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Herbal Remedies For Kids?

Herbal remedies are growing in popularity. While these products may be harmless for adults, they could be very dangerous for children. Health Contributor Dr. Emily Senay reports for The Early Show.

While herbal remedies have been around for years, there is simply no data on the safety and efficacy in children and no reliable information about dosage.

Many of these products are safe but a few can potentially be dangerous.

Willow bark: This aspirin derivative could cause Reye syndrome, a life-threatening illness, when given to a child suffering from a virus.

Golden seal: Reputed to fight infection, golden seal has been associated with jaundice in infants.

Ephedra: Touted as an asthma treatment and used in some diet product, ephedra has strong effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Chapparel: This anti-depressant and anti-cancer treatment when used long term can suppress the immune system and cause problems.

Popular remedies like echinacea and St. John's wort shouldn't be given to a child about to have surgery as they have been known to interfere with anesthesia.

The following questions parents should ask before they treat their children with herbs:

Questions to Consider
What is the proper diagnosis?
Does the herb have side effects?
Is the child taking other medication?
What is the proper dosage?
How long should the child be treated?

Always tell your family doctor if your child is using herbal medicine. There are risks to taking a prescription drug along with herbal remedies.

Many people take for granted the safety of the drugs and foods they buy. But, unlike other drugs, herbal remedies aren't reviewed by any government agency for quality dosage safety or efficacy.

Federal regulation

The Food and Drug Administration regulates herbal products, as food supplements not drugs. The labls on these products don't explain their other ingredients, risks, side effects or possible harmful interactions with other substances.

Most experts agree that there isn't enough evidence to say definitively whether herbs are safe and effective for children.

In many cases they can be dangerous. Lately, there's been a growing number of health care professionals calling for regulation of herbal products. They contend that herbs should be treated more like prescription medicines, requiring tests to prove their effectiveness as well as labels indicating the dosage, side effects and potential interactions with other drugs.

Popularity of herbal remedies

Experts suggest there are several reasons why some people have lost faith in mainstream medicine. Many people think any so-called natural treatment is inherently better or safer than one produced in a lab or high-tech manufacturing facility. And there's the high cost of prescription drugs to consider.

Herbal manufacturers have been advertising their products. Unlike pharmaceutical companies, herbal manufacturers don't have to provide evidence to support their claims.

Parents should be very careful when giving herbal medicine to children as their small bodies react differently than adults do.

These products should be thought of as medicine and not vitamins; children are not always as good at explaining their symptoms if there is an adverse reaction.

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