back to school herbs for kids

Herbs for Kids: Back to School Edition

August 02, 2018

It may be as simple as a runny nose.

Or maybe it’s the incessant colds, recurrent flu, abdominal pains or reduced performance in school.

One thing is for sure, parents dread seeing their children in pain or fatigued, which ultimately impairs their academic performance.

While genetic predisposition certainly plays a role in disease development, certain health problems can often be managed and even prevented at home via natural methods.

Today, I’d like to share a few of the best herbs for kids just in time for the back-to-school season. We’ll cover how to keep their immune system healthy and strong but also how you can boost their ability to think and concentrate naturally.

Nature’s Finest Herbs for Kids & What They Can Do for Your Child

1. Boost Their Immune System with Elderberry and Olive Leaf

When it comes to priming the immune system, certain herbs and plants can do wonders for your child, helping them fend off those nasty back-to-school bugs.

Elderberry is one such plant whose berries are processed for medicinal value.

Historically, it has been used to control the swine flu, flus caused by the influenza virus and boosting the immune system of people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • It can also be used to effectively manage allergic rhinitis, as a laxative against constipation and to relieve sinus pain.

    elderberry herb for kids

    The primary way elderberry works is by inhibiting the progression of viral infections as well as reducing inflammation.

    Although completely safe when cooked, you should not consume elderberry in its raw form. Unripe, uncooked berries may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

    Once cooked, and especially when formed into an elderberry juice or tincture, elderberry is naturally sweet. If you’ve ever tried to give an unwilling child nasty medicine, you know how valuable this sweet-tasting feature is!

    Olive leaf is another great herb for kids to boost their immune systems in school.

    Besides keeping them healthy and boosting longevity, olive oil is a potent treatment option for stopping colds and managing flus. Studies have shown that there are at least two mechanisms by which olive oil bolsters the immune system.

    For instance, it enhances the process of phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the immune response mechanism where special types of immune cells (called phagocytes) engulf and degrade invading pathogens.

    Another proposed mechanism of olive leaf is that it inhibits the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate inside the cell.

    When taken on a regular basis, olive leaf primes the immune system, helping your child fight off infections when first contracted. Since most common infections involve the respiratory system and are caused by viruses, olive leaf has proven its worth in combating colds, flus, sore throats, coughs and sneezing.

    Fun fact: Olive leaf has roughly 400% more antioxidant power than an equal amount of vitamin C. To say it’s effective in fighting free radicals is an understatement!

    2. Beat the Flu with Andrographis

    The flu is one of the most common infections that affect school-aged kids. It normally sets in without notice, leading to a persistent running nose and incessant coughs and sneezes that grow progressively worse.

    One herb that’s safe for kids is andrographis, and its flu-fighting potential is among nature’s finest.

    Native to South Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka, andrographis has been used for a long time now to manage cold and flu caused by the influenza virus.

    Historically speaking, andrographis played an important role in stopping the Indian flu epidemic of 1919. There are 3 primary mechanisms through which Andrographis helps the body fight infections:

    • Stimulates the immune system
    • Helps combat allergies
    • Increases blood cell count

    These 3 mechanisms work to effectively eliminate the flu. To explain, the increased blood cells (especially the white cells) will infiltrate the infected areas and initiate an immune response to eradicate the invading pathogen, and its anti-allergy effects will reduce the allergic responses that tend to arise in respiratory tract infections.

    3. Ease Sore Throats with Marshmallow Root

    Marshmallow root is a perennial plant native to northern Africa, Europe and western Asia and  has been used since antiquity to manage respiratory conditions, digestive problems and skin conditions.

  • Its impressive medicinal value is attributed to a special component - mucilage - which is a common ingredient in cough syrups.

  • A study conducted in 2005 revealed that cough syrups containing marshmallow root were highly effective in combating coughs caused by respiratory tract infections. In fact, it took less than 2 weeks for the study participants to enjoy over 85% improvement of their symptoms.

    Once added to water, marshmallow root forms a gel-like coating that soothes sore throats remarkably well.

    4. Manage Their Stress with Chamomile

    There are so many stressors our children face day in and day out when school is in session.

    That’s where chamomile comes in as a safe, effective herb for kids that can help alleviate the effects of stressful situations.

    Chamomile is one of the most time-tested and documented herbs of all time. A recent study suggests that chamomile can be used to effectively manage general anxiety disorders.

    chamomile tea

    While there are 2 main types of chamomile, it’s the German chamomile that is most common for medicinal use. It has a mild, soothing flavor that most kids enjoy.

    For centuries, it’s been used to naturally calm the mind and support deep, restful sleep - a critical part of managing stress. As an added bonus, some studies suggest that inhaling steam infused with chamomile soothes cold symptoms, making the overall duration of the cold more bearable.

    5. Help Them Concentrate with Lemon Balm

    It’s the whole purpose of school, right?

    To help your child grow in knowledge so they can one day pursue their dreams and be a productive member of society.

    Unfortunately, some kids have a hard time concentrating, memorizing or even sitting still long enough to grasp a new concept.

    Enter lemon balm.

    Based on the reports of previous studies that lemon balm is well tolerated by children less than 12 years old, additional research has been performed to see if it can improve concentration, hyperactivity and impulsiveness in children.

    A 2014 study revealed that lemon balm is beneficial to children for restlessness and concentration difficulties. This information has proven valuable, especially to the guidance and counselling departments who face challenges in trying to explain poor performance in children.

    Lemon balm seems to be a natural antidote for poor concentration, laxity during class hours and inability to perform well in class.

    With this collection of the best herbs for kids, you can set your child up for success this school year - safely, effectively and naturally.