When I wake to a little one asking for honey, I know I've got a sick boy with a sore throat or cough. At our house we start with a spoonful of honey for these symptoms. That thick, sticky, antimicrobial natural medicine often does the trick in the middle of the night, allowing my little guy to return to peaceful sleep despite congestion, sore throat and/or cough. Of course, I don't rely solely on natural remedies. I also stock children's ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Emetrol (for upset tummies), homeopathic cold and flu tabs from Boiron, medicated cough suppressant rub (a God send for stuffy, congested, croupy, snotty nights) and medicated first aid salve; both from J.R. Watkins Apothecary.
Treating our Kids Right
Intuition, a gut feeling, a sixth sense, instinct; call it what you will, but whatever it is, as a mom, I listen to mine frequently. When it comes to deciphering whether my son's runny nose and cough is just a cold; my son's headache and vomiting are actually strep throat in disguise; or I should make a bee line to the emergency room when his fever spikes, even when the nurse on the phone tells me I can wait and see, I trust my gut instinct and seek appropriate treatment.
A parent's primary interests are the health and safety of his or her child. To that end, the parent tunes in to the child to pick up signs of distress or ailment in order to attack any infection at the first symptom.
The question is when a parent goes in to battle an earache, teething pain, the flu, a cold, a cough, an upset tummy or other treatable malady does Dr. Mom or Dr. Dad reach for pharmaceutical drugs or homeopathic remedies to soothe and restore the health of the sick child? There are now just as many homeopathic remedies to choose from as there are pharmaceutical drugs.
Homeopathy has been around for hundreds of years, but has only recently become more mainstream. Europe has been much more open to such treatments, but in the last decade the United States has begun to embrace these natural remedies spending billions of dollars on homeopathic products.
From the Greek words "homio" meaning like or similar and "pathos" meaning treatment, homeopathy is the practice of healing the body with highly diluted natural occurring substances that create similar symptoms when taken in large doses. It's a natural way of providing remedies to ailments, but not everyone believes that homeopathic remedies work.
Some parents question whether these natural elixirs are safe for their kids to use and would rather stick to over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs. Other parents have opted to take a better look at alternative medicines in light of the recent over-the-counter children's pharmaceutical drug recalls due to dosing issues in some instances and tiny metal shavings in another instance. And some parents have always used homeopathic remedies as their first line of defense when it comes to minor injuries and illnesses.
Homeopathic Remedies & Pharmaceutical Drugs
Homeopathic remedies are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does categorize homeopathic remedies as a drug rather than a dietary supplement. Remedies labeled as such must meet the FDA's standards of Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS) just as pharmaceutical drugs must meet the agency's United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards. However, according to the FDA's Compliance Policy Guide (CPG), compliance with the HPUS or USP "does not establish that it has been shown by appropriate means to be safe, effective, and not misbranded for its intended use."
So, are these remedies safe for use by children? Most doctors agree they are safe for use. Some doctors even subscribe to such treatments in place of over-the-counter pharmaceutical remedies. Since the active ingredients are so greatly diluted, there isn't much danger in overdosing as is a big concern with over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs meant for children.
These remedies are natural and non-toxic and should not cause any adverse reactions. Even still, care should be taken to discontinue use if any negative side effects appear. Of course, if the illness persists for more than five days, the child should see a doctor for further treatment.
Hyland's and Boiron are two of the leading homeopathic remedies companies in the U.S. These companies provide hundreds of natural remedies for both children and adults and are stocked in pharmacies, natural foods stores and co-ops across the country.
Whether homeopathy truly works is subject to debate. There are those who are devoted followers those who think homeopathic remedies are simply a placebo; and those who dabble in homeopathy with medicine cabinets filled with homeopathic remedies standing shoulder to shoulder with pharmaceutical drugs.
Many parents like the idea of using natural cures to soothe their kids when they suffer mild illnesses, injuries or pains, but will turn to ibuprofen or acetaminophen when the fever shoots up in the middle of the night. For most parents, it's a delicate balancing act of keeping as many toxins and potentially harmful substances out of their children's bodies while maintaining their health and wellness.
So, where do you fall in this wide spectrum? I'm more of a dabbler with both pharmaceutical drugs and homeopathic remedies in my cabinet. Here's hoping for a healthy holiday season! Over and out...