By now, it’s no mystery how overmedicated Americans are.
Got a headache? Pop a pill. Got an upset stomach? Pop a pill. Can’t sleep? Pop a pill. Ear infection? Pop a pill. And while these medications usually work, it’s important to know that Mother Nature herself has a plethora of naturally occurring remedies for common ailments that won’t be so hard on your system. For example, we use antibiotics to treat SO many different things, from ear infections to acne that scientists are now seeing the development of “superbugs” that are antibiotic-resistant. Not to mention how bad they can be for your gut bacteria which are the key to good health.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t take medicine; especially in the case of more serious illnesses and conditions, the medicine that the doctor prescribes is not only functional but necessary, and has been tested over and over to keep side effects minimal or completely non-existent. But we definitely don’t need to be taking strong medications for every little thing life throws our way when gentler and more natural options exist readily in nature.
The same applies to our kids. Especially since their bodies and systems are still developing, the use of harsh medications can sometimes do more harm than good, especially if they’re used often for minor things. I’ve compiled some natural remedies that are appropriate for use on children for some of the more common ailments you may come across, and may also be appropriate to use if a child is suffering from an uncomfortable side effect to a medication they’ve been prescribed.
When using essential oils for children, one must remember that the oils should be either inhaled or extremely diluted in a bath. Never use essential oils internally with children. (For more information about essential oil safety when it comes to kids, check out Dr. Erika Krumbeck’s very thorough article about it here ) Childrens’ skin is incredibly sensitive, and oils should not be applied to their skin until after the age of 6 months and at that point, they still need to be QUITE diluted in carrier oil or lotion for massage (1 drop of essential oil per 4 teaspoons of carrier oil). I would not recommend aromatherapy OR essential oil treatment for any child under 3 months as their lungs are not fully developed until that point.
The three best ways to treat children with essential oils are:
Add 1-3 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil and mix well. Add that to a warm bath and stir.
Add 2 drops of essential oil to a tissue and put it near their bed or tucked into a pillowcase.
Applying essential oil to yourself
This works best for very small children who will be near you or held by you often throughout the day. Apply the essential oil you want your child to inhale to yourself the way that you normally would. I’d recommend using the 1 drop essential oil to 4 teaspoons carrier oil ratio just in case the child touches it and it gets on them.
Here are three common ailments and the essential oils that are recommended to treat them:
Recommended essential oils: Cananga odorata (ylang ylang), Chamaemelum nobile (chamomile roman), Citrus reticulata (mandarin), Citrus bergamia (bergamot), Lavandula angustifolia ((lavender), Origanum majorana (marjoram sweet), Santalum album (sandalwood)
Congestion & Cough
Recommended essential oils: Fir needle (Abies sibirica, Abies balsamea), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis).
• Recommended essential oils: Aniba rosaeodora (rosewood), Chamaemelum nobile (chamomile Roman), Citrus aurantium var. sinensis (orange sweet), Citrus limon (lemon), Citrus bergamia (bergamot), Santalum album (sandalwood), Zingiber officinale (ginger)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a wondrous thing that people are finally starting to hear about. Not only is it great because it can be used as a natural cleaning agent in the home, and a hair washing alternative that treats keeps hair soft and manageable while also treating lice and dandruff, but it does amazing things in our bodies as well.
However, the claims that apple cider vinegar is so potent because it is full of vitamin A, B6, C, E, thiamin, niacin, and other minerals are not exactly true. According to the USDA, apple cider vinegar has no measurable amounts of any of those things. But for hundreds and maybe even thousands of years, we have witnessed the vinegar’s amazing abilities in our bodies. With hardly any minerals, why is it so potent? It could have something to do with the PH balance in our bodies and how acetic apple cider vinegar is, or maybe it has something do with phytochemicals. Whatever it is, what we DO know is that for some reason or another it seems to work.
To treat colds and boost immunity:
At the first sign of a cold, start giving your child a few apple cider vinegar drinks a day. It doesn’t taste super great but if you treat it like a sour, lemonade treat they may come to like it:
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 1/2 Cups Water
To treat funguses like athlete’s foot and ringworm:
Simply apply vinegar directly to the skin several times a day.
To treat thrush
Older children who know how to gargle can gargle a 60%/40% mixture of apple cider vinegar and water
Regularly drinking the apple cider vinegar drink will help with children who are often constipated, but another option is to first thing in the morning give them a spoonful of the vinegar directly. (Offering them a treat for afterward may make this easier!) They will most likely find themselves needing to go to the bathroom within 30 minutes.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste and apply it to the bug bite.
Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with a tablespoon of honey, warm it up very slightly in the microwave just until warm and give the child the mixture a little bit at a time.
Peppermint is known to be very calming to the stomach, and if your little one has an upset tummy or gas, make them some peppermint tea or even a peppermint LifeSaver can be helpful in a pinch.
Whether you find yourself taking care of a child with chickenpox or bed bugs, or even a nasty sunburn, an oatmeal bath can be just the thing to ease some of the itching and calm the skin. There are two methods I like to use for oatmeal baths:
Directly into water
Put about a cup of raw oats in the blender or food processor; you want the oatmeal to be ground finely so it doesn’t all just sink to the bottom. (Think of it like making oat flour.) Then put the powdery oatmeal directly into a warm bath and stir well.
Oatmeal Bath Bag
Old pantyhose work great for this, or a muslin bag or coffee filter. For this method you don’t need to blend up the oats, just put a cup of oats into your chosen vessel, close it well, and toss it into the hot bathtub while it’s running. Leave the bag in the tub the whole time you’re in there so it can steep like a teabag.
If you find that your child has a poison ivy rash, the first thing to do is put their clothes, shoes, everything they were wearing in the wash. The oils on the plant that cause the rash can remain active for up to a year, so keeping the oil from spreading is step 1. Step 2 is to rinse their skin with COOL water. Cool water is important because hot water can make the rash spread or become more severe. After they’ve been rinsed off, give them a good wash with soap and water to remove the oil. Then the itching can be treated with oatmeal baths and baking soda pastes, one to ease the itching and the other to dry the rash.
One of the best treatments and preventatives for nausea is ginger. Ginger calms the stomach and has an anti-spasmodic property. Many health food stores sell ginger candies that can work but keep in mind that most ginger ales have minuscule amounts of actual ginger in them so they may not work particularly well unless it’s a natural soda that you can really taste the spice in. What will probably work best is a ginger tea that can be made by adding fresh ginger to boiling water and letting it steep for around 5 minutes. A little honey can be added to sweeten if it’s too spicy for your child.
So there you have it; a few natural home remedies for some conditions that you’re sure to run across at some point with your kids in your adventure as a mom. Kids are always getting into scrapes, and whether it’s some bug bites or a nasty cold they brought home with them from school, there are many ways to help them without always turning to the pharmacy for the little things, and that’s something you can feel good about!