Seeking a Pediatrician Open to Alternative Medicine

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello community,

    We go diligently to our experienced and well-regarded pediatrician for regular check-ups, but they last all of 15 minutes, and provide no real insight into the nature of the girls' development, nor does the doctor really address our questions outside of the conventional medical fold. We are looking for someone who is trained as a doctor, but is thoroughly versed in more "holistic" approaches to health, particularly of young children. We are open to either a pediatrician or a "family doctor" who can see all of us, but are really looking primarily for our two young daughters. We already have a resource pool of acupuncturists, homeopaths, chiropractors, etc., so we are seeking a physician who is perhaps an N.D. or a functional medicine doctor. We live in the East Bay, so would love to find a practitioner there, particularly for acute matters if a visit is called for last-minute, but if you know someone amazing over either bridge, please let me know. Please note: Pediatric Alternatives in Mill Valley (highly regarded) is *not* accepting new patients. Thanks for your suggestions.

    Dawn Jacobson, MD, functional medicine, in Walnut Creek, is welcoming, and thorough. She practices a few days a week. My appointments with her went 75 minutes each. And I'm fairly healthy!  She integrates, if you wish, an Ayurvedic approach. Highly recommend her, perhaps best in conjuction with someone who does traditional testing/has that equipment. (Office is next to Heather Farms.)

    I strongly recommend Dr. Joan Margaret. Her website is old, but the care and wisdom I receive from her and the circle has been life changing for me.

    Hmm, maybe the problem is your insurance or your practice. My kids go to Berkeley Pediatrics and I'm pretty sure each child is allotted 30 minutes for an annual well-check. With 3 kids, it feels like we spend an entire afternoon there!  Our pediatrician is thorough and spends time with all of us together, me and each kid together, and the older kids alone. We cover lots of ground. I've liked all of the docs that we've seen there, with the exception of one who is no longer with the practice.  But I'm honestly not sure if my (excellent and expensive) insurance dictates the length of the well-check visit, or if it's a Berk Peds thing.

    Have you tried Dr. Jennifer?

    We like her practice.

    We use Dr. Amy Maidenburg of Sage Pediatrics in Oakland for my two daughters. Amy is thoughtful, takes as much time as needed (easily an hour), is personally available for consult around the clock, and takes a very holistic approach. She even did a house call after the birth of my second daughter! She is well networked and specializes in young children. My kids love her home-like office on Piedmont Avenue, garden outside, and most of all their relationship with her!

  • Hello parents,

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a lovely pediatrician. I'd love to find someone who is nice and warm and open to alternative health practices as well. 

    Thank you so much!

    We love our Nurse Practitioner, her name is Lauren Blanchard and she is at North Oakland Family Practice. She is not a pediatrician but is the warmest, loveliest, most caring person I have ever met. She is open to alternative health practices, and very knowledgeable. My son is 17, we saw Lauren and the other caring providers at NOFP for all our pediatric needs. We adore Lauren, and know when we make an appointment to see her that she will really listen, and that she really cares about our entire family. If she were ever to move to another practice we would follow her. 

    Sage Pediatrics is really great. I would recommend making an appointment to meet Dr. Maidenberg and see if it is a good fit. Good luck.

    Berkeley Pediatrics.  510-848-2566

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Holistic Pediatrician for our 10 month old

April 2013

We are looking for an alternative medical practitioner for our 10 month old daughter to care for her overall health, as well as to seek counsel with in regard to two current issues: a persistent rash in her neck folds and intermittent rash in her private areas and a shift in her bowel movements, both in consistency and frequency/effort. We are looking for someone who will not push vaccinations, is knowledgeable in non-western approaches too health and healing, and is a kind, patient, and accessible person. Thank you! rachel

I adore Dr. Amy Maidenberg at Sage Pediatrics on Piedmont in Oakland. She's not only the perfect holistic Pediatrician for my 2 year old son, but she's also the mom of a toddler, so I know she's going through the same issues herself (vaccinations, etc) and can relate on a new-parent level. Ashley

Dr. Amy Maidenberg of Sage Pediatrics is AMAZING! She's knowledgeable, kind, and holistic. She also does home visits for newborns, how great is that! Dr. Amy has a lovely office on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland: Best, Ellen

A holistic practitioner will help treat these conditions / symptoms as part of a bigger picture, and I highly recommend Randall Neustaedter, OMD, LAc. I've loved his books (The Holistic Baby Guide + Child Health Guide: Holistic Pediatrics for Parents) and all of the specific advice he gives in his books, as well as how he works with our son when we go in for office visits. He is in Redwood City, so I would recommend mid-day appointments to avoid commute traffic. I really feel like he treats our son as a whole being, not just the symptoms. His suggestions have worked - supplements, Chinese herbal remedies we get from him when at his office, as well as the suggestions that I've followed from his books (e.g. probiotics , homeopathic remedies, supplements, etc.). As a result, we've made it through our son's first 21 months very holistically, with only one medication thus far (he developed an ear infection that had lasted a few weeks, so we did an antibiotic for that, but now I have more information about homeopathic remedies from Dr. Neustaedter so would not do antibiotics again). I have also seen Dr. Neustaedter myself, as he also treats adults. Here's his information: Dr. Randall Neustaedter is a primary health care provider who has practiced homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, and functional medicine for over 30 years, specializing in child health. He provides well-baby check-ups, acute care, and consultation about chronic conditions. He also treats adults for chronic conditions including immune system problems, allergies, headaches, digestive system illness, and many other issues. Here's his web site: Hope this is helpful, Cheryl  

Pediatrican or Family Doctor open to Alt Healing

Jan 2012

Can anyone refer a Pediatrician/Family Practice Doctor in the East Bay (Tri-Valley) Area who is good with kids and open minded (will consider/try alternative healing methods; not force vaccinations)? We have just moved to Livermore and are looking to find someone who fits this description who is within 30 min drive. Thanks. erica

Dr. Shannon McCune is a wonderful family doctor on Telegraph Ave. in south Berkeley. She is very open to alternative medicine treatment and refers patients often. She is a very open and sympathetic person. I think you would like her. She also has very good reviews on that you might want to look at. She can be reached at (510) 204-8110. I understand the frustration of finding such doctors. I am an ''alternative health practitioner'' and have the same issue with finding traditional doctors that are open minded. Best of luck to you! Leah

There is a lovely practice called Sage Pediatrics in Oakland. I recommend Dr. Amy Maidenberg there. I was pleased by her gentle approach and ability to listen and offer information in a way that very much felt like she was supporting my choice as a parent. Given that I have more alternative perspectives than my husband and my mom when it comes to health, I was also really impressed at how well Amy was able to respectfully communicate with all of us in the same appointment. She also did a home visit, which felt so right for a small baby. I also appreciate that Amy is the mother of 2 little ones herself. If you'd like to contact her, the number is (510-984-6169) and their website is Trina

Holistic Pediatrician in East Bay area

March 2009

Looking for a referral to a holistic pediatrician in the East Bay Area. Thank you! Julia

Hi there. I am an acupuncturist and herbalist in Emeryville specializing with children & I get this question all the time.

Unfortunately, there are currently no western medical practitioners in the east bay that actually practice holistic medicine. The closest option we have in the east bay are Medical Doctors that accept/support/tolerate parents' use of an alternative therapies for their children.

There is a group in Mill Valley called Pediatric Alternatives- and another group down in Bellemont that consist of MDs practicing holistic medicine in their practice.

Pediatric Alternatives-type in Berkeley?

Feb 2009

I am very interested in the Pediatric Alternatives practice in Mill Valley, but don't want to travel that far for pediatrics care. Is there any place near Berkeley that offers an integrative approach to children's health care? From the Pediatric Alternatives website: ''Integrative Medicine [combines] western medicine with alternative care, including herbal remedies and classical homeopathy.'' Their doctors are both MD and NDs. Thanks!

I have been practicing pediatric acupuncture and naturopathy in Berkeley for 25 years. During that time a number of MD pediatricians have come to my attention as being more open to working with alternative approaches. Sometimes they stay the course, sometimes they become more strict about what they will allow their patients to do or not do (eg. vaccinations, etc). I cannot recommend particular physicians to the public but I can suggest physician referrals to my own clients. I have to say, though, that their numbers have decreased over the years.

Pro-homebirth pediatrician

Sept 2008

The pediatrician doesn't have to be PRO-homebirth, just homebirth-FRIENDLY, but that wouldn't fit in the heading. :) We're having a daughter in mid-January, hopefully at home, and we would like to know if anyone has had experience with homebirth and any of the female pediatricians at East Bay Pediatrics. Our three-year-old son sees Dr. Richard Oken at East Bay Pediatrics, and although we think he's a great doctor, he's old-school and old-fashioned and (although we haven't yet asked him for his opinion) probably not a fan of homebirth. (Also, he's male, and we'd like a female doctor at the same practice for our daughter.) Thanks for any advice you can share! Nicole R.

Dr. Gerwein and other doctors at Bayside Pediatrics on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley (just kitty corner from Whole Foods) is homebirth-friendly. Dr. Gerwein is respectful of our choices, inc. delaying vaccination or not having them. I believe they will also do a home visit if you are close enough to their office. One other place I'd try is Dr. Janet Himmelvo in Point Richmond, of Point Richmond Family Practice. She does home visits and I'm pretty sure is friendly to homebirthers. She and her partner just had a baby a few months ago.
homebirth family with regular pediatrician

Naturopathic Physicians/Homeopath Pediatrician 

January 2005

any recommendations or references for a Naturopathic Physicians/Homeopath Pediatrician in the area? PReferrable an MD who is also trained in alternative meds such as Homeopathy. Thanks - Steff

My daughters have been going to Jay Sordean since my 6 year old was an infant. He's a ND and OMD, does acupuncture with adults and a needle-less Japanese form of acupuncture with children, in addition to homeopathy and herbal recommendations. He seems to have good intuition and the treatments always help a lot. Also the homeopathic remedies from his office are ground into powder to put in water, not sure if this is the intention but I like that the kids are not associating feeling bad with pill-popping. His office is named the Redwood Clinic, on Telegraph Ave. across from Whole Foods, # 849-1176. Our insurance has been covering and/ or reimbursing for it, too. Chris

You may also be interested in talking to/seeing Carla Cassler. She is a licensed acupuncturist who also uses homeopathy and chinese herbs. Carla has a lot of medical background and also a lot of pediatric training in homeopathy.She sees LOTS of kids of all ages. Her office is on Solano and Ensenada in Bkly. Her number is 526-5256. Carla has treated our whole family for years. She's really great (and has 2 kids of her own). Good luck finding someone who can help you. June

Amanda Lien is a wonderful Naturopathic doctor on College Avenue. She's very knowledgeable and easy to work with. Her number is 499-7947 or drlien AT Good luck DL

I recommend Christine Ciavarella. She is a homeopath who treats adults and children, though it appears that the bulk of her clientele is children-- and for good reason. She has a wonderful presence with families, and she gives loving care. She has an nurse practitioner's license, so, when necessary, can prescribe meds and request lab work. I utilize her services when I feel that i can't get what my son needs from his regular pediatrician. We have a PPO, so about 70% of the cost is covered. Know that you must do an initial long visit with Christine, and it is a little steep, but then the subsequent visits are lower-priced, and she even does free ear clinics for kids. She's great. I forget her number, but it's in El Cerrito, and it's listed as Hahnemann Medical CLinic (sp?). Al

April 2004

I have a 2 month old son. My wife and I do not want to vaccinate and our pediatricians, the KIWIs have not been very supportive. We are interested in non-western medicine and would like to find a Dr who is a Homeopath or Naturalpath, etc. who also is an MD so they take our insurance (Blue Shield HMO). Any suggestions? It's just so expensive to see someone otherwise. Thank you. Emanuel

Christine Ciavarella at the Hannehmann clinic in El Cerrito is a homeopathic pediatrician. She treats adults also, but just about everyone I've ever known with kids who used homeopathy went to Christine. She's really warm and sweet adn KNOWS HER STUFF. I believe she's also a medical assistant (but not an MD). She really knows a lot of medical stuff though. Her number is 524- 3117.

Two suggestions. First, for an alternative doc, Christine Ciavarella is great. She is a homeopath and is an ND (not MD). If you have a PPO, you'll probably get at least a percentage covered. The other option is to seek out a pediatrician who is open to alternatives and to vaccine choice: Janet Perlman or Robin Winokur (sp). Deferring vaccines, too

I have used homeopath Christine Ciavarella P.A.(524-3117)for all the medical care for myself and my children for 20 years. She is cosigned by an MD. They do not bill insurance, but you can fill out the forms yourself. She does all my GYN stuff as well as treats my children. Of course by now we are so healthy we haven't really needed anyone else. I do maintain a relationship with a regular MD, just in case, like when I turned 50 I got lots of baseline tests run. Christine is wonderful with children, and with adults for that matter. She's in El Cerrito plaza, on the edge of Albany.

Hello. i highly recommend Pediatric Alternatives in Mill Valley. , particularly Lindy Woodard, MD. they are 2 doctors, Lindy and Stacia Lansmann. Lindy is also a homeopath. Our son is almost 2 . we've been going since he was born. we don't vaccinate and won't . Many of their clients don't. they are really supportive of parents choosing and use mostly eastern medicine in their practice, but know when western medicine would be necessary. they have a chiropractor on staff and support (at least Lindy does) extended breastfeeding and co sleeping also. they are both great as far as health issues go. Stacia didn't seem as pleased with our extended breastfeeding and co sleeping so i recommend Lindy more. but that'w where everyone in know who doesn't vaccinate goes. congrats on your decision! feel free to email me off list if you want more info. attachparent

We drive from Berkeley to Mill Valley to see Lindy Woodard with Pediatric Alternatives. She and her partner are MDs and homeopaths and work with both Eastern and Western medicine. I could go on for days about how wonderful this practice is--and we have been to many. Elizabeth

Consider the option of two pediatricians: an alternative doctor (a chiropractor, naturopath or acupuncturist specializing in children)and an MD, giving you the best of both worlds.

I am a chiropractor with years of experience treating children. We offer alternative care including cranial work and natural therapies for illness in children with an emphasis on prevention. I ask my patients to maintain a relationship with an MD who is there for problems beyond the conservative scope, ie. infections that require antibiotics. Incidentally, much of my work is covered by Blue Cross and other insurance. Dr. Arn Strasser

I would also recommend Sada Anand Miller, DC, for chiropractic, Chinese herbs, and holistic dietary advice. She's really made a difference in how I eat and how I feel. She's on Pill Hill, downtown Oakland. Bonnie

Vegan/Vegetarian Children


I am looking for a pediatrician who is supportive/knowledgable about vegan/vegetarian toddlers. Any advice? Or recommendations? Thanks!

Recommendations received: