Herbal Supplements: Should You Use Them?

From the Show: Healthy Children
Summary: Herbal supplements worked for your friend's kid, but should you give them to your child?
Air Date: 2/1/22
Duration: 18:56
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Cora Breuner, MD, MPH

Cora Collette Breuner, MD, MPH, is currently a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

An expert in adolescent health, she has focused her clinical and research career on the treatment of typical adolescent diseases such as eating disorders, headache, and sports injuries by integrating complementary and alternative medicine into the intervention modality options including biofeedback and yoga. She loves to teach residents and medical students and has won multiple teaching awards.

She has contributed greatly to the success of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Adolescent and Young Adult clinic, to the academic and personal mentorship of residents, fellows, and medical students, and to the continuation of efforts on work-life balance and well-being of health care providers, including medical/PA/ARNP/ students, residents, and current faculty. She has also worked tirelessly in the Orthopedics department to improve the excellence of care for the adolescent/young adult patient.

Dr. Breuner is the Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence with many recently published policy statements on adolescent suicide and suicide prevention, abortion counseling, sexual assault guidelines, care of those with menstrual irregularities, and developmental delay, adolescent health services review, and sexuality education in adolescents. Her advocacy regionally and nationally has been recognized as true leadership.

Dr. Breuner has three young adult children, loves to sing and play her fiddle, and frequently can be seen dancing Zumba or urban hiking with her two super energetic dogs.

    Herbal Supplements: Should You Use Them?
    Parents want to help kids feel great. Many look to herbal supplements to aid health and performance. How do you know these supplements are safe?

    First, the health supplement industry is not regulated. They could potentially be contaminated with something unsafe. There can also be potency irregularities on the shelf.

    However, many companies self-regulate. Check the label for evidence of screening by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). This means it isn’t contaminated and potency matches the label.

    Additionally, tell your providers what products you’re giving your child. Some herbal products react poorly to medications. Your provider can prescribe medications with full awareness of your child’s supplements.

    A healthy diet and enough sleep go a long way to support your child’s wellness.

    For children on antibiotics, probiotics can nurture good bacteria. Start probiotics at the same time you begin antibiotic treatment.

    Zinc reduces the duration of respiratory symptoms by three to four days. Start zinc within 24 to 48 hours of the start of infection. It can cause the loss of a sense of smell in some people, so zinc supplements are not recommended on a regular basis.

    Fish oils or omega-3s are often lacking in the foods we eat. They promote better mental health and can support the efficacy of psychiatric medication.

    Be wary of anecdotal recommendations. Just because it worked for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you.

    Listen as Dr. Cora Breuner joins Melanie Cole, MS, to discuss which supplements you can share with your child and when, and which supplements it’s better to avoid in this encore episode from November 2018.
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