Herbal remedies for kids

Today I wanted to share with you some of the herbal remedies we use to treat our two year old son. He goes to daycare three days a week and likes to bring all kinds of bad germs back home. Some of them stick around and like to cause trouble. :) So we like to keep the following herbal remedies around to help us fight off all the troublemakers.
  • Common Cold / Flu
The first thing I do when my little boy gets a stuffy nose or a slight cough is to give him Echinacea  Tincture. I make my own but there is some really good quality tinctures out there.
 To make your own glycerin based Echinacea tincture fill a quart size mason jar halfway with herbs. I use Echinacea  purpurea root but any part of the plant is ok to use.On top of the herb pour 1 1/2  cups vegetable glycerin and 1 1/2 cups water.Mix well and put a little more vegetable glycerin if you need to fill the jar to the top. I like to let my tinctures sit for six weeks before I strain them. Label you jar with the contents and the dates of preparation and when you need to strain it. Keep the jar in a cool dark place and shake it every day. The herbs will expand so add more liquid if you need to.

 Echinacea purpurea has the ability to stimulate the body's immune system to produce leukocytes, or white blood cell. The white blood cells are responsible for finding and eliminating any harmful bacteria or viruses in the body.  So make yourself a jar of this wonderful tincture and fight off anything that comes your way this winter.

  • Cough / Sore Throat
 My favorite herbal remedy for coughs and sore throat is Elderberry Syrup. It is so delicious and kids love it. Making it at home is easy and a lot less expensive than buying it at the store. I use Rosemary Gladstar's recipe and love the finished product.
  To make Elderberry syrup you will need 1/2 cup dried elderberries, 3 cups water, and 1 cup honey. Place the berries and the water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 30 to 45 minutes. Smash the berries, strain through a fine mesh strainer and add the honey. The syrup can be kept in the fridge for 2 to 3 months. I keep mine in a jar since it turns into jelly from the cold and I like to eat it with a spoon. I always pull some out to come to room temperature when I need it for my 2 year old.
  You can add some dried rose hips to this syrup to increase the vitamin C content. And, of course, you can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less honey. Use raw unfiltered honey, it makes a great difference in both taste and healing properties. If you are making this syrup for children under 1 year of age, you can use brown sugar instead of honey.

  Elderberries and elder flowers are also a  diaphoretic; by inducing sweating, they reduce fevers. A wonderful benefit, when you think that most coughs and sore throats in children often come accompanied by a fever.
  • Fevers
  Fevers can be a scary thing when you have a little baby. I know I don't like going through fevers with my little one. But fevers are also a good thing. Fevers tell us that our immune system is working and that are bodies are fighting whatever makes us sick. I never treat a fever that is lower than 102 F. I give my little boy herbs that will boost his immune system and rid his body from the cause of the fever. The fever is just a symptom and not the disease to be treated. Most of the time when he has less than 102 F he just wants to snuggle and sleep. This is great, there's no better medicine than sleep.
 Unfortunately , a couple of times we had to deal with fever close to 105F. First thing I do is to make sure that my little boy stays hydrated. I give him a lot of water, coconut water, fresh fruit juice,or herbal tea with honey. If he is too lethargic to drink from his sippy cup I  just give him little spoonfuls of the liquid.  A great thing to bring down the fever in babies and little kids is to give them an herbal bath. Herbs like yarrow and ginger are a wonderful addition to the bath water. They will help the body to sweat and thus lower the temperature. Make sure the bath water is as hot as possible without burning the gentle baby skin and add the herbs in a reusable fabric tea bag or just tie them in a piece of old t-shirt. It's like making a huge pot of tea that you will use for bathing instead of drinking. After the bath you can put some Vaseline and garlic on the bottom of the baby's feet and put some socks on.( Vaseline will prevent the garlic from burning the skin. Use a non-petroleum product if you want, like almond or olive oil.) Let them stay in bed , under the covers, until they sweat. Make sure you change their pjs after they sweat and let them go back to bed. Snuggle with your little one if you have to in order to keep them warm.
  The most important thing to remember when dealing with fevers is that moist heat heals and dry heat kills. Herbal baths are moist heat. They will raise the body temperature even more and trigger the natural reaction of the body when it needs to cool down- sweating. This is what you want to happen if you want to bring down a fever. Help the body and support its natural healing power instead of interrupting the healing process with medicine.
  • Congestion
Saline and eucalyptus are my best friends when it comes to congestion. I like to use a wonderful product  by California Baby - Eucalyptus Ease.   It is amazing and works great for my two year old who loves bubble baths. They make the product in drops you can add to the bath water instead of the bubble bath.
 I also add eucalyptus oil to our vaporizer and let it run in the bedroom all night, Guaranteed good night sleep.
 Another product I often use for congestion is Nature's baby "Ah-Choo! Chest rub" My two year old even rubs it on himself. It works great and he knows it makes him feel better.
 You can find both those products in you local health food store or online at www.vitacost.com ( great prices).
  • Ear Infection
Congestion can easily turn into an ear infection and ear infection is most commonly treated with antibiotics. I have to say I dread antibiotics. I was given a lot of them when I was little and I suffer the consequences to this day. When I became a mother I decided that I would do everything in my power to avoid giving my son antibiotics. I understand that antibiotics are life saving in some cases but I also think they are overprescribed.
 So, the best way to treat ear infections ,(and to avoid antibiotics), is prevention. You can prevent an ear infection by following a few simple rules:
  1.  Don't let babies fall asleep while still sucking on their bottle. It is bad for their teeth and can cause the  ear canals to fill up with fluid. Don't forget that an artificial nipple will keep dripping after the baby stops sucking, unlike a real breast.
  2. Treat nasal congestion. Keeping the sinuses open will prevent the ear canals from collecting fluid as well. 
  3. Avoid dairy when your child has any kind of congestion . Processed dairy is very mucus forming. Our little boy suffered from an ear infection, a sinus congestion, cough and fever for almost a month and a half before we decided to try and eliminate dairy . He hasn't had any problems since. We allow him to have dairy a couple of times a week but he consumes mostly organic almond and coconut milk. He loves the taste and mommy doesn't have to stay up all night worrying.
If it is too late to prevent an ear infection, mullein oil and garlic oil are the two staples you should have in your herbal medicine cabinet.Both are easy to make.
 Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It has a great antiviral and antibacterial power. To make garlic oil chop a few garlic cloves and put them in a small jar. Pour enough olive oil to cover the garlic.  Strain after three days and you will have a wonderful garlic infused oil. I keep mine in the fridge to extend the shelf life.
 I make mullein oil in a similar way. Put the herbs and the olive oil in a heat proof container (preferably glass) and bring to a boil in a double boiler. We don't want to fry the herb just to heat it up . I put everything in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. After the water in your double boiler comes to a boil turn down the heat and let it just simmer. This will keep the oil warm enough but it won't cook the herbs. Let it infuse for a few hours and remove from the heat. Let it cool down before you strain it.
 Mullein is a wonderful herb for reducing swelling and easing pain. It is used not only for ear infections but for any swollen gland. I use it as drops , combined with garlic, and I also use it to massage the neck and around the ears. By reducing the swelling from the infection , the mullein oil helps the garlic oil to penetrate and do its wonderful bacteria fighting job.Two great herbs to have around.

  So , those are some of the herbal remedies we always keep around the house. Often I have to use a combination of treatments to fight off whatever is bothering us. All the remedies described above are wonderful for adults as well as children.
 I hope this post was interesting for you and will help you family stay healthy and strong this winter season.


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