Herbal medicine is the most widely used medicine in the world. Plants have been the source of many pharmaceutical drugs such as aspirin (from salix alba) and quinine (from Cinchona spp.) Herbal Medicine uses the whole plant. This is the only difference between Herbal Medicine and pharmaceuticals. Here are some simple herbal solutions for common ailments that really work.
I want to get rid of head lice as fast as possible without risking any harm. My daughter, so far, has only had two episodes of nits. After washing and combing out the adult lice it is time to kill the eggs. Here is what has really worked for me within 3 days because it kills the eggs.
TTO contains 2 monoterpenoids. Nerolidol is particularly effective at killing the eggs (nits), and terpinen-4-ol has been found to be the most effective against adult lice. TTO helps stop them actively feeding on the scalp, make it easier to comb and prevents transfer (her brother got off scot free, even sharing a bath and a bedroom. Finally, TTO has been shown to be more effective in these parameters than the pesticide DEET (N,N-diethyly-m-toluamide). References are available below, but believe me, TTO works. Better still, the house smells nice.
Fitoterapia. 2006 Jun; 77(4):303-9
Int J Dermatol. 2007 Apr;46 (4):422-6
Eczema is a hard case. This little recipe works well with the little ones. At bath time, grab the rolled oats from the cupboard. Stuff two handfuls into a stocking or muslin bag (or something clean and porous). Hang the bag from the tap while filling the bath. No bath? Then run the water into a bucket in your sink. Let the bag soak then use it to gently wipe the affected areas.
Oats contain mucilage which gives porridge its gooey-ness. When in contact with the skin, the mucilage has demulcent actions, forming a soothing film that helps to reduce inflammation and provides a barrier to external irritation. Add a strong cup of chamomile tea, and gain not only a pleasant smell, but also anti-inflammatory actions - due to the main essential oil called bisabolol.
Gargle a strong infusion of green tea - then swallow it and benefit from its antioxidants. The puckering you feel in the mucous membranes (the soft pink skin in your mouth) is due to the tannins in the tea (also in black tea but more powerful in green).
The tannins bind with the proteins in the mucous membranes and seal the ulcer from above. This allows the ulcer to heal from beneath. Keep gargling and you can expect the ulcer to heal nicely within 2 to 3 days.
Autumn, winter and spring, ‘tis the season to be snotty. As soon as you feel that scratchy throat, creepy crawly up the back or the not-quite-feeling-rightness, then hit it hard with this challenging brew. You can vary this recipe by adding lime instead of lemon or adding more, or less, ginger and garlic. It won’t cure the cold but it will stop it hanging around and will help push it out fast.
Garlic is a formidable antibiotic that will guard against secondary infection. The lemon and chilli give vitamin C and bioflavonoids to help your immune system fight the good fight. The honey is for soothing. But, if you use raw honey - especially manuka honey - it will act as a topical antibiotic as well. Finally, the ginger is warming and calms the digestive system, especially useful if there is nausea.
My kids wont take the adult cold and flu brew so here’s what I do instead. There are three medicines particularly suited to children. I use two separate bottles. One contains the tingly medicine. The other, the yummy medicine. The tingly goes in first and needs to be followed by a good slug of water. This is Echinacea purpurea root and the tingly feeling is vital as it is the active constituents that cause the sensation. This is the most challenging medicine for kids, but it can also be fun. Sort of.
I follow that with the yummy medicine. This is an equal mixture of Thymus vulgaris and glycyrrhiza glabra. The mixture is black and sticky but it is also sweet and much appreciated after the Echinacea.
The Echinacea mobilises the immune system. In particular, it rallies the macrophages to clean up the debris (macrophages are sentries that search for and engulf damaged viral and bacterial cells). This action goes a long way towards preventing excess mucous that is a breeding ground for secondary infection.
Thymus is a remarkable antiseptic and is specifically indicated as a gentle remedy for children (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia).
Glycyrrhiza works on many levels. First, it is an expectorant and helps to loosen the mucous and shift it. Second, it soothes inflammation. And third, it is naturally sweet, so like that spoonful of sugar, it helps the less yummy medicine go down.
These herbs will not dampen the immune response. On the contrary, they will help move the infection along. As long as the nose blowing continues, with plenty of good food, lots of liquids and plenty of rest, your child will get better sooner.
It is very important to minimise the chance of a middle ear infection developing as a result of mucous build-up in the Eustachian tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. Be vigilant with the nose blowing to clear the mucous and keep the fluid intake up.
The Eustachian tube in young children is short and slightly horizontal compared to adults. So at bedtime, slide an extra pillow or rolled up towel under the mattress to elevate it slightly while they sleep. This works a treat.