Subscribe to Steven Horne's Free Newsletter
News from the Herb Guy
- School of Modern Herbal Medicine
- Articles and Information
- Webinar Recordings
Giving Herbs to Children
- Categorized in: Herbs & Herbalism
How painful it is for us to witness a helpless child suffer. Our love causes us to suffer with them. What can we do to help that won't put the child in greater risk or distress? Today we receive tremendous pressure from the media and society in general to “leave everything to the experts.” Although this does have advantages sometimes, it has turned out to be a very expensive way of life and is often carried too far. Many people are afraid of thinking for themselves unless they have been formally schooled in a topic. And this definitely applies to health care.
Today, many people “run to the doctor” over every little sniffle in their children, when grandma would probably have relied on some inexpensive “home remedies” from her storehouse of common sense. If you're getting started in using some of grandma's old standby's, then let us suggest some simple things you can do to help allay any fears and build confidence in your ability to help your own children.
The major principles governing healing include:
(1) The body does the healing. Even doctors will admit that 70-80% of all disease will cure itself with a little rest. So, parents and patients need patience to allow the body time to complete its own healing process. It isn't wise to force the body with drugs for minor ailments. Save the “big guns” of modern medicine for emergencies and serious illnesses.
(2) Symptoms like perspiration, low grade fever, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing and skin eruptions are nature's natural methods for cleansing the body of disease irritants. So, unless symptoms become severe, don't be alarmed. Symptoms are part of the healing process.
(3) Avoid stressing the body with hard-to-digest foods such as meat, fried foods, fats and oils, eggs, dairy products and junk food when the body is sick. Soups, broths, fruit and vegetable juices and herbal teas are the best nutrients when sick. It is also not necessary to force food on a sick child. If a child does not feel like eating, don't force him/her to eat.
(4) Remember that in addition to physical food we all need lots of nutritional love! Tender love and care, avoiding negative words and thoughts and getting plenty of purified water and rest can work wonders.
In order to help your children, you may have to stop a minute and help yourself first. Maybe Nutri-Calm, STR-J, Rescue Remedy, Distress Remedy or kava kava will make a difference in your attitude and ability to cope if the child's problem can wait a few minutes.
One of the lost secrets of medicine is the fact that as a parent you can often trust your feelings to know what to do, how much to give a child, or whether the problem is indeed serious. However, this skill of “inner knowing” needs to be practiced and found to be trustworthy before an emergency, if possible.
In the beginning, when you are first learning to trust your own parental instincts, utilize several additional aids for assessing your child's problems: (1) common sense (logic), (2) counsel from those who may have experience with your child's problems, including the finest medical professionals if that appears necessary, and (3) written materials you can trust.
Our imaginations tend to manufacture ideas of what we need over-and-above what our genuine feelings may convey. Once you are able to trust into your own intuition as a parent, you will feel at peace with your decisions, even in the face of family and friends who might disagree. Eventually, your consistent results may even win them over.
If you know how to “muscle-test” (or know somebody who does), test the child for both what he needs, how much, and when it is needed. This testing will need to be updated often as the body progresses and needs change. You may also use “surrogate testing” via another person if the child is too weak to cooperate. The principle behind this method is that the body already knows what it needs. It even knows how much and how often it needs it! Investigate this for yourself so you'll have confidence in it when the need arises.
When it comes to liquids, children will often self-regulate the dosage. Their own sense of taste and smell will alert them when they have had enough of a remedy and they will likely refuse a further dose. Pay attention to the child's own intuition.
As for specific dosages of natural nutrients, we cannot put in writing something for everybody for obvious reasons (age, size, metabolism, allergies, etc.). The parent is going to make some judgments that must be informed and within reason to achieve success.
What if you give a child too much? The human body is fully capable of dealing with “too much” of a non-toxic, natural substance. The liver can break it down, store it, or if it can't be handled, the body's cleansing mechanisms throw it back out, using the stomach or bowels. But once again, no matter who may recommend something or how much to give, if your inner feelings are against it, think again before doing it.
In general, acute (new) conditions require higher doses than for chronic (long-term) conditions where the body is worn-down. In other words, if the child is weak, don't use a strong herb to overstimulate his system.
For those who prefer to follow a formula in making dosage decisions, take the weight of the child and divide it by the weight of an average adult (150 lbs.). This is the fraction of the adult dose to use for the child. That's “Clark's Rule.”
“Cowling's Rule” is another dosage formula. It takes the child's age on the upcoming birthday divided by 24. “Young's Rule” takes the child's age divided by both that age plus 12. The latter is the most frequently used, but Clark's rule is more scientific. Also, females as a general rule require smaller doses than males.
If directions on a bottle of commercial herbs recommend two capsules per meal, adjust this to the size and age of the child in a general estimate. Remember that these herbs are not powerful drugs but are high-powered foods, instead. Not enough may not give any noticeable results. Some cases require extremely high amounts while others won't.
Homeopathic remedies are very safe and may be used many times during the day if necessary. Results are the key to dosage, but keep in mind that some contain alcohol as a preservative and to help the remedy penetrate quickly into the system.
A general rule used throughout time by the great herbalists is to use the smallest dose first and work gradually to a larger one, but only if needed.
Getting Kids to Take Herbs
When you find an effective remedy, what good does it do if the child won't accept it? Swallowing capsules can be a problem for small children and when it comes to taking something “nasty,” all too many would rather remain sick! So, the first problem is to find a dosage form that the child will take.
Powders from capsules may be mixed with anything else that the child is used to eating, like cereal, soup, or vegetable juice. You may also make a tea of the powdered herb and without straining it, add honey before drinking. Herbal teas may also be combined with fruit juice to improve their taste.
There are also liquid extracts and tinctures available. These can be squirted straight into a child's mouth and followed with a drink of water or juice or they can be mixed with the water or juice and drunk. In the case of alcohol extracts, you can get rid of some of the alcohol content by putting the extract into a small amount of warm water, then stirring for a minute and letting it stand for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Glycerine based herbal preparations are generally more pleasant to children than alcohol ones because the sweet taste of the glycerine helps to mask some of the taste of the herb. Glycerine is also better than alcohol for children under the age of two.
Herbs may be put in bath water for good effect, especially when nothing else will work. Warm water opens the skin pores and allows these herbs to penetrate and get into the bloodstream!
A warm tea can also be made and injected as an enema. You will find great benefits from enemas for lowering excessive fevers, preventing dehydration, and “feeding” nutritional elements into the body when the child won't eat.
Taking responsibility for the health care of your own child can be a little frightening at first, but with experience it becomes easier. Of course, if a child does not respond to a home treatment in a reasonable period of time or if symptoms are severe, then professional advice and assistance should be sought.