5 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies for Kids
With cold and flu season fast approaching, having some tried and trusted home remedies on hand for your kiddos can be a lifesaver. Especially if you catch symptoms early, natural remedies can be mighty powerful at limiting the duration of a cold or viral infection. Not to mention, the research now shows that the use of these natural remedies may also help to prevent the use of antibiotics in kids. Now, don't get me wrong, antibiotics absolutely have a time and place, however the overuse and misuse of these medicines can also lead to side effects like yeast infections, diarrhea and re-current infections.
5 Home Remedies for Kids Cold and Flu
Elderberry (Sambucus) is a dark purple berry of the European or black elder tree, which grows in many different parts of the world including Europe and North America. Elderberry has been used to treat cold and flu for hundreds of years and is cited as a treatment for upper respiratory infections and colds in folk medicine. Recent research is beginning to discover that it may be very helpful to fend off cold and flu in children and adults alike. Scientists have also found elderberry to have a direct anti-viral effect in cell cultures. Elderberry is commonly found in health food stores and online in tea and liquid form. The taste is sweet and often well liked by youngsters.
Echinacea is a well known plant found commonly found in North American. It was also used by indigenous peoples to enhance the immune system and reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. A few years ago, some scientists questioned the validity of echinacea for colds, however it was later discovered that the echinacea herb is most effective with used as a standardized product (ie. not all herbal extracts are created equal!) and thus it is important that you find an echinacea product from a reputable source that has been 3rd party tested or GMP certified. New research has shown that the use of echinacea, especially if taken on first sign or symptom of a cold, can help to reduce the severity and length of the cold. Unlike Elderberry however, good quality echinacea is not so tasty and can be a little more difficult for kids to uptake! I often mix the echinacea tincture with some raw honey (of course not in children under 1 year of age) or mixed into a little juice. Echinacea is commonly found in tincture form and there are some good quality herbal companies that specifically make children's echinacea tinctures based in glycerin (which also helps to sweeten the taste)
Ginger, originally found in Asia, is now grown and exported all over the world. Commonly used in many cooking and baking dishes, it isn't always top of mind when it comes to cold remedies! Well known to help the stomach, ginger has also been discovered to help reduce cold and flu symptoms and may be beneficial in cancer prevention, pain relief and fevers! You can use powdered ginger to ginger tea preparations however I find fresh ginger superior. When my littles are sick I mince about 1 tsp of fresh ginger, add to hot water, let cool and sweeten with a little honey. They often drink it down no problem! If ginger tea is not too well liked, you can also add fresh ginger to soups, stews, rice or quinoa.
Honey, found world-wide has been shown to improve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. In a recent research paper, scientists cited "It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics. Honey could help efforts to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance". It is important to find honey that is raw (or unpasteurized) as the pasteurization process reduces the effectiveness of the honey (it essentially makes it a sugary syrup). Honey can be taken in a spoonful, added to tea or smoothies as well as put on top of toast (many kids love it mixed with butter or nut butter on toast!)
Avoidance of Dairy while sick. We love our raw dairy products in our household but we pause on all things dairy at the first sign of a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Although the evidence is mixed on whether or not avoiding dairy reduces mucous production, I have seen it first hand in my children and my patients. While sick, I typically only offer water, herbal teas and fresh squeezed juices.
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