When your little ones get sick, it can be hard to know what’s safe (and effective) to give them for their symptoms. So we asked Carlsbad, Calif., store manager Felicia Imrie (with eight years’ of experience helping Pharmaca customers), about the go-to natural remedies she relies on for both her 5-year-old and her customers’ kiddos.
Cold & Cough
“It depends on their symptoms, but I first turn to WishGarden Herbs Cold Seasons for Kids—it combines thyme, elderflower and yerba sante, which is one of the most powerful herbs for immunity,” says Felicia. It’s so safe that even infants can take it, she adds.
If it’s clear that it’s an upper respiratory issue, she’ll pair that with an allergy relief supplement, since so many symptoms can be a result of post-nasal drip and need that mucus-reduction effect. “Claritin [or generic Loratadine] can help dry it up so you can start healing the other symptoms,” Felicia says. For serious nasal congestion, she’ll add Little Remedies Nasal Decongestant Nose Drops. “I also recommend vitamin D3, since so much research has shown that it helps with their immune response.”
“I’m not opposed to using Children’s Tylenol, especially if you can’t get the fever down with a cool towel or bath,” says Felicia. “We don’t want to push it since it’s our children’s little bodies!” She also likes to add lavender essential oil to the cool bath or compress to help ease pain.
“When my son complains of growing pains, often in his knees or ankles, I’ll turn to topical arnica,” says Felicia. “They play hard!” she says. “It’s natural that they would be sore from jumping around and playing sports.”
“I really like the Genexa Children’s Allergy-D, which is safe for ages 3 and up,” says Felicia. “It’s homeopathic and helps with symptoms likes runny nose and itchy eyes and throat.” If it seems like seasonal allergies in kids over age 2, she’ll also recommend Loratadine, which should be taken at the same time every day to ensure it’s consistently in their system. (Don’t know whether it’s allergies or a cold? “If they have a fever, it’s probably a cold,” she says. If not, it’s probably allergies.)
“For this I recommend a combination of WishGarden Herbs Ear Be Well and Mullein Ear Oil (which we sell as a set),” says Felicia. Ear Be Well is taken internally, and has immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects from propolis, calendula and echinacea. But the oil is really the kicker, she says, since garlic helps with healing the infection, and additional calendula and St. Johns wort help with the pain. “The combo has worked wonders every time I’ve used it–it works well for dogs, too!”
For children with chronic ear infections, she even suggestions using the Mullein Ear Oil once a day on a preventive basis, especially if the child has gone swimming or done something else that might trigger an infection. And if your little one is uncomfortable with the chilly feeling of the oil in their ears, she recommends putting a few drops in a glass container and microwaving just a bit to warm them up before applying. A warm pack (e.g. warmed rice in a sock) held to the ear can also help relieve any discomfort.
“A lot of moms ask about melatonin,” says Felicia. “I’m okay with recommending it for a short period of time if the sleeplessness is due to stress in their life (like starting a new school, or a move).” But she doesn’t recommend it for longer than a week (try Zarbee’s Sleep with Melatonin, which has only 1 mg). She also recommends practices like breathing exercises before bed, or a warm bath with lavender essential oil. For days when they just can’t calm down, she’ll add Herb Pharm Kids Fast Asleep about an hour before bed.
If it’s chronic sleeplessness, she recommends making sure that the before-bed routine is well structured and consistent. But if they just have too much energy to get to sleep at night? “Hyland’s 4Kids Calm ‘n Restful is good to take when they come home from school,” she says, since it takes a little more time to kick in.