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Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine, also known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), refers to health care practices that aren’t normally used in traditional or conventional medicine, therefore requiring their own distinction. Statistics show that when it comes to Pediatric Integrative Medicine (PIM), 12% of the general pediatric population and as much as 80% of children with chronic conditions use a PIM approach.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Integrative medicine can help people with cancer, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and many other conditions better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life by reducing fatigue, pain, and anxiety. Examples of common practices include:”

  • Acupuncture
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Dietary supplements
  • Massage therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Meditation
  • According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the basic principles behind Integrative Medicine include:

  • Prevention is the key to good health
  • Your body has the ability to heal itself
  • Learning and healing go hand in hand
  • Holistic care
  • The site also states, “Studies have suggested CAM usage at nearly 50 percent of children with Autism and 20 percent of children with ADHD.”

    When Integrative Medicine is applied in treating children, a variety of different methods may be used, including homeopathy, naturopathy, herbs, dietary supplements, acupuncture, and massage. Treatment plans are customized to the needs of each child and take into account the root causes of the issue instead of simply treating the symptoms -- similar to a Functional Medicine approach.

    According to a study done at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2014, Pediatric Integrative Medicine may prove beneficial to children with ADHD, and therapies may include nutritional supplements, neurofeedback, dietary therapies, and environmental hygiene.

    Dr. Joseph Cannizzaro, a pediatrician in Florida, uses Integrative Medicine to treat children with special needs and has seen impressive results. Dr. Cannizzaro says on his website:

     “As a pediatrician for over 40 years, I’ve concluded that a spectrum of treatments is required to heal kids with special needs. And while each child presents differently, I’ve found they all improve with the proper nutritional and biomedical interventions. Combining proper medical attention with communication, behavioral, and social therapies provide the support needed to help these children thrive healthfully.”

    One of the methods of treatment he uses is salt therapy, to detoxify and reduce inflammation in the body. He indicates that salt has a calming effect on the nervous system and adds, “... Children on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorder enjoy the tactile nature of the room. They love to sit in the soothing environment, which is a safe indoor play space, and feel the salt run between their fingers.”

    Dr. Cannizzaro is also the author of Answers for the 4-A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies.

    There are many other possibilities for integrative therapies that practitioners might use. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) gives examples of other treatments on their website, which include breathing techniques, guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, and massage therapy.

    The Director of Pediatric Integrative Medicine at CCMC, Ana Maria Verissimo, explains more about Pediatric Integrative Medicine in this video.

    To research more about Integrative Medicine and to find a practitioner, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.