Natural remedies for children

Being a mum, I know the frustration of my child constantly getting colds and flus, and often it feels like it never ends. I particularly like to look for natural remedies to help my little one get back on track. Below are some fantastic natural remedies you can try for children.

Fever

Bentonite clay bath
Prepare a very warm bath (no more than 39°C) with 60 g of bentonite clay powder. Allow the child to soak for 10 to 20 minutes.
Contraindications: Be cautious with infants or young toddlers and consider using less clay or a shorter soak time. This treatment can make some children (and adults) feel dizzy and even more tired, so help your child out of the bath carefully and encourage rest afterward.

Headache

Yarrow tea
Make a simple tea of yarrow using 1 teaspoon of the herb steeped in 235 ml of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Offer it warm or cool and lightly sweetened, if desired. Yarrow is good for headaches, fevers, and general immune boosting.
Contraindications: Do not use for babies under 1 year of age.

Cough

Raw honey
Honey is a thick, viscous liquid that helps to coat the throat, which can quiet coughs. It’s also antibacterial, which could assist in stopping an infection from taking hold. It has been shown to be a more effective cough suppressant than come commercial cough syrups. As over-the-counter cough and cold syrups are not recommended under age 6, raw honey is safer, too.
Contraindications: Do not give to babies under 1 year of age.

Runny nose

Nettle tea
For children who have allergy-induced runny noses, nettles are sometimes a good remedy. Nettles help to naturally block the histamines that cause the reaction, which can reduce allergic symptoms in some children.
Make a tea of 1 to 2 teaspoons of nettles in 235 ml of hot water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes and then strain. Sweetening with local raw honey can also help with seasonal allergies.
Contraindications: Some children are allergic to nettles, so introduce in small doses and watch for worsening symptoms. Do not sweeten with honey for children under 1 year of age.

Sore throat

Vitamin C
Sore throats can sometimes be helped by vitamin C. I’m partial to natural sources, like orange juice or red capsicums. Kids can drink orange juice or eat red capsicums as much as they want, or using ¼ teaspoon acerola berry powder or ½ teaspoon rosehips in 235 ml boiling water to make tea is good for most.
Contraindications: None, but use in moderation. Diarrhoea is a sign of too much vitamin C.

Cuts and scrapes

Try using lavender oil as a natural way to clean cuts and scrapes: it is well known for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

Stomach-ache

Activated charcoal from your chemist is an absorbent material that can get rid of bacteria and viruses, and some people swear by taking ¼ teaspoon in water to stop stomach-aches.

Sinus or ear pain

Chiropractors can make adjustments to help the sinuses drain properly, potentially stopping ear and sinus infections in their tracks.

Cold kicker syrup
This syrup contains a few herbs that are commonly used to clear respiratory infections. This recipe can be used for any child who is over 1 year of age. Elderberry is known to help shorten the duration of colds and flu by up to 67 percent. It’s also a general immune booster. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and soothing to sore throats. The spiciness can help to thin mucus and clear up runny noses. Mullein is anti-inflammatory and great for respiratory ailments. Raw honey is full of beneficial enzymes and is antibacterial and antiviral.
45 g dry elderberries
2 slices fresh ginger
2 tablespoons mullein leaves
235 ml filtered water
160 g raw honey
Place the elderberries, ginger, mullein, and water into a saucepan. Boil the herbs and water together for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Steep the herbs in the water for 20 minutes.
Strain the herbs out of the liquid and discard them; reserve the liquid. Stir the raw honey into the liquid until it dissolves, heating slightly, if necessary. Pour the syrup into a glass jar and add a lid. This syrup will keep for about one month in the fridge.
Dosage: For children 1 to 5 years old, use ½ to 1 teaspoon every 2 to 3 hours, and especially before sleep. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons for children 6 to 12 years and 3 teaspoons for children 12 or older.
Contraindications: Ginger should not be used by anyone with a clotting disorder or by anyone who is about to undergo surgery, as it can slow blood clotting. Do not use honey in children under 1 year of age.

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Kate Tietje and Bob Zajac MD are the authors of Natural Remedies for Kids (Fair Winds Press/Murdoch Books, www.murdochbooks.com.au)
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