New Study Reveals 99% Doctors Have Recommended Natural Remedies for Children

  • 76% of doctors have also recommended homeopathic medicine for a
    child
  • Doctors advocated complementary and alternative medicines (CAM)
    where they associated a lower risk of side effects compared to
    conventional medications
  • Doctors involved in the study reported a higher usage of CAM than
    conventional drugs

KARLSRUHE, Germany–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new international study1 of 582 paediatric physicians
published today has found almost all have prescribed or recommended a
complementary and alternative medicine2 (CAM) for a child in
the last year. 99% of the doctors involved in the study – Usage and
attitudes towards homeopathy and natural remedies in general
paediatrics: a cross-country overview –
had recommended a natural
remedy and 76% a homeopathic medicine. Study lead Professor
André-Michael Beer, head physician of the Department of Natural Medicine
in Blankenstein Hospital, Germany, comments: “Evidence suggests an
increased use of natural medicine prescribing in children, but this
study shows us, for the first time, the almost universal acceptance of
complementary medicine and the factors influencing doctors’ decision
making.”

Side effects, when compared to conventional medications, were a key
driver for doctors’ decision making; 70% associated homeopathic
preparations with a lower risk of side effects and 60% for natural
medicines. Dr María Pilar Riveros-Huckstadt, a paediatrician at the
Centro de Salud La Cala in Mijas Costa, Spain, adds: “In paediatrics, it
is good for doctors to have other options such as homeopathy and natural
remedies to recommend for mild ailments such as infant colic and
teething that avoid the potential side effects of conventional
treatments. These natural remedies are effective and can positively
impact the quality of life for young children and their families.”

For which illnesses is CAM recommended?

The study showed that in homeopathy a key indication is teething: 37% of
doctors stated a frequent use. 53% of doctors frequently advocated
natural remedies for upper respiratory tract infections, 45% for infant
colic and 33% for sleep disturbances.

Higher usage of CAM than conventional drugs

The study, published today in peer-reviewed journal Global
Paediatric Health
,
confirms an increased global interest3-15
in alternative remedies for children. In fact, this study highlights a
higher usage of CAM than for conventional drugs. CAM – comprised of
vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS), phytotherapy (extracts of
natural origin) and homeopathy in this study – accounted for 57% of
doctors’ recommendations compared to 43% for conventional drugs in the
same time period.

The impact of personal experience of CAMs on prescribing

Doctors’ personal use of CAM was an indicator of their willingness to
prescribe or recommend these treatments in paediatric patients (53% had
personally used natural remedies, 66% dietary supplements and 43%
homeopathic preparations in the 24 months prior to the study). Silvia
Salatino, International Professional Services Manager at the Deutsche
Homöopathie-Union (DHU), comments: “It is interesting to note that the
doctors in the study who use CAM themselves are more likely to recommend
it for their patients. They know from personal experience that these
medicines help. Often sceptics of homeopathic and natural remedies are
those who have never tried these medicines themselves.”

Parental values influence physician recommendation

81% of paediatric doctors and general practitioners who took part in the
study said they feel comfortable discussing CAM with parents and parent
values highly influenced doctors. Dr Riveros-Huckstadt explains:
“Physicians should feel comfortable discussing the variety of approaches
– conventional and natural – so parents can make informed choices to
suit the individual needs of the child.”

  • 52% of doctors involved in the study reported recommending CAM for
    children of parents who prefer natural or homeopathic remedies
    themselves
  • Across all countries, significantly more physicians recommended CAM
    where parents expressed concerns over conventional drugs. Parents
    worried about side effects (51%) and efficacy of conventional drugs
    (39%) influenced doctors’ recommendations
  • Interestingly one in five doctors (21%) would recommend a natural or
    homeopathic remedy if the parents had a higher education level

Recognition of the benefits of homeopathy

Four out of five agreed they consider all potential therapies, not just
conventional medicine, for childhood illnesses, with 95% of doctors in
the study agreeing with the principles of complementary medicine –
integrating CAM and conventional drugs. Recognition of the benefits and
usage of homeopathy was positive:

  • Over three-quarters of the doctors in the study had recommended a
    homeopathic medicine for a child
  • More than half (51%) agreed homeopathy can enhance recovery and
    symptom relief
  • The study found that recommendation of homeopathic remedies is driven
    by doctors’ belief that they are associated with a lower risk of side
    effects (70%)

-ENDS-

References

1. Beer, Burlaka, Buskin et al. Usage and attitudes towards
homeopathy and natural remedies in general paediatrics: a cross-country
overview. Global Pediatric Health.
2016: 1-8

2. Complementary and alternative medicine, often referred to as ‘CAM’,
is a term used to describe two different concepts. Complementary
medicine is defined as a non-mainstream practice used together with
conventional medicine, while alternative medicine is defined as a
non-mainstream practice used in place of conventional medicine. CAM
includes natural products (such as probiotics, herbs, vitamins/minerals
or homeopathic treatments) and also mind and body practices (such as
acupuncture, massage and meditation). Information sourced from the U.S.
Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health. Last accessed May 2015: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

3. Adams D, Dagenais S, Clifford T, et al. Complementary and alternative
medicine use by pediatric specialty outpatients. Pediatrics.
2013;131:225-232.

4. Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine
use among adults and children: United States, 2007. Natl Health Stat
Report
. 2008;(12):1-23.

5. Cuzzolin L, Zaffani S, Murgia V, et al. Patterns and perceptions of
complementary/alternative medicine among paediatricians and patients’
mothers: a review of the literature. Eur J Paediatr.
2003;162:820-827.

6. Italia S, Wolfenstetter SB, Teuner CM. Patterns of complementary and
alternative medicine (CAM) use in children: a systematic review. Eur
J Paediatr
. 2014;173:1413-1428.

7. Längler A, Zuzak TJ. Complementary and alternative medicine in
paediatrics in daily practice—a European perspective. Complement Ther
Med
. 2013;21:26-33.

8. Vlieger AM, van Vliet M, Jong MC. Attitudes towardss complementary
and alternative medicine: a national survey among paediatricians in the
Netherlands. Eur J Paediatr. 2011;170:619-624.

9. Weissenstein A, Straeter A, Villalon G, Luchter E, Bittmann S. High
frequency of CAM use among children in Germany. J Altern Complement
Med
. 2012;18:729-730.

10. Zuzak TJ, Boňková J, Careddu D, et al. Use of complementary and
alternative medicine by children in Europe: published data and expert
perspectives. Complement Ther Med. 2013;21(suppl 1):34-47.

11. Ekins-Daukes S, Helms PJ, Taylor MW, Simpson CR, McLay JS.
Paediatric homoeopathy in general practice: where, when and why? Br J
Clin Pharmacol
. 2004;59:743-749.

12. Simpson N, Roman K. Complementary medicine use in children: extent
and reasons. A population-based study. Br J Gen Pract.
2001;51:914-916.

13. Spigelblatt L. Homeopathy in the paediatric population. Paediatr
Child Health
. 2005;10:173-177.

14. Van Wassenhoven M, Goossens M, Anelli M, et al. Pediatric
homeopathy: a prospective observational survey based on parent
proxy-reports of their children’s health-related Quality of Life in six
European countries and Brazil. Homeopathy. 2014;103:257-263.

15. Woolf AD. Herbal remedies and children: do they work? Are they
harmful? Pediatrics. 2003;113:1517-1521.

Contacts

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Lara Sutherland
Lara.Sutherland@Ogilvy.com
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