The Integration of Holistic & Conventional Treatments in Pediatrics


The goals of holistic medicine seem as though they are always up to the individual to interpret. Though there is common ground on a lot of the principles that comprise a holistic approach to healthcare, there is no clearly-defined way to treat patients in such a manner. In order to treat and prevent illness, disease, and injury in children the most important tenet is the awareness of what comprises such an approach most optimally.

How is holistic care defined?

Dr. Kathi J. Kemper is the former Director of the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research at The Children’s Hospital in Boston. In describing the common correlations she experienced in her many years in pediatrics, Dr. Kemper said the following in her Presidential Address to the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, “Holistic medicine is really just good medicine. It means caring for the whole child in the context of that child’s values, their family’s beliefs, their family system, and their culture in the larger community, and considering a range of therapies based on the evidence of their beliefs and cost.”

Pediatric Integrative Medicine (PIM) is an approach to child healthcare that has evolved over the course of almost 30 years. As per Esparham et al, this type of relationship-centered care “focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing, including evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. Pediatric integrative medicine (PIM) develops and promotes this approach within the field of pediatrics”. [1]

Core tenets of PIM

For the last 20 or so years, PIM Leadership Summits around the world have added significant value and discussion to the role that complementary health care approaches that incorporate holistic regimens and conventional care can do to keep kids healthier. The core tenets of PIM in regards to pediatric care are as follows:


Getting ahead of disease and health-related injuries by improving and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits that involve proper diet, exercise, rest, healthy relationships, and mindfulness even at a base level can do wonders to keep children feeling healthy longer and more often.


A healthy environment to rear and develop children is just as paramount as any other foundation covered. Home life, school life, and a positive connection to the communities they grow up in make kids feel like they belong and are safe.


Building an open rapport between parents, children, and health care professionals builds a “winning team” that ensures the child’s best interests are always in mind each step of the way.


Every child’s needs are unique – that’s no different when providing medical care. Any number of hereditary or situational variables affect what care is to be applied and to whom. Absolute control is in the hands of families when determining what options, treatments, hospitals, doctors, etc to work with in order to maintain the best possible outcomes for care, treatment, and rehabilitation.


That same decision-making power that families personalize in regards to treatments, providers, doctors, etc needs to also resonate at home. Lifestyle changes that are all-inclusive and have the support and enthusiasm of the entire “home team” empower not just kids but entire families to make more mindful choices.

Ecologically sustainable

We are all a part of what makes up the world – keeping in mind what healthcare practices are simultaneously good for the patient and the Earth itself creates a more positive impact on the health of all.


Therapeutic application is ultimately affected by scientific evidence, as demonstrated in the chart below:

The evolution of PIM and the integration of holistic treatment for children has evolved and been informed tremendously by regular discussion, institutional conferences, sharing of factual evidence, and the trial-and-error of medical providers for almost 30 years.

As this integrative methodology still continues to evolve, the main foundations upon which PIM has been established will continue to dictate the results that doctors, health systems, and most importantly – families and pediatric patients can expect when the scope of treatment goes beyond only just what conventional Western healthcare treatment alone can do.


[1] Esparham, Anna, Sanghamitra, Misra, Sibinga, Erica, Culbert, Timothy, Kemper, Kathi, McClafferty, Hilary, Vohra, Sunita, Rosen, Lawrence. Pediatric Integrative Medicine: Vision for the Future. Children (Basel). 2018.doi: 10.3390/children5080111. [journal impact factor = 2.078; times cited = 16]


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