Once the school year starts, it won’t be long before the sniffles and coughs start as well. We’ve got you covered with these herbal ways to keep your kids healthy at school.
By Heather Harris, Contributing Writer
School is back in session for nearly all of us. Whether your kids are in public school, private school, or in a homeschool co-op class, they are going to come in contact with other kids and germs. Kids are notorious for not washing their hands thoroughly as well as sharing drinks, snacks and toys. Germs are going to be shared easily.
Ways To Keep Your Kids Healthy At School
You are going to need a way to help combat those germs and the colds, flu and coughs they bring. Here are some ways to help keep your kids healthy at school. Along with proper rest, whole foods, and diligent hand washing, let’s explore some herbal methods to assist keeping your kids healthy at school.
First, let’s talk tinctures. Many herbs will do best releasing their medicinal properties in a tincture form over a tea or even a glycerite. You will want to measure the herbs by WEIGHT vs volume (cups, teaspoons etc to get the most accurate dosage) To make a tincture, add 50 grams (by weight) dried herbs to 250 mL of alcohol such as vodka or brandy. Allow to infuse for 4 weeks, then strain the infused alcohol off.
Herbs to Use in Tinctures
Adaptogens help your body adapt to it’s surroundings. They support your immune system, allowing it to fight against invading germs in a stronger manner.
The most common adaptogens are:
Astragalus- a Chinese legume, often used in cooking. This is best taken as a tincture or glycerite. To use, add 15-30 drops to water or in an empty capsule. Use up to 2x a day. Safe for kids over the age of 2.
Holy Basil- an often used herb in tea blends, this adds flavor along with assisting with adrenal fatige and helping to strengthen the respiratory system. You can add this dried herb to a tea blend, or use as a tincture, following the recipe above and decreasing dosage to 5-10 drops per day. Holy Basil should be avoided by pregnant women, as some studies suggest it can trigger miscarriage.
Milk Thistle- most often noted as a liver support, this herb can be beneficial during the cold and flu season. Aiding your liver in detoxing will keep your immune system running at it’s peak. This is most easily taken in a dried pill form, 200-400 mg per day. The only caution is that milk thistle can lower blood glucose levels in diabetics, so diabetics should only use under guidance of qualified care provider.
Echnicea- this immune stimulant should be used at the FIRST sign of a cold. Studies suggest that it can help reduce the duration of a cold by 30% when taken right away. You can take it as an infusion (tea) by adding 2 grams dried herbs to 8 ounces of water. Or, it can be made into a tincture as listed above, taking up to 1 teaspoon a day for children, 3 teaspoons a day for adults. The only contraindication for taking this is those with an auto immune disorder or a progessive disease such as tubeculosis.
Besides adaptogens, you can help support your immune system and deal with cold symptoms with a homemade syrup as well. My favorite is to make a syrup for kids to “help the medicine go down”.
Here are some herbs to consider:
Elderberry– Studies suggest that elderberries are a great cleansing plant and can help reduce mucus buildup. It can also assist with digestion and mental clarity. This is great to add to a cough syrup preparation as it helps support the immune system. Only properly cooked berries should be used, as raw berries contain cyanide producing compounds.
Wild Cherry Bark- very useful for its antitussive properties, this will assist in helping to supress coughs.
Marshmallow Root- great addition to an herbal cough syrup, this has emollient properties that soothe a sore throat.
To make a soothing herbal cough syrup, measure by weight:
Add the measured herbs to 4 cups of water. Simmer on the stove until the water is reduced to 2 cups. Drain the herbs in a cheesecloth and squeeze out the water as much as possible. You want all the herby goodness this produces. Add 1 cup of honey to the infused water and stir. Label and date with the ingredients used and store in the fridge. Start with 1-2 teaspoons 2x a day for children and 1 Tablespoon 2x a day for adults. You can take the syrup up to 4x a day, depending on symptoms.
What are some things you do to keep your kids healthy at school?
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