Herbs Safe for Children

Young boys and girls exploring in nature often return home with a bouquet of posies to shower love on their mother and witness her grand smile.  Gentle botanicals and kids have a long history of secret wonder and curiosity, leading to maintaining their good health. The time-tested and traditional mild herbs, such as calendula, chamomile, and oat straw, for instance, boost health without upsetting the balance of a child’s body.  By knowing how to use familiar herbs and practicing safety guidelines, parents can participate in the same natural remedies used in family life for thousands of years.  

The Scratch Test

Before determining whether an herb will cause an allergic reaction, it’s wise to act cautiously and perform a scratch test.  This requires you to gently rub the herb’s leaves on the inside of a child’s arm, wait 24 hours, and determine if an inflammation appears.  The topical application is a guideline, especially before creating a meal or smoothie, and teaches us that an internal reaction might cause some agitation.  

Nourishing Plants 

Beyond the bulk teas, which use the high-nutrient content of vitamins and minerals within plant matter, parents can find great salad, soup, casserole, ice pop, smoothies, and Jell-O recipes of delicious infusions.  Of course, not all plants are readily available throughout the spring, summer, and fall, such as dandelion; however, in learning how to recognize particular edible plants, children, too, can gain an education in utilizing herbs long-known by our elders. 

Examples of nourishing plants: 

  • Alfalfa leaf – Rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, the leaves contain eight essential amino acids to nourish the body’s health.  After drying, the leaves can be ground into a powder and added to a tea, juice, or smoothie.  Leaves, moreover, can also offer healing potential to salads.  
  • Calendula
  • Dandelion 
  • Nettle – While nettle leaf has a long connection to reducing joint pain and inflammation, its high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C are a powerful ally for the immune system.   Before freezing, consider blanching the leaves for long-term storage. 
  • Oatstraw
  • Raspberry 
  • Rose hips – Often called the rose’s fruit, grown from Rosa canina and Rosa rubiginosa, includes high sources of antioxidants and vitamin C that protect the skin, prevent scarring, and boost healing. 
  • Seaweed
  • Violet 

Calming Plants 

A nervine herb usually soothes the nervous system by calming feelings of anxiety, headache, and belly pains, aiding sleep.  Connected to a volatile oil or herb that releases a potent fragrance, the flower buds or leaves provide nourishment and relief from worry.  

  • Catnip – Yes, it’s not just for cats.  Catnip is a 2000-year-old herb that safely acts as a sedative to ease children’s sleep.  As a diuretic, expelling urine can alleviate health problems, including viruses.  Dried catnip, chamomile, lemon balm, and lemon zest make a fantastic tea to encourage relaxation before bed.  
  • Chamomile 
  • Lavender – Known as one of the mildest, gentlest, and safest herbs. Consider allowing the purple flower buds to promote restful sleep for babies experiencing colic and to older children unable to sleep.  In addition, the leaves have a history of resolving digestive issues, such as vomiting, nausea, bloating, and upset stomach.  Consider making a topical by infusing lavender buds with sunflower or sweet almond oil as a first-aid remedy for a range of symptoms, from skin conditions like athlete’s foot and eczema to healing cuts and scrapes.
  • Lemon balm
  • Rose petals – High in antioxidants; rose petal tea, for instance, offers a solution for digestive troubles, irritability, inflammation, pain, and menstrual cramps.  The mere act of steeping petals in hot water provides a medicinal impact; consider other ways to use your organic blooms.  
  • Spearmint

Herbs for Sickness 

Elderberry, as a prescription for healing, dates back to the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, who was known to carry it in his doctor’s bag.  Today, there are teas, syrups, gummies, preserves, and other recipes ideal to boost the immune system.   Consider growing an elderberry bush, and don’t forget to cook the berries before eating!  See if you can find recipes, especially soups, with therapeutic herbs, such as anise seed, cinnamon, garlic, and thyme, especially when speedy recoveries are necessary to alleviate symptoms, ranging from congestion to sore throats, coughs, and stomach aches.  

As you introduce a new herb, parents must never forget that children’s bodies have a unique sensitivity to fragrance. Take time to research whether an herb is recommended for the age of your child.

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