Children's Herbs for Cold & Flu Season
When talking about herbs and children, I find that many people fall into one of two camps. They either are afraid to use herbs with their kids because they don’t know if they are safe, or what dosage to use, or when or how long to use the remedy, or they feel that it doesn’t even work. Or, I find that people fall into the “well it’s natural so what can it hurt” camp.
I could say so much to each of these thoughts and questions, but since I can’t possibly fit it all into one blog post, then I will just address a few things. One, please be wise about what you put into your children, obviously not all natural things belong inside or on our bodies. However, that leads me to my second point, herbs have been used in traditional cultures for hundreds and thousands of years, and therefore we have excellent safety and efficacy data on a vast amount of herbs, and the ones that I am recommending today are the safest of the safe. And lastly, you as the parent know your children the best. As you become comfortable using these herbs and seeing how well they truly work to soothe and comfort different symptoms that arise during the fall and winter months, your parental intuition will begin to take over and you will instinctively know which remedies work best with which child for every symptom! I promise you from experience, that soon these simple preparations will begin to take over your home medicine cabinet.
Are you ready to jump into the four herbs that I regularly use with my children?
Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm is a delicious, lemony-flavored herb from the mint family. Because of its light, sweet flavor, it is an herb that is easy to get children to take in a tea or a glycerite (a sweet tincture made from vegetable glycerin that is often used for children). This herb is truly a powerhouse and because it is a food-herb it is safe even for babies! Lemon Balm can calm seemingly anything from a gassy baby, to a restless toddler, to an anxious kiddo that is having trouble sleeping. It is also great for helping to break a fever and loosen the congestion that sometimes comes with those childhood colds.
Catnip: Isn’t this that stuff that makes cats hyper? Yep, it sure is! But lucky for us, it has the opposite effect on humans, especially little humans. Catnip is the classic herb for relieving colic, trapped gas, and diarrhea in children and babies. It helps to soothe hyper and restless kiddos, can help to ease teething pain, and acts as a gentle fever reducer. I often combine it with Lemon Balm in a glycerite to help my boys wind down for bed, when they are having tummy troubles, or when they are feverish to help them settle and rest. (If you want to learn how I make this (super easy) formula, be sure that you are signed up for the Fall Remedies Workshop that is coming up next week!)
Chamomile: Even if you recognize nothing else on this list, you likely recognize this popular tea herb that can be found on nearly any grocery store shelve! Because it is so widespread, it is easy to access in a pinch and keep stocked in your pantry. Chamomile is also an easy herb to get children to take with its sweet, apple-like flavor. It can become bitter if steeped for more than 3 minutes, so if you have a picky child be sure to keep an eye on the timer.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is easy to access, chamomile is a potent anti-inflammatory! This is my go-to herb when my kids are dealing with teething pain, when they are grumpy and irritable from the heat, and when they have muscle and stomach aches with the flu.
Lavender: The classic calming herb! This is the perfect herb for kiddos who are dealing with stress, tension, and difficulty sleeping. It makes a delicious tea when blended with Chamomile, (Traditional Medicinals carries this blend at most grocery stores) and can be made into a sleep pillow for aromatheraputic benefits.
When to Use:
Now, I know I have told you a lot about these herbs, but sometimes it can be hard to translate that knowledge into practical situations. To help, I have outlined two common symptoms you may encounter with kids, and some ideas for using these herbs in those situations.
Fever: This is such a common symptom with kids and can happen for any reason, or seemingly no reason! It also comes along with quite a list of related symptoms depending on what the underlying cause is such as: body aches, upset stomach, and difficulty sleeping.
- Catnip & Lemon Balm Glycerite for gently lowering fever, body aches, and promoting rest
- Chamomile tea for diarrhea related to fever, body aches, and restlessness (I put this in my boys sippy cups and encourage them to drink it regularly to help with both hydration and resting when sick)
- Lavender pillow placed in the bed to promote deep, healing sleep, or placed over the eyes for fever-related headaches
Restless Sleep: Even though deep sleep is the #1 way that the body heals itself, it can be so hard to get when you are feeling miserable! Rosemary Gladstar recommends the following protocol for encouraging sleep in kids who struggle with nightmares, but it can also help when you are dealing with an illness or any time that there is restlessness. She recommends:
1.) Bathe child in a chamomile bath. (Brew a large pot of strong chamomile tea and add it to bathwater once it has cooled.)
2.) Massage child down with a lavender massage oil. (I actually make and sell a lavender-chamomile baby massage oil!)
3.) Give child a few drops of lemon balm-catnip glycerite. (Which you can learn how to make at this workshop!)
4.) Tuck them in!
I hope that everything I have shared has helped you to feel empowered to help your children through the inevitable childhood illness! You can do this Mama!