Common Childhood Complaints
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
We all want our children to be healthy and well. When they are sick, we want them to get better as quickly as possible. Sometimes we have to let the illness run its course, and unfortunately, some children are plagued by recurring illnesses. But in both instances, we can make the time during sickness more manageable for our kids using natural remedies.
Before you go to the doctor for antibiotics, try using 2 drops of infused oil twice daily. The oil must be infused with garlic (a broad spectrum antibiotic), mullein (pain relieving herb), Calendula (anti-inflammatory), and St John’s Wort (for nerve pain). The oil can be used even in cases of perforated ear drum, and both ears must be treated. Some stockists of this oil add Echinacea (for immune system).
If your child is reluctant to have it dropped in the ear, wait until they are asleep and drop it in then. Alternatively, rub some around the whole area externally so that it is absorbed. I used this for my son’s teething pains by rubbing it around his ear, up to his temple and on his cheeks. The nerve that runs down past the ear to the jaw and mouth area is what needs numbing. Considering he asked for it when his big molar teeth were coming through, it must have done the trick!
You can also help relieve some of the pressure of blocked ears by holding the top of the ear, and pulling the ear in a backwards and upwards direction. This opens up the ear canal and eustachian tubes, helping to relieve the pain caused by pressure. This is also useful on flights where children suffer from the pressure of altitude.
Make a cup of Chamomile tea and once it’s cooled, use the tea bag or dip a cotton wool ball in. Rub gently over the eye, from the inner to the outer direction.
You can also use Calendula and eyebright tea, or a combination of chamomile and eyebright.
Make a mix of 40% Golden seal extract or tincture and 60% Eyebright extract or tincture and use 3 drops of the mix in about 40mL sterile water. Make an eye bath or put some onto a cotton ball.
The Marshmallow herb is really soothing to the sore throat, as is licorice. Both are really sweet, so adding some drops of one or both to some water will help.
Honey, particularly manuka honey and/or bee propolis is good, too.
Echinacea is an excellent antimicrobial, meaning it will help rid both bacteria and viruses, whilst improving immune function. Note that echinacea gives a tingle to the mucus membranes, so warn the child they may be able to feel this, but tell them it is getting better and killing off the germs!
Make some ice cubes for the child to suck that contain marshmallow, echinacea and licorice.
Colds and Cough
If your child is clearly in a lot of pain, there’s a lot to be said for pharmaceutical pain relief. However, if they seem happy but a residual cough remains, you can help ease it with herbs.
Natural expectorants are aniseed, fennel and angelica, in that order of potency. You can make a tea with these, or make biscuits with these in, or if you have the extracts or tincture, you can add them to a drink – they don’t taste bad, unless your child doesn't like the licorice-type of flavour.
Echinacea is an excellent immune herb and antimicrobial. You can add some drops into a drink and sweeten with licorice or marshmallow, as mentioned for sore throats above.
Eyebright is a herb that dries up mucus, but it’s taste is not pleasant. You can add drops of this along with the echinacea, licorice and marshmallow to a drink to help clear the mucus.
A good multivitamin that contains zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, fish oils, and also some probiotics would help bolster the child’s immune system. Consider giving this in the run-up to colds/flu season, or if going travelling.
For a baby or child, dilute prune juice in a ratio of 1:10, 1 being the prune juice to 10 parts of warm water.
Apples are wonderful for getting things moving. Incidentally, they also help diarrhoea. Stew them with a bit of cinnamon, and your child will be ‘going’ in no time. If they don’t like apples, pears also have a similar effect.
Licorice is a gentle laxative, so a few drops of this to their drink will also help.
The beauty about treating colic in a breastfed baby is that the mother can take herbs and it goes through to the breastmilk. Herbs to use in colic are: fennel (steamed, it is a really lovely accompaniment to fish), dill, angelica, aniseed, ginger, rosemary, lemon balm, peppermint, chamomile, amongst others that might be harder to get your hands on. You may be able to find a tea blend that has some of these in.
Try grating a little ginger in a cup of boiling water, or buying dill, angelica, aniseed and fennel seeds individually or all of them, and making tea with these. Mother should drink these, and/or if you can add a little to a bottle of milk, they are perfectly fine for baby to drink a bit of.
A bay leaf added to a bottle can also help colic, or dill leaves.
Alternatively, a herbalist could prescribe extracts for mother to take and they’ll reach baby via the breastmilk.
Bladder infection and kidney dysfunction must always be ruled out for any bedwetting, sudden or on-going. Whatever the reason, herbs may be able to help.
Make 1 litre of tea using Corn silk (Zea mays), Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), St John’s Wort and Lemon Balm. May be sweetened with honey. Let it stand overnight and strain it the next day. Have the child drink 3 half-cups a day, saving the last one 2 hours before bedtime. Any tea that is not used can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Use the whole litre of tea, so it should last about 3 days.
Please see a qualified herbalist if you are intending to give your child herbal extracts or tinctures internally – baby and child dosages are of paramount importance!
If your child has any of these, please contact me!