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Finding A Green Pediatrician

Looking for holistic healthcare for your child? Author and green living expert Deirdre Imus discusses how a 'green' pediatrician can help. (February 26, 2010)

What is a Green Pediatrician? 

By Lawrence D. Rosen, Medical Advisor
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center

In her New York Times bestselling book, Growing Up Green, Baby and Child Care, Deirdre Imus writes about "Green Pediatricians."  The term "green" is generally meant as an environmentally-conscious label. Green products are considered safe for the environment and healthier for people who use them. Are green doctors the same? I think so.       

A central tenet of integrative practice is mindfulness about the effect the environment has on health and wellness, and about the effect health care has on the environment. An example is the Sarkis & Siran Gabrellian Women's & Children's Pavilion at Hackensack University Medical Center, one of America's first environmentally responsible and sustainable healthcare facilities. The pavilion is actually a healthy environment for sick and well folks - which can't be said about most hospitals. From providing organic food choices to using non toxic cleaning agents, HUMC is certainly green.

But to be a green doctor, I think, also means adopting holistic, "whole child" philosophies with a key focus on promoting and supporting wellness. In medical circles, this is known as integrative health care. Respecting and communicating with patients, collaborating with complementary alternative medicine (CAM) therapists, recognizing the importance of mind-body connections, using natural resources for healing, and of course, working with children within the context of families and communities are key components of being an integrative pediatrician.

Integrative pediatricians may recommend natural remedies such as garlic and mullein oil ear drops for ear infections or chamomile tea for colic. Additionally, they are very open to discussing vaccine concerns and flexible scheduling with families. As with any treatment, always discuss it with your physician before trying it at home yourself. More holistic health remedies are available in Growing Up Green, Baby and Child Care by Deirdre Imus.

The community aspect of integrative health care is so important. We do not exist in isolation, and we have an obligation to advocate for the sake of our most precious natural resource, our children. And as Kermit said, "Sometimes it's not that easy being green." Sometimes you have to be willing to stand up for the kids, even when "the authorities" may not agree, or worse, actively work against the truth.

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