeing your child as healthy and happy as possible. While we respect the desire to give your child a more natural, wholesome life, you should do so with discretion, look for reliable medical sources, and seek the advice of a board-certified pediatrician before you try something new. If you have specific questions about home remedies, give us a call or schedule an appointment. For pediatrician-approved health tips and more, follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.