When I substitute taught ballet, I was around many children, and without failure at least one of them was always sick with one of the many common childhood illnesses. My heart went out to them because I knew they felt miserable, but the uncomfortable symptoms of common childhood illnesses can be treated with holistic remedies. These remedies are safe and usually much more palatable than medicine that tastes bad. Next time your child gets sick, try one of these holistic treatments.
1. Earaches and Middle Ear Infections
Ear infections and earaches are extremely common childhood illnesses because eustachian tubes are shorter and straighter in children. This makes them very prone to ear infections. As anyone who has ever taken care of a child with an ear infection knows, they are very painful. To help ease the pain and inflammation, witch hazel can be added to a teaspoon of oil of St. John’s Wort and put into the ears using a dropper. A few drops of Goldenseal tincture can also be added to warm oil and dropped into the ears. Both of these methods can be very soothing for painful ear infections.
Children catch colds extremely often because their immune system is immature. So, if you feel like your child comes home with a new cold every few weeks, it may not be in your head. Colds are often accompanied by runny noses, sore throats, headaches, coughs, and a mild fever. Holistic methods of treating colds include tea with lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat and peppermint tea to ease congestion. Having your child breathe in steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil can also be very helpful for opening up sinus passages. Whenever I have a stuffy nose, eucalyptus oil always helps me breathe better, and I often recommended it to friends with colds.
If your child has nasal congestion, pain in their eyes and cheeks, headaches, and a loss of sense of smell, then they are probably suffering from a sinus infection. As someone who has had many sinus infections, I am very sympathetic toward anyone with a sinus infection because the symptoms are awful. Holistically, sinus infections can be treated with elderflower tea to ease symptoms and promote healing. While your child might not go for it, a teaspoon of grated horseradish can also be given to open up nasal passages. I know people who have done this and swear it works, but I am just not brave enough to try it. I would rather drink tea and use a cold compress to ease swelling.
I have had more than my fair share of cases of tonsillitis in my life, which has made me very knowledgeable about the most effective home remedies for tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is an inflammation and swelling of the tonsils caused by bacterial or viral infections. It can cause a headache, a fever, a sore throat, bad breath, and the lymph nodes to become swollen and tender. One of the most effective home remedies I have found for treating tonsillitis is gargling with warm salt water. I confess that I used to avoid it, but not anymore. It helps so much. Other holistic remedies include blackcurrant tea and lemon and honey in tea. Personally, I prefer lemon and honey in tea because I always have them on hand.
Bronchitis is characterized by an inflammation of the airways in the lungs and is often brought on by a bacterial infection. Usually it starts with a dry cough that becomes wet, and is accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, and a fever. A mustard poultice is a traditional remedy for bronchitis. I can remember my dad telling me stories of his mother covering his chest with mustard seed powder that was mixed with water. He says that as unpleasant as it was, it really worked. If you don’t think your child would allow you to slather a mustard poultice on their chest, ginger and honey tea is also a holistic treatment that can help soothe bronchitis symptoms.
Viral infections, bacterial infections, or allergies can cause conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the mucus layer that covers the eye. Because it can cause inflammation and swelling, cold compresses can be very helpful. To treat the infection, honey water can be used to cleanse the eye. However, having your child drink echinacea tea to treat the infection might be an easier approach since most kids don’t like eye drops. Conjunctivitis can be extremely unpleasant, and using one or two of these methods to ease the symptoms could make it a little more bearable.
7. Upset Stomach
When children have an upset stomach accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, it is usually caused by an infection, eating rich food, food poisoning, or food allergies. If your child is suffering from diarrhea, make sure they have plenty of fluids, and follow the BRAT diet until their tummy calms down. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, which are all foods that are very gentle for an upset stomach. I know when I was little I would only eat toast when my stomach was upset. For nausea, crystallized ginger chews are very beneficial, and kids rarely turn them down because they taste good.
Although I am not a mother, I know from babysitting and from my own mother that when a child is sick you want to do everything you can to help them feel better. Using some of these holistic remedies can go a long way toward easing symptoms and making your child feel better. Most of the remedies are fairly simple, and some, like the ginger chews, actually taste good enough that kids won’t put up a fight to take them! What are your home remedies for a sick child?
Shealy, C. Norman. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies. London: HarperCollins, 2002. Print