Children are not just smaller versions of adults—their bodies are unique, and their growth rate is much higher than that of adults. Children may metabolize herbs and medications differently than grown-ups, but using herbs for children’s health can be very useful and safer than using pharmaceuticals. Prompt use of homemade natural remedies for kids often eliminates the need for antibiotics and drugs that have undesirable side effects. However, each situation is different. Always check with your health care provider before implementing herbal interventions for your child. Make some herbal preparations to keep your child healthy.
How to Safely and Effectively Use Herbs for Children
Children are more sensitive to any substance, including herbs and conventional medicine. This can be a benefit, as tiny amounts work very well, or it can be a concern. When creating herbal formulas for children, try making a liquid form of an herbal preparation, such as syrup or tea. Apply a dime-sized amount to the inner aspect of your child’s arm, at the elbow. Wait a day and see if there is any rash or redness. If not, use the herb as desired. To keep children safe, always store herbal and conventional medicines in child-proof containers and out of reach of children.
The Best Herbs for Children
Many easy-to-grow herbs make fabulous remedies for children. You can even have kids grow their own medicine! Base your children’s herb garden upon their ages. In the backyard, choose herbs that will be colorful, like calendula. Plant a variety of herbs that smell and taste good. Lemon balm and other members of the mint family are always popular with children. Fortunately, these herbs are all very easy to grow and can tolerate even the smallest child’s loving care. Use your herb garden as a stepping stone to teaching children about nature, creating nutritious meals and for fun crafts. The best herbal medicine for children and everyone is playing with the herbs growing in the dirt. Even a windowsill herb garden can introduce children to the natural world.
Herbal Remedies for Children
Making herbal remedies for children is fun, inexpensive, and safe. Try preparing some medications in advance, so that you will have them on hand if your child gets a “boo-boo” or develops some of the common childhood complaints.
Dill and Apple Popsicles
These are easy to make, and they’re excellent for belly aches and loose stools. To make these rich in vitamin C, add two teaspoons of rose hips when you remove the pan from the stove. You can also add two teaspoons of elderberries before you heat the final juice to enhance your child’s immune function.
- Frozen pop molds
- 2 cups organic apple juice
- 2 Tsp. dill seed
Bruise the seeds in a mortar and pestle or coarsely grind in a coffee grinder. Simmer the seeds in the juice for 20 minutes, covered, over low heat. Remove from stove. Cool slightly. Strain and compost the seeds. Pour juice into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm.
Baby’s Bottom Salve
No baby should ever have a diaper rash. Clean your baby’s skin with each diaper change, and provide time for the skin to air out. Use a thin layer of this salve to prevent stool and urine from the tender skin. This ointment is useful for soothing minor scrapes and cuts as well. Do not use ointments on a fresh burn; instead, use this once healing has started.
- 1 oz. calendula flowers
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. Beeswax, grated
Place herbs in a clean jar. Cover with oil. Oil should cover the herbs by about one inch. Cover. Place in a warm spot, such as on a sunny windowsill. Shake vigorously at least once daily. Let sit for two weeks. Strain out flowers through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter, and add them to your compost pile. Be sure that all plant parts are filtered out. Combine beeswax and infused oil in a double boiler and heat until wax melts. Stir. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Pour into clean glass jars or other containers. Let cool. Apply lids.This salve does not need refrigeration because of the beeswax.
Catnip Bath Fever Relieve Remedy
Catnip bath is a great fever reducer. If your child has an illness that causes skin irritation, you can put two cups of oatmeal in a clean stocking or sock and add it to the tub to soothe your child’s skin.
- 1 cup catnip
- 4 cups boiling water
Pour boiling water over catnip. Cover. Strain out the herbs and compost them. Let the catnip infusion cool to room temperature. Add it to a tepid bath (the bath should feel neither hot nor cold). Allow your child to soak in the tub for up to 20 minutes.
Nature’s Medicine Balls for Colds, Ear Infections, Flu, and Other Respiratory Illnesses
This recipe hides the taste of less savory herbs and is traditionally and historically used to reduce fever and treat infections. I use it for times when children have respiratory illnesses. These are very yummy and full of nutrients.
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp. echinacea root, powdered
- 1 Tbsp. catnip, powdered
- 2 Tbsp. elderberries, dried and chopped
- 1 Tbsp. rose hips, ground
- Organic chocolate chips or raisins
- Unsweetened shredded coconut
Combine all of the ingredients except for the coconut. Mix well with your hands. You will have very firm, dough-like candy. Form nickel-sized balls with your hands. Roll in shredded coconut. Store the remedy in your refrigerator. Below, you’ll find my dosage chart on how much to give children of different ages.
- 3 – 5 years 3 – 4 times a day ½ of one ball
- 6 – 11 years 3 – 4 times a day 1 ball
- 12+ years 3 – 4 times a day 2 balls
Make sure that they don’t try to eat more because they’re delicious; there’s no need for a higher dosage.
Occasionally, children get constipated. This is especially common if they are going through a “picky” phase of eating and not eating a balanced diet. It’s an excellent time to talk to them about the importance of keeping their bowels working properly. Try the following herbal candy recipe for relief.
- 1/4 cup dates (you may also substitute apricots or prunes)
- 1/2 cup warm prune juice
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/8 cup flax seed, finely ground
- 1/8 cup oatmeal
Soak dates in prune juice for 15 minutes. Drain juice and set juice aside. Place dates, almond butter, flax seed, and 1/2 of oatmeal in a food processor. Process until a firm paste is formed. Add remaining oats or juice as needed to obtain a very stiff consistency using a processor and then your hands. Form nickel-sized balls with your hands. Store the remedy in your refrigerator. Have your child eat this candy 1 to 2 times daily. Here’s a dosage chart to make it easy to remember.
- 3 – 5 years 1 – 2 times a day 1 ball each dosage
- 6 – 11 years 1 – 2 times a day 2 balls each dosage
- 12+ years 1 – 2 times a day 3+ balls each dosage
Roll the balls in ground nuts if your child likes them, as nuts add fiber as well.
Bites, Stings, and Rashes
Bugs seem to like the taste of children’s tender skin and warm blood. And have you noticed that if there’s poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac around, kids are sure to touch it? Carefully clean the affected area with soap and cool water. Keep this paste on hand to relieve itching and swelling. The paste hastens to dry of weepy rashes. Itch-Away Healing Clay
- 2 Tbsp. Peppermint leaf (you can substitute five drops of peppermint essential oil, or 20 drops tea
- tree oil)
- 1 cup cosmetic clay (any kind will do, but children like the colorful orange or green types)
- 1/3 cup witch hazel extract
- 1/2 cup boiling water
Make a very strong tea by covering the peppermint leaf with the boiling water. Let sit, covered, for 20 minutes. When cool, strain the herbs from the liquid. Squeeze the herbs firmly against a strainer to get all of the healing properties of the mint. Set tea aside.
Place the clay in a container with an airtight lid. Pour the witch hazel and the herb tea into the clay, stirring constantly. Add liquid until you have a thick paste. Apply the lid. Label the container carefully, stating that it is for external use only.
If your children are older, and there is no chance of them eating the paste, store it in the refrigerator for extra coolness. Otherwise, store it out of their reach at room temperature. Apply topically to clean skin whenever insect bites or rashes occur. (It also works on hemorrhoids.) Wash off when dry or as desired.