Have you heard of some alternative medicine practises, but not sure what exactly they do? Here’s the low-down on what some of the options are, and how they can be used to treat your baby.
According to the definition, alternative medicine is anything that falls outside the area of conventional medicine provided by your GP or hospital. Many parents turn to alternative therapies when modern medicine fails to produce results.
Acupuncture is the practice of stimulating pre-determined points in the body to release self-regulating chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. The biochemical balance results in reviving the body’s own natural healing abilities.
Babies from 6-weeks-old can undergo traditional acupuncture with specialised needles. It’s an invasive treatment and needs to be administered by a trained practitioner. There is a professional register of acupuncturists on 0800 ACUPUNCTURE and www.acupuncture.org.nz.
Alternatively, acupuncture can be done through sound waves, laser light, heat or acupressure. Newborns are usually treated with a special form of therapeutic massage called tuina, which is effective on babies and very comfortable.
In babies, acupuncture is chiefly used for sleeping and feeding problems. Auckland practitioner, Jenny Allison, has had success with curing gastro disorders and a pre-asthmatic baby.
Chiropractic is a surgery-free and drug-free way of treating the whole patient. David Russell, the director of the Chiropractic Centre in Auckland, says: “The body has the ability to heal itself. It is governed by chemistry and regulated by the nervous system.” If the nervous system is not in tiptop shape, neither is the body. Many parents consult a chiropractor to give their baby’s body a chance to function at its optimum.
When consulted, a chiropractor assesses the baby’s nervous system: reflexes, muscle tone and milestones reached. A healthy baby will not need intervention, but a restless or colicky baby may be given gentle spinal manipulation, with the pressure no greater than “testing a tomato for ripeness”. Chiropractic adjusting procedures are always modified to fit a child’s size, weight and needs. They are safe for pregnant women and newborns.
Case study: An 8-week old baby was irritable and not feeding well. The baby seemed reluctant to turn her head to the left. After one adjustment, the baby improved and after three visits, the problem disappeared.
Applied kinesiology helps the body heal itself by balancing its energies. The practitioner uses a protocol to chart the areas of concern. The muscle test involves painless fingertip pressure. Imagine that the body is like a circuit board that blows a fuse. The treatment establishes where your system has gone into overload and re-connects the wires.
Therapy for children is gentle, safe and drug-free. Practitioners simply touch or hover their finger over the identified areas, the head and the heart. This procedure alerts the brain to the spots that need attention, and can test for allergies and nutrient deficiencies.
Case study: A mother couldn’t bond with her 7-day-old baby who was distressed and not suckling. One reciprocal procedure on both mum and bub was enough to release the trauma of difficult labour. Within days, they developed a normal relationship.
The Body Talk system recognises that health is our natural state and using the wisdom of advanced yoga, modern physics and anatomical research, treatment is said to stimulate your innate healing ability which then activates your body to heal itself.
Jane Gruebner, past president of the New Zealand BodyTalk Association, explains, “Simply allow the innate wisdom of the body to re-harmonise and re-synchronise.” You don’t need to know what you’re allergic to, for example; the allergy will vanish once the body achieves balance.
neurological integration system
According to NIS, the brain governs optimum function of all the body’s systems and can diagnose and correct any health glitches. The practitioner uses the baby’s medical history and symptoms to determine whether the neurology (brain) is communicating appropriately with the physiology (body).
For young children, the parent assists with the treatment process of resetting the neurological pathways. Because the method is non-invasive, non-manipulative, drug-free and pain-free, it’s safe for newborn babies for treating reflux, colic, ear infections and sinus issues.
Case Study: A 3-month-old baby came in with bad reflux. After the first treatment the baby’s reflux was 50% better. By the third treatment, the reflux was completely gone, and the mother was able to continue breastfeeding.
Practitioners, who are medically trained, have to be registered with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand. Osteopathy concentrates on disease prevention, and treats the whole person rather than the symptoms. After examining the patient’s history, a series of gentle movements are performed on the limbs and back to correct disturbances in muscles, ligaments, and joints. It is perfectly safe and babies respond well to treatment targeted at middle ear infections and asthma.
Cranial osteopathy moves the skull bones and brain membranes. The practitioner will feel the baby’s cranial rhythm by touching around the head and gently move the bones to increase the blood flow and allow lymphatic fluid and sinus fluid to drain. The relaxing nature of the treatment will often make the baby go to sleep.
Babies respond well to treatment for glue ear, colic, reflux, restlessness and poor feeding. In particular, babies born naturally after a moderately difficult labour may benefit from a session of cranial osteopathy designed to check whether the bones of the head have moved back to their optimal position post-birth.
Although there are many success stories, please be aware that alternative therapies are not a replacement for standard medical diagnosis and care.