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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Developmental Disabilities

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) classifies the following under complementary and alternative medicine:

·         Natural products: Vitamins, herbs and minerals

·         Mind and Body practices:  chiropractic, massage, yoga, meditation, osteopathic manipulation, healing teach, and acupuncture

·         Other:  homeopathy 


Complementary Health Approaches (CHA) is used by 33% of US adults.  11% of US children ages 4-17 are CHA users. Fish oil is the most commonly used product by children.  Melatonin (used as a sleep aid) is the second most common.

CHA is most often used with children who have cancer, arthritis, ADHD, Down syndrome and Autism. 

·         A survey of 578 children with ASD indicated that 39% of families use some CHA.  Unfortunately 8% of those families used an invasive, disproved or unsafe therapy. 

Long term research has shown that acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, massage and yoga were not effective in treating most conditions.  Acupuncture may be helpful for post-operative nausea and hypnotherapy may be effective in reducing procedure (such as surgery) related pain. 

In autism therapies that have shown some positive outcomes include use of melatonin for sleep, use of vitamin C for behavioral issues, transcranial magnetic stimulation for improved behavior and motor skills, and music therapy.  Please note, none of these therapies should be started without consulting your medical provider.

Therapies that have been deemed non-efficacious by research include auditory integration, acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, gluten free diet, casein free diet and use of secretin. 

Before you begin a therapy for your child ask these questions:

1.        Is the treatment based on a theory that is over simplistic?

2.       Is the treatment based on ideas that are inconsistent with accumulated knowledge from other scientific disciplines?

3.       Has the treatment changed little over a long period of time?

4.       Is it possible to test the treatment claim?

5.       Have well designed studies of the treatment been published in peer-reviewed medical literature?

6.       Do proponents of the treatment “cherry pick” data to support the value of their treatment while ignoring contradictory evidence?




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June 26, 2018
Each year, more and more children are diagnosed with autism, which explains the need for a different approach in terms of treatment. Non-invasive medicine might provide positive results, but it's not a general rule. Traditional medicine remains the first option for those who need medical assistance, and judging by the increased numbers of surgical instruments buyers they are following the same trend. It's good to have multiple options.
1935 County Road B2 West Suite 100 Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 636-4155