In the first part of the series we talked about two herbs that are good for general health of the whole family. These are plants that are safe to eat or drink everyday as foods and help prevent common childhood ailments and illness.
Sometimes there are things we can’t prevent and then it is time to look to herbs to help alleviate symptoms.
In 2011, FDA recommended that “pain relief” be removed from the label of acetaminophen (Tylenol) as it was considered ineffective as a pain reliever in babies and children up to age 2. Read the summary here.
Acetaminophen overdose is also linked to liver damage and use before the age of 1 has a link to childhood asthma. So if the well known standby of Tylenol is no longer recognized as the go-to option for pain relief, what options are there?
There are at least two herbs that can help alleviate the symptoms of teething in babies as young as a few months old, to the older toddler cutting molars. Since cold symptoms can sometimes be caused by teething, these herbs are also helpful for helping to sooth a fussy, irritable, restless, slightly fevered baby.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutitia) This is another of my favorite herbs. It grows easily and prolifically in my yard, bees love it and so does my baby! It helps to relieve pain and irritability, as well as indigestion caused by excess saliva during teething. It is also safe for promoting restful sleep for both babies and moms.
When my daughter was teething, I would make a tea using 1 tablespoon of the dried blossoms steeped in 8 oz of water. I would then give it to her directly, after it had cooled, by letting her suck it off my fingers. I would also freeze some tea in advance in an ice cub tray and let her suck on the cubes in one of those mesh teether bags. It can also be given to babies by using a dropper, in a bottle or sucked off a clean cloth.
If your baby refuses anything but the breast, mom can drink the regular strength tea and the benefits will pass through her milk.
In addition to the tea, I made a tincture using brandy and would rub some on her gums throughout the day and before naps and bed-time. I added one ounce of dried chamomile to six ounces of brandy and let it steep for six weeks. (I had to make this one in advance.) I used it sparingly even though the alcohol content is minimal when used this way.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) Catnip also grows abundantly in my yard and self-seeds for easy propagation. It seems to have the opposite effect on people that it does on cats. I have been drinking it for years as a tasty bedtime tea mixed with chamomile and lavender. It also is excellent for gassiness, indigestion and fevers. It helps to sooth restlessness, irritability, overstimulation and anxiousness. It helps with a fever by promoting a sweat, especially when taken hot and combined with yarrow, elder and spearmint (Romm 238).
The catnip tea can be prepared the same way as chamomile and both can be taken freely with no known contraindications.
These are just my top two go-to herbs for teething, fever and pain relief. We will talk about these plants as well as others at my class "Herbs for Babies and Children" on April 18th. Reserve your spot!
Look for the next post in this series coming soon! - Herbs for Babies and CHildren - Ouch Relief! Herbs for cuts, brusies, bug bites, burns, scratches scrapes and stings.
Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Romm
Making Herbal Medicine by Richo Cech
Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green.