Herbal Supplements and Children

Herbal treatments are becoming popular. These treatments come from plants and can either be pills, powders, shampoos, salves, or ointments.  Herbal supplements are not just utilized by adults. Many parents are giving their children these supplements.  These parents face the daily decision whether or not to medicate their children for everything from simple fevers, to ADHD, to psychosis.

Alternative medicine is being used on children as young as infants. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a study in which 9 percent of mothers stated they give their infants herbal teas or supplements (Voelker, 2009).  Neither are regulated by the FDA.  If using alternative medications parents must keep this in mind.  They must also keep in mind that children absorb these chemicals differently than adults, and therefore could have a different, perhaps adverse, reaction (Kapalka, 2010).

As more parents begin to utilize dietary supplements with their children, more studies need to be conducted to show the efficacy of these different supplements and alternative treatments (Science Letter, 2005). Until studies are completed to show the safety of these herbs and supplements parents should take into consideration the  American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Children with Disabilities  guidelines for parents whose children have chronic diseases (Woolfe, 2003).

Parents and doctors must take certain things into consideration before giving children any non prescribed or unregulated supplements.

* Parents should not equate “natural” with “safe.”
* Parents should seek expert guidance when considering the use of CAM practices, including herbal remedies, and avoid self-medication.
* Herbs and plants (just like drugs) may have beneficial effects as well as expected and sometimes unanticipated toxicity.
* Unlike drugs, herbal products have not been scrutinized by the FDA, so it is truly a case of “buyer beware.” Variable and unpredictable concentrations, ingredients, and contaminants are of concern, especially when such products are used in children.
* Parents should inform clinicians of any herb or dietary supplement that they are giving their children  (Woolfe, 2003).

Related Blogs:




“How effective are herbal supplements in reducing illnesses in children?” Science Letter  Academic OneFile.  Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CA267760670&v=2.1&u=pres1571&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

Kapalka, G. M. (2010). Nutritional and herbal therapies for children and adolescents: A handbook for mental health clinicians. San Diego, CA US: Elsevier Academic Press. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Voelker, R. (2011). Study: Up to 1 in 10 infants given herbal supplements, teas by their mother. The Journal of the American Medical Association,305 (21),2161.doi:10-1001/jama.2011.717Woolf, A.D. (2003). Herbal remedies and children: do they work? Are they harmful?.    Pediatrics, 112 (1), 240-246.

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