As a mother to a toddler and a healthcare provider, I am always looking to make sure my son is eating nourishing foods and liquids, staying active, and sleeping well so that his chances of catching an infection is minimized. With the coming of autumn, however, the chances of our children catching the sniffles increase significantly and their immune system being compromised. It doesn't help that our children enter back to schools filled with other sick children, or even catching a virus from their parents and siblings. I'm glad to say that in Chinese medicine, we have wonderful herbal medicinals created just for pediatric use that help both in fighting the cold/flu as well as for prevention.
Chinese Pediatrics and Herbal Medicinals
Unlike Western pediatric medicine, which is only about 150 years old in the form that it is practiced today, Chinese medicine has an extensive history of canonization and clinical experience with pediatric medicine. Unique characteristics of children physiology were already discussed as early as 400 BC in the Inner Canon/Huangdi Neijing, an ancient medical text, and by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), there were already significant number of pediatric texts. The usage of pediatric herbal formulas continue today, and in the United States, you can find Chinese herbal companies producing top quality tasty syrups/liquids and tablets for children to consume.
In Chinese medicine, we diagnose specific stages in colds and the flu that help us to identify the nature and the course that the disease might take, allowing us to prescribe very targeted medicinals to children (and adults!) so as to prevent the cold or flu from taking a worse turn, or from even catching either of them all together.
Let me give you examples of what I mean by specific stages. We have herbal medicinals at the first sign of a sore throat that prevent the sore throat from becoming anything more than a sore throat (which can be a sign of a simple cold or the beginnings of a nasty pharyngitis or laryngitis, for example). If we miss that stage, and a child starts to feel more cranky or tired, with less appetite, and with some shivers with fevers and runny nose, we have a specific medicinal that we can give to - again, prevent it from getting worse. And what do we mean by getting worse? From going internal and affecting the organs as opposed to the superficial layers of the body. In Chinese medicine, we want upper respiratory infections to stay as superficial and in the outer layers of the body as much as possible so that it doesn't go into the lungs and possibly becoming bronchitis, for example. If we were able to catch it from going internal but there is a lingering cough (and we know coughs are very difficult to get rid of!) with a lot of phlegm or runny nose, we here also have specific medicinals to help address the lung's ability to break up and dissolve the mucus and phlegm, open up the chest to relieve the chest tightness, and stop cough. (To learn more in depth at the power of Chinese herbs for respiratory conditions, go here.)
During the cold and flu season, please consider Chinese pediatric herbal medicinals for your children which are extremely effective at fighting colds and the flu and the myriad of accompanying distressing symptoms that come with them, like coughs, fever, phlegm and runny noses, body aches, and sleepless nights - without any side effects and pharmaceutical intervention. These formulas are completely safe, made from natural ingredients, and have been in use for hundreds and thousands of years by millions of children.
As for food, when a child is under the weather, minimize their dairy, sugar, and carb intake and offer more bland, simple-to-digest soups. Cold, raw foods are contraindicated while sick. Clear broth soups full of vegetables and some form of protein is excellent in general. If a child has what we call Wind-Cold symptoms (more chills than fever, stuffy nose with nasal discharge, cough with white, thin sputum) offer them tangerine tea, ginger soup or leek-ginger-egg soup. If a child has what we call Wind Heat symptoms (sore throat, cough with yellowish, sticky sputum, more fever than chills, thirst), offer them Chinese barley (job's tear) and mung bean soup, mint green tea or daikon radish soup. Avoid giving them spicy, peppery foods, and foods with ginger.
In Chinese medicine, we say Wind is the bringer of 100 diseases, and the neck is most susceptible to "attacks" of Wind, so keep your child's neck well protected with a scarf when outdoors and dress them appropriately warm as the weather gets colder and colder. Children, especially small children, can't yet regulate their body temperatures well, and may not realize they are cold, and will insist to take off their jackets. Don't let them.
Consider having a vaporizer or humidifier in your child's room and turned on at night so as to keep your child's skin and lungs hydrated. We say in Chinese medicine that the Lungs don't like dryness. Autumn and winter air is very dry, with heaters causing the air to get even dryer. This is another reason why we become so susceptible to cold and flus because our nasal passages lose the ability to stay moist, which prevents viruses and bacteria from entering the lungs via the nasal passages.
During bath time, consider using some eucalyptus or lavender essential oil. Just couple, three drops in the bath will do wonders to open up the sinuses and ease stress in children. You can use either of the oils in the vaporizer to aid in more restful sleep, and if sick, eucalyptus will aid in opening up the chest and sinuses to ease congestion. Also, after the bath, give a nice rub down on your child's back, especially along the spine, to keep the spinal fluid moving and active. There are many important acupuncture points between the spine and scapula, that if stimulated, aid in keeping the immune system and internal organ systems healthy and strong. Make sure to keep the bathroom door closed during bath time and while drying your child down, again, to prevent drafts from seeping into your child's neck and skin and causing a cold to come on.
Once sick and it's gone more internal, don't forget to rub herbal chest rubs with menthol or eucalyptus to aid in breathing.
If the fever won't abate, consider putting lemon socks on their feet when they go to sleep. Get cotton socks dampened with lemon water. The lemon will pull or astringe the fever away from the body through the feet, and the cool, damp socks will also aid in this effect. By the next day, the socks should be nice and toasty, having been dried up by the fever that came out through the feet.
And of course, make sure your children wash their hands often, and teach them to sneeze into their inner elbow so as to prevent any viruses from spreading to others around them.
These are some simple measures you can take at home. Other natural cold/flu remedies are found here. What home remedies do you use for your children when they are sick?
I offer cold-and-flu herbal consultations for families and provide the safe natural herbal medicinals I mentioned earlier for your children. (I can vouch for them as I use them with my own son, and can happily report that his recovery from colds are very fast and his symptoms are always minimal!) For easy appointment set up, click on the Book An Appointment button at the top bar to set up an appointment, or click here.
For more on pediatric wellness, click on:
HOLISTIC PEDIATRIC WELLNESS FIRST VISIT FAQS
OVERVIEW OF CHINESE PEDIATRIC MEDICINE