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Check Your Kids' Cabinets: FDA Issues New Restrictions on Homeopathic Remedies

Photograph by Twenty20

With moms on high alert about everything from vaccine sensitivities to antibiotic resistance, it's no wonder many of them are reaching for homeopathic remedies instead of prescription or over-the-counter drugs to treat the painful effects of childhood ailments such as teething.

But according to critics, some of these supposedly natural, homeopathic cures might be doing more harm than good.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced new policies regarding potentially dangerous homeopathic products, including teething tablets and gels aimed at children and infants. In fact, the FDA will "prioritize enforcement and regulatory action" on these products that pose the greatest risk to patients, especially children.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a large uptick in products labeled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases and conditions, from the common cold to cancer," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.

"In many cases, people may be placing their trust and money in therapies that may bring little to no benefit in combating serious ailments, or worse—that may cause significant and even irreparable harm because the products are poorly manufactured, or contain active ingredients that aren’t adequately tested or disclosed to patients."

Last year, the FDA even warned parents against using teething tablets and gels, saying they caused a "serious" risk after many children experienced seizures after taking the products.

Though many homeopathic products will remain available to consumers under the new policy, the FDA will be cracking down—hard—on products containing ingredients with significant safety concerns, such as the belladonna plant, as well as treatments directed at children and infants, and those marketed for life-threatening ailments such as opioid addiction, heart disease and cancer.

The FDA will be cracking down—hard—on products containing ingredients with significant safety concerns.

Despite a 90-day comment period before the FDA finalizes any plans, those relying on homeopathic alternatives to treat illnesses—especially parents with small children—are encouraged to use caution when treating with these products.

"We respect that some individuals want to use alternative treatments, but the FDA has a responsibility to protect the public from products that may not deliver any benefit and have the potential to cause harm," said Gottlieb.

Janet Woodcock, MD and director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, adds: “The draft guidance is an important step forward in the agency's work to protect patients from unproven and potentially dangerous products."

It is often hard to spot the difference between intelligent marketing and authentic merchandise, especially when eager companies are spending millions on design and packaging, but for those with kids, skepticism is an essential component of parenting. Also, consult with your pediatrician before treating your child with medication.

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