As colder weather sets in and kids are indoors more, the chances of them getting sick increases. The good news is that there are plenty of herbs that can help kids and moms strengthen their immune systems and help calm back-to-school anxiety.
Before we begin learning about our herbal allies, it is important to remember that there are a few basic and often overlooked nutrients that children need. The first is water – dehydration is often ignored and can make it very difficult for children to concentrate in school. To combat dehydration, be sure to send a container of purified water to school every day and encourage your child to drink it! This is an inexpensive and easy tool to help your child to stay healthy and transition well.
The next thing is to give your child snacks that contain oats, which are high in B vitamins which help calm the central nervous system. Oatmeal for breakfast and granola bars for snacks (preferably low in sugar) is two easy and tasty options.
Two weeks prior to the beginning of the school year and up to one month after, I would recommend giving children a good immune herbal mixture to support the immune system. Nerves, tension and anxiety can suppress the immune system, which makes children more vulnerable to the viruses and bacteria that just love to ‘hang-out’ in classrooms.
I prefer herbs to be in a tincture form, because most herbs are not potent enough in capsule form. In herbal medicine, a tinctured herb is one which is processed in either grain alcohol or glycerides. My favorite herbal companies are Herbalists & Alchemists, HerbPharm, Gaia, and Herbs of Light because they offer alcohol-free herbal combinations specifically formulated for children. You can purchase a blend called immune blends, or cold and flu blends as these blends have herbs that not only fight infection, but in times of health, stimulate the immune system.
These herbs should be given morning and evening during health and can be increased to three or four times a day if the child seems to be coming down with an illness. Moms can also take immune blends two weeks before the start of school to protect their immune systems during this stressful time.
If your child is nervous or tense about beginning the new school year try an immune blend, cold and flu blend or the herbs listed below, alone or in combination. The best part about incorporating herbs into your child’s routine is that they are safe and non-addictive. The dosage depends on your child’s age and weight, but a good rule-of-thumb to follow is three times a day (breakfast, after school and before bed).
- Skullcap - Best used for nervous tension and anxious feelings. You can feel the calming effect within 20 minutes of taking the herb.
- Valerian -This herb is best used to treat a combination of anxiety and sadness. If your child is nervous, sad and weepy he/she may experience problems sleeping (trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much). This herb helps to calm the system, allowing your child to fall back into a normal sleep pattern.
- Fresh milky oats – The effects of this herb are not immediately felt. It may take a few weeks to work through your system, but this is the best ‘band-aid’ for the nervous system after long-term stress. Works well combined with the other two herbs mentioned above.
Prevention is the key to good health. Don’t wait until your child has full-blown symptoms because it’s always more difficult to treat. Nip cold, flus and anxiety in the bud for the best possible results and optimal health.
Sara Chana, IBCLC, AHG, is an international board-certified lactation consultant, birthing instructor, classical homeopath and herbalist. With over 2500 clinical hours in lactation and 500 clinical hours in classic homeopathy, Sara has strengthened women by educating them on how to treat and heal their children naturally as well as how to work with their doctors to work in tandem in decision making.