From sniffles to swollen glands, when to keep your kids at home plagues every parent!
For general illness, use large doses of Vitamin C as calcium ascorbate or rose hip syrup.
Symptoms: Nasal stuffiness, runny nose, and watery eyes. May be accompanied by a fever, a mild sore throat, or a cough. Length of illness: About four to seven days.
Stay or go? It’s okay to send her to day care or school as long as she doesn’t have a fever and isn’t complaining of fatigue.
Herbal Treatment: Since colds are viral, you need to use things that will boost your immune system so that it can fight at optimal performance. The first thing to do is taking extra Vitamin C. The best kind is Calcium Ascorbate. This is a buffered kind that doesn’t collect in the kidneys and do damage such as the Ascorbic Acid. Next, if it really bothering the child, try some Echinacea or garlic. Both of these are antiviral and they boost the immune system. Echinacea can be taken in a tincture (according to manufacturers instructions) or as a tea. The Garlic can be taken as garlic oil or as a cough syrup with onion.
- Garlic Oil~ take about 10 garlic cloves and chop by hand or in a food processor, then add ¾ cup of olive oil. Next, whirl the garlic and oil together for just a couple seconds, then add another1/4 cup of olive oil and whirl one more time. Put in a jar with a tight fitting lid and set in a sunny window for 10 days. Shake 3 times a day and must take out after the 10th day. You can use it immediately after you put it in the window, but make sure it stays in the sunny window for the full 10 days. Give ¼ to ½ teaspoon every 2 hours when symptoms are strong. Then give 2-4 times a day till symptoms subside.
- Garlic/onion cough syrup~ simmer one onion chopped in enough honey to cover the onion for 20 minutes. Then let cool for 10 minutes and add 6 cloves of chopped garlic (best to use a garlic press, but chopping it will do also you can substitute 6 teaspoons of garlic powder). Let cool and place in a jar and keep refrigerated. Give ¼ to ½ teaspoon every couple of hours when symptoms are strong. Then give 2-4 times a day till symptoms subside.
Symptoms: Congestion, cough, mild sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes, fever, body aches, and possibly shortness of breath. Length of illness: Seven to ten days.
Stay or go? Keep her home at least until the fever goes down. Typically, the flu makes kids very uncomfortable for three to five days, then they’re in a recovery stage for another few days. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and send her back only when she seems like her old self.
Herbal Treatment: Same treatment as for cold symptoms; Flu is also a viral illness.
- For the fever, use yarrow tea or tincture (according to manufacturers instructions). For the vomiting and/or diarrhea, use Yarrow tea. Yarrow is a binding herb. It will stop vomiting in its tracks. Also, peppermint is a great herb for the flu in children. It can curb vomiting, and if given early enough it can ease the child into health without much else! Finally, Ginger bathes are great for children to shrug off fatigue and promote sweating and flushing the system. For the bath just put from 2 tablespoons for a shallow bath to a ¼ cup for a deep bath. This can even be used on infants.
Symptoms: Clear runny nose and a low-grade fever, followed by a higher fever and a rash that starts on the child’s trunk or head, then moves outward and downward. Chicken-pox lesions have a dew-on-a-rose-petal look (a red base with a clear pustule on top).
Length of illness: Seven to ten days.
Stay or go? Chicken pox is highly contagious; so don’t send her back to school until the last lesion on her body has crusted over.
Herbal Treatment: Chicken pox is another viral illness. The best thing with virus is to make the child feel comfortable.
- For the itching use the above ginger bath and then Yarrow and Peppermint poultices. For the poultice, take boiled water and steep the Yarrow and Peppermint for about 2 min and then put directly on the pox. This works wonderfully on the itching, but must be repeated often. The best way to attack it is to have the child tell you which are itching the worst, then just put poultices on those. Otherwise, just give either the garlic or the Echinacea a couple times a day and let the illness run its course.
Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, or both.
Length of illness: One to seven days.
Stay or go? Ship her off to school as soon as she’s feeling better; it should be within a day or two. If symptoms persist, though, keep her home and see a doctor.
Herbal Treatment: For a Stomach Virus, use a Yarrow tea.
- Along with this, use honey balls of Slippery Elm. Both of these are binders and very nutritious. Also, make sure the child gets PLENTY of liquids such as 7up, Pedialyte or an electrolyte tea (for this make an herbal tea and mix and equal amount of apple juice, this is actually used in hospitals), and have the child on a B.R.A.T. diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast). The biggest threat of this is dehydration and malnutrition; be sure to keep the fluids up and especially use the slippery, it is extremely nutritious.
Symptoms: Red and swollen eyes, yellowish green discharge.
Length of illness: Three to seven days.
Stay or go? At the first sign of symptoms, see a doctor-this condition is highly contagious. Once your child has had treatment for 24 hours (and discharge has disappeared), it’s safe for her to head back to class.
Herbal Treatment: For conjunctivitis, it is best to use Comfrey tea. Comfrey is demulcent, which means it is gentle and ‘slippery’.
- To make the tea, use a teaspoon of the dry herb and steep in sterile water (water that has been boiled for 20 or more minutes) till cooled. The tea may be used with a dropper or with sterile cotton balls as eyewash. Apply numerous times during the day until the infection has subsided for a couple of days.
Symptoms: Intensely sore throat, swollen glands, and fever.
Length of illness: Once treated, one to three days.
Stay or go? The doctor will prescribe antibiotics; after your child’s been on them for 24 to 36 hours and she no longer has a fever, she’s free to go.
Herbal Treatment: Have you doctor test the strep to make sure it is a bacterial infection and not a viral.
- If it is bacterial, use the garlic oil and the cough syrup treatment. For added painkiller, add clove to the cough syrup. If whole clove is used, add 1 teaspoon to the simmering onion. If clove powder is used, add ½ teaspoon to the steeping cough syrup. Test for strength, clove tends to have a strong taste. If it is too strong, add more honey and warm. For the Fever, use Yarrow tincture (10-15 drops every 2 hours) or Yarrow tea (one cup every 2 hours). Also, a ginger bath would be great for a fever. The syrup or the oil will help both the sore throat and the infection. Take the antibiotic herbs for roughly 5 days even after the infection seems gone. Then keep up treatment with something such as Echinacea for a couple of weeks afterwards.
Inner Ear Infection
Symptoms: Restlessness, fussiness, pain in the ear area when touched or tugging at the ears for infants, fever above 101 degrees.
Stay or Go? Keep home till outward signs of infection have passed (ei no fever, fussiness, restlessness, etc…). Once the child seems back to normal, the child can return to school, but continue treatment for 2-4 days longer. Ear infections have a habit of returning if treatment is not complete.
Treatment: Garlic Oil in both ears (even if only one ear is infected) for 7-10 days or 2-4 days after symptoms have disappeared. Also administer Garlic Oil internally at the rate of 1/4 tsp for infants to toddlers every 2-3 hours for the first 3 days then pull back to 4 times a day for the remaining period of treatment. For kids 4 to Elementary years (or until they can swallow pills) 1/2 tsp at the same rate as above. For children that can swallow pills, switch to garlic pills at 2 every 3 hours for 3 days to 2 pills 4 times a day for remaining treatment period.
Another handy treatment is to slice fresh garlic into long pieces that will fit in ear, but are easily removed. This also helps with ear pain from impacted ear wax. Of course, if the pain increases or the child get really upset, just maintain garlic oil treatment.
These treatments can be combined with the use of the onion/garlic cough syrup treatment for strep throat, et al.
Although, this is suggested treatment and dosage, please adjust if the treatment is too strong. As with any herbal self help get a diagnosis from a qualified health care practitioner, and have the treatment and recovery monitored by your health care practitioner.
As with any illness go to the doctor if you don’t recognize it. Usually a call to a RN or the doctor’s office may save a trip. Also, start taking extra Vitamin C in the form of Calcium Ascorbate or Rose hip syrup (for the syrup just steep rose hips [the fruit from roses] in water for around 20-30 minutes then add large amounts of honey and cool) immediately. Your doctor or Natural health practitioner will know safe doses. For all illness, rest and plenty of fluids are the best bet, and don’t push too hard to get the kids back to school. They need to heal so they are not home again in a week! Finally, any herbal treatments used from the store, follow the manufacturers instructions. The best way to avoid illness is living healthy: cut back on sugar, increase water intake, exercise, and get plenty of rest. That goes double for your children!
For more treatments check out Lalitha Thomas’, 10 Essential Herbs; Rodales’, Herb Encyclopedia