By Cami Logan
Summer is waning and temperatures are finally beginning to cool, which means its time for the kids to return to school. As all parents know, with so many people sharing space, viruses and infections are an inevitable risk. Luckily, there are a number of ways to help support your child’s immune system with herbs going into the school season.
One of the premiere plants for immune system support is Elder. Both the berry and the flower contain potent medicine that is both kid-friendly and effective. The berry can be taken daily to boost the immune system, or it can be taken at the first sign of illness. It is mildly anti-viral, and tonic to the immune system, not to mention delicious. Tasty kid-friendly preparations include syrups and glycerine based tinctures. Elderflower is an excellent ally for fall allergies, and it also works well to help bring down a fever (when this is truly necessary)— often paired with peppermint and served as a hot tea for this purpose.
Astragalus, Reishi, and Codonopsis are also outstanding choices for immune building, and these can be given to children in food form- often without them even noticing. All three herbs make excellent additions to broths. Simply add in the herbs about an hour before the broth is complete and remove with the rest of the stock material. You can also make Astragalus or Codonopsis infused rice or grains by adding the roots along with the water and rice, and removing the root pieces when the rice is finished.
In powder form, these three herbs go deliciously into “bliss balls.” Bliss balls are a combination of herbal powders, nut butters, seeds, dried fruits, and natural sweeteners. For those who aren’t familiar there are many delicious recipes online. And what better way to keep your child’s immune system strong than by slipping a delicious herbal treat into their lunchbox! A quick note, however—these herbs are immune adaptogens, and as such should be discontinued at first sign of active illness.
No back-to-school medicine chest would be complete without Echinacea. Similar to elderberry, it can be taken both to build immunity, and at first sign of an illness. Echinacea is a powerful immune stimulant, and an extremely safe herb. It can even be given to small children in tincture form in low doses. If your child comes down with an illness, this is the top herb to have on hand. It combines beautifully with Elderberry for active infection, with respiratory herbs like Wild Cherry Bark, Mullein, and Elecampane for coughs, and with Astragalus, Reishi, Codonopsis, and Elderberry for immune building.
As you can see, with a few herbal allies on hand your child has a far better chance of passing by the back-to-school bugs unscathed. And with a little creativity, herbal medicine can even taste delicious! Excellent resources for further ideas and dosing information include Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Romm, and Herbs for Children’s Health by Rosemary Gladstar.