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Administering herbs to children: Your child will benefit from these helpful tips by herbalist June Ellen Bradley.

One must be innovative when giving a child herbs. Every child is unique--so what works for one child may not work for others. Each age group brings a different set of challenges ... I recommend that one always work with a qualified herbal practitioner, especially for the serious issues. This article will give you an overview of some common, generally safe guidelines that will help you become familiar with ways to get your child to take herbs. Consistency is the key to effective herbal treatments, so it is necessary to develop preparations and recipes that are pleasant and easy to lake. My teacher, Rosemary Gladstar, has developed some wonderful ways for children to enjoy their medicine. I will share a few of these recipes with you. Her new book The Family Herbal is a must for anyone wishing to learn more about the way plants support our health. A great way to learn along with your child about herbs is with A Kid's Herb Book, recently published by Lesley Tierra.

One of Rosemary's favorite recipes is 'Jump for Joy Balls'--a great way for children (and adults) to enjoy taking their herbs. The herbs are powdered, and then mixed into a paste made with ground fruits and nuts, nut butters, and honey. (* Note: Honey is not recommended for children under two because a microorganism in the honey can make the child quite ill--substitute maple or rice syrup) Freshly powdered herbs outperform capsules because they are closer to 'the life force' of the plant being used. Always try to get fresh herbs first.

Jump for Joy Balls

1. Grind raisins, dates, apricots and walnuts in a food processor or grinder.

2. Sir in coconut or carob powder. Mix the herb powders in well.

3. A variation would be to stir powders into nut butter with honey--about equal portions. Stir in powdered herbs, coconut & other goodies to taste.

4. Roll into balls and roll again in powdered carob or coconut. Store in refrigerator.

5. To determine daily dosage, you'll need to know how much powdered herb is included in the entire recipe & how many herb balls you ve made. A children's dose is generally between to 1/6 the adult dosage, depending on age. Divide the candy into daily dosages.

Herbal Baths are soothing and calming to both the child and adult! They are an excellent way to calm the nervous system. Cool to tepid water helps reduce fevers; warm water relaxes the child and soothes the nervous system. Excellent choices for herbs in the bath are chamomile, lavender, roses and calendula. (Wrap herbs in bandana or cheese cloth to save clean up!) The skin is our largest organ of absorption and elimination. We should take advantage of this easy and effective, often overlooked method of getting herbs into our system.

Herbal Popsicles: Make a strong herbal tea and mix with equal parts fruit juice.

Place in ice cube trays or pop molds. Because popsicles are cold, they are not recommended for cold types of imbalances such as flus, sore throats, colic, ear infections, etc.

Mother's Milk: For infants, this is the safest and most effective way to administer herbs. The mother drinks the herbal medicine in tea or tincture form, making it readily available for the nursing child. Drink 4-6 cups of the tea daily. Both of you will benefit from these gentle healing herbs.

Any herbalist will tell you to address the diet first. Eating food that is closest to the earth--organic and unprocessed, including greens, whole grains and healthy fats, are necessary to provide the building blocks of health. Refined sugar is terrible for anyone to eat and it is everywhere in our children's diet. Substitute fresh, raw local honey, maple syrup or stevia as a sweetener.

If you like to garden, grow your own herbs and include your children in the gardening process. If there is room, let them have a small space to experiment, dig and learn through experience--it will keep them from digging in your area and still allow them a deeper connection with the earth. Catnip is an excellent children's herb and, along with peppermint grows quite profusely ... so much that you may want to keep it contained. I encourage you to learn as much as possible about herbs for children. To become more aware of the ways common plants (often called weeds, like dandelion, plantain and chickweed) can heal provides tremendous security, knowing that you are primarily responsible for your health as well as your children's well being. Empower yourself in this way and develop a passion for the living beings we call plants. You will not only develop your love for the natural world, you will pass it on to your children. The generations to come will thank us, the ancestors who cared enough to keep the old ways alive.

Hi C Tea: A refreshing blend, Hi C Tea provides the bioflavinoids and vitamin C in an organic base so all the nutrients are readily available for assimilation. Our bodies can absorb these nutrients in balanced formulas that nature has provided for centuries.

4pt Rosehips

3pt Wintergreen

2pt Lemongrass

1pt Spearmint

1pt Nettle

1pt Hibiscus

1pt Cinnamon chips

1/2pt Orange peel

* optional 1/8pt Stevia (sweet herb)

A Sleep Pillow: A great gift for new mothers to soothe an infant into a calm, peaceful sleep by making a sleep pillow. Mix equal amounts of chamomile, lavender, roses, and hops together. Use 4 to 6 ounces of herb per pillow and sew into an 8 by 8 inch cotton pillow. Use soft natural fabric for your pillow covering; flannel is fabulous! Place near baby's bead to help with a peaceful aromatic sleep.

Colic: An infant's digestive track is very sensitive at birth and may take up to three months to mature, so mealtimes can be a painful event for both parent and infant. Since you, the parent is the baby's primary source of physical and emotional nourishment, your well being can contribute to the presence or absence of colic. Play quiet peaceful music during mealtimes--feeding should be a quiet restful sharing. Drink warm nervine teas before nursing. Nervines are herbs which tone and nourish the nervous system, and they are generally high in calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and protein. Chamomile, oatstraw, and skullcap are examples. If you are stressed out and tense, the infant will respond with similar energy. If nursing, mothers should avoid food high in sulfur, which creates gas--the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collards) are examples. Avoid hot spicy foods, chocolate, peanuts/peanut hurter, and foods rich in sugar. These foods slow down digestive action. Coffee is acidic and a powerful stimulant to an infant--avoid this as well. Acidophilus will help build healthy intestinal flora, and you can double the amount for treating colic. A standard dose would be one quarter teaspoon four to five times daily. A nursing mother should eat several servings daily of yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk as well. The most helpful herbs for colic are catnip, dill, fennel, and slippery elm. You can place a warm towel soaked in hot herb tea--chamomile and lavender (both nervines)--on the baby's stomach area. Test the temperature of the towel to be sure it is not too hot.

June Ellen Bradley has always had an intense interest in living things--their beauty and complexity, their interdependence. June Ellen currently lives and works in the mountain town of Saluda, N.C., allowing her to stay close to the woods where she creates art and is a practicing herbalist. She can be contacted at 828-242-4525.
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Author:Bradley, June Ellen
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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