My first contact with herbs was at a very young age when my mother used to cure me of my common childhood problems by using exclusively herbs of my native Mexico. Most of the time the herbs she used were for maintenance of health and to treat wounds and scraps acquired during playing.
Her herbal knowledge was transmitted through time by her mother and other family members, who got their knowledge from their families. As you can see the transmission of herbal knowledge goes back to the beginning of time and it is passed from generation to generation.
It was a normal way of life as all my family would use herbs on a regular basis, and even now my mother at 83 years of age continues to have her glass jars with many herbs, to help her age active and gracefully.
Herbal treatment can be used for acute and chronic conditions, but it should be used for prevention and maintenance of health so we can prevent future illness. Some conditions fixed during childhood can often be avoided during adult life, such as asthma and eczema.
My first concern in using herbs is safety, especially with children, as their systems are not fully developed, and therefore special attention to the choice of herbs and DOSAGES is very important.
This does not mean that herbs are dangerous for kids, it means that the use of herbs specially for unordinary conditions has to be administered by a trained professional such as a Medical or Clinical Herbalist. Herbs are gentle and effective but self diagnosis and self medication with herbs are not acceptable practices.
The herbs for kids have to be balanced and the dosages correct for their age so the gentle curing effect will synergistically balance their young systems. Observe any changes in their condition and use good judgment.
Herbal medicines usually are well tolerated by children, most of the herbs we use with children are non toxic with few if any side effects. However, some children may show signs of sensitivity to a particular herb, this is very unusual but can happen. In a case like this use your judgment and discontinue the herb.
There are some special herbs for kids and their needs, whenever possible use them as tonics to normalize the system’s functions. Kids bounce back very quick as their healing powers are very strong.
And don’t forget one of the strongest medicines, LOVE. Hug and touch your kids, especially when they are sick and you will be surprised how well they will respond to it.
METHODS OF ADMINISTRATION FOR HERBAL MEDICINES
Bottle (with fruit juice)
Popsicles (with fruit juice)
Wet cloth treatment
TYPES OF HERBAL MEDICINES
TINCTURES: Usually made with alcohol, evaporate the alcohol off with hot water, then use as required. Tinctures made with glycerin are available, they are more child friendly.
OILS/SALVES/CREAMS: Apply topically as required.
ESSENTIAL OILS: Use a humidifier or place the oils in a saucer of water on a radiator. For stronger effects, place the oils in a basin of boiling water and place it on the floor with the child lying face down on your lap over the basin. Never use essential oils on your child’s skin unless directed by a professional
TABLETS: Do not give to babies under 2 years old.
POULTICES: Do not apply strong rubefacients ( herbs that increase heat, and blood supply ) to a baby’s skin and never apply a very hot poultice.
There are several different formulas that are useful when considering the correct dose of herbal remedies to give to a child. Perhaps the simplest is the chart which can be easily adapted to suit either tinctures or teas. Two other formulas are given below:
Age in years =portion of adult dose. Thus a 6 year old child would be: 6 = 6 = 1 of adult dose Age plus 12 6+12 18 3
Age in years = portion of adult dose. Thus a 6 year old child would be: 6 = 3 of adult dose
20 20 10
ADJUSTING DOSES FOR THE AGE OF THE PATIENT
When the adult dose is one tea cupful:
< one year old = 2 teaspoonful
1 – 3 years = 3 teaspoonful
3 – 6 years = 1 tablespoonful
6 – 9 years = 2 tablespoonful
9 – 12 years = 3 tablespoonful
12 – 15 years = 4 tablespoonful
15 – 18 years = 5 tablespoonful
> 18 years = adult dose
When the adult dose is one teaspoonful or 60 drops:
< 3 months = 2 drops
3 – 6 months = 3 drops
6 – 9 months = 4 drops
9 – 12 months = 5 drops
12 – 18 months = 7 drops
18 – 24 months = 8 drops
2 – 3 years = 10 drops
3 – 4 years = 12 drops
4 – 6 years = 15 drops
6 – 9 years = 24 drops
9 – 12 years = 30 drops
12 – 15 years = 38 drops
15 – 18 years = 45 drops
> 18 years = adult dose
Most of childrens diseases are viral conditions, often as a result of lower immune resistance, although not serious, sometimes they may create high fevers and discomfort which may lead to serious complications if they are not addressed. Some other conditions are related to their activity levels and their environment.
Some of the most common conditions are as follows:
Fever is the abnormal elevation of body temperature, the normal body temperature should be between 35.8 and 37.2 degrees C, night temperature is ½ of a degree higher than in the morning.
Fever’s onset may be the first indication that there is something wrong, conversely its disappearance may indicate that things are getting better. Fever should not be treated until its cause is known. Intake of liquids (lots of fluids) will aid the great losses of body fluid as a result of the fever. Cold compresses on the forehead will help when the temperature is high, cold baths will also help.
There are many herbs helpful in the management of fever, if the fever goes too high, or the child appears confused or losses consciousness, consult your doctor.
A tea made of Catnip (Nepeta cataria),Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Elder (Sambucus nigra),
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) or Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) tea to encourage the sweating.
Bed wetting should stop between the ages of 3 to 7, usually older for males than females. It is a very common condition in children, usually as a result of deep sleep patterns with decreased amounts of REM. Stress, and the need for affection and reassurance (emotional causes) may also cause bed wetting. Organic causes are almost non existent, only about 2-4 % of cases.
Decrease the amount of water at night (empty bladder before bed time), give your child love and reassurance so he can be emotionally balanced. Decrease stress, encourage rather than punish, ensure that the emotional environment at home, school and with friends is positive and supportive.
Some of the following herbs are helpful if there is a lack of nervous control of the bladder:
Wild oats (Avena sativa)
Corn silk (Zea mays)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Vervain (Verbene officinalis)
Other helpful herbs are :
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata)
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
Sweet sumach (Rhus aromatica)
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Keep the blister clean and do not break the blister. One of the best herbs to apply externally is Aloe vera, applied as often as you can until the blister returns to normal. Other helpful herbs are, Marigold (Calendula officinalis) , Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Sage (Salvia officinalis). Make a strong tea of any of these herbs (or a combination of them) let it cool and wash the blisters with the tea, you can also do a fomentation.
Bruises are very easy to treat. If the skin is not broken you can use:
Topically – Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Marigold (Calendula officinalis), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in cream, salve, ointment or fomentation. Arnica (Arnica montana) cream ointment, or salve (do not use arnica internally or in open wounds). Cold water/ice compresses are also helpful.
Homeopathic remedy – Arnica (Arnica Montana) is one of the best to use.
Usually caused by a combination of friction, and the skin reaction to prolonged contact with urine, perspiration, chemicals, stool, soap detergents or creams.
Normally the affected areas are the groin around the genitals and the buttocks. It could show as red blistery, cracks or scaly, if there are areas affected outside the diaper region it could be a yeast infection, eczema or other similar problems which must be addressed separate.
We must use herbs that not only will help the rash, but herbs that will help nourish the skin and fight the bacteria which is almost always present.
Creams , ointments or salves can be made with Marigold (Calendula officinalis), Chickweed (Stellaria media), Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) , Plantain (Plantago major). One of my favorites is a combination of Marigold, Chamomile and Chickweed, these three herbs are excellent to fight diaper rash and other abrasions.
Other things to be done in order to ensure effectiveness of the treatment are:
Change wet diapers promptly and frequently. Switch types of diapers used, use protective ointment/creams such as Marigold as prevention.
Allow your baby to go without diaper for some time every day to air and dry the area and use herbs or essential oils in their bath water.
Change the soaps that you use to bath your baby, some contain high amounts of chemicals, use neutral or herbal soaps such as Marigold or Chamomile soaps, and from time to time Tea Tree oil soap.
Peaceful, quiet, stress free, loving environment.
Eliminate milk, cereals, sugars and all cabbage family foods as well as onions and garlic from the diet of the infant, as well as the mother (if breast feeding), also the mother should not take spicy foods and coffee.
Teas made of: Fennel, Dill, Anise Mints, Lemon Balm, Chamomile and Ginger, for both.
Chamomile tea in a bath.
15 drops essential oil of Lavender in 1 tablespoon almond oil rubbed over abdomen.
A small towel wrung out in hot herbal infusions or decoctions (be careful not to make it too hot) such as Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Lavender (Lavandula vera), Lemon balm (Melissa off.), Lobelia ( Lobelia inflata) or Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus).
Heat lamp or heat pad on the affected side.
Warm almond oil 2-3 drops in each ear (not too hot)
20 mls. each of infused oils of Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) with 5 drops each of the essential oils of Myrrh (Commiphora molmol), Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). 2 drops in each ear twice daily.
Gentle diuretics e.g. Galium aparine (Cleavers) or Chickweed (Stellaria media) and warm packs over the kidneys can alleviate earaches.
Decongestant teas of Elder flower (Sambucus nigra), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) or Plantain (Plantago major).
Tea made with: Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Plantain (Plantago major/lanceolata).
For coughing tea made with: Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Elecampane (Inula helenium), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Plantain (Plantago major/lanceolata), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) -
For congestion, inhaling blend of: Essential oils of Eucalyptus Peppermint and Thyme in an inhaler.
Make a tea of Chamomile (Chamomile recutita), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Lemon balm (Melissa off.) and Valerian (Valeriana off.). Soak a soft cotton cloth in the tea, and allow the baby to suck on it, or make a popsicle with ice cubs in your freezer and let your baby suck on it while you hold it.
Make a gum rub with 1 ounce of honey and one drop of Clove Essential oil and rub it in your babies gums.
Use Tea Tree Essential oil in the shampoo 1 drop per wash (be careful not to get it in the eyes).
Soak 2 tea spoons of Quassia (Picrasma excelsa) in 2 cups of cold water overnight, in the morning bring the water to boil, let it cool off and use it as a head or skin wash.
Bathe affected areas with Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract).
Avoid all antibiotics (mother and baby).
Avoid all yeasty and sugary foods (mother and baby).
Live natural yoghourt, olive oil and garlic internally.
Make a tea with Chamomile ( Chamomile recutita), Marigold (Calendula off.), Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.), Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) and Red cedar (Thuja occidentalis), apply topically.
Take probiotics to restore normal intestinal flora.
There is no substitute for moma’s milk, breast feeding is the best form of nourishment, it provides ideal nutritional balance and the immune protection needed by the baby. If breast feeding is not possible consult a health professional for alternatives.