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Treating Colds for Littlies

Treating Colds for Littlies

Echinacea & Elderflower

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About the Author

Asti Renaut

Asti Renaut (BHSc. Comp Med, BA, Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip Herb Med, MNZAMH)

Asti Renaut is a degree-qualified medical herbalist and naturopath with over ten years clinical experience. Asti practices in Christchurch, New Zealand, treating a wide range of health issues. She especially enjoys working with infants and children, and finally has one of her own to practice on! One of the cornerstones of Asti's practice and philosophy is the importance of education and sharing information. She believes that empowering clients to understand their own bodies and health, and giving practical tips and tools to use from the garden and kitchen are just as important for wellness as qualified professional care. 

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We all have specific memories of having colds as a child, and the remedies Mum or Dad or Grandma used to help us get better; some are good, some not so pleasant. Lemon & honey drinks, minty chest-rubs, eucalyptus oils dropped onto a hanky or dabbed under our noses, days at home in bed with movies to watch, these are the nice memories. At the other end of the spectrum, my mum imposed some interesting garlic concoctions on us, including garlic cloves between the toes. While this was probably effective, it doesn’t give me quite the same warm cosy feeling!

One of the most significant and unpleasant memories  most people have  is the feeling of being all stuffed up and not being able to breathe through the nose, and therefore getting a horrifically dry mouth at night and not being able to sleep. Nasal congestion is one of the most significant symptoms of a cold, and can cause problems not just with sleep, but also for little babies especially it can make breastfeeding very difficult. The consequences of this are huge- if little ones can’t eat and sleep properly, everyone (parents included!) will be a little more miserable, and it will also potentially take them a little longer to recover too. 

Fortunately, we have herbal medicine to the rescue! The key herbs for treating a small person with a cold are ones that will target both the cause and the symptoms.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea  or E. angustifolia) is a wonderful herb of choice for stimulating the immune system and attacking viruses and bacteria. This gets to the cause of the problem and enables a speedier recovery.

Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)reduces catarrh (mucous) and heals and soothes irritated inflamed tissues in the sinuses and nasal passages.

Elderflower (Sambuccus nigra)is a wonderful decongestant and anti-inflammatory herb. When combined with Peppermint (Mentha piperita) it gives fast-acting relief of congestion.

If there is a sore throat or cough, other key herbs are Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

These herbs are all safe to be used for babies, infants and children when given at the right doses. When medicinal herbs are prepared well for littlies, it’s important that they taste appropriate for tiny taste buds.  Let’s create good warm fuzzy memories for our children, not the garlicky kind!