How To Safely Give Your Kids Immune Support Herbs
With every sniffle and cough taking on new gravity and lost working hours (and sanity) for parents, keeping our kids healthy is a higher priority than ever before. These days, it’s not just about your kids’ health and the importance of attending (pre)school for their mental health and social development anymore, it’s also about the health and wellbeing of the whole family. How many of us have missed countless hours of work, sacrificing down-time and our mental health trying to juggle work with your kids getting sick and missing (pre)school? How many of us have lost sleep over our kids’ health or their never-ending stream of running noses, low-grade fevers, and meh-health? Parenting right now is incredibly stressful and when a kid gets sick, it throws the whole family system off.
So I’ve put together some easy-to-implement, inexpensive, and safe herbal remedies to support immune function for kids and the whole family.
How to Use Immunity Herbs Safely With Kids
Let’s begin by saying that not every kid is the same. Some have chronic conditions (up to 44% of children in the U.S.). Some are super responsive to herbs. Some need higher doses and some need lower doses. It’s important to consult with your pediatric herbalist when considering introducing new routines to ensure the right fit. Particularly for kids who have chronic conditions or other stubborn symptoms, seeking out the guidance of a trained pediatric herbalist and talking to your pediatrician, is an important safety practice. In the meantime, here are some hard-and-fast rules:
- Never give herbs directly to a child younger than one year old. Instead, consult with a pediatric herbalist for guidance.
- Unless you’ve read from a qualified pediatric herbalist that they are safe, don’t assume that immunity herbs for adults are safe for kids. Many times they are not.
- If your child has been sick for more than 2 weeks, it’s time to seek out professional help. Usually, in these cases, there are underlying imbalances that are causing constant illness, not just reduced immunity from mask-wearing. Your child should not take more than 1 week to recover from most viruses.
Prevention: Integrating Immunity Herbs Into Cooking
Have you heard the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It’s really true. However, let me disavow you of the idea that a healthy immune system means not getting sick. That is not the case for adults and certainly not the case for kids. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a heck of a lot we can do to prevent our kids from getting sick in the first place and shortening the duration of their cold or stomach virus.
Immunity Herbs You Can Hide In Food
For prevention, you can add these herbs to your child’s food (and the whole family). Try larger quantities and/or more frequently than you may be used to. These culinary herbs are known, among other things, to increase T-cell activity, reduce nausea and vomiting, help with absorption of nutrients, help pass gas, amongst other awesome things that contribute to healthy immune function.
Astragalus (this is great in soups and stews but ONLY when your kid is healthy, don’t use it when they’re sick!)
Herbal Remedies To Support Your Child’s Immune Systems at the First Sign of Illness
- Lemonbalm – this is my personal favorite, anti-anxiety AND anti-viral, mellow tasting, there are periods in which my toddler drinks this daily
- Elderberry – Just to put this aside, a recent systematic review shows no studies linking elderberry to “chronic inflammatory outcomes.” The same study from 2021 concludes that it “may be effective” for shortening the duration and severity of common cold and of lowering risk for complications of influenza. It’s also on the tastier side of immune supporting herbs!
- Elderflower – encourages a fever to break by sweating, instead of using OTC remedies like Tylenol that leech glutathione and compromise immune response
- Ginger – instead of adding it to cooking, give in a glycerite or tea, or even a chew (ensure your child brushes teeth afterwards), don’t use this if your child has a sore throat, fever, foul-smelling diarrhea, or yellow or green mucus. This is best for clear snot, nausea and body aches.
Supporting your child’s immune system is really about prevention. I hate to say it, but there aren’t really quick-fixes when it comes to immunity. Because it’s a system that is interconnected with virtually every body system, it can take time to build. In Chinese Medicine the prime time to build immunity is during the late Summer. But you can utilize these immune herbs year-round.
For help with a chronically ill or sniffly child, book a consult to get the individualized support your child needs to stop the endless illnesses.