Everyone is finally back in school, and with that comes germs, and lots of them. I spoke with Sara Chana, a bicoastal expert for early childhood development as well as a homeopath, herbalist, breastfeeding expert and birthing instructor. With seven children of her own guides parents through the challenging worlds of being a working parent. Sara is a consultant to many obstetricians, midwives and pediatricians and guides mothers in how to ask the proper questions of their doctors to ensure that they and their children receive the most appropriate and comprehensive healthcare.
With school starting back up, many of us are looking for natural ways to boost our kiddos immune systems. Sara is a fan of using herbs to assist the body during the stressful times such as the transition kids go through from going back into a classroom after the freedom of the summer months. (Moms are also going through changes worrying about their children’s new teachers, and hoping that their child will get along with the other children). Herbs are suggested to be given daily anytime you or your child goes through changes. The herbs Sara suggests kids use preventively are:
- Astragulas-given two times a day in tincture form (a tincture is an herb steeped in either grain alcohol or a vegetable glycerite). Best given morning and evening, this herb helps stimulate the immune system and helps to combat bacteria and viruses.
- Lemon balm. is a great anti-viral herb and is also very calming. Lemon balm given in tincture form at night can help kids (and moms) sleep better at night, and also help calm down your child after a stimulating day at school. Best given two times a day, when the child comes home from school and before bedtime.
- Elderberry. is most herbalist’s all-time favorite form of vitamin C. This herb is available in either a syrup or a tincture. It is delicious and has powerful anti-viral properties. Best given in a syrup or tincture 2-3x a day with or without food.
Sara loves the herb Echinacea for cold and flu season. Echinacea has had some controversial studies lately, but Echinacea, in order to be effective, needs to be given in tincture form (tea form is also beneficial, but you need to drink a lot of it), but most of the studies used echinacea in pill form which is less effective. Echinacea comes in tincture form (liquid) and if taken three times a day at the on-set of an illness it can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of a cold or flu.
Oscillicoccinum is a homeopathic remedy that is extremely effective if taken at the first sign of flu. The remedy needs to be given three times a day for the first three of the illness. The typical dose is three pellets dissolved under the tongue (for kids the pellets can be dissolved on top of the tongue). The protocol is that your mouth needs to be clean (meaning not filled with peanut butter) and no eating or drinking five minutes before and five minutes after taking the pellets.
During cold and flu season, Sara recommends keeping your house stocked with a few supplies. Sara’s favorite herbal combinations are from the companies Herbalists & Alchemists, Herbpharm and Gaia. It is best to purchase one of their products that are specific for building the immune system, or one for cold and flu.
Airborne is also a great way to help your immune fight off infections whether they are viral or bacterial. The product has a great combination of vitamins and because the product is in an it is effervescent form the body is able to digest and absorb them easier.
Finally, I had to ask Sara what she thought about hand sanitizers. I worry about these being overused all the time and wanted her expert opinion on the matter. Sara said, “Hand sanitizers are quick and easy to use. They are great if you are in the car and your child just petted an animal and then wants to eat a snack, if you are traveling on a plane, or if your child left the playground and played in the sand and then wants to eat lunch. But putting antibiotics onto your skin too often is not a great idea. It not only kills the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria. Our skin is our defense against the toxins in the world and is perfectly balanced with both good and bad bacteria. Nothing bets good-old soap and water which is still my favorite. I am not against a child having a small hand sanitizer in their back-pack to use occasionally but I’d try to teach the child to only use the hand sanitizer if the child really feels their hands need an emergency wash!”