Natural Remedies for Children: What I Use
Zara Fagen, PhD, ND
February 3, 2012
People often ask me what I use for natural remedies for children.
We eat right, we sleep enough, we don't eat a lot of sugar. Well, we try, at least. You'd think we'd be the picture of perfect health, right?
Well, we are. But that doesn't mean we never get sick.
Like any family, we do not have the perfect diet or lifestyle 100% of the time. Life happens. Illness happens. My kids get sick like everyone else's.
I believe that getting colds and minor infections is the best way to build my child's immune system.
My job as a mother is not to prevent my children from ever getting sick. Short of a strict quarantine, that would be impossible.
My job as a mother is to ensure that any illnesses that take hold are mild and quick, with an adequate dose of love and comfort.
So, in my mind, children who get minor illnesses are the picture of perfect health.
When illness strikes in our house, to alleviate the discomfort and speed the healing process, I use a few tricks that I'll share with you here.
1. Olive Leaf Extract
- I always have olive leaf extract for the entire family. This herb is a potent anti-viral, so it combats many of the common illnesses that my children will come across (or lick). It has a potent flavor, so I mix it with cherry juice or apple cider at the first sign of illness, or if someone else in the house is sick.
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
or Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Coughs and nasal congestion respond very well to an essential oil of peppermint or eucalyptus. My favorite way to use them is to mix a couple drops of either (or both) with about about a half teaspoon of carrier oil (olive oil works well), and rub on the child's chest and back. This is particularly soothing at nighttime.
3. Beladonna - This homeopathic medicine is fantastic for anything with a sudden and dramatic onset: the sudden high fever, a child who suddenly screams with ear pain during the night, a sudden and painful sore throat. You get the idea. Because this is great for ailments that come on suddenly, it's best to have belladonna available before illness strikes. I keep it around.
4. Calendula Oil
- A tincture of calendula oil in olive oil is great for soothing. Rub a few drops on dry or irritated skin, or put a few drops of concentrated oil in a bath for children with dry skin. I also use this topically in my child's ears when he has a dull earache, especially if I believe it's due to inflammation from allergies.
5. Oil Of Garlic
- Garlic tinctures take many forms; not surprising since it is great for just about everything. Garlic is a potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb. Tinctures of garlic and mullein are reliably used for ear infections in lieu of antibiotics (many commercial natural remedies for children containing garlic are available at local health stores). Garlic tinctures can be used interchangeably with olive leaf extract when illness strikes (or is in the air) to help prevent infections taking hold, or shorten the duration and potency of an infection. Other people love immune boosters like elderberry, or echinacea - there are many immune boosting options, too. I'm just telling you my favorites, and since garlic can be used both topically or internally, it is more likely to be in our house at all times.
6. Organic Peppermint Tea
- Plain peppermint tea (not mixed with any green or black tea) is useful as a digestive tonic for children. Most children love the flavor, especially if it is sweetened with a little honey. The tea soothes stomach upset, and can relieve both constipation and diarrhea depending on the body's needs.
7. A Few Other Homeopathics - I also keep a few other homeopathics around just in case: Kali bichromium, natrum muriaticum, chamomilla, and a teething remedy. I use the kali bichromium for runny noses with thick yellow or green mucous. Natrum muriaticum, on the other hand, is better for runny noses with clear, runny mucous. Chamomilla is for when my child is inconsolable and irritable ("I want it, no I don't want it, I want it..."). If your child is more likely to be clingy and weepy, then you can opt for Pulsatilla instead of Chamomilla. And the teething remedy is great for any irritability or fussiness, including teething, but also those days when my child is probably "coming down with something."
8. My Chiropractor - My chiropractor is not in my medicine cabinet, but she is one of my favorite natural remedies for children, and has gotten us through many lingering runny noses and fussy spells. From what I understand, when cranial bones are misaligned, drainage is impaired and the child gets congested, holds on to congestion, or the congestion gets infected. For one year of my oldest child's life, I knew he needed an adjustment whenever he got a runny nose for more than 3 days. Inevitably, with an adjustment and a long nap, he was clear. Chiropractic can help with regular bowel movements, and other childhood complaints, too.
Along with these medicine cabinet favorites, my children do get supplements of fish oil
, and vitamin D daily.
As much as I would love for my children to never get sick (wouldn't that be great!?!), it happens. Their life (and mine) is easier and more comfortable when I turn to one of these natural remedies for children.
There are many products on the shelf of health food stores, so don't hesitate to check-out what natural remedy may be best for your child's particular complaint. Don't forget to read the labels closely, and follow the manufacturer's directions.
And of course, see your pediatrician if your child has a fever that is too high or lasts too long, is dehydrated, is lethargic, or is showing any other signs of needing immediate medical attention.
A couple of my favorite references are "Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health
" by Aviva Jill Romm; and "Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines
" by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman.
What are your favorite natural remedies for children? Please share below...
Natural Remedies for Children
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Natural Remedies for Children
While my preferences for natural remedies for children are based on research and education, please remember that this article includes my personal opinions, and not those of a licensed physician.