I’ve debated for a long time whether to write this post about treating your children naturally (without OTC cold meds or antibiotics) for head and chest colds. However, a day does not go by that I do not receive a text or e-mail asking how to treat some malady in a child naturally. Below you will find a series of natural remedies that we use on our three-year old daughter. We have yet to give our almost four-year old Sophie antibiotics, steroids, or other conventional cough medicines. This is what works for us, but it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. (Please read the below disclaimer at the bottom* before mommy-bullying me about this post. I’m sensitive, and making myself vulnerable to you, so please be kind because I am simply trying to help).
The Pre-Emptive Strike
A lot of bugs begin in the gut, so keeping the gut armed and ready to kill off bad bacteria is essential to keeping your child healthy (along with washing hands). We have given our daughter probiotics in her vegan milk and yogurt four times per day everyday since she stopped breastfeeding. We use Raw Probiotics for Kids because it is refrigerated, live cultures and vegan. It’s to cheap, but, in my opinion, spending your money on dead, non-refrigerated probiotics is a waste of money. Probiotics are living “good bacteria” that live in our bodies anyway and keep us from getting overwhelmed by yeast, etc. Adding extra to her belly, gets those hungry organisms ready to chomp on any “bad bacteria” that may find its way inside. Additionally, if we get stomach viruses with diarrhea, we up the dosage of probiotics and it usually does the trick every time. Raw Probiotics for Kids is available at Whole Foods in the refrigerated section in vitamins.
Raw, unpasteurized honey is used throughout our day as sweeteners for our daughter. We use it to make peanut butter and honey sandwiches, tea (for our tea parties), and apples with honey as a snack. If she has been playing with children who have colds, we go for the big guns, Manuka Honey, the mother of all honeys that is not only anti-bacterial, has an antibiotic effect, but has over 100% more healing enzymes than raw honey. It can be pricey, so we only use it when necessary. We simply give our daughter a teaspoon and she gladly licks it clean. Manuka honey is available at Whole Foods as well as Vitacost and many other online retailers.
The Head/Chest Cold
Hydrate & Electrolytes
Aim to hydrate your child as much as humanly possible. We have an iPhone app, “Water Minder,” and every time Sophie drinks some water, she adds a glass and the body fills up with blue water. It works for us (for now). For the times Sophie doesn’t want to eat and has tummy troubles, we keep some “electrolyte ice pops” in the freezer. We juice oranges, nectarines, cucumber, peaches, and cantaloupe and add them to ice pop molds. We refrain from giving either Pedialite or Gatorade to Sophie because it doesn’t coincide with our diets, and she refuses to drink them because she is not used to such sweet drinks.
Umcka is a natural cough and cold medicine made of several flowering plant extracts, lime, and the South African Geranium plant (aka “Umckaloabo” where the elixir gets its name). We use the Nature’s Way brand and have had great results. One plus is that Sophie will actually drink it because it’s sweet, even though it’s got some Sorbitol in it that we don’t love.
We use Elderberry syrup if Sophie has a cold and needs to be made comfortable and the Elderberry Nighttime Formula if coughing keeps her from resting. We use Gaia brand for both and they are available at Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe. According to their website, “Gaia Herbs uses Certified Organic European Black Elderberries to create a juice concentrate that provides the equivalent of 14,500 mg of fresh elderberries per serving.”
Propolis and Tea Tree
For croupy, wet coughs, we break out the big guns, Propolis Tincture with Tea Tree Oil. It tastes pretty bad but works AWESOME. Sophie had what we thought was croup once and the symptoms started on Friday. We typically wait three days before taking her to the doctor, and by the third day with a mixture of Eucalyptus steams and the magic propolis elixir, the doctor agreed that her body was healing itself and to keep doing what we were doing. We use PRI Propolis and Tear Tree Cough Elixir available at Whole Foods.
Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil
As soon as a cold sets in, we break out the Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil essential oils. We add ten drops to her nighttime tub to clear up clogged sinuses and we add both to her humidifier.
When Sophie is sick, we replace the regular raw, unfiltered honey with Manuka honey; on toast, by the spoonful, on apples, etc.
So far, these home remedies have seen us through many colds over the years. What natural cures do you use for you little ones? Please share in the comments. Thank you for sharing this space.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or work in the medical field. I am a well-read, well-experimented, homeopath who has used natural cures, essential oils, and elixirs for over twenty years. I have read countless books and try EVERY product on myself (even putting it in my eyes). You should consult your medical doctor should you have any questions or concerns about these methods. They are in no way a directive for you to treat your child, only how I treat mine.