Welcome to my monthly series…Herbs and Children! I have been learning so much about herbs and how to treat a variety of illnesses, infections, skin conditions, emotions, and other issues in children. While I am far from an expert, I do feel as though I have a lot of great information to share with you that can then use to do your own further research. Each month, I will share a specific “condition” or health concern and the specific herbs that are known to be safe and effective to use on and in your children to address these conditions. Be sure to read to the end of each post where I link up the previous posts in the series. Also, there may be a few links for products from my affiliate partners. If you click on them and make a purchase, it helps support my blog. And remember, I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I play one on this blog. Nothing I write should be taken as medical advice.
Aaaackk, aaaack, aaaack. Ahem. Ahem. Cough. Hack. Cough.
Having a cough is rough. Whether it is simply part of an illness running its course or it is something more persistent, coughing is rough on little bodies.
Coughing is not an illness per say. It is a symptom of something else going on in the body. The body's defense system is actually working properly if you have a cough. Essentially if it is a reflex that body engages to rid itself of material that is clogging up the airways.
ALWAYS seek professional medical expertise when your child has a cough that lasts more than a day or two. It could be a sign of something more serious going on in the body.
When your child develops a cough, there are several wonderful ways to use herbs to support it. You can create cough soothing teas, syrups, chest rubs, and steam bowls. All of these have the potential to aid the body in not only opening the airways but also in soothing irritated throats (since that is a side-effect of a lot of coughing).
So what herbs are effective at supporting a cough?
Echinacea – helps reduce mucus in addition to targeting infection and supporting the immune system.
Licorice – this is really soothing to irritated lungs and can provide a break from the coughing when taken as a tea.
Ginger – warms the entire body's systems which can help reduce inflammation in the lungs.
Horehound – helps clear congestion in the lungs.
Peppermint – can ease the severity of a cough.
Elderberry – supports the immune system and helps reduce the severity of a cough. Also can clear congestion in the lungs.
Like I mentioned before, any of these herbs can be made into a tea or a syrup which can be administered based on the age of your child. My personal favorite combination is a warm tea made with elderberry, licorice, and horehound. I just steep the ingredients in water that has been brought to a boil, then lowered to a simmer. Usually I leave them in there about 45 minutes then strain out the herbs. I let it cool slightly but always serve it warm with a little honey to sweeten it. You can keep the extra in the fridge and warm it on the stovetop.
Essential oils are also very effective at clearing chest congestion. I have some great recipes in Salve Made Simple but if you need to make something quick, combine 3 drops each of Eucalyptus, German Chamomile, and Thyme essential oils. Mix these into ½ cup of coconut oil. Rub a little onto the chest and back of your child. It may produce more coughing initially as it helps clear out the mucus from the lungs. But typically, it is very soothing and really opens the airways.
You can also add these same oils to a small bowl of steaming water and place it near where your child is. The vapors can help clear the lungs as well.
Do you have any tried and true natural remedies for coughs? Please share!