Herbs for Ailments
With their developing immune systems, children are prone to contracting certain common illnesses. Though sometimes necessary, prescription and over-the-counter medications can unnecessarily affect the gentle systems of children. Thankfully, there are herbal remedies for these ailments that are virtually free of unwelcome side effects and are also quite readily available. This is a guide to some common childhood illnesses and their respective recommended herbal interventions.
*Note that all of these recommendations are for children ages 2 and over.
Eucalyptus: a powerful expectorant that encourages the expulsion of mucus.
Application: Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a steamy shower or steeping in a warm bath.
Wild Cherry Bark: suppresses the cough reflex, thins mucus, and acts as a mild sedative to help a sick child sleep through the night.
Application: brew as a decoction - 1 tsp dried wild cherry bark to 1 cup of water, simmer for 15-20 minutes & drink.
Thyme: calms the cough reflex
Application: boil about 3 tbsp of fresh organic thyme in 2 cups of filtered water in a saucepan, let stand until cool. Remove thyme for water and whisk in 1 cup of raw organic honey. Dosage - 1 - 2 tsp, as needed.
Flaxseed: coats, soothes and heals a sore and irritated throat
Application: incorporate a tablespoon of flaxseed into a smoothie, or soak in a small splash of water until mucilaginous and then drink.
Peppermint: fights bacteria, reduces inflammation, and cools down an irritated sore throat
Application: pour 1 cup of boiling water over several teabags (2-3 tablespoons) of dried peppermint leaves. Drink 3x/day.
Raw honey: not only is this powerful substance anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, but it can also help to coat a sore and inflamed throat
Consume raw (i.e. unpasteurized) for best results.
Can also use the thyme-honey mixture to soothe a sore throat
Infections & fever (Flu/Cold/Ear Infection)
Garlic: a champion medicinal herb that acts directly on bacteria and viruses while stimulating immune system function.
Application: Incorporate into food dishes wherever possible, however raw is best. Consume 1 clove 2-3 times/day. Incorporate chopped clove with 2 tsp. of raw honey for better palatability.
For ear infections: Heat one garlic bulb in mustard oil for 5 - 7 mins. Let the mixture cool. Put a few drops in the affected ear. You can also add ginger to the mixture for additional pain relief.
Yarrow: Induces fever and sweating in order to increase the immune response to an infection. Also encourages the timely resolution of the fever.
Application: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tbsp of yarrow and drink 2-3x/day until the fever subsides.
Echinacea: modulates the immune response, tampers down an overactive immune response, and stimulates a delayed immune response
Application: pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp echinacea tea leaves. Add lemon juice and/or honey to taste.
Blue vervain: acts as a fever reducer, reduces pain and calms nerves.
Application: use as a tincture; 3 - 10 drops 2 - 6 times daily.
Aloe vera: a soothing demulcent that coats the GI tract and regulates bowel function
Application: Consume 1-3 tsp or more of organic aloe vera juice daily
Note: take caution with other aloe vera products such as the gel, as they can be a laxative if taken orally
Flax: an excellent source of soluble fiber that helps solidify loose stools
Application: Add ground flax to smoothies or cereal or brew flax tea by pouring hot water over 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed
Barberry: an antibacterial herb that targets and fights off diarrhea-promoting bacteria
Application: Consume in tincture form as directed.
Marshmallow root: this herb is moistening and relaxing.
Application: mix 2 - 3 tbsp of marshmallow root in 1 qt of cold water, let set overnight. Drink 2 - 4 oz of tea as needed.
Note: marshmallow root has a mucilaginous quality and will become thick and unpalatable if mixed in hot water
Yellow dock root: aids digestion by stimulating the production of digestive juices. Helps relieve constipation when taken in large doses.
Application: use as a tincture; 10 - 15 drops.
Ginger: helps to provide immediate relief of nausea associated with vomiting
Application: make a strong ginger tea (1 tsp grated ginger in 1 cup boiling water) or alternatively, crush a knob of ginger into a paste and add honey, lemon, and water to make a ginger tonic. You can also pour this over ice + add a splash of sparkling water to make a ginger soda.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Kills bacteria & viruses associated with stomach upset and normalizes the function of the stomach
Application: mix 1 tbsp ACV with water. Add honey to taste
Note: make sure you buy unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to reap all the benefits
Skin Issues (Wounds, Eczema, diaper rash, etc):
Calendula: soothing and promotes healing.
Use as a salve directly on affected area.
Comfrey: has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving action.
Use as a salve directly on affected area.
Aloe Vera: soothing, cooling, and promotes healing.
Apply fresh aloe vera directly to affected area.
Ginger: relieves gas and griping.
Make a fresh ginger tea & drink warm or cool for relief.
Peppermint: relieves gas and griping.
Sip a warm or cool tea for digestive relief.
Chamomile: stimulate digestive juices to prevent/relieve indigestion, calming.
Sip a warm or cool tea.
Lemon Balm: relaxing, calming and mood-boosting, has a lemony/minty flavor and pleasant flavor agreeable to children.
Sip a warm or cool tea
Chamomile: may help calm irritable children and teething or colicky infants.
Sip a warm or cool tea - mix with ½ water for younger children.
*always consult with a holistic practitioner prior to taking or combining herbs