So you’d like to try Herbal Medicine for your Child?

By Dr Connie Meyer MCPP – Registered Phytotherapist.

Tired of your child being ill and always getting antibiotics? If you are scared of making a change this article is for you.

In this day and age there is so much information about health that most people are reasonably well informed. But with this information comes a lot of fear. Most of this fear is fuelled by the media where every snippet on health is considered the truth and alarmist reporting is very common.  Fear has replaced faith. If your child is on a healthy diet and in a reasonable environment you can have a certain amount of faith in his or her health. Your child will probably get well from that cold or cough without any medicine, but fear prompts us to go to the doctor and usually the child will get an antibiotic.

When I was growing up in the 1950’s most children got the childhood diseases, our mothers gave us aspirin, we were put to bed to sweat out a fever and if we were ill we stayed in bed for days until the fever was gone. In the school I attended there was maybe one asthmatic and the only death I recall was from drowning.

These days the picture is very different:

  • Children are immunised against most childhood diseases;
  • It is considered dangerous to have a fever so fevers are suppressed;
  • Children at school are very likely to be on antibiotics while running around in the playground;
  • Antiseptic soaps are widely advertised;
  • Diets are heavily laden with sugar and processed foods.

Some children are receiving antibiotics every month!  Many parents are concerned about the amount of medication their child receives, and want to make a change but are afraid of making the change and unsure who to go to.  They become trapped in a cycle of medication and the next infection.

Herbal medicine is a viable alternative.

Long before modern medicine was developed, herbal medicine was the norm. The GP of yesteryear used herbs to treat his patients in exactly the same way as the phytotherapist works today. He was medically trained and herbs were his tools. It is thanks to herbal medicine that man has survived on this planet, because herbal medicine was the only medicine, and used for far longer than any other medicine.

In choosing a phytotherapist (medical herbalist) you not only get herbal medicine that is effective and safe, you also get all the support you need during the transition phase from conventional medicine to herbal medicine. Your practitioner will advise you on how to go about making that transition. (It is not advisable to stop some medications suddenly.)

If your child has been on conventional medication for a long time, the changeover will be gradual with constant support from your phytotherapist.  It may be decided that some conventional medication is necessary to be used in conjunction with herbal medicine.  It is important that you only consult with a professional as your child will be individually assessed and medication will be formulated especially to suit your child’s needs. The correct dosage of the herbal medicine will be critical in fighting infection, especially where the immune system has been weakened.

What are the advantages of herbal medicine prescribed by a phytotherapist?

  • Firstly your phytotherapist is a medically trained and registered practitioner of herbal medicine.
  • The medicine will be the correct strength and dosage to maintain the effects of the previous medication.
  • Herbal medicine will strengthen your child’s immune system.
  • Herbal medicine will help to repair the gut and heal the liver – all essential in restoring good health.
  • Herbal medicine is not only a medicine it is also a tonic and will help the organs function more efficiently.
  • The medicine formulated will be specific for your child’s needs.
  • Herbal medicine when prescribed by a phytotherapist is safe.

You might want to change to herbal medicine purely to deal with everyday ailments yourself and this is attainable with the help of your phytotherapist.  She or he will guide you through fever management with herbal medicine and the treatment of common infections. Herbal medicine is very effective for most infection and with your phytotherapist’s guidance it will no longer be a fearful situation when your child gets a fever, but you will appreciate it as part of a normal immune building situation.

Diet is  important

We are what we eat. For your child to be healthy you cannot rely on medicine.  There is an awful amount of food advertised that is not healthy for your child’s growth and development, no matter how many added vitamins they may contain. Good foods already contain all the vitamins you need! These days most of the basic foodstuffs are available organically grown at very little extra cost. Your phytotherapist will advise you about diet to improve your child’s general health.

Getting used to herbs

A good way to get your child used to herbal medicine is by introducing herbs in the diet. Herbs such as garlic, celery and parsley are indispensible in a soup. Ginger can be used in cooking and in a nice herb tea with lemon and honey when your child has a fever. Another herb that can be very pleasant is peppermint  in a tea either own its own or mixed with rooibos. If your child is very restless and feverish some chamomile flowers added to peppermint and elderflower can have a powerful medicinal effect without tasting too horrible.

Make a point of showing your child the herbs in the food and when making a tea. The earlier you start in life the better. Make it fun by starting with herbs which can be used to make fruity iced tea (elderflower and peppermint)or a hot spicy winter tea (ginger and cinnamon). Use some fruit juice to sweeten the tea.  You can also make a savoury tonic drink for winter using garlic, celery and nettle and an organic stock cube.

Herbal medicine is usually given in the form of a tincture which may not taste too pleasant, but once you are over the first hurdle of giving your child herbs in a tea, the tincture can be added to the tea. Tinctures can be added to baby’s milk or juice, starting with very small amounts so that they don’t notice it too much.

When using herbal medicine there are a couple of things to remember:

  • Herbal medicine is not a quick fix for chronic conditions
  • The condition does not first get worse before it gets better
  • An acute condition can be treated effectively with herbal medicine

Finally always make sure the phytotherapist you go to see is registered with the Allied Health Professions Council of SA.

For a Registered Practitioner in your area, Click here.