I’ve been a mom for almost 15 years. Actually, let’s just call it 15 years, because you begin taking care of somebody the second you find out you’re expecting. Right? So 15 years of motherhood so far, and three kids. And a husband that I sometimes call my fourth.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been way more interested in natural remedies for the various childhood ailments that seem to repeat themselves, rather than simply throwing an acetaminophen tablet at my kid and calling it a day. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done that, and sometimes you have to do that, but I just prefer not to.)
Here are my top five homeopathic remedies that I believe any parent who is interested in natural cures should have at his or her disposal. It’s taken me a long time to find ones that really work, but these suckers have proven they do, and they’re also proven both safe and effective for children.
Since we’re approaching cold and flu season (groan), I thought I’d share.
To relieve an ear ache:
- If you think your child might have an ear ache due to pressure in the ear (usually due to a build-up of wax), then olive oil and a hot water bottle is your child’s best friend. Warm some olive oil slightly (barely above room temperature over the stove—make SURE it’s not hot, or you could burn your child), and then have your child lay on his side, with the offending ear up. Insert two drops of oil in the ear, then gently massage to encourage it in. Leaving your child in this position, place a warm hot water bottle over that side of his face and ask him to stay in that position for 10 minutes. Repeat two times a day until pain subsides and you see ear wax begin to make its way out of the ear.
- If you believe your child has an ear infection, then cutting a small onion in half and placing the cut side down over his ear and holding it there for 10 minutes, four times a day helps to kill the infection. Use the hot water bottle to help relieve pain.
- To further reduce inflammation, try peppermint and ginger tea (recipe below, step four).
To calm a cough:
- For a dry cough, try giving your child one tsp. of pure, raw honey every two-four hours, and definitely before bed. For older children, that amount can be adjusted up to one tbsp.
- Get your child to gargle with salt water. If there’s a bacterial infection that is causing the cough, then the salt will help kill it. It also reduces swelling, and for a productive cough, it will help to expel mucous.
- If your child can’t seem to stop coughing (for instance, for croup), then a few drops of eucalyptus in a very warm bath or shower can help. Steam helps to loosen mucous, and the essential oil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Peppermint and ginger tea. This tea is usually pretty tasty for kids, and while the ginger is anti-inflammatory, the peppermint can calm that irritating throat tickle that prevents your child from sleeping. Try chopping up one tsp. of fresh ginger, and adding it to a cup of hot peppermint tea. Let it steep for five minutes, and then remove the ginger and the tea bag. Sweeten with honey if you think it will make it more palatable for your child.
To relieve occasional constipation within 24 hours:
- Begin with fluids. Your child should be drinking lots of water, because without it, stool will be hard and compact, which will be painful for him (let’s pretend we’re talking about a boy) when it finally passes.
- While water is on the go, examine his diet, and take charge. I like to make smoothies that consist of water or coconut water, berries (high fibre), ground flax (more fibre), and if they’ll drink a green smoothie, then kale (more fibre). Coconut milk (full-fat, from a can) is also a proven laxative.
- Speaking of fat, try adding healthy fat to his food. Avocado, a tsp. of olive oil, fatty fish. These foods help to grease the pipes, so to speak.
- Get your child moving. Go for a walk. Exercise helps to kick-start digestion, and it’s good for you in other ways, too.
- Eliminate added sugar, processed foods, wheat products, dairy, and red meats until a bowel movement is achieved. All of these items are difficult to digest and/or confusing for the digestive tract.
- Begin a regimen of probiotics. These good bacteria are necessary for proper digestive function.
- Try a tummy massage. Rub his stomach in a clock-wise direction for a few minutes—it might be enough to get gas moving around and stimulate a bowel movement.
- If all else fails, break out the no-sugar-added prune juice. Just half a cup every four hours until he moves his bowels. (Often, all it takes is that first half-cup.)
- For more tips on how to achieve a tummy, healthy gut, see HERE.
To stop diarrhea:
- One word: BRAT. It’s an acronym for bananas, (brown) rice, applesauce and (whole grain) toast. Eaten in this combination, it works to slow the bowel and bind stool.
- Avoid dairy and anything spicy or acidic to reduce unwanted bowel reactions and pain due to acidic stool.
- Also, have your child drink lots of water or herbal tea. This may seem counter-productive, but diarrhea equals dehydration. You can further electrolyte absorption by adding a pinch of sea salt to his water, or providing him with pure, unsweetened coconut water.
To reduce general pain:
- Turmeric is a powerful natural pain reliever that is safe. You can buy empty capsules from your local health food store, and fill them with organic, powdered turmeric. (You may find them already pre-filled with turmeric if you’re lucky.) Have your child (who’s old enough to swallow a capsule; otherwise mix the powder in warm water and sweeten with raw honey) take 4-6 capsules a day.
- To relieve inflammation, which is often associated with pain, try ginger. You can also make a tea with these spices, and sweeten it with raw, organic honey.
For more information on the following ailments, click on the one that interests you: