By Jahwei Chen-Graf
Naturopath and Clinical Herbalist
It’s a bittersweet time when the long, hot days of summer begin to fade away and crisper nights begins to pervade; signaling the time for parents to turn their attention to preparing for the back-to-school routine.
As with all changes and transitions, my advice is to tend mindfully to everyday basics to stay healthy and adding a few well-chosen herbs and supplements as needed.
A good nights sleep goes a long way to boosting immunity and helping children cope with the excitement and emotions of returning to a new classroom and perhaps a new teacher. Try adjusting bedtime a week in advance by fifteen minutes each night until your child is accustomed to the new earlier bedtime and rising time.
Breakfast is an important meal for back to school. Ensure enough protein and high quality fats to sustain energy and blood sugar levels to improve focus and concentration at school. Some examples are scrambled eggs with avocado on toast, yoghurt with homemade granola, or oatmeal topped with seeds and nuts. Packed school lunches also need to contain healthy proteins and fats. Try to minimize sugary foods and refined carbohydrates which will spike blood sugar and cause a crash and burn!
Even though it's been drilled into us the last couple of years- thorough hand-washing with soap and warm water is still key for stopping the spread of germs and viruses. Children should be encouraged to wash hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
The classroom in the fall and winter months can be a fertile ground for colds and flu to germinate. A daily dose of elderberry syrup can prevent these viruses from coming home with your kids. Elderberries contain a protein that stops viral replication in cells and studies have shown that they can shorten the severity and duration of colds and flu.
A fun way to take elderberries is to make elderberry gummies. My kids love elderberry gummies as a daily treat and I notice that they are less susceptible to all the illnesses circulating at school when they take these regularly.
Elderberry Gummy Recipe:
2 cups of Elderberry Syrup
(Any favorite recipe, or use our Elderberry Syrup Kit to make your own)
½ cup Great lakes Grass Fed Gelatin (red can)
Pour cooled elderberry syrup into a saucepan, whisk in the gelatin powder a little at a time and heat while stirring until almost boiling.
Pour into silicon chocolate molds on a baking tray.
Cool, refrigerate,and carefully pop out the gummies from their molds.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For those that prefer a tea, we have a delicious blend called Divine Wellness that contains elderberry, echinacea, chaga, hawthorn, licorice and cinnamon. This tea is very delicious and palatable for kids, especially with a tiny bit of honey added.
Echinacea tincture at the first sign of a sniffle can often stop a cold in its tracks. I give high doses of the tincture mixed into elderberry syrup to disguise the taste. I continue this regimen 3-5 times a day at the first onset of a cold.
We make our own potent Elderberry Echinacea Elixir called Guardian Angel which is very effective as a preventative at the onset and to reduce the duration of a cold. It's also been kid approved for taste and flavor!
Astragalus is a root used in traditional Chinese medicine to deeply tone the immune system and protect against cough, cold and flu. Astragalus has warming, anti-viral properties that make it a great addition to soups and chai for the changing of the seasons.
Astragalus powder can also be added to nut butter and maple syrup to make immune enhancing balls which kids can enjoy.
Immune Enhancing Herb Snacks Recipe:
1/2 cup Astragalus Powder
1/2 cup Maca Powder
1 cup Almond Butter
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
Shredded coconut ot sesame seeds
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend together thoroughly. Add a little maple syrup if too dry, and more Astragalus or Maca powder if too sticky. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and roll into sesame seeds or shredded coconut. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Kids can eat 3-4 of these each day to boost their immune system.
(Adapted from an original recipe by Jillian Stansbury, ND)
Lemon Balm is one of my favorite plant medicines for kids because it offers gentle nervous and digestive system support and tastes great! Lemon Balm is the perfect herbal ally for back-to-school jitters! Try a soothing cup of lemon balm tea an hour before bed. For trouble sleeping and anxiety lemon balm can be combined with catnip, chamomile and lavender.
I usually rely on a healthy diet to ensure nutritional needs are met but with the increased cases of covid and going into the winter months I usually supplement my kids with vitamin D3, vitamin C and zinc.
6. Flower essences
Walnut Flower Essence is a vibrational medicine that can help with the emotional aspects of transition. Taking this essence during times of important life changes protects against negative influences and provides inner stability.
Wishing you all a smooth and healthy Back To School!
Remedy Garden is an herbal apothecary located at 412 Commercial St, Nevada City. We strive to provide high quality medicinal herbs, extracts, flower essences, homeopathic remedies and nutritional supplements for your family’s health.