In Canada, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) continues to grow. And this is not unique to the adult population, as many parents choose to pursue CAM for their children as well. One of the more popular forms of CAM for children and adolescents is naturopathy. Naturopathy is an approach to health based on preventative care, with a focus on using non-invasive techniques such as heat, light, and massage as treatment. The emphasis is on helping the body heal itself. Herbal products may also be used, with prescription medications prescribed in rare cases (and, of course, only in cases where the naturopath is licensed to do so).
In Canada, naturopaths are licensed to practice in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. In other provinces and territories, naturopaths may still practice, although there is no licensing board. Find out what the regulations are in your area, and check that your practitioner holds all the required accreditation.
If you are considering integrative medicine for your child, it is key to keep both your medical doctor and complementary health practitioner informed. In Canada, a recent study showed that naturopaths are often the first point of health care contact for children and adolescents, and that parents tend to not disclose all naturopathic therapies to their medical doctor. Keeping the channels of communication open between all involved practitioners is key to the best possible care for your child.
An ongoing concern many medical doctors have about pediatric use of naturopathic medicine involves vaccinations. While some naturopaths support vaccination, others do not, and it remains a contentious issue in the naturopathic community. Research shows that the rate of immunization among those children under CAM care is lower than the Canadian average. As with any important health care matter, it's always a wise idea to seek out more than one expert opinion before making any decisions. This helps ensure you have an awareness of the issues and a balanced understanding of the benefits and risks.
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