Herbs and herbal medicine are for children too!

Herbs and herbal medicine are for children too!

Every parent and carer will have experienced times when children seem to go down with one thing after another – a cold that develops into a lingering chesty cough, a gastrointestinal infection, earache, a rash, loss of appetite, a sore throat – the list goes on. While we acknowledge the important role of modern medicine and drugs including antibiotics, these have their drawbacks and your G.P may not be willing to use them. Fortunately, a more natural, gentle and supportive approach using herbal medicine is available and may be more effective in bringing quick relief while supporting long term health.

Dill, Chamomile, Lavender and Elderflower

If your little one is irritable and you suspect they are going down with the latest ‘bug’, a herbal infusion (fresh or dried herbs made into a tea) can be a good way to reduce the symptoms. An infusion can be sipped, hot or cold, throughout the day or added to juice or smoothies. For example, Dill seed infusion releases tension and spasm in the digestive tract, relieving colic and wind, indigestion, nausea, and constipation as well as diarrhoea. Dill is an important ingredient in the famous Gripe water, used by generations of mothers to relieve babies’ colic. You could combine this with Chamomile, another excellent herb for the digestion which is also slightly sedative. Or make up a litre of strong chamomile tea, cool it slightly and add it to the child’s bathwater to promote a good night’s sleep. In fact, herbal baths are a good method to use for babies and children because the herbal constituents are absorbed across the skin and into the bloodstream. A lavender bath, using dried flowers or a few drops of lavender essential oil can reduce anxiety and restlessness in a child. For early signs of a fever, a warm tea of elderflowers will promote sweating and bring the fever down naturally.

Grow your own medicine

Even better and a lot more fun than buying herbs to enjoy, you can have a go at growing your own or foraging for those that are abundant. Dill and Lavender are so easy to grow. Elderflowers are abundant around the lanes and hedges of Cornwall so it’s easy to snip off a few flowering tops and hang them up to dry for later use. If you don’t mind getting a little muddy and you have dandelions in the garden you can dig them up, wash the roots and eat them! Seriously – they may taste slightly bitter and for children you might need to hide them in a stew or soup, but dandelion root (just 10g per person) is a safe gentle digestive tonic to support the liver with detoxification and to ease constipation.

Let food be your medicine

There are many ways that herbs can be enjoyed by children as part of a healthy diet. Adding herbs to meals provides flavour and those all-important flavonoids and plant polyphenols which support the gut microbiome and the immune system. Salads with basil, coriander leaves, rocket and parsley, vinaigrette with garlic, fish with dill or sorrel, new potatoes with fresh mint, casseroles with bay leaves, biscuits and curries with ginger and pizza with oregano are often unknowingly our daily medicine. As the foods are absorbed from the digestive tract, the therapeutic constituents of the herbs enter the bloodstream and then circulate round the body and help to maintain health.

Stay safe – consult a medical herbalist

Above are just a few examples of ways in which you can use herbs with your children for first aid and to maintain health. If your child has a more troublesome condition, a consultation with a qualified medical herbalist is advisable in order to understand the cause of the problem and obtain an individualised treatment plan incorporating diet and effective, safe, medicinal grade herbal products.
Don’t be overconfident with home herbal treatment. If your child is unwell and you are concerned, don’t delay in seeking medical help. Your medical herbalist is trained to know when to refer a child to the NHS.

Children’s herbal consultations

Carol Thorogood (MNIMH) is a qualified Medical Herbalist offering consultations and bespoke herbal medicine including lower cost consultations for children at the Falmouth Natural Health Practice. Book online at cornwallherbalclinic.com or contact me on 07947908376.

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  1. OceanWP

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