Some kids manage ok with a head cold. They can cope with a runny nose and their sleep is not affected. While others (like my 4 year old) generally find life more difficult when they are 'under the weather'. If you have a child that needs some extra support during a cold, here are some home remedies you might like to use to help speed their recovery.
Dust off that vapouriser
The dry air of winter exacerbates many cold symptoms, especially congestion. Having a cold causes nasal congestion and drip making it hard to breathe and sometimes difficult to swallow. Dry air can irritate these symptoms. Vapourisers heat hot water until it turns into steam, and this hot air can help to loosen the mucus in your child’s nose and lungs so that it can be removed by coughing, allowing them to breathe easier. Vapourisers are relatively inexpensive to buy from a pharmacy and you have the added benefit of adding essential oils into the water to enhance the decongesting effects. Especially great for the under 2 year olds.
Chest rub (Vapour balm)
Chest rubs can provide effective relief from coughs, colds & stuffy noses. I prefer the brands which are free from nasty petro-chemicals. A lot of chest rub's can also be used as steam inhalants when added to a vaporiser or pot of hot water (with a towel over the head for deep inhalations with older children). Two brands which I love and are available from either Pharmacies or Health food stores are:
For my kids I love making up chest balms. I use a base of Laponite gel, which is a unique clay-based gelling agent that has a lovely ‘skin feel’ when applied. It is not oily or sticky and absorbs essential oils really well. I apply it to the chest area especially at night before bed and use essential oils that have anti-catarrhal and anti-infective properties. The balm then complements the oral herbal medicine that I also might be using - hastening the road to recovery. My chest balm is also available for purchase from my clinic so please contact me if you would like one posted out. RRP $12.50 + postage.
Some of my favorite essential oils to use during winter are Eucalyptus (radiate), Lemon myrtle, Rosalina, Wintergreen and Lavender
Eucalyptus has traditionally been used to help relieve the symptoms of colds and flu’s in steam inhalations as well as chest balms. It has antiseptic, expectorant and antispasmodic properties. Therefore helping to loosen mucous and ease breathing.
Lemon myrtle is distilled from the fragrant leaves of trees native to southern Queensland. It has been traditionally been used for relieving chest congestion, whether in a diffuser, chest balm or massage blend. The oil has also been known to uplift emotions. Good for young and old during those overcast winter days.
Rosalina has traditionally been used for its anti-septic properties. The oil has been known to be beneficial in relieving congestion associated with colds and flus. It is also often called lavender tea tree because it has a scent half way between the two.
Eucalyptus lozenges might provide some symptomatic relief in older children.
Bosisto’s medicated eucalyptus drops can help temporarily clear a stuffy nose and relieve a cold. They contain eucalyptus oil and menthol are sugar free and are available at most pharmacies. They are less ‘lolly’ than other brands and can often provide some temporary relief. Really only suitable for the over 4 year olds or those able to safely suck on something without fear of choking.
Herbal medicines are really safe, effective and affordable.
I wouldn’t be a passionate naturopath if I didn't talk about the benefits of Echinacea. Although not always available from pharmacies (try health food stores - though I sell it much cheaper from my clinic and can guarantee the quality). This is one herb that I am happy to post out to anyone to use as a preventative (in young and old) over the Autumn/Winter months.
It is one of the best known herbs for the immune system and has a great safety profile. It is the key paediatric herb for immune support in my clinic. Although Echinacea can have an unusual taste, I flavour my Echinacea syrup which makes it easy for kids of all ages to take without a fuss.
Other herbal medicines that I rely upon in my clinic to help kids with colds are Pelargonium and Sambucus. They are very safe and delicious to use in the ‘Cough and cold’ mix that I blend together to help reduce symptoms and duration of the common cold. For more information on how this liquid herbal medicine may help make your Winter more bearable please email me. (Available in Australia only).
Nutrients that can be very beneficial over winter include vitamin C and zinc. Vitamin C rich foods are the ones found in season in the southern hemisphere at the moment; oranges, kiwi, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, etc. Zinc rich foods are meat, fish, shellfish and eggs.
If your little one is also coughing as a part of their cold, don't forget to have a read of my Honey cough syrup recipe (a previous blog post).