Becoming a parent is probably the steepest learning curve many of us will ever attempt – suddenly there are so many questions that you didn’t even know existed before having a child. As new-borns you wonder if they are warm enough, happy enough, sleeping enough, feeding enough. The choices we have to make range from the very large ones about parenting styles and education choices right through to the very small daily ones – Are you ready for a nap little person? Which pants will you wear today?
The first time our baby gets sick, it can be a worrying time and one fraught with more questions, as suddenly we become responsible as the first line health carers for our child. Once it has been decided whether a doctor’s visit is needed, the next step is often wondering how to treat a baby’s illness. What is safe for them? What is useful?
Herbal medicine has been used by parents to treat their children for as long as humans have been around. Herbal medicine is not only ‘the first medicine’, but also ‘nature’s longest clinical trial’. Adding to a wealth of information from hundreds of years of traditional and historical use, we now have a huge and growing body of scientific research which increasingly shows in more detail how and why these herbs can work so well to both prevent and treat infection and support immunity.
Herbal medicine, when it is properly grown, prepared and formulated, is our ally as parents nursing our children. As with many aspects of parenting, our confidence grows once we know what is useful and what works for our children. Although many parents have the ideal of using natural medicines for their children, at the end of the day, you want something that works! Thankfully there are high-potency herbal medicines available just for babies and children that are completely safe, totally natural, and do the job.
Herbs can be used as both prevention and treatment for immunity and infection. When made specifically for little ones, herbal medicine is incredibly effective and safe even for new-born babies. Safety and quality are both paramount for our babies, so when choosing a herbal medicine look for a brand that is manufactured in a pharmaceutical GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) accredited facility, and is formulated by an experienced team of herbalists and pharmacists. Choosing organic herbs also means you know you won’t be putting unnecessary chemicals into your baby’s system.
High potency Echinacea root (Echinacea purpurea) is a fantastic aid to improve immunity and build a robust immune defence in our babies and children. It is perfect for giving daily throughout winter, when children are starting day-care, or when every other child seems to have a bug and you want to keep your little ones well. Prevention, as we know, is always better than cure!
Snot, mucus and catarrh are the unfortunate by-products of the viruses that cause colds and respiratory infections. Blocked noses and ears are common in little ones, and cause difficulty in breathing and feeding, which can be very distressing for everyone! Thankfully there are some wonderful herbs to reduce the production of mucus, decrease irritation in the nose, sinuses and ears, and improve breathing. Two of the best herbs for this are Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) and Elderflower (Sambuccus nigra).
Herbal cough syrups, can often be used for both wet congested coughs and dry or tickly coughs. The beauty of herbal medicine for coughs is the ability of the herbs to perform a range of actions; calm the spasm of the cough, reduce mucus, and aid in soothing and healing irritation in the lung tissue to speed recovery. Key herbs for this are Hyssop, Mullein, Marshmallow and Thyme.
Thyme also comes into its own for the treatment of sore throats. Some children have recurrent problems with throat infections, making it important to have herbs on hand that support immunity, target infection and soothe the throat.
Honey is one of the oldest medicinal foods documented in human history. From 8000 year old rock paintings of honey harvests in Spain, through to the discovery in the 19th Century of the specific anti-bacterial properties of honey, humans have consistently employed honey as a medicine and healing agent. More recent research and clinical trials have shown that honey can be as effective as pharmaceutical cough medicines in treating coughs. Cautions about the use of honey in infants under one year of age are due to the potential (though rare) presence of Clostridium bacteria in raw honey, which can cause botulism in babies. Because of this it is important to choose medicinal honeys that are thoroughly tested for the presence of any microbes. When tested, honeys are completely safe for babies and infants. Not only is it safe, but it naturally tastes fabulous and is therapeutic in its own right.
Having powerful herbal medicines in the cupboard that you know are safe and effective for your child is wonderful peace of mind for when the lurgies strike.
Kiwiherb produce a range of products to support the health of babies, kids and adults. Made right here in New Zealand from the finest herbal ingredients available, they use certified organic and New Zealand grown ingredients wherever possible. Shop for Kiwiherb products from our secure online shop now.
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How do you keep your kids healthy and happy?
Do you give them any natural herbal remedies? If so what are your (and their!) favourites?