One area that the fast-growing alternative wellness space has not focused on in marketing campaigns to date is pediatric care. Despite this, there is a large and growing body of young people who are practicing various natural remedies to remain fit and treat their health issues. Over ten percent of all children under the age of 18 practice yoga, see a chiropractor, take natural supplements such as fish oil, or use another form of alternative treatment according to a recent survey. Amongst these supplements such as fish oil, flaxseed-based products, various herb capsules, and probiotics are the most popular.
The high rate of use, especially of professionals such as chiropractors, was surprising to some within the field given the relative healthiness of the pediatric population relative to their adult counterparts. Some of the surprise has translated into a push to do more- increased research in pediatrics, especially with some of the supplements, to ensure safety and perhaps efficacy. Things like dosing can be especially tricky in kids as most healthcare professionals know. Beyond that, the survey results are an interesting glimpse into what newer generations might look towards and how they might utilize various forms of care.
The largest driver of pediatric use of alternative and complementary options seems to be parental use. Children whose parents use alternative therapies are five times as likely to use them themselves, especially as they get older and witness their parents’ choices and better understand them. Teenagers are especially likely to turn to alternative treatments based on parental use.
An interesting aside that is relevant to the discussion is that the definitions of alternative treatments are constantly changing, which do have an impact on surveys and results such as these. Many in medicine have seen a shift that suggests a blurring of the lines between traditional medicine and alternative medicine, which may turn out to have unwanted side effects as people have more trouble differentiating what is what and what is backed by evidence and what is not. This is where healthcare providers and alternative practitioners such as chiropractors will have a growing role- in patient education in this regard.
Some allopathic doctors have questioned the new study results due to the inclusion of certain products labeled as alternative treatments. Namely, fish oil is one that has raised some eyebrows because that is a product that is regularly recommended in traditional medicine for those with lipid abnormalities. There are even a couple of FDA-approved prescription products in the United States which are fish oil. Including these as alternative treatment might be misleading, throwing the numbers off in turn, especially because they constituted a significant portion of use. More research is likely needed to really get down to where the trends are in natural product use amongst young people. Future studies may focus more on strict definition of natural products and greater stratification of types of natural products used. Either way, it is undeniable that things appear to be changing and the healthcare and wellness space continues to evolve as new information comes out.
Image credit: filmfoto