Thursday, June 28, 2012

Herbs and Spices Summer Series Day 4: Child Friendly Herbs and Holistic Healing for the Common Cold Virus

After I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I immersed myself deeply in the study of holistic healing.  I don't have any professional training in this area, but I diligently researched (and read the research) on herbal healing regimens.  At first it was focused on Crohn's, then it lead to other things and everyday ailments such as stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation, digestion, focus, and sleep.  I found that for every ailment, there was a natural remedy.  And I firmly believe that because of the powerful healing properties of herbs and supplements, I was able to live drug free for nearly 8 years; and I've allowed my body to heal even further by not pumping it with over-the-counter remedies often full of toxins and chemicals.  My research on holistic healing lead to many other forms of natural healing, including meditation, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, oils, and different forms of yoga.  I found a deep love and appreciation for the healing properties of herbs and foods.  When I became a mommy I carried this love for alternative healing (always with great caution) into my childrens' healing regimens.  I remember when my daughter caught her first cold at 18 months.  Her cough was relentless and she couldn't sleep.  So lead by my research, I sliced up some onion, put them in the toaster oven for a bit and placed them on her chest with an ace bandage...and she slept peacefully through the night.  From that moment on, I knew I would always look to natural remedies before anything else.  This sort of healing isn't for everyone, and I can appreciate that.  You must truly believe in it and have knowledge of the powerful properties of herbs and often their harmful side effects.  I treat herbs with respect and always with caution.  They are our family's medicine and I administer it responsibly.  Today I'm sharing some of my absolute favorite child friendly herbs for the common cold (including fever, upper respiratory congestion, lower respiratory congestion, and body aches).  

The following herbs bring relief from the congestion, fever, and achiness of a cold - many are also immune boosting.  I've given my children all these herbs, I also use them myself.  I find them in bulk at my local Natural Foods Coop.  

This is my superstar for fighting viruses (cold and flu).  It makes a wonderful tasting tea.  It's extremely powerful, and can shorten both the duration and severity of viruses.  Boosts immune funtion.   

Peppermint makes a wonderful healing, calming tea.  But specifically for cold it helps loosen phlegm and sooth coughs.  My daughter will ask me to make her some peppermint tea when she's not feeling well.  

Yarrow has been around for a long time and there are no known side effects.  Yarrow can help break a fever and an excellent herb for congestion and cough.  Yarrow has a calming effect, much like chamomile.  

Hyssop is my power herb for congestion.  It's amazing.  I immediately make hyssop tea for my children when they are congested.  I also use this for us when suffering from allergies.  Take caution in  using Hyssop if you suffer from epilepsy. 

Thyme is another herb I use every time my kiddos get a cold.  It's an amazing remedy for congestion in the lungs.  I use for those super wet persistent coughs.  It helps loosen phlegm and soothes the cough.  Thyme also helps fight the infection.  

Mullein is my next superstar herb for colds.  Another must have herb for congestion, sore throats, and coughs.  I recommended mullein to my friend who was super congested and she was shocked at how effective it was, it worked the same or better than any store bought remedy without any crazy side effects.  (Mullein is also great for earaches).  It also helps with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and allergies.  

This is a child safe herb known for it's immune boosting properties.  Don't take for more than 8 weeks in a row.  It's best to always rotate herbs anyhow.

Chamomile is very near and dear to my heart.  It helped me through years of flares before I started medication.  I like chamomile during colds for my kids because it calms their nerves and helps them sleep.  But chamomile is great for so many other things too.  It's antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory (so it helps with those irritated mucus membranes).  

Licorice Root
Licorice is a powerful anti-viral herb.  It soothes a sore throat, helps relieve fevers and the pain of headaches.  This is the first herb I make into a tea when my kiddos are sick - it's a super immune booster.     

How to prepare medicinal tea

*As a general rule, pour one cup boiled water over one teaspoon herb.  I usually mix up to 3 herbs at a time, and herbs that target different ailments.  So, for example, I'll do some echinacea for immune system, thyme and mullein for congestion together in the 1 cup of water.  

*Cover, and steep for 15 - 30 minutes, or until cool.  Strain before serving

*I add a few drops of stevia to the tea for my children, and give it to them up to three time per day.

Homemade Remedies 

Elderberry Syrup
-1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried elderberries 
-3 cups water
-1 cup honey

Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with water.  Simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes.  Smash berries.  Strain all through a fine mesh strainer and add 1 cup honey or adjust to taste.  Bottle and store in the refrigerator.  Will last 2-3 months when refrigerated. 

Chest rub for cough and congestion
-20 drops of essential oil
(eucalyptus, hyssop, thyme, peppermint, or basil)
-2 ounces almond oil or other oil

Herbal Candy
-Grind dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, apricots) with nuts, shredded coconut, carob, and a sweetener of choice (honey, brown rice syrup, agave, stevia).
-Add in your choice of ground herbs.
-Make little ball and serve

Favorite store bought herbal tinctures.  
(These can be found at any health food store or natural foods Coop).  

  Immune Boosting:
Children's Winter Health 
Wellness Herbal Kids

Loquat Respiratory Syrup for Kids
Children's Cough and Bronchial Syrup

(my favorite, go-to books)

An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants 
-Mary Bove, N.D.

Gentle Healing or Baby and Child 
-Andrea Candee and David Andrusia

Herbal Remedies for Children's Health
-Rosemany Gladstar

Prescription for Nutritional Healing (5th ed.)
-Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

*Information found in this post was derived from different sections in the three first books.  


  1. Excellent post Amber...loved all the information, I've read about onions being helpful but I wouldn't have thought about strapping them on to the body!

  2. Adrienne @ Whole New MomJune 29, 2012 1:03 PM

    Which ones have you seen the best effects from, Amber? Thanks!

    • Hi Adrienne,

      That's a tough question. I would have to say it depends on what you're targeting in the body.

      Elderberry is a really superior herb for so many things, so one of the most versatile I use. Chamomile is an awfully powerful anti-inflammatory. Mullein is an excellent decongestant! I love them all and they all work great. But we are all different and therefore our responses to herbs will all be different. You might find thyme is a great decongestant, for example, over the others. :-)

  3. Tessa Domestic DivaJune 29, 2012 9:08 PM

    So many awesome ideas...I will definitely be sneaking back here come our next round of sickness! I din't know why I ahven't ever thought to make my own teas....duh!

  4. Awesome! I looove these kinds of posts!

  5. Deitra BrunnerJuly 2, 2012 1:32 AM

    Love this!
    Please do one for children's stomach aches.
    Stay Blessed!

  6. I can hear the passion you have for herbs in your writing. Kudos to you for your research and for living drug-free as much as possible. You inspire me to reach more natural remedies when my children are sick and to try making my own herbal candy and elderberry syrup. Love this post Amber!


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