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Natural Awakenings

Nature’s Pharmacy for Childhood Ailments: Natural Remedies to Help Your Child Heal

Jan 01, 2008 03:00AM ● By Dr. Lauri Grossman

When you get a severe headache, it’s a no-brainer to run for the aspirin, and when diarrhea hits, Pepto Bismol can save the day. However, if you’re looking for a natural solution, what remedies are available when your child comes down with common maladies like a flu, cold or allergy? Some basic holistic wisdom, time tested through the ages, will prevent frenzied phone calls and mad dashes to the doctor, pharmacy or health food store when Johnny gets an ear infection or Sarah comes down with the flu.

First and foremost, the time to take action is the moment you begin to suspect your little one might be feeling under the weather.  This is when a boost to the immune system can make all the difference.

We know that rest and nutrition are the foundations of good health. Our immune system boots up when we sleep. So if you have an inkling that something is brewing, put children to bed earlier, allow them to sleep later or suggest that they take an afternoon nap. Increasing fluid intake is another must. I suggest filling a favorite glass with fresh water flavored with slices of lemon or lime. Or find a pretty mug and make herbal teas. Peppermint soothes upset stomachs, chamomile calms the nerves and rose hip teas are an excellent source of immunity boosting Vitamin C.

Relaxing in a hot tub filled with natural fragrances is yet another way to ease pent-up tensions. Adding lavender will create a calming effect while rosemary oils serve to invigorate and warm the body. Pine-scented bath waters open up the respiratory tract and free up breathing passageways. Lemon energizes and uplifts.

For sniffles, it’s best to cut back on dairy intake (especially cow’s milk) and wheat right away since they increase mucous production. (Remember that breast-fed babies are less likely to get allergies or frequent colds.) Of course white sugars are a no-no at any time. They offer empty calories that add to the risk of weight gain and provide no nutrients or vitamins.

It helps to keep on hand the gifts that Mother Nature offers to keep kids healthy: ginger reduces allergic inflammation, horseradish relieves sinus congestion, and aromatherapy with peppermint and thyme oils opens clogged nasal passageways (in addition to making your house smell wonderful!).

What about homeopathic remedies? Of course, if conditions are severe, you’ll see a doctor. But there are a few standard items most homeopaths suggest that you keep at home. Among the first remedies to consider for the onset of a cold, fever or infection are aconite and belladonna. Both are natural fever reducers when used appropriately. Aconite is particularly effective for the early phase of respiratory infections, ear infections and conjunctivitis when symptoms tend to come on suddenly and with great intensity, when children become ill after wind exposure or when they experience “chills” and fevers accompanied by thirst and flushed cheeks. In addition, belladonna is the choice to try when eyes appear to glisten, foreheads are extremely warm to the touch, throbbing migraines occur or a severe right-sided ear infection occurs that worsens at night.

When the main problem is weakness and fatigue, gelsemium is a safe-for-kids option. If you see that your daughter can barely lift her head off the pillow or your son can hardly keep his eyes open, consider this remedy. Over the years, homeopaths have used gelsemium successfully to treat weakness associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. But it can be especially helpful for children during influenza, hay fever and respiratory infections when weakness is the strongest symptom.

For most homeopathic remedies, it’s important to choose a remedy that is compatible with the child’s character or “type”. Pulsatilla, a remedy derived from the coneflower, helps shy, clingy children who frequently come down with congestive disorders that are worse at night. This includes a variety of complaints like itching or infective conjunctivitis, headaches, pulsating ear infections and chest coughs.

Children who are responsible, hard-workers often push themselves into states where they feel overwhelmed, consequently losing their resistance to infection. With little resistance to the cold or wet weather they may get frequent colds and flus. They might also come down with recurrent ear infections, hay fever or tonsillitis. The remedy Calcarea carbonica can provide relief for such troubles. It will also strengthen the system, so that these acute illnesses do not come so frequently.

For all the homeopathic remedies mentioned here, a 30C potency is appropriate and safe for children. Give two to three pellets of the appropriate remedy under the tongue every four hours until you notice improvement. Then stop unless symptoms return. If there is no change within two days, then you are not using the best remedy and may need to see a licensed homeopath. Certainly, for serious or chronic problems seek the advice of a professional homeopath. The National Center for Homeopathy maintains an international directory of licensed practitioners at

Finally, if children get sick regardless of how much rest, nutritious food and loving parenting you offer them, the best you can do is to provide the most comforting and serene surroundings possible while they recuperate.

Dr. Lauri Grossman developed the homeopathy curriculum for the holistic departments of the graduate schools at New York University, the College of New Rochelle and New York Chiropractic College. She is an expert in integrative care. Visit her website at



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