An Edmonton hospital has teamed a pediatrician with a naturopath, a Chinese herbalist, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist in a new program to provide advice to the parents of ailing children.

Stollery Children's Hospital created the team to give information on proven and safe alternative therapies.



Six-year-old Darian Baxter-Betz is
in remission from leukemia.
(CBC/Erik Denison)

The program, which officially begins next month, will offer assistance to parents like Connie Baxter, whose six-year-old son Darian is in remission from leukemia.

It will provide advice on non-medicinal means of countering the negative side-effects of drugs like the ones used to treat Darian.

Baxter says she had hesitated to try out remedies such as herbs or vitamins on her son without getting medical advice.

"It's too big a risk if you try out an alternative therapy, and it turns out negatively and he's already ill," she said.

"You're afraid to try anything without a guiding hand."

Dr. Sunia Vohra, the pediatrician on the team, said she looks forward to being able to answer parents' questions about alternative therapies.

"It was very unfulfilling to always provide an answer of 'I don't know and I'm not sure,' " said Vohra.

"There was an urgent patient need to move forward in this arena."

Vohra said about half of parents in Canada give their children some kind of non-medical treatment.