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HEALTH

More parents turn to alternative medicine to treat children

More and more parents are turning to alternative treatments such as chiropractic care and essential oils. (Source: WSFA 12 News) More and more parents are turning to alternative treatments such as chiropractic care and essential oils. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Eight-year-old Alexander gets regular adjustments at the chiropractor. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Eight-year-old Alexander gets regular adjustments at the chiropractor. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) -

As parents, we hate seeing our children sick. If there's something that will make them feel better or keep them from getting ill in the first place, we'll give it a shot.

More and more parents are turning to alternative treatments such as chiropractic care and essential oils. That includes Opelika mother Meridith Burgess.

Burgess says her son, Alexander, had a lot of trouble with allergies. He took medication daily, which his mom says created new issues.

"I felt like he was in a fog, almost didn't want to be up and play and energetic. I thought there has to be something else that would work better," Meridith Burgess said.

Desperate for answers, she began researching different ways to help her son get better. 

That's when she found chiropractic care. That was two years ago. Now, the 8-year-old gets regular adjustments at the chiropractor. Burgess says it has made a significant difference.

"I started to see more energy. I began weening him off and giving him (medicine) as needed instead of a daily dose. We began to see other benefits from it. It has been amazing," Meridith Burgess said.

Now, Burgess is a firm believer in non-traditional ways of treating chronic health issues.

"The problem isn't our focus. We focus on the person. Rather than focus on the symptoms, we focus on the function," says chiropractor Dr. Rusty Herring.

Herring says he has seen significant improvements in his patients' overall health.

"We are very simply facilitating their body to function well, at its potential, by focusing on the nervous system," Herring said.

So pleased with the results Herring provided her family, Meridith began taking youngest son, Jett, for adjustments when he was less than a week old. 

"More of a preventative care for him. Each adjustment boosts your immune system," Meridith Burgess said.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found nearly 2 million children used chiropractic manipulation in 2012. More than 5 million used natural products.

The most common conditions treated by alternative care were back or neck pain, head or chest cold, anxiety and stress, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"I think when you are looking at alternative therapies, the first thing you consider is do no harm," says Dr. Cathy Wood.

Wood is the President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She cautions parents who turn to alternative treatments.

"I  think a chiropractor who is there to help you feel better in your muscles and your joints and give you some relief there, I think that's a great thing to do with an older child. I don't think they should be doing much with a younger child," Wood said. "I do not think chiropracty can fix a colicky baby."

Wood believes time has a lot to do with it.

"How old was the child when you went; what was the season when you went?  If you are running out of spring and into summer and that's when you have been to the chiropractor, well summer is a time when there are less issues with respiratory bugs and in turn less ear infections," Wood said.

Wood isn't as concerned with another growing trend -- essential oils, but she reminds parents it's not a cure.

"I think there are things that are probably safe and effective from a symptomatic relief standpoint, but not a cure, just like we don't have a cure for the common cold," Wood said.

Wood says a parent should always seek advice from their child's pediatrician first.

"I think the pediatrician for the most part, pretty much without exception should be your medical home," Wood said.

Meridith Burgess says for her family, it's a team approach.

"We still go to our normal doctors. They still get prescribed medications, and we still take medications. It's not that we do this instead," Meridith Burgess said.

Herring says his care compliments the pediatrician's.

"We see those health improvements without adding anything to the body or taking anything out of the body. We very simply facilitate the body to function at its potential," Herring said.

Chiropractors say this doesn't mean you don't need a pediatrician; this is just an alternate form of care. Parents who've seen changes in their children  swear by the results and say it's one more way they can keep their children healthy.

One more word of caution from Dr. Wood: if you use essential oils, make sure you keep it out of the reach of children. It can be toxic. 

Copyright 2015 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. 

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