Also visit: Is
there anything I can do nutritionally to help keep my family
healthy and illness-free?
the items mentioned in this article from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Question: My kids tend to get frequent colds
once school and day care start. Is this normal? How can I minimize
Andrea Candee responds:
Statistics indicate that the average American schoolchild has
several colds a year. Comforted falsely by statistics, parents
accept all manner of cold and flu as “normal childhood diseases.”
“After all,” we tell ourselves, “it could be
worse. What’s a case of the sniffles or the odd ear infection
now and then? It’s something all kids need to go through.”
This is erroneous thinking. Health,
not sickness, is the body’s normal state of being. Just
because all the other kids at school are sick doesn’t mean
yours have to be. You can maintain a respectable level of wellness
for your child even in the face of the nastiest colds and flu.
Herbs are especially useful in
healing flare-ups of the upper respiratory system. Many of the
therapies presented below are preventive, so the old adage that
“all kids get sick” doesn’t have to prove true
in your home -- it certainly didn’t in mine!
Gargles are an age-old method of bringing soothing substances
to sore throats. To see if your child is capable of gargling liquids:
• Have her hold a small
mouthful of plain water towards the back of the throat.
• If this is easily done, gargling can become a fun activity
by vocalizing, causing the liquid to vibrate.
• If vocalizing makes your child uncomfortable, simply
have her retain the liquid in the throat while you count, encouraging
her to hold it a moment longer.
• Be sure the liquid is expectorated (spit out) so the
toxins drawn out from the swollen tissue are not swallowed.
Salty Lemon Gargle
The astringent properties of lemon juice and common table salt
(or for a more pure version, sea salt, found in all health food
stores), when combined with warm water and used as a gargle, shrink
swollen tissue. As a result, this classic blend reduces the inflammation
and pain of sore throats while providing excellent anti-microbial
• Combine the juice of
half a lemon with one tablespoon of salt in 1/2 cup warm water.
• Have your child gargle with this mixture at least four
times a day.
• To further enhance the astringency and anti-microbial
action of this gargle, mix the lemon and salt into 1/2 cup of
sage tea instead of plain water.
Grapefruit Seed Gargle
The extract of the grapefruit seed contains potent anti-microbial
as well as astringent constituents that help relieve an inflamed,
• Add 4-6 drops of grapefruit
seed extract (purchased in health food stores) to1/2 glass of
• Have your child gargle with the diluted extract, spitting
it out after each gargle.
In addition to the herbs you would give for a cold, a sore throat
may be comforted with:
• slippery elm lozenges
(available at health food stores).
• a diluted spray of echinacea and goldenseal, sprayed
on the back of the throat. To make this anti-microbial spray,
dilute 10 drops of each herb in 4 ounces of water.
• a spoonful of honey, which is anti-inflammatory as well
as anti-microbial, a traditional remedy for soothing the throats
of opera singers before performances. Your child can lick the
honey right off the spoon to experience its soothing properties
as it slides down her irritated throat.
• a room vaporizer containing eucalyptus oil. The vaporizer’s
hydrating mist soothes a dry, irritated throat while the eucalyptus
emits its anti-microbial properties into the surrounding air.
• a tea/gargle of the soothing, anti-inflammatory herbs
licorice root and slippery elm bark.
• a gargle with sage or raspberry leaf tea, effective
astringents, helping reduce the swollen tissue of a sore throat.
a congested chest
When your child’s chest feels tight as a result of cold
or flu and coughing is painful, a ginger rub will bring herbal
heat to the chest. Ginger’s stimulating properties increase
circulation and help loosen things up, with greater comfort being
the happy result. I can remember times when this remedy was so
effective that the next night my son required an onion pack to
stop the incessant coughing from all the loosened phlegm!
To prepare this rub, mix together
1 tablespoon each of powdered ginger purchased from a health food
store (where it will not have been irradiated) and a non-petrolated
petroleum jelly (also available at a health food store). The mixture
will look rather like brown frosting. But don’t eat it --
spread it on your child’s chest, then cover with a cotton
T-shirt. A reddening of the area is normal and indicates that
the ginger is increasing circulation to the capillaries near the
surface of the skin. In the morning, the petroleum jelly will
have been absorbed and the ginger will have worked its magic,
as indicated by your child’s ability to breathe more easily.
Another wonderful reason to use ginger: A Brigham Young University
study revealed that this herb significantly decreased nausea and
diarrhea associated with the 24-hour flu.
Blending together any of the following oils will create a treatment
that deeply penetrates tissue, stimulating blood flow to the lung
area, helping to open air passages. In addition, the herbs are
anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
For children under 8 years of age,
blend 6 drops of combined essential oils in a teaspoon of carrier
oil such as almond, apricot kernel or grape seed. For the older
child, increase the dilution to 10 drops to the teaspoon of oil.
The congestion oil may be rubbed on the chest and back in the
morning, afternoon and at bedtime. Cover with a cotton shirt.
Continue treatment until congestion loosens and your child is
more comfortable.You may expect a slight reddening of the skin
due to the oils’ circulatory enhancing effect. If your child
exhibits more than just a slight reddening or a rash, discontinue
Several drops of the congestion
oil may be used in a bath. For inhalations, add a few drops of
the congestion oil to a pot of hot water, encouraging your child
to breathe deeply over the water. Several drops of the oil may
also be added to a vaporizer.
Echinacea’s immune-enhancing properties may be called to
action to help the body fight off the respiratory infection. Its
chemical properties help to slow the spread of infection while
enhancing immune function in the lymphatic system and mucus membranes.
Give oral doses of echinacea every
two hours until the symptoms diminish and three times a day thereafter
until your child is totally well. For an in-depth discussion of
echinacea, see Chapter 12: “Immune System Enhancers”
in my book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon
Cold and Flu Tea
Upper and lower respiratory symptoms respond well to the healing
properties of the herbs contained in this soothing, decongesting
tea. A large quantity of the dried herbs can be mixed and stored
in an air-tight jar.
• 4 parts echinacea
• 2 parts sage leaf
• 2 parts eucalyptus
• 1 part ginger root
• 1 part thyme leaf
How effective is this natural tea?
Let’s run down the all-star list of the ingredients’
• Echinacea stimulates
the immune system and is anti-microbial.
• Sage leaf detoxifies and decongests.
• Eucalyptus leaf decongests and is anti-microbial.
• Ginger root detoxifies and stimulates circulation.
• Thyme is a decongestant and anti-microbial.
To prepare this tea, steep 1 teaspoon
of the combined herbs in 1 cup boiled water, covered, for 15 minutes.
Several cups can be made at one time, warming as needed. Initially,
an ounce or two may be given every 15 minutes, until relief is
experienced, and then 1/4 to 1/2 cup every two to three hours,
as needed. Natural honey may be used to sweeten the tea.
Garlic Fever Reducer
To bring down a high fever, especially when associated with bronchial
congestion, put enough fresh cloves of garlic in a blender to
make a paste that will spread ¼” thick on gauze.
Lightly coat the soles of your child’s feet with olive oil
so the garlic does not irritate them. Affix the garlic gauze pads
to the soles of the feet with roller gauze; cover with cotton
socks. Leave on overnight, provide plenty of water to drink and
watch the fever go down. If necessary, more garlic paste may be
applied as it is absorbed by the body.
By the way, garlic is so powerfully
absorbed throughout the soles of the feet that in short time,
your child will have garlic breath!
Consisting of fresh garlic juice, apple cider vinegar and other
potent anti-microbial herbs, this is an excellent therapy for
active respiratory infection. This syrup is also an excellent
post-infection support for the body as it recuperates.
• From infancy to age 4,
give 1/8-1/4 teaspoon three or four times a day.
• Ages 5-10 should receive 1/4-1/2 teaspoon.
• Ages 10 and older, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.
• This syrup has a strong taste and is more palatable
diluted in a bit of juice.
Drink those fluids
The best and most important fluid for the body is good quality
water. At all times but especially during periods of illness,
the body’s need for water must be met to enable the proper
manufacturing of proteins, enzymes and hormones. When the body
is physically compromised, it must be kept well hydrated so that
its chemical processes facilitate healing and the flushing of
toxins -- and this is especially true for infants and children.
© Andrea Candee
Andrea Candee is a
master herbalist, media expert, nationally known lecturer and
author of the award-winning Gentle
Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), which
received The National parenting Center's Seal of Approval. Andrea
is noted nationally for her unique and successful approach to
Lyme Disease. She lives and maintains a consultation health practice
in New York and shares much of her knowledge at www.AndreaCandee.com.