Natural Remedies for Children: Keeping Kids Healthy
For hundreds of years, people have used natural household remedies for many common ailments. Of course, there have been major advances in medical technology, and for some things, modern medicine works best. However, there are certainly many household remedies that work very well for some of the most common ailments. This article will focus on some natural remedies for children, and how maintaining a healthy NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response can improve your child’s health.
A Word Of Warning
Though natural remedies often work and most are generally safe, always consult with your healthcare provider if any issue is serious. If your child is on medications or has any serious or chronic illnesses, always consult with your healthcare provider before using any treatment. Natural remedies can work great in many circumstances, but you need to ensure you are thoroughly informed about any remedy you intend to use and any interactions it may have with other remedies.
Common Cold and Flu
Colds and flu occur often among most children. While often all you can do is let the illness run its course, knowing that your child will develop some immunity in the process, there are steps you can take to try to protect against illness and reduce the severity once it starts.
Prevention is the first and best way to deal with colds or flu. Improving your child’s diet when school begins and throughout flu season can help reduce the number of colds she gets. Be sure that your child gets plenty of fresh fruit, especially varieties high in vitamin C.
Once you start seeing symptoms of colds and flu, there are also several remedies you can try to improve the situation:
When signs of flu arise, one of the best natural remedies for children and adults is to supplement zinc. If done early enough, zinc can eliminate certain colds before they affect the body. Supplementation with zinc can also reduce the length of colds if taken within the first 24 hours.
Probiotics and Vitamin D
Daily probiotic intake, in conjunction with vitamin D, can be helpful as well. Probiotics help protect the gut, and vitamin D is deficient in most people, particularly in winter. Both of these supplements can help to promote a healthy immune system. Both have been shown to decrease the frequency of respiratory tract infections.
Echinacea in conjunction with vitamin C and zinc may reduce the length of the cold and will boost your child’s immune system. Echinacea is mild and makes a good tea. Just don’t take it for longer than two weeks or it reduces in effectiveness.
Goldenseal, like echinacea, can boost the immune system. Goldenseal is antimicrobial and is thought to be especially effective against upper respiratory and soft tissue infections.
This is easily the most well known of the natural remedies for children. Vitamin C is essential for supporting all circuits of the NEM network and for a healthy immune system. Supplement with vitamin C, especially throughout the flu season.
Black elderberry is a classic folk medicine that has been used for many generations for helping avoid falling ill and alleviating symptoms of cold and flu including cough and sore throat. Furthermore, it may shorten cold and flu duration by stimulating the immune system. It’s best taken as a syrup, although be sure to test a few brands to find what works best as they can vary widely in quality.
Call Your Healthcare Provider If Your Child:
- Has difficulty breathing
- Has difficulty keeping food or fluid down
- Has difficulty swallowing
- Fever over 100 degrees
- Cough or nasal congestion does not improve within 7 days
Ear infections, also called acute otitis media (AOM), are often a secondary effect of an upper respiratory infection. Many things that also help with common colds and flu can help alleviate an ear infection.
Coconut oil supports a healthy inflammatory and detoxification circuit, and it is both antiviral and antibacterial. This makes it an effective home remedy for ear infections. Place a few drops of liquified coconut oil in each ear, a few times a day.
Garlic and Mullein
Another natural remedy for children is a garlic mullein ear oil. Garlic, as you may know, is both an antibacterial and antiviral herb. Mullein, on the other hand, is an analgesic. This means it can help to soothe ear pain. Similar to coconut oil, use a few drops in each ear.
Never put anything in your child’s ear if the eardrum has been ruptured or if drainage is coming from the ear. This could cause serious damage. If ear pain does not stop or improve within 48 hours, you may need to implement antibiotics.
See Your Healthcare Provider If:
- Ear pain lasts more than 48 hours.
- If your child has a fever of 100 F (39 C) or higher.
- More symptoms arise.
- Ear pain is severe.
- Drainage is coming from the ear.
Constipation is not an uncommon problem in children. In fact, it affects up to 30 percent of children. Interestingly, constipation commonly starts at the beginning of the school year. This may be caused by unhealthy school foods, holding it during the day, or external stress. Fortunately, in addition to eating more high-fiber foods like fruits, veggies, and nuts, there are many simple remedies that can help your child overcome this misfortune.
The easiest, most important thing to try when your child experiences constipation is to increase water consumption. Dehydration is common in children and getting hydrated again is essential to getting things moving.
Although many people are unaware of this, having good bacteria in the gut is crucial to supporting your child’s digestive system. Regular probiotic consumption has been shown to increase stool frequency. Yogurt and fermented foods are another great source of probiotics.
If it’s a really stubborn case, a magnesium citrate supplement can stimulate digestion and stool frequency.
Several herbal remedies can help:
- Senna, a commonly used herb in natural laxatives, can be taken as a pill, or as a tea.
- Chamomile tea, a useful herb, can be used to stimulate digestion.
- Slippery Elm coats the GI lining and can help move food through the bowels.
See Your Healthcare Provider If:
- There is blood in your child’s stool.
- Constipation worsens or lasts more than a few days.
- Fever occurs in conjunction with constipation.
It is not uncommon for sleep disorders to arise when changes in a child’s life occur. For example, these are more common at the beginning of the school year, after a big move, or after other changes to their schedules. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies for children that can help them sleep.
In order to promote restful sleep, it’s important to maintain a regular bedtime schedule that incorporates relaxing activities. These can include reading a book or having a warm bath shortly before bedtime. Often the routine of doing the same thing every night can help children’s bodies wind down and get ready for sleep.
This green plant gets its name from the sweet mild lemon scent that this herb produces. Lemon balm is a great way to promote relaxation and improve sleep. This tea can really calm the nervous system, and in turn, calm the neuroaffect network. Furthermore, lemon balm is known as a very strong antiviral herb, which can make it useful for boosting the immune system against flus.
Keep this smelly root away from your cats; some go crazy for it. However, this root is a well-known muscle relaxer and can help your child get to sleep. Don’t use much, however; this stuff is strong. Also, be aware that it may induce lucid dreams.
Melatonin is a hormone that can be helpful when used as a sleep aid. Melatonin can be used to treat chronic insomnia, under the supervision of a healthcare provider. However, it’s best to use as little as possible and avoid long-term use, as the effects of long-term use are not fully understood. Some doctors suggest giving children too much melatonin could reduce their ability to produce it naturally later in life. Melatonin also does not work for everyone.
See Your Healthcare Provider If:
- Your child frequently sleepwalks
- You suspect sleep apnea
- Sleep issues persist
Staying Healthy: The NEM and Natural Remedies for Children
What Is The NEM Stress Response?
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response is a method for understanding how various circuits of the body work together and how our bodies handle stress. The NEM stress response is made up of six circuits in two groups: the metabolism and neuroendocrine circuits. The metabolism group encompasses the metabolism, inflammation, and detoxification circuits. The neuroendocrine group encompasses the neuroaffect, cardionomic, and hormone circuit. Each is finely tuned, and each network must maintain balance with one another. Together all of these circuits determine in large part how your body copes with stress.
Why Supporting the NEM Is Important for Health
Understanding the NEM can help your child be healthier and avoid illness. This can help you avoid the need for these natural remedies for children in the first place. Through the lens of the NEM Stress Response, we can view the needs of each of your child’s circuits. By modeling a balanced life with a healthy diet and exercise, you can promote a healthy NEM for yourself and your children. A healthy NEM manifest as a healthy body that can handle stress appropriately. When the body is not constantly stressed out, it can handle cold and flu more effectively, mediate your circadian rhythm, and avoid organ damage and more serious chronic illness. One of the most affected organs is the adrenal glands. If the NEM is imbalanced for long enough it can lead to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
When the body is stressed out, the NEM gets dysregulated, and the immune system will often become depressed. This means it is more likely to get affected by viruses, bacteria, or other illnesses.
How to Support a Healthy Body
Here are three key ways to support a healthy NEM:
- Physical activity
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
- Deal with stress effectively
Get regular exercise.
Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity is important for supporting several of the NEM stress circuits. The cardionomic, and to some degree the neuroaffect, are affected by levels of physical activity. The cardionomic or circulatory systems are impacted perhaps to the greatest degree. Regular exercise is necessary to maintain the strength of the heart. Regular physical activity also avoids obesity, which has profoundly negative impacts on health.
To a degree, regular exercise also benefits the neuroaffect network. This benifit in large part is brought on by increased levels of serotonin which is often associated with increased physical activity. Ideally, your child should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
Maintain a healthy balanced diet.
A healthy balanced diet is essential to all of the six NEM circuits. Diet may be the biggest factor in maintaining a healthy NEM, as it has the most far-reaching consequences. Processed foods, for example, stimulate the inflammation circuits, and many chemicals used in food preservation affect the hormonal circuit. The hormonal circuit along with the health of your gut can have negative implications on the neuroaffect, through affecting serotonin, adrenaline, and cortisol levels.
These are just a few of the reasons you must maintain a healthy diet for you and your child. The biggest thing you can do is avoid all processed foods and add whole foods to your diet. Don’t stress about doing this all at once. Just try to make healthier choices one at a time and little by little they will accumulate.
Deal with stress effectively.
Children do at times get stressed by outside influences such as schoolwork, relationships, or family changes. External stress can lead to constipation and sleep disruption for starters. So stress management is a key way to avoid some health issues in your child. Help your child cope with stress by communicating with them regularly, teaching them to effectively manage their emotions, and helping them keep up their physical activities. Hobbies and structured routines can also help your child to handle stress.
There are many natural remedies for children, and using these remedies can help make life more comfortable and enjoyable for both you and your children. One major way to support your child’s health is to support their NEM Stress Response. You can do this by maintaining a healthy diet for your child, encouraging regular physical activity, and helping them learn strategies to cope with stress. And when illness strikes, these natural remedies for children can help them heal.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Which natural remedies for children are best?
As you may know, there are many natural remedies for children. These simple home remedies can be effective for a number of issues such as sleep issues and the common cold. The important thing is to do your research, look for good sources, and check with your doctor to make sure the remedies you choose are best for your individual child.