At home over the very long, long wet weekend, I had lots of opportunity to think about children’s cold and flu, and how it is for them when they are ill. My little one was sick the whole weekend and more, with fevers, snot, body aches, headache and generally feeling pretty sad. This is (and I say this with fingers firmly crossed) not the usual state in our house. Generally, he is well, even with a busy social life and daycare.
I have been conducting a playground/mothers group/school yard/play group poll, about the state of children’s health over the winter. It seems little people are more likely to have a constant runny nose, recurring cough and frequent infections over the colder months. Parents despair at this situation but many don’t know where to turn for help. Parents are also in the firing line as they catch these bugs when caring for their little people and share in the misery, too. For most families it is difficult to juggle the demands of work, school and child care with recurring sickness.
So, what’s to blame? Is it the “super bugs” that seem to breed in the playground or in daycare? Is it a busy lifestyle? Is it diet, or allergies, or, as many parents seem to fear, is it just the way it is?
Natural medicine has so much to offer children: immune-boosting diets and safe and effective herbal medicines to support immunity, as well as nutritional supplementation to fill the gaps when the nutritional demands of a hard-working immune system exceeds what is supplied in the diet.
A diet rich in fresh seasonal whole goods, lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and purified water are the foundation to provide nutritional fuel for the immune system. Add lots of fresh organic garlic, onions, ginger and other herbs to add a nutritional punch such as parsley, coriander, basil and rosemary. Reduce sugar, packaged foods, fast foods, lollies and snacks that are empty of nutritional value.
A good multi vitamin and mineral on a daily basis can help, and if there are lots of bugs going around start on some Echinacea and vitamin C to help boost your immune resistance. If you do come down with an infection use a natural product that is specifically designed for the infection by consulting a qualified Naturopath or herbalist. Always check that the dose and formulation is appropriate for age, medications and pre existing medical conditions.
Practicing good hygiene is also important, so introduce hand washing, throw away tissues and teach kids to ‘catch your cough’ or sneeze.
Kids will catch infections from each other, it is the nature of all that sharing and caring little ones revel in, as they should. However a strong immune system fuelled by good diet and supported with natural medicine can help children’s innate vitality to fight off infection so that it doesn’t last all winter. Next time I see a little kid at the park with snot wiped across her face, I may just tactfully and gently suggest that natural medicine may be able to help...