by medical herbalist, Joseph Nolan
As ever, Chamomile is king. It helps children, toddlers and babies when they are miserable with teething, fevers, stomach troubles or even allergies. It helps keep them hydrated and the gentle liver stimulation can encourage a weak appetite. It also settles an achy, irritated or fevered child into a pleasant sleep.
For pain and distress, Catnip is perfect. It eases pain, works well with a fever, has anti-infective properties and soothes upset stomachs.
Red clover is a very useful expectorant when a child has a cough and makes a great addition to medicines for colds and ‘flu.
Cleavers is a great lymphatic stimulant, helping both the immune system, via the lymph, with its abundant white blood cells. It is an invaluable herb for illnesses that raise the glands, including sore throats, sinus pain with colds, aches at the back of the head, throat and sides of the neck and anything involving the tonsils or ears.
Liquorice is a lovely herb for children, with its sweet flavour and soothing effects on digestion. It has anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
How to take them...
These herbs can be taken in tea form, but sometimes children do not like to eat or drink when they are sick and cajoling will not help very much. If the child is up to a bath, a full pot of strongly brewed herb tea in the water is a great way to get the herbs into the little body, and they have excellent effects this way. Hand or foot baths work well too. Older children can be bundled up with their feet in the herb bath and their bums on a parental knee for a story. For little tiny ones, like mine, whose feet won’t reach the floor, rubbing a strong tea or a few drops of tincture into the soles of the feet can be enough to get the herbs working.
For itchy rashes and the aftermath of spotty fevers like Chickenpox, Roseola or even Measles and Rubella, oats in a bath can relieve itch and soothe sore skin. For an oat bath: tie some porridge oats in an old sock and run the hot water first, though the sock. It makes the water nice and milky and avoids pieces of oat floating everywhere. You can also add other herbs to an oat bath to really punch up the healing.
Hopefully your little ones will be feeling tiptop again soon!