It’s a common dilemma we parents have: we want to keep potentially harmful chemicals out of our children’s bodies, but reaching for something “alternative” is also quite scary. It doesn’t help that most pediatricians have concerns about recommending resources beyond what they learned in medical school. We should expect more than the mainstream tells us, and with that in mind, we turned to Dr. Robert Melo, a senior physician and a member of the United States’ Convention on Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia (HPCUS – the organization that publishes the guidelines and procedures for the Official Compendium of Homeopathic Medicines in the US) for more information on what exactly homeopathic medicines are and what we should pay attention to when
Momtastic: What is the difference between “homeopathic” and “natural” medicine for children?
Dr. Robert Melo: Homeopathy refers to a therapeutic system that aims to restore the balance that the body has lost. This imbalance causes symptoms to develop and present. Homeopathy stimulates the body with a variety of substances in very small doses from plant, mineral and animal sources to activate the body’s healing mechanisms. “Completely natural” refers more to the origin of the ingredients, but not to the therapeutic effect.
Momtastic: Are there any regulations in this regard? Are the regulations different in the US and Europe?
Dr. Robert Melo: Yes, homeopathic medicines are regulated as medicinal products in the US and were included in the FDA in 1938. Homeopathic medicines must be manufactured according to cGMP FDA pharmaceutical standards and HPUS (Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States). In certain countries in Europe, homeopathic medicines have their own regulatory category and are not necessarily considered medicinal products.
Momtastic: At what age are alternative drugs safe? And when should parents never resort to alternative medication?
Dr. Robert Melo: Homeopathic medicines are traditionally safe to use from infancy. They have been used for more than 200 years with a very good safety record, with much lower risk and fewer side effects than conventional drugs. Homeopathic medicines are often used as the first step in self-limiting diseases. If symptoms persist or worsen, a doctor should be consulted. Homeopathic medicines should never be used in severe life-threatening conditions that require medical diagnosis and intervention.
Momtastic: What should parents look out for when shopping for alternative medicine products?
Dr. Robert Melo: Safety is the number one concern, especially with young children. First, look for drugs that have the fewest possible side effects and then move up until you reach conventional medicines. Make sure to always consult your doctor if symptoms do not improve or a diagnosis is uncertain.
When looking for homeopathic products, the range of Dr. Talbot that I worked on, safely and effectively. Two favorites from the range are Dr. Talbot’s Soothing Gel and Vital 12 Immune Support + Minerals Supplement. Dr. Talbot’s Soothing Gel quickly soothes babies’ gums and Vital 12 Immune Support + Mineral Supplement helps maintain a healthy immune system and is suitable for babies over 3 m and pregnant women.