Here is a review of several dietary supplements that have been used for children.

1. Clinical reports suggest that Echinacea is safe but there are no studies supporting its effectiveness. Experts suggest avoiding Echinacea if the patient has an autoimmune disease. Rare allergic reactions to Echinacea have been reported.

2. A small study suggested that evening primrose seed oil may enhance metabolism in children with diabetes. It has not yet been determined if this will prevent diabetic complications later on.

3. One study suggested that garlic supplements had no significant effect on cardiovascular risk factors in children with a family history of elevated cholesterol levels.

4. Ivy extract showed statistically significant improvements in airway resistance, when taken for a period of three-four weeks. In a study of 1,350 children with chronic bronchitis, more than 80% of patients had improvements when taking ivy extract supplementation. Out of 1350 children in this study, only three experienced a negative effect possibly related to the treatment.

5. Valerian may be useful in sleep disturbances, but requires more research. Data suggest significant decrease in sleep disturbances and time awake during the night, increased sleep time and quality in children with hyperactivity. However the study was conducted on a very small group of children.

Some studies have showed promising results regarding the effectiveness of some herbal supplements for the treatment of specific conditions that affect children. However, further research needs to be done on children to determine the safety and benefits of these supplements. Adults and children will not necessarily have the same benefits from the same supplements. Therefore, be sure that prior to giving these herbs to your children, you must discuss this with your children=s pediatrician and make sure that there are no harmful interactions.

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Are they safe for Children?

There are currently many consumers in the United States that are using dietary supplements and herbal medicine, to treat or prevent many illnesses. The most common symptom that people try to help with herbs would be to treat or prevent colds. There are many other medical conditions that people try to treat with herbs. Many parents that use alternative medicine for themselves often use alternative medicine for their children as well.

The largest percentages of herbal users are women. Many mothers give their children herbal remedies. Several studies suggest that herbal use in children is increasing. There is an estimated 28% to 40% of children using herbal products for asthma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and upper respiratory tract infections (URIs).

Parents must be aware that although these herbal supplements are natural, they have not been clinically tested for safety in children. They must be especially careful if the child is taking prescribed medication at the same time as herbal remedies, for it can interact with herbal supplements. Therefore, if you would like to give herbs to your children, make sure that you consult with your child’s pediatrician first.