We are all born into this world with an inexperienced immune system. Which is why it is considered normal by many paediatricians for children to experience up to eight bouts of colds and flu’s or ear infections per year. Our cherished little ones are not just small adults - their bodies actually work quite differently.
From the day they are born, a child’s immune system is on high alert. You will notice that your children can take a turn very quickly. One minute they're fine, the next they're suddenly very lethargic and running a fever. And they may recover just as quickly. That is a developing immune system at its finest! Being able to successfully fight infections in childhood is essential for a healthy immune system later in life.
Medicines for children need to be formulated with their specific needs, and safety, in mind. Concerns over safety and lack of efficacy meant that in 2012 the NZ medicines agency Medsafe recommended that pharmaceutical cough and cold medications should not be used in children under the age of 6 years.
Thankfully there are some incredibly powerful natural alternatives. Plant medicines.
Traditional medicinal plants are a treasure trove of botanical healers for both preventing and treating illness in children. Not only can they relieve the symptoms of an illness to help your little one feel better, but at the same time, they provide immune support, building strength and fortifying the whole immune system.
Plant medicine can be used preventatively as well as acutely when unwell. We have a few herbs that we just love for children, as they are perfect for fighting winter illness, just as nature intended.
Children need a different dosage than adults. It is better to give them smaller doses more frequently, rather than large doses once or twice a day.
Here are some of our favourite herbs to use with children:
Echinacea root (Echinacea purpurea)
Echinacea is a fabulous plant for both preventing and treating infections as it helps to increase the number and activity of immune system cells. This results in a more efficient attack on invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Echinacea can reduce the severity and duration of colds and the flu.
Studies on children with respiratory tract infections and ear infections have shown that it is both safe and effective.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris):
A powerful natural infection-fighter! Thyme’s essential oils fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It is great for coughs as it helps to bring up sticky phlegm.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra):
Licorice’s wonderful soothing, sweet taste not only makes other herbs taste better, it also soothes a raw sore throat and helps with a cough. It's proven an effective antiviral medicine. Additionally, licorice helps the body adapt better to stress, including the physical stress of an infection.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis):
The most important herb to relieve dry, unproductive coughs and bronchitis due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica):
Traditionally used to help relax children. Californian Poppy enhances sleep by reducing pain and restlessness. This is especially helpful when little ones are feeling unwell.
Article in partnership with Artemis: Unwavering commitment to quality
At Artemis, we think safety and quality go hand-in-hand. All our raw ingredients are sourced with the utmost care to ensure they meet our high quality standards. All of our herbal ingredients in our oral liquids, sprays, creams, oils and tonics comply with European Pharmcopoeia standards. All Artemis products are free from gluten, dairy and artificial ingredients, making them suitable for individuals with sensitivities. They are hypoallergenic, free from parabens, paraffin, artificial fragrances and flavorings.
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