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Mindful Parenting: Raising Happy, Healthy Kids
Nature's Way and Modern Medicine

"A lot of parents out there are looking for different choices around health, not necessarily to choose alternative versus medical treatment but to use an integrated form of the two types of things together," says Mary Bove, N.D., a naturopathic physician in practice at the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic in Brattleboro, Vt.

In her practice Bove acts much like a primary care physician doing general family medicine. But as a naturopath, the remedies she prescribes are most often herbal treatments that are aimed at jumpstarting or fortifying the body's immune system to fight off sickness, particularly when it comes to young children.

"Between the ages of two and five-years-old, many children have repetitive respiratory problems: earaches, sore throats, runny noses. They see the pediatrician but the child is not sick. It doesn't warrant antibiotic treatment, yet the child still is not feeling well, so the parent is looking for some alternatives; whether or not they can do things in lifestyle, diet, or supplements that would help the child to become more resistant to sickness.

"When I look at a child I look for a number of things. Could there be an allergic response here? Could the child be interfacing with something in their life on a daily basis that's creating an immune response and making their immune system be on alert so it becomes hypersensitive?"

But naturopathy is, in many instances, not enough to combat some of the more common infectious ailments that can spread rapidly among school age children. Antibiotics have their place in the overall care of children according to Mary Bove, but she does question the frequency with which they seem to be prescribed.

"The question about antibiotics is, a lot of people want to look at them as they're either good or bad. And I think that it's whether they're appropriate for the situation or not. There are some very clear situations in which they are appropriate and they should be implemented at that time. And then there are some situations in which I feel often they're overused or misused.

"One might be a child who has fluid in the ear. Fluid in the ear is a wonderful medium for bacteria to grow. Antibiotics are not necessarily a treatment except that a large number of pediatricians would use antibiotics for it. That sets up a problem in the sense that the child becomes more exposed to the antibiotics. It decreases their ability for their immune system to work, and pretty soon their own system forgets how to mount a good response."

In her Vermont practice Mary Bove routinely treats children with herbs like thyme, rosemary, chamomile, lemon balm, elderflower, eyebright, lindenflower, and ginger. She is also an advocate of parents getting involved with administering herbs to their children as part of a practical program of home care but, she warns, parents need to be careful.

"Herbs are medicines, and like any medicine, they can have a downside. Not all herbs are safe for all people. If you have never used them before, seek out the help of an herbalist or call the American Botanical Council. If you're new to using herbs with children, remember what you're reading on the label. If it's not a product that's made specifically for a child you're going to be reading directions for an adult."

Bove says common sense should prevail in the purchase and usage of any herbs. Ask retailers who their manufacturers are. Find out about a company's reputation. At any time when using an herb if you get an unexpected or abnormal response, stop its usage and consult a knowledgable source. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians operates a referral line at +1 (206) 298 0126.

Program Description
Adventure Game Theater
Jon & Myla Kabat-Zinn
The Holistic Pediatrician
Nature's Way
Tell Me More

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

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