By Jahwei Chen-Graf
and herbalist at HAALo
As the cold and flu season approaches, there are several simple things you can do to keep your child healthy. Healthy diet, adequate rest, and simple hygiene are the cornerstones of wellness, but sometimes despite our best efforts, our little ones come down with colds and sniffles and need extra herbal support.
Here are my two of my favorite herbal remedies, Echinacea Tincture and Elderberry Syrup, for prevention and treatment of common winter illnesses such as colds and flu.
Echinacea root has been shown to increase white blood cell activity and stimulate immune response. It is really effective in cases of colds and other upper respiratory tract infections and can forestall or shorten the duration of colds and flu. However, unlike Elderberry which can be taken as a preventative all winter long, Echinacea works best if taken at the onset of illness in large doses for a shorter period of time. I prefer the alcohol-based tinctures to the glycerin-based extracts, which are often marketed for children. In my experience, the alcohol extracts are stronger and better capture the active constituents of the plant. The amount of alcohol is very minimal but if you are concerned, add the tincture to a little hot water to evaporate off the excess alcohol. I usually disguise Echinacea tincture in elderberry syrup to make it palatable for children.
Make sure to use the right doses according to age. The doses outlined below are fairly large doses and should be used at the first sign of illness, for up to a maximum of 10 days.
Echinacea Tincture Doses For Children
2-5 years: 7.5 ml a day. Taken in divided doses, this is ¾ teaspoon in a little water or elderberry syrup twice a day.
6-12 years: 10ml a day. Divided doses: about a teaspoon in a little water or elderberry syrup twice a day.
12+ and adults: 10-15ml a day. Divided doses: about a teaspoon in a little water or elderberry syrup 2-3 times a day.
Elderberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A. These tiny purple berries also have potent anti-viral and immune-boosting activity, which makes them perfect for both the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
Elderberry syrup is a wonderful remedy for children mostly because it tastes so delicious! I use it often to disguise the taste of other herbal tinctures. In my experience, a daily dose of elderberry syrup helps prevent children from suffering the seemingly endless rounds of sniffles and coughs that circulate in the classrooms during the winter.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe:
1 cup of fresh or ½ cup of dried elderberries
3 whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon of fresh, peeled and chopped ginger
3 cups of water
1 cup of raw honey
Place the berries and spices in a saucepan and cover with the water. Simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Smash the berries. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and add 1 cup of honey. Stir well. Bottle and store in the refrigerator. It will last 2-3 months when refrigerated.
Give your child 1-2 tsp. daily as a preventative and 1-2 tsp. every 2-3 hours when feeling rundown or ill. Elderberry can be taken daily with no adverse effects.
Elderberry and Echinacea are just two amazing plant allies that are child-friendly and effective for winter illnesses. Other herbs that can be made into teas include: calendula, hyssop, lemon balm, linden, mullein, peppermint, elderflower, and rosehips. To help your child build deep immunity and resistance, consider adding Astragalus root and medicinal mushrooms to your nourishing winter broths and stews. For best results, consult with an herbalist to have a special formula custom-made for your child’s individual symptoms and constitution.
I wish you all a warm, happy, and healthy winter season.