There’s nothing worse than a sick or frustrated child but aren’t we so lucky that we have plant partners by our side to help us every step of the way. Not all herbs are safe for children but there are a handful that you can always lean on when your little is in need of a bit of comfort.
If you’re like me and don’t always want to turn to medicine to relieve what might not always be physical, then this list of herbs for kids might just be what you’ve been looking for. This list of herbs have been entrusted for centuries for treating physical and emotional stress in children (and adults too!). If it was safe for our ancestors, its safe for us!
We can almost always attribute a physical ailment to some form of emotional stress. Herbs in all its forms — tea, essential oils, elixirs, and so on — can bring so much relief to your little one, so read on below to get an idea of what herbs are safe to add to your at home apothecary and administer to your kids.
Labeled “one of nature’s best nervine herbs” (Rosemary Gladdstar, 2001), this beauty is great to calm and rejuvenate the nervous system. Use lemon balm to help ease a child’s anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia and headaches. Because lemon balm rejuvenates the nervous system, you can administer this herb to overstimulated children who are too restless or wired to fall asleep.
Stomachaches aren't always connected to something physical. Stomach upset can be caused by emotional distress too. Use Lemon Balm to help ease digestive upsets when your little needs a little antispasmodic relief. Because it is so mild, lemon balm is perfect for children with colds and flus as well, helping to break a fever if needed. Topically, lemon balm can be used for viral issues, like herpes outbreaks that result in cold sores, as well as chicken pox and shingles.
Stock up on lemon balm so you have it on hand for helping your little during times of stress. Because of its antiviral and nervine properties, it makes a soothing tea for easing respiratory issues and stomach viruses. Steep one tablespoon of dried leaves over one cup of hot water for at least 15-20 minutes. Then strain out the herb and drink. Add honey to help soothe a sore throat.
Who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? One of the most commonly known scents, lavender works wonders for children (and adults too!). Lavender’s analgesic and antimicrobial properties make it a great choice for skin issues — burns, cuts, rashes, and insect bites. Just a few drops mixed with a carrier oil (we love coconut and grapeseed oil) and added to your child’s bath can be soothing when a large portion of the skin is irritated.
Lavender’s lovely scent simultaneously relaxes and stimulates, making it very useful for exhaustion, stress, anxiety, and depression. As a “specific for central-nervous-system problems,” the benefits of lavender makes it a useful ally for emotional support (Keville, 1995). If your child struggles with nighttime anxiety, making a lavender spray with a witch hazel and water base, might be the perfect solution! Use the recipe below to make Sleepytime spray you and your family will all love when its time to call it a night.
DIY LAVENDER - SLEEPYTIME SPRAY
3 parts water
1 part witch hazel or vodka
10 drops lavender essential oil
Help build strong bones for your mini me with OATS!! Rich with vitamins and minerals like silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, calcium, alkaloids, protein, the vitamin B complex, and vitamins A and C (Holmes, 1997 and Berger, 1998), milky oats and oatstraw are great tonics to give your little daily! With vitamin B, calcium and magnesium present to soothe and strengthen the nervous system, oats are considered one of the best remedies for “feeding” the nervous system, particularly in times when the nervous system is weak or exhausted, especially when associated with depression (Hoffman, 2003), overwork, or emotional trauma (Rose, 2010). If you’re in need of mellowing out your child’s mood, easing their anxiety, fighting the effects of daily stress and sleeplessness, then give oats a try.
Soothe poison ivy, chicken pox, or other skin conditions by tying a muslin bag filled with oats in the running stream of bathwater to add milkiness to the water. Squeeze the oat milk from the bag directly onto their skin and rub it in gently!
No, catnip isn’t just for cats! Surprised?! While the scent alone can drive any feline mad, catnip works as a cooling, gentle, relaxing nervine, great for soothing constipation, stomach ache, hyperactivity, colic, insomnia and fever in children. Anti-spasmodic, it helps soothe muscles in the intestines, and its anti-catarrhal properties help prevent the formation of mucus.
The Cherokee used the plant and considered it to be an overall strengthening tonic. They chose this herb when a relaxant was needed in cases of irritability or sleeplessness.
Need to reduce a fever? Fevers are usually regarded as a symptom of an acute infection or underlying illness. The body raises its temperature in order to stimulate the immune system and speed up detoxification. While many fear a child with a fever, understand its the body’s natural defense against infection or illness and having a fever is a good indication that the body’s immune system is taking action! Add catnip to your regime to help maintain normal levels of your child’s fever. Because catnip is a diaphoretic herb, it can induce perspiration without raising body temperature to help break a fever. Drinking it hot as a tea will help enhance its effects.
Steep 1-2 tsp of dried herb for 5-15 min in hot water.
Chamomile is so abundant with herbal goodness that it’s a great herb for anyone in the family. Its antispasmodic properties make this herb great for showing love to the nervous system and releasing muscle tension that can come from anxiety or stomach upset. Packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins (Mars, 2015), this is also a great herb for kids who might be experiencing .
Chamomile Hot Cocoa
2 cups oat milk (link to homemade oat milk recipe by @wakeupwithmarley)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp orange zest tea loose tea
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp honey raw
4-5 tbsp chamomile
Put oat milk, water, orange zest tea, cocoa, and raw honey into pot on stove. Bring to a boil.
Add tea bags and put on low heat for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let everything steep for 10 minutes.
Strain tea from pot into a cup.
Froth drink to add creamy texture.
Add additional honey if desired and dust top with cocoa powder.
Let me know if you give any of these plants or recipes a try! And if you have any recipes of your own, feel free to share them with the community!