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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Children’s Use of Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says

May 2017

Clinical Guidelines, Scientific Literature, Info for Patients: 
Children’s Use of Complementary Health Approaches

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Natural Products

Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In general, the research on the efficacy of fish oil supplementation for any condition in children consists of some systematic reviews, several observational studies and a few small, randomized controlled trials. Overall, large, high-quality studies on natural products for children is lacking.


The research on efficacy of melatonin supplementation for managing sleep disorders in children consists of only a few small controlled trials in primarily children with disabilities.

Mind and Body Practices

Mindfulness Meditation

Although only a few randomized controlled trials on meditation and mindfulness techniques have been conducted in children, findings from these studies suggest some benefits for anxiety, depressive, and other negative affect, behavioral and emotional symptoms, and somatic functioning.


The evidence base on the efficacy of yoga and other movement therapies in children for any condition consists of a limited number of studies, many with small sample sizes and high risk of bias.

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH website at NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.


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