Natural Healing for Back to School- with excerpts from Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark
With the new school year approaching many children are heading back to school, now is the time to get a leg up on the two common issues of the school year, constipation and colds.
The first issue I want to address is constipation.
Constipation? That isn’t contagious, you may say, but it is common, especially in younger children just starting school. The causes can be embarrassment, not wanting to poop in a crowded bathroom, dehydration, and the change in diet and schedule. Constipation in children has reported prevalence rates between 1% and 30%. It is the principal complaint in 3-5% of all visits to pediatric outpatient clinics and as many as 35% of all visits to pediatric gastroenterologists. Overall about 16-37% of school-aged kids have to deal with constipation.
One of the best treatments is prevention. Once a child becomes constipated and has painful bowel movements, the child will hold the bowel movement to prevent the pain previously experienced. School aged children should have 2 bowel movements a day on average.
Some things you can do to prevent this are as follows:
Increase liquids- water and juices
Increase fiber, adding psyllium to a smoothie can often be a great help.
Use smoothies and fresh fruit as snacks. Use these in the afternoon to promote evacuation in the evening.
Dried fruit, fruit leather (made from real fruit) and fresh juices can assist with preventing constipation and promoting healthy evacuation and overall health.
Some herbs that are beneficial are:
Aloe Vera juice
Dandelion leaf- eaten, made in a tea or added to salads raw.
Ground Flax seed sprinkled in smoothies, and on food.
Psyllium- Added to smoothies
Figs- eaten raw
Fennel seeds- added to food, or as a tea.
Gentle abdominal massage is also very effective. Parents can use a room temperature oil and massage the abdomen in a circular pattern. Warm baths are often beneficial for younger children, the warm water relaxes the bowel promoting evacuation. Constipation can be an issue for children, but it can be managed with diet generally, meaning it can be handled at home and hopefully prevented.
Colds are tricky little viruses that thrive on cold weather and dry air. Although not a serious illness, a cold can develop into a secondary infection of the lungs or sinuses if your child can’t rest or if his immune system is depressed in some way. Although there is no cure for the common cold, there are natural ways to make your child more comfortable, ease his sore throat, quell his cough, and help him rest.
Some simple helpful remedies are:
Liquids like teas, broths, warm homemade lemonade.
Cold fighting foods like colds blueberries, carob, carrots, and raspberries. These foods contain complex sugars called oligosaccharides that help prevent harmful bacteria from settling in the intestinal lining and may help prevent diarrhea that sometimes comes with a cold.
Garlic is the great herbal antibiotic. Add to food, sprinkle on popcorn, yogurt dips, and pasta, have fun with your garlic.
Oregano, long overlooked for its medicinal properties, contains more than thirty biologically active components, including antiviral properties. Use fresh or dried oregano on pastas, salads, and vegetables, and even in teas and baths.
Cold Care Bath
For children who have a cold, an herbal bath can be soothing and therapeutic. To one or two quarts of boiling water, add one cup of a mixture of the following herbs: calendula, chamomile, lavender, and rosemary. Steep the mixture until it has cooled completely, strain the mixture and discard the herbs, and add the liquid to the bath water.
Cold Care Vapors
For vaporization, add a few drops of the eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil to a pot of boiling water. The steam will release the essential oil into the room.
Throughout cold season, practice good hygiene around the home. Clean doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles, toilet seats, and other frequently touched surfaces with essential oils of lavender, rosemary, peppermint, or tea tree. Frequent hand washing is important; soap and water work fine.
There’s no need for hand sanitizers or the like unless you’re on the go.
Cold Care Tea
1 teaspoon dried Rose Hips
1 teaspoon Mullein Leaf
1 teaspoon Spearmint Leaf
1/2 teaspoon Chamomile Flower
2 cups boiling water
Place the herbs in teapot or bowl and cover with the boiling water. Steep at room temperature until the tea cools. Strain and discard the herbs. Stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator, the tea will keep for 48 hours.
1.Borowitz SM, Cox DJ, Kovatchev B, et al. Treatment of childhood constipation by primary care physicians: efficacy and predictors of outcome. Pediatrics. Apr 2005;115(4):873-7. [Medline].
This was originally published in Dynamic Living Magazine in September 2011.
Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.