Below is a list of 10 common herbs and a description of what their properties are and what ailments they should be used for. But remember, always consult a qualified herbalist or naturopath before giving them to your child as some remedies are not suitable for children of certain ages
Botanical Name: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida
Echinacea has emerged in recent years to almost super model status in the herbal world. This has to do with its stimulating effect on the immune system, and its ability to help the body effectively deal with many bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
Indications: Acute infections (colds, flu, chest infections), improves resistance and recovery from infections, allergies (eczema and urticaria), tonsillitis, cystitis.
Botanical Name: Matricaria recutica, Anthemis nobilis
Chamomile is one of the most frequently prescribed children's herbs. It is a gentle herb with many applications in childhood illness.
Indications: Anxiety, insomnia, colic, indigestion (or stomach ache),vomiting, nausea, teething, headaches, allergy, fever management.
Botanical Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel is a very effective carminative - meaning that it eases flatulence and colic in the gut. It is one of the key ingredients in a gripe water mix.
Indications: Colic, griping, flatulence, stomach ache, constipation, vomiting, nausea. Helps stimulate milk production in lactating women. Calming effect on bronchitis and coughs.
Caution: Do not use the essential oil of fennel internally.
Botanical Name: Althaea officinalis
Marshmallow is a demulcent herb - meaning that it has a soothing effect on the membranes to which it is applied. It is soothing to respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary inflammation, and is an important cough remedy.
Indications: Diarrhoea, stomach ache, bronchitis, respiratory catarrh and irritating coughs, to loosen a tight dry cough, calms urinary inflammation (cystitis), allergies.
Botanical Name: Archillea millefolium
Yarrow has a number of therapeutic applications. It is one of the best herbs for assisting the body to deal with fevers. It stimulates appetite and enhances digestion. When it is applied externally, it assists wound healing.
Indications: Fever, convulsions (to prevent convulsions caused by high body temperature), poor appetite, stomach ache, externally aids wound healing.
Botanical Name: Stellaria media
Chickweed is a herb that almost everyone under five years of age is going to need at some time. It is an anti-inflammatory herb with profound skin healing properties, and can help everything from eczema to sunburn. It is the herb of choice for relieving itchy skin conditions.
Indications: Topically for eczema, hives and itchy skin irritations, soothes inflamed or erupted skin.
Botanical Name: Inula helenium
Elecampagne is one of the popular remedies used for coughs. It is specific for irritating bronchial coughs where there is bronchial congestion. Elecampagne also, very importantly, has an anti-bacterial effect. It is both a digestive tonic and appetite stimulant.
Indications: Irritating bronchial coughs, especially where there is a lot of mucus, bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough.
Botanical Name: Euphrasia officinalis
As its name implies, Eyebright has a strong affinity for eye conditions. It is also a very valuable herb for upper respiratory congestion so it is used frequently for runny noses, blocked and infected ears and sinuses.
Indications : Conjunctivitis, stinging or weeping eyes, oversensitivity to light. Watery, catarrahal conditions of the nose, sinus and ears. Mouthwash and gargle for inflammation of the mouth and throat.
Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
This herb is used frequently for children and not just because it disguises the taste of other less pleasant tasting herbs. It is an anti- spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and it soothes and relaxes dry, tight coughs.
Indications: Dry asthmatic coughs, constipation, chest infections, croup, allergy, colic, hay-fever, allergic rhinitis, whooping cough and bronchial asthma.
Contraindications: Liquorice should not be used to treat Diarrhoea, oedema or hypertension.
Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria
This herb is useful for many of the main childhood illnesses from colds and flu, to difficulty in sleeping, to flatulence. It is a versatile and gentle herb that deserves a spot in the medicine cabinet.
Indications: Colds and flu, fever, bronchitis, asthma, upper respiratory infections, congestion in the airways, sinuses or middle ear flatulence, colic, diarrhoea, insomnia or restlessness in children.
By Di Strang. Di has over 10 years of experience in the natural health industry. She lectures on children's health at one of Sydney's Naturopathic Colleges and has a busy practice which is focused on children's and women's health.