This is a question that I get asked quite a lot so I thought I would write about a few herbal remedies for children.
So are herbs suitable for children?
The easy answer is yes, but with all things there should be an element of caution. If you are ever unsure whether herbs are appropriate, please speak to your local herbalist. If a child is undergoing treatment for a medical condition, it is important to get advice from a herbalist before starting home treatment.
The most common condition that I get asked about is eczema, and that really deserves a whole blog of it’s own (which I will be writing shortly). But here are a few tips to try before considering going to see a herbalist for treatment.
1. Eczema in children is often linked to dairy intake, in particular cow’s milk. Try switching to a goat milk for a period of a few weeks and see if there’s an improvement. Don’t be tempted to switch to soy milk, this can have the same effect as cow’s milk.
2. To reduce the itch, try chamomile and oat baths. Fill an old sock with oats and a handful of chamomile flowers (if you don’t have these you can use chamomile tea bags (6 should do it)). Tie the old sock over the hot tap of the bath so that the water runs through it. When the bath is full squeeze the excess water out of the sock (you should get a lovely foamy, creamy liquid come out).
3. Ensure that the eczema gets air to it and is allowed to dry out, try to ensure it’s not scratched (I know this can be difficult). A cold (used) chamomile tea bag can be applied to particular hot areas of eczema to provide relief (remember to dry the area well afterwards).
Another question I get asked is, how can I get my child to take herbs?
And this doesn’t just go for children, there are plenty of my adult patients who don’t like the taste of herbs! Here is my recipe for cold and flu fighting lollies.
Cold and flu fighting ice lollies
Getting children to take any form of medicine can be challenging but immune boosting ice lollies always go down well.
Based on 900ml worth of lolly mix making 6 lollies (adjust accordingly if your lolly mould is smaller).
You can use a ginger syrup or tincture if you have it (2tsp to the mix), or 15g of grated ginger (about a thumb size piece).
1tsp lemon juice
Add in 6ml of Echinacea tincture (for ages 6+ only) – Optional
Add in 200ml of elderflower infusion (2tsp to 1 cup of water) with 2 tsp of honey dissolved in it.
Add 690ml of fruit juice of your choice.
Mix together and pour into the lolly moulds, once frozen two lollies can be given a day to treat a cold in a child of 6+ (up to four daily if over 10yrs or no Echinacea in the mix).
(These can also be used for adults who won’t take medicine in a liquid form, double the amount of Echinacea and elderflower and reduce the amount of fruit juice).
What about helping children to sleep?
Children respond very well to herbal baths, so why not try some lavender flowers, chamomile flowers, and oats. You can use the old sock trick described above. This can help children relax before bed.
Another excellent remedy for children who struggle with getting to sleep, try a small amount of cold chamomile tea. Add to fruit juice or a hot drink to disguise the taste, and have at the last drink time before bed.
For more information about children’s remedies I thoroughly recommend Aviva Romm’s website. She is a herbalist and doctor and has some excellent tips and recipes. http://avivaromm.com/
2. Clostridium difficile is a bacterial infection that is often present in hospitals and health care environments and can cause diarrhoea and fever. A new study has found that pomegranate reduced the C. difficile bacteria and could be used as a preventative.
This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.
1. Statins have been in the news a lot in the last month but this particular quote from Dr Rita Redberg, Director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, really summed it up for me.
“In my practice, I believe that the evidence supports the use of statins for secondary prevention, and I tend to follow those guidelines. For primary prevention, I don’t think that the data show that the benefits outweigh the risks.
I believe for primary prevention, we are talking about healthy people. Healthy people are those who feel well even if they have risk factors. Many people have risk factors for heart disease, but when I read the data, I think the best way to prevent heart disease in healthy people is to help them develop a healthy lifestyle, including a Mediterranean-style diet and regular exercise. I am very aggressive at every visit in reminding people of the importance of exercise. I think it is the best medicine in terms of reducing heart disease risk, prolonging life, and improving quality of life — which is a winning combination — along with not smoking.”