Traditional, complementary and alternative medicine in children constipation: a systematic review

Daru. 2019 Dec;27(2):811-826. doi: 10.1007/s40199-019-00297-w. Epub 2019 Nov 16.


Objectives: This review aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medicine methods for constipation in the pediatric population.

Evidence acquisition: Medical literature search was performed in several databases for a variety of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in childhood constipation. Databases included Web of Science, Scopus, Embase, Cochrane Library, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Google scholar and a number of Persian databases including IranDoc, Magiran and SID. No time limitation was determined. Clinical trials or case series that had evaluated the effectiveness of CAM therapies in functional constipation of 1-18 year old children were included. Papers not in English or Persian language were excluded. Related articles were screened independently by two reviewers according to their titles and abstracts. A data extraction form was filled in for each eligible paper. Quality assessment of eligible documents was also performed.

Results: 30 studies were included, comprising 27 clinical trials and 3 case series. Ten documents were on herbal medicine, nine on traditional medicine, ten on manual therapies and one on homeopathy. Except for two herbal and one reflexology interventions, all studies reported positive effects on childhood constipation, with the majority being statistically significant. As the number of studies in each method was limited, we could not perform a meta-analysis.

Conclusion: The scarcity of research on the efficacy and safety of different types of complementary and alternative medicine methods in children with constipation necessitates conducting more studies in each field. Graphical abstract.

Keywords: Alternative medicine; CAM; Complementary therapies; Constipation; Pediatrics; Traditional medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome