When we talk about alternative medicine, we are usually referring to any type of remedy that falls outside of what’s considered to be mainstream medicine. However, even alternative therapies are becoming more mainstream these days and the line between the two has become more blurred. That’s great news for mums who are looking for ways to support their children’s health in a more natural way! Here’s what you need to know about alternative therapies for children.
The benefits of childhood massage
Childhood massage is beneficial for children of any age, even newborn infants. We all know how great a massage is for adults, but what can it do for kids?
Well, the first and most obvious is that it helps them relax and reduces stress, without the need for medication. That’s great news for children suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders!
Massage is also a wonderful thing for premature infants because it stimulates the vagus nerve. Stimulating this nerve enhances gastric motility, lung function, lymph circulation, and blood flow. It also supports the development of the brain and nervous system in children of all ages.
And, here’s some good news for tired parents everywhere! Massage therapy can help infants and children who suffer from insomnia by increasing their serotonin levels and regulating melatonin production. These are the hormones that control sleep patterns, so regulating them encourages deeper sleep.
While all of these benefits are amazing, perhaps the most important benefit of childhood massage is that it enhances the bond between the child and their parent. Infant massage is a great way to connect with your newborn, and it encourages you both to relax. In older children, it’s an opportunity to soothe anxiety, talk, and connect.
If you are interested in getting started with infant or childhood massage, there are many videos and books that will teach you how to perform basic massage yourself. Or, you could seek out a certified massage therapist who specializes in massage for infants and children.
The benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for kids
Yoga is another alternative practice that is popular among adults, but many people don’t realize that it can be beneficial for children, too. First, it’s a non-competitive way for children to learn about and accept their bodies and improve self-esteem.
One of the main philosophies of yoga is acceptance. Kids who practice yoga learn to accept and respect all living things. And, of course, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
But yoga takes things a step further by teaching children about meditation and mindfulness so they can calm themselves, manage anxiety and stress, and focus their minds.
Today’s lifestyle is full of distractions! Yoga and meditation help kids learn how to be present, mindful, and focus on the task at hand. Going through the various yoga poses also teaches kids about correct body alignment and how to be more self-aware.
If you are interested in getting your child started with yoga and meditation practice, there are lots of great resources available! You can find free videos online or sign up for a streaming yoga video service. The two of you can even do the videos together, which is great for bonding time.
Many communities also offer Mummy and Me yoga classes for kids of all ages. Most yoga videos and classes will include a meditation section as part of the routine, but there are also plenty of free guided meditation videos available online.
Acupuncture for kids
Acupuncture is popular among adults seeking relief from insomnia, anxiety and depression, pain, and much more without the need for pharmaceuticals. Acupuncture needles are ultra-fine, and the treatments are virtually painless, but it might be tough to get your child on board with the idea! The question is, is it worth it?
Science proves that acupuncture is not only safe for children, it’s also extremely helpful for kids who are suffering from back pain, stomachaches, headaches, depression, anxiety, and other chronic complaints. There’s also evidence that acupuncture can be helpful for common childhood ailments like the common cold, flu, digestive issues, asthma, and allergies.
It turns out that acupuncture is just as beneficial for kids as it is for adults, and it’s a great way to provide treatment without turning to medications that can be especially hard on a child’s system. An acupuncture physician will often make recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes that will benefit your child as well.
If you’re ready to try acupuncture for your child, ensure that the location you visit is licensed in and has experience working with children. For exaple, the experts at the Yinova Center acupuncture clinic are industry leaders in treating children – some as young as a few days old! They understand that performing acupuncture treatments on kids involves working with “a moving target” that is energized, sporadic, and potentially fearful.
They focus on helping their young patients overcome any fear by incorporating playtime at the clinic before they begin treatment to build a relationship of trust and ease any tension. If your child is especially nervous, another idea to consider is having them watch you receive treatment first, so they know exactly what to expect.
Herbal remedies and supplements for common childhood ailments
If you are looking for a way to support your children through common childhood ailments like colds, sore throats, fevers, tummy aches, and other conditions without drugs, you might want to explore herbal remedies and supplements for kids.
Here are some common childhood ailments and how they can be treated with natural remedies:
- Sore Throats: Slippery elm is an excellent herbal remedy for sore throats. You can find it at your health food store in a flavored lozenge or powdered form with instructions for administering it to kids or adults.
- Minor Cuts & Burns: Aloe vera gel and Manuka honey are both wonderful for encouraging healing and preventing infections in minor burns and cuts. They can both be applied directly to the injured area and then covered with a bandage to keep the area clean.
- Allergies & Asthma: Keeping your child’s gut and immune system healthy with probiotics is a great way to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E are all great for reducing the airway inflammation and wheezing that go hand in hand with both conditions.
- Bacterial Infections: Elderberry, echinacea, and goldenseal are all fantastic natural alternatives to antibiotics for kids. You can find them at your health food store in a variety of formulations, including syrups, chewables, and teas. If you’re child likes to sip on tea, be sure to stir in some Manuka honey, which also has antibiotic properties.
- Eczema and Other Skin Conditions: Coconut oil is a fantastic way to treat eczema and other skin conditions naturally because it has antibacterial properties. Eczema and other skin outbreaks are often triggered by stress, the alternative therapies for children mentioned above can also be helpful for managing these types of conditions.
- Anxiety & Stress: As mentioned above, yoga/meditation, acupuncture, and massage are all fantastic ways to relieve your child’s stress and anxiety. Chamomile tea is also wonderfully calming and can be especially useful if your child has a hard time falling asleep.
- Tummy Aches: Ginger is a traditional remedy that works very well for nausea and vomiting. Chamomile is also very calming and soothing for stomach aches and cramping. Both of these herbs can be given to kids in tea form.
- Diarrhea & Constipation: Probiotics are a safe and natural way to address diarrhea in kids. They’re easy to administer by simply giving your child yogurt and other probiotic foods to snack on. For constipation, encourage your child to snack on high-fiber foods like raisins, or prunes and increase their fluid intake.
- Earaches: Mullein oil can be found at most health food stores and it’s a great way to relieve pain, inflammation, and irritation in the ear.
- Colds, Coughs, & Fever: Low-grade fevers respond very well to ginger tea. Ginger also helps to kill off the rhinovirus that causes the common cold. It’s great for relieving coughs and congestion too. Elderberry syrup can also be helpful for shortening the duration of the cold.
To learn more about herbal remedies for kids, consult with an herbalist, naturopathic physician, or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who is trained to work with children.
In years past, the safety and effectiveness of alternative medicine have been controversial, especially for children. Now that research has proven how safe and beneficial it actually is, it’s much easier to find qualified alternative practitioners.
In many cases, they will work hand in hand with your conventional doctor. In fact, many conventional doctors will even recommend alternative therapies as part of an overall treatment plan.
If you are interested in having more control over your child’s healthcare and using more natural treatments, seek out a healthcare provider who is open to the use of alternative therapies for children.
As an experienced content creator, Donna has covered numerous topics in the realms of health, beauty, lifestyle, and the arts. She has written for various publications and can often be found conducting research for her latest article. Donna spends her free time exploring New York City, where her days are filled with new life experiences and adventures to write about!