Is your kid sick again?
Kids get sick a lot, about six to eight times each year with the common cold alone. And for some parents, herbal remedies are a natural alternative to prescription or over-the-counter medications.
In fact, natural products accounted for the most common alternative and complementary medicine therapy used by children in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“In herbal medicine, we like prevention,” according to Sara Chana, a classical homeopath and master herbalist practicing in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Chana said herbs can be used to ward off infections when the school year starts, on airplanes or during the holidays.
Here, experts weigh in on the best natural remedies to help ease your kid’s symptoms and get him or her on the mend – stat. But, remember: It’s best to get the green light from your child’s pediatrician before using any alternative remedies. Like medicines, they can also have serious side effects.
Fox News' Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham, recommended using umcka to treat colds.
“Umcka demonstrates very good efficacy for helping the duration and severity of a cold,” Kilham said.
A South African herb, umcka is found in natural cold remedies or with menthol to soothe sore throats. Ginger root tea and echinacea are also effective at reducing symptoms. For congestion, drop eucalyptus oil in hot water, put a towel over your child’s head and let him or her breathe in.
The best way to relieve a cough is to thin the mucus so it can be expelled, Chana said.
Mixtures of wild cherry bark, hyssop, and catnip, as well as eucalyptus drops or loquat syrup can help.
“Oscillo is the single most widely used and popular natural flu remedy in the entire world,” said Kilham, who added that if taken at the first sign of flu symptoms, oscillo can prevent the flu from getting worse.
Elderberry extract and echinacea can also help to shorten the time it takes to feel better.
Mullein oil, derived from the Mullein plant’s flowers, can help ear aches and ear infections, Kilham said. Drop it in the ear as often as needed.
A fever can be worrisome, but because bacteria and viruses can’t survive in heat, a fever can be a good thing.
“We like fevers because fevers fight infection,” Chana said. She added that herbs can help the child feel comfortable enough to drink fluid while the fever does its job.
Elder flower, lemon balm, yarrow and catnip might help as well. However, always let your doctor know if your child has a fever, especially an infant, as a fever can signal something more serious.
Forgot to re-apply sunscreen? Chana said she swears by a mixture of pure aloe vera from the plant, St. John’s Wort and lavender oil to soothe a sunburn.
Can’t get your kid to wind down before bed? Try a cup of chamomile tea.
Chamomile has been used to treat insomnia, sleep disorders and anxiety, so it can help to calm your child. Lemon balm and linden are also good choices.
If your child has a stomachache, peppermint tea can help. But, if he or she has diarrhea or is vomiting, it could be the stomach flu. The herb andrographis might help, but it’s important to first make sure your child receives an accurate diagnosis because many cases that appear to be the flu are actually food poisoning, Kilham said.
Cinnamon, taken in capsules or in tincture form, has been shown to help with both the stomach flu and food poisoning.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, food and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.