Simple medicines for children: herbs for kids
As adults, many of us have chosen to use herbal remedies for our minor ailments treating everything from headache, colds and flu, insomnia and stress. Yet we hesitate when it comes to using herbal formulas for our children and instead use over the counter medications or prescription drugs. A humble herb plant cannot compete with a powerful prescription drug but each has its place. Just as with our own health there are times when it is prudent for us to call the doctor and there are times when an herb or homeopathic would work well, kids included.
A trip to the health food store to purchase herbs for children can be confusing unless youŐve done your homework. Unless you are very experienced or trained in herb therapy do not buy herbs that are prepared for adult use for your children. A well supplied store will have a childrenŐs section and reference guides that will help you chose an herb appropriate for the symptoms your child is experiencing.
For simple ailments, cough, cold, viral flu without fever, warts, sniffles and diaper rash children as a rule respond very well to herb therapy and it makes sense. The use of herb therapy for children should not change your sense about when to call the doctor. If symptoms worsen call the doctor.
As with any new medicine (just as with plant medicines) a child should be observed following the first few doses. Since an herb helps the body heal on a very deep level rather than suppress symptoms your childŐs usual response to illness treated with an herb rather than medications may be very different. Stop treatment if the child complains of nausea or indigestion.
The herbs most often prescribed for childrenŐs ailments such as chamomile, elder flower, echinachea and catnip are among the mildest known. Further dilution disguised in juice or water is the safest way to give very young children an herb safely. Older children can be given chewable tablets designed for their age and weight. Herbs unlike prescription drugs do not require lengthy repeated dosing after symptoms subside and do not interfere with the healing process.
Dosage should stay very close to what is recommended by the manufacturer. You can start with the smallest dose recommended and give small doses every few hours rather than a few larger doses. For best results administer herbs thirty minutes before a meal. If using tablets with older children encourage plenty of water.
Herbs for kids can be a safe, inexpensive healthier way to treat the common ailments that come with childhood illnesses or in some cases can be a compliment to more aggressive medical therapies. Next week I will discuss the best herbs for children and how you too can use herbs safely for your children.
Till next time, Rebecca
Last week in part one of herbs for kids I discussed how and when to use herbs with children safely. This week I will discuss what herbs work for what symptoms and when to start using them.
Of course many of the same rules of healing that apply for an adult apply for our children as well. To use herbs and not use the other basic principles of healing is a poor insurance policy- letŐs review.
1. The body does the healing-be patient. Even doctors will admit that 70-80% of all disease will cure itself with rest and basic care. With children itŐs usually the parent that becomes impatient when the healing process takes longer than we think it should.
2. Mild symptoms like perspiration, low-grade fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, sneezing and skin eruptions are natureŐs natural method of cleansing the body of disease irritants. Therefore, unless symptoms become severe, donŐt be alarmed. Symptoms are part of the healing process.
3. Avoid stressing the body with hard to digest foods such as meat, fried foods, fat and oils, eggs, dairy products and junk food. If a child does not feel like eating, donŐt force them they listen to their body much better than we do.
4. Support is important. Sick children act out and behaviors may revert to earlier patterns.
Choice herbs for children
Echinacea, elderflower or linden flower can be used for coughs and colds. A few drops diluted in water with peppermint oil will improve the taste.
Warm clove oil is very effective in stopping earache. If the ear is draining do not put anything in the ear and take the child to the doctor as soon as they can be seen.
Chamomile tea is an excellent calmative for the occasional colic or tummy troubles. Dilute with lukewarm water. Children usually like the taste.
Peppermint tea is another excellent choice for indigestion, over eating or an unsettled tummy. Dilute to half strength and serve chilled.
Calendula ointment works well for cuts, scrapes, bruises and diaper rash. It soothes the pain, disinfects and speeds healing.
Arnica gel is a wonder for any kind of blunt injury and I do not leave home without it. Apply to muscle strains, sprains, bruises- any blunt trauma where the skin is not broken. With Arnica it is key to apply it as soon as possible after the injury. Arnica relieves pain, reduces swelling and helps tissues heal more quickly.
Herbs are a practical healthy way to treat the day to day symptoms that children may experience. Consider investing in an herbal home reference, a valuable tool in treating children with herbs. As a parent you know your child and their symptoms, and you know when they are serious enough to call the pediatrician.
Till next time, Rebecca