• Alternative Medicine

    More and more families of children with special needs are turning to complementary, integrative or alternative medicine. These treatment options are used in addition to, or in place of, traditional western medicine. The Complex Care Center provides reliable information and resources.

  • Generally complementary, alternative and/or integrative medicine (CAM) can be defined as a broad set of healthcare practices that are not easily integrated into the dominant health care model, because they pose significant challenges to societal beliefs and practices.

    • Complementary and integrative implies that these therapies are performed in addition to, and not in place of, conventional medicine.
    • Alternative refers to therapies that are a replacement to conventional therapy.
    • Health care-related goals of CAM generally include:
      • Using natural remedies rather than artificial drugs
      • Treating the cause of the problem versus the symptoms
      • Treating the whole person instead of the disease
    • Examples of CAM can include massage, herbal medicines and acupuncture, nutritional supplements, chiropractic, electromagnetic, and hyperbaric oxygen.

    To decide whether or not a complementary, alternative and/or integrative medicine is right for your child, here are some important guidelines:

    • Evaluate the risk and benefits critically. Both CAM and conventional care have risks and benefits. Patients and their families should be equally inquisitive when considering either type of care.
    • It is important to weigh alternatives critically and talk to the doctor before following medical advice from the internet, a celebrity or any other source.
    • All medical regimens should consider the whole patient, including general nutrition, stress, accompanying conditions, family supports and spiritual belief system.
    • Talk with your child's physician(s). The best outcomes for treatment necessitate open communication between the patient / family and physician on all medications and therapies being used.
    • "Natural" products and herbal medicines are not necessarily safer. Some plant-based medicines may contain lead, mercury or arsenic.
    • Read labels carefully and choose products made by members of the American Herbal Product Association or look for supplements with a seal showing their contents have been verified by the U.S. Pharmacopeia. 
    • Most effective CAM eventually becomes conventional care. The greatest increase in longevity and quality of life in the past century occurred when CAM therapies that are scientifically proven to be beneficial and cost-effective are incorporated with conventional medicine.
    • Currently there are no appropriate scientific guidelines to ensure the safety and efficacy of CAM.
    • More studies need to be done on complementary, alternative and / or integrative medicine and its use with children

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has put together a list of web sites that provide information about alternative therapies. These resources will help educate parents and professionals about the complex issues sometimes involved, as well as the risks and benefits of specific therapies. 

  • Contact Us

    We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.