So the little one has grown from an infant to a child. Still not an adult, though. So care still must be taken in selection and dosage of herbal remedies. However there are some gentle and safe herbs suitable for many childhood complaints.
For example, indigestion is very common in children, although it is rarely a serious health problem. Eating too fast, overeating, eating particular foods or drinking sodas can all cause indigestion. Remember Peter Rabbit? After eating too much (and maybe too fast) he turned to parsley for its carminative action. Herbs that have a carminative action ease the movement of food or gas through the intestinal tract.
Some excellent carminative herbs safe for children are:
- Anethum graveolens (dill)
- Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)
- Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
- Mentha piperita (peppermint)
Ways to use these herbs? Very simple. Bake dill bread and serve a slice. Or have the child chew on some fennel seeds. Take lemon balm or peppermint leaves (dried or fresh) or both together and make a simple infusion (tea).
Here is a remedy from an out of print book by Maribeth Riggs.
Tea for Indigestion
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon dried sweet orange peel
- 2 cups water
- Honey to taste
Make a decoction by putting fennel seed and orange peel in a pot, bring to a boil, cover and gently simmer for
20 minutes. Strain out the herbs and discard them. Any unused portion of the tea can be kept in a refrigerator
and reheated for further use. Discard any remaining tea after 2 days.
Serve the tea as warm as is comfortable for the child. Sweeten it with honey to taste. Give the child 1/2 cup of
tea every 2 hours whenever experiencing stomach pain from gas.
Another childhood condition is constipation. This can be indicated by painful passage of stools, inability to pass stools, or infrequent bowel movements.
Children’s constipation almost always responds to dietary change. So first step is to avoid any foods that contribute to the problem. Most foods that contribute to constipation are high fat dairy foods, cheese, wheat, eggs, and refined, processed foods. Watch your child for signs of constipation after eating these. Include in the child’s diet those foods that help good elimination, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, liquids, and dried fruits.
If bowel movements are accompanied by much pain, abdominal bloating, or crying, it is important to seek skilled diagnosis to rule out conditons such as Hirschsprung’s disease, impaction, and other potential serious disorders!
The other end of the spectrum is diarrhea, which usually is caused by reactions to certain food groups, reactions to bacteria and viruses, fever, emotional upset or an infection somewhere in the body. Diarrhea can be dangerous as it can result in dehydration, which in turn can be fatal if severe. So make sure the child is drinking fluids.
A number of astringent herbs are particularly suitable for children in the treatment of diarrhea. Top of the list is Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet), but here are some others:
- Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
- Euphrasia spp. (eyebright)
- Geranium maculatum (cranesbill)
- Plantago major (plantain)
- Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
- Rubus idaeus (raspberry leaf)
- Verbascum thapsus (mullein)
Any of these can be made into a tea and given by the teaspoon to a small amount to drink, depending on age and weight of the child.
Another common condition children get are ear infections. Since the ear canals are not fully formed until a child is 3 or 4 years old, it is easy for congestion from a cold to allow bacteria to grow. A safe herbal remedy for children is my Mullein Flower Garlic Oil. However, for a child, only use one drop (not more, remember this is a child) in EACH ear. It is important to treat both ears since the ear canals are connected and the infection can move back and forth.
There are many other herbal remedies for children, but in many cases correct dosage is critical and must be considered based on age, weight and other characteristics. These remedies are best formulated and dosages determined specifically for your child by a trained herbalist.