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Healthy Children

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 4 views
by Anne Salazar-Dunbar, Therapeutic Herbalist

The vast majority of children are born healthy, and hard-wired to remain healthy. We have, as a culture, lost faith in these facts. And we have over-burdened our medical community with our inability to handle common childhood illnesses. It is my hope as an herbalist to help bring back some basic knowledge and tools to families, so that they can once again be empowered to to help their children (and themselves) grow up to be naturally healthy.

The large scope of possible childhood health challenges cannot be handled in one article. But I hope to address some main concerns. If you desire more information, you can always take a more comprehensive class. You can find out more about that via my website.

First and foremost, above and beyond herbal medicine,diet and lifestyle are absolutely KEY to maintaining vital health in our children. We must get back in touch with eating whole, organically grown, unprocessed foods. And we must get back into the rhythm of eating seasonally and locally. Along with this natural rhythm, we cannot forget the importance of activity, balanced with rest. Our culture is over-stressed, and our children are no exception. We create an unnecessary burden on the body, when we do not feed and rest it properly. This can have a huge impact on immunity, proper growth, and general well-being. Our modern lifestyles have thrown us off balance. And it is not a coincidence that allergies, and other issues, are on the rise in our children.


First its important to rule out allergies. Common allergies these days in children are from dairy and soy. My personal belief is that this is due to the over-processing (and genetically altering) of these foods. Our children are also becoming overly sensitive to environmental elements. No coincidence that our world is becoming progressively polluted.

For congestion it is helpful to use either essential oils, or the herbs themselves, of peppermint and/or eucalyptus in bath water. You can also massage the sinus areas with a few drops of the essential oil(s) blended in a teaspoon of carrier oil (like almond). In addition, a tea of peppermint and/or sage, or fresh ginger, lemons, and honey can be very helpful.

For infants (and everyone else) it can be helpful to use saline solutions that you can gently spray in nasal passages.

There are also some great, very effective and safe, natural cough products. Its best to allow the child to cough during the day, to move the congestion out. But, sometimes, its important to give them something to help them sleep. There are some simple and safe, anti-tussive (herbal) products that can give relief at night, in order to get a restful and healing night’s sleep.


Its important to know that fevers are our body’s very natural, and effective way to fight infection. By allowing a fever to do its work, we are allowing the body to heal more quickly. Every child has their own threshold for what consitutes an out of control fever. Its important to watch the child, to check for signs of lethargy. There are many remedies that will help relieve some of the discomfort of fever, while still allowing it to do it’s job:

  • Echinacea is an easy and effective herb. It not only will lower a high fever, it will also assist the body in fighting the infection.
  • Teas of chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip. Essential Oils (or strong teas) of chamomile, lavendar, and peppermint in bath water; or use a compress of the same on forehead, back, chest, and feet.

For prevention:

  • Astragalus given directly, or cooked in foods, is a great way to keep the immune system strong and healthy. It is only for prevention. Once infection has set in, stop using it.
  • Elderberry has some very strong ant-viral properties. Taken on a regular basis, it can prevent infection.
  • Oscillococcinum is a powerful homeopathic remedy for prevention.

Stomach Flu

To help with nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, the herbs peppermint, chamomile, ginger, and cinnamon can be quite helpful. And, of course, re-hydrate! Best to not use commercial sports drinks, as they are full of ingredients that are not helpful. You can make your own re-hydration drinks with water, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup or honey, and a pinch of sea salt.

If diarrhea is an issue, probiotics can go a long way in helping. If it is out of control, blackberry root tincture will help resolve it.


Ear Infection

Its best to handle these both inside and out. Using a good herbal oil of mullein, garlic, St. John’s Wort, can handle the pain, inflammation, and infection. But its also important to support the body’s immune defense by giving echinacea internally.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed when our little ones are sick. And we don’t trust our own instincts and knowledge. At these times, it is important to seek help. And there are natural ways to asssist the innate processes of our bodies through ‘alternative’ protocols. Chiropractic can be very helpful with ear infections, for instance. And pediactric acupuncturist/herbalists can come in very handy, when we feel like we cannot handle these situations ourselves.

There are many excellent books out there on the topic of natural healing and children. And there are plenty of folks who want to help, and share what they know. In addition, there are many, many great stores out there that have excellent, natural products, and well-trained staff to help you.

Trust yourself and your children to know how to heal. You will be surprised how well you can do, with a little information and a few tools.

Anne is a second generation native San Diegan, and mother of three. She is a certified clinical herbalist with training and experience in both Western and Eastern modalities. She is a graduate of Self Heal School and the East West School of Herbal Medicine. Along with a private practice specializing in women and children (though not exclusive to them), Anne also teaches classes in herbal medicine and nutritional health. In addition she works as the Lead Practitioner at Pharmaca, La Jolla. She is happy to join the Natural BabyPros team, and to assist our membership in finding balance in their health, and learning how to use herbs and nutrition for the overall well-being of themselves and their families.

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