I grew up on the west coast of Ireland on my parents Hans and Gaby Wieland's Organic farm 'Neantog' meaning Nettle due to the abundant patches of wild nettles.
One of my fondest memories as a child and young teenager was that of roaming through the meadows laden with wildflowers, herb identifier in my hand or trekking along the shore or mountain on my gorgeous Connemara 'Beauty'. It instilled in me a sense of deep peace and awe at the bounty nature brings to provide for us.
Today we have wonderful moments with our own children Ruben and Aoife making lotions and potions. It's something that will stay with them forever hopefully. I hope to inspire you to share some of this sense of wonder with the children in your life.
Herbs are wonderful gentle allies for children. They tend to be easy to take and make for safe, effective alternatives to medicines such as steroids or antibiotics.
Children tend to respond readily to herbal medicines as their systems haven't been overburdened by long term or chronic ailments.
Incorporate herbs into your children live from an early age and soon it will become second nature for them to listen to their bodies and what they need to ease that sore tummy or achy head.
Tips for getting your child involved:
Get a lovely kid-friendly herb identifier and bring along on rambles in the wild.
Go as a family to join one of the many herbs walks in your area led by a professional herbalist or botanist.
Play a game: try 'Wildcraft- a herbal adventure game' A co-operative board game that teaches edible and medicinal plants.
Herbs can be a fun way to teach your child how to look after their health
Send them out to pick the herbs for their own tea once you’re certain they can identify basic safe herbs from the garden. Always supervise until they are of an age to be safe.
Make little carrageen jellies based on a herbal tea or add drops of the relevant dose herbal tincture
Chamomile: A super all-rounder- wonderful calming herb for an upset tummy, anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia, teething, colic or to support restful sleep. Best use as a warm infusion.
Cooled infusion as a compress for itchy eyes.
Dandelion(tincture of root, eat fresh leaves in a salad): Tincture of root is a gentle help for constipation or eczema. Fresh leaves in salads are a useful bitter and also rich in Vit C and other minerals.
Use the flowers to make a fun lemonade here’s the link for the recipe
Elderflower: Flowers are wonderful decongestant and gentle immune stimulant for fevers, colds, runny noses, hayfever and allergies. Use as an infusion or syrup.
Echinacea: tincture or glycerite- Great for preventing cough and colds and as an adjunct treatment during minor respiratory infections.
Fennel: Soothing and calming herb relieving spasms of the tummy useful in colic, diarrhoea tummy upset. Aids in breastmilk production.
Slippery elm: Useful to add to porridge or warm milk during convalescence, food poisoning, diarrhoea or irritation of the gut.
Can be applied as a paste topically to draw out splinters.
Oatstraw: Rich in calcium and B vitamins. Calming and relaxing. Aids natural sleep. Ext soothing wash/ bath for irritated or itchy skin.
Lemon Balm (dried herb): Anti-viral, calming, uplifting and relieves tension in the nervous system and the gut.
Grow some yourself- good starting points can be found at How to start a herbs garden.
- Lemon Balm
Making a herbal infusion:
Use 1 scant teaspoon of dried herb to one mug 'just off the boil' water. Cover and infuse 5-10 mins. Strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter. Infusions are best made fresh, but will keep a day in the fridge after straining in a clean glass bottle with lid.
Herbal baths: A wonderful way to apply herbs to a child. The skin is the largest organ in our body and many of the valuable active ingredients in herbs immerse though the skin .
Make a strong infusion of herbs such as chamomile or lemon balm.
1 tablespoon of dried herb per mug of 'just off the boil' water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Add to batch water at comfortable body temperature and allow child to sit or immerse for 15 mins. Double dose for adults.
Alternatively use the infusion to make a hand or foot bath.
A wonderful remedy for hot itchy skin such as excema is to put a handful of oat flakes in an old sock or muslin cloth tied and allow to infuse as the bathwater runs in. Can also be used as a gentle wash.
Guideline for the dosage of herbal medicine for children:
Age of next birthday divided by 24= the fraction of adult dose
Eg. a seven year old= 8/24=1/3 of adult dose.
The standard adult dose of herbal infusions is 1 cup 3 x daily.
Therefor above child's dose would be 1/3 cup 3 x daily.
As always remember the 4 basics:
- Plenty of fresh clean water
- Fresh air
- TLC is the basis for looking after a child that's unwell.
The Herbal for Mother and Child Anne McIntyre
The Hamlyn Guide to Edible and Medicinal Plants of Britain and Northern Europe Edmund Launert
River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow John Wright
Jekka's Complete Herb Book Jekka Mc Vicard
The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal A safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies. David Hoffmann
Always seek immediate help:
- If your child has vomiting or diarrhoea for more than 24hrs
- Unresolved chocking
- Bleeding from a wound for more than a few minutes
- Rash and neck rigidity
- Fever over 38 degrees that don't resolve rapidly
(this list is incomplete- contact west doc or you GP if in doubt)
Always consult a registered and experienced Medical or traditional Herbalist if in doubt of the correct dosage as often they vary herb to herb.
None of the suggestions given is meant to replace the extensive case histories and specifically advise a consultation from your medical herbalist, health professional or doctor can provide.
ALWAYS seek professional advice if you doubt the validity of your treatment or the extent to which your child's illness has progressed!
Karin Mueller is co-owner of Solaris tea and has been working in the field of wellness and health for over 20 years now. She is a Medical Herbalist (BSc Hons), practising Midwife (BSc Hons), Massage and Spa therapist and experienced course facilitator and teacher on a wide range of topics related to mindfulness, meditation and women’s health. She is currently also studying in the ‘Medicine of Light’ school to deepen her spiritual practise.