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Family Central: The Natural Medicine Cabinet

I read a column the other day in which a mom lamented that her family had set a new record: Her son had caught a cold within eight days of the new school year starting – and passed it on to her just three days later.

While I hope that your family won’t be setting any such records soon, it’s true that any new school year brings an increased risk of colds, flu, sniffles, sports injuries and just garden-variety boo-boos.

What is a parent to do – especially if you prefer to keep medicines and chemicals to a minimum around your family? Well, stock up your natural medicine cabinet, of course!

Every natural medicine chest should hold vitamins and supplements to “fill in the nutritional gap” left by fast and processed foods; as well as remedies for occasional coughs, sniffles, bumps, and bruises. Here’s what I recommend:

  • A multi-vitamin/mineral tablet taken daily, to fill in “gaps” that your child’s diet may not fill. Vitamin A, B1,B2, niacin(B3),folic acid, B 5 (panothenic acid), B6, B12, C, D, E and K should be included in any multi vitamin for children.
  • Additional Vitamin D3 and calcium supplements: 90% of adult bone mass is established before the age of 20, so it is essential that children get enough Vitamin D3 and calcium for strong, healthy bones to last a lifetime. Most daily vitamins don’t contain enough of these nutrients.
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) play a very important role in the development of children’s brains, eyes, skin and natural immunity. Foods that are rich in EFA’s include cod, salmon, raw walnuts, ground flax, chia seeds, and hemp. At FRESH, we even have hemp butter that can be substituted for peanut butter. But if your child doesn’t eat a lot of the above foods (and what child does?), then I  recommend a daily EFA supplement.
  • Chewable or powdered Vitamin C: Most people are aware that vitamin C helps fight colds and the flu. What people don’t know is that when children are under physical or mental stress their vitamin C levels get depleted more rapidly. So I recommend always having extra vitamin C on hand, either in a chewable or powdered form, for when they get sick or are starting the school year.
  • Zinc lozenges or sprays for the occasional sore throat. Researchers are not exactly certain how it happens, but zinc helps boost the body’s immune system to rid itself of the infecting organism. The zinc lozenges come in many different flavors so you should be able to find one that your child will take.
  • Elderberry is well known to help fight viruses, and alleviate allergic symptoms. According to scientific research, elderberry keeps the virus from invading other cells and replicating. It can be used as needed to shorten or combat viral infections as they come up, but I recommend that parents give it to their children daily during peak illness season and when they’re around contagious people at school or summer camp.
  • Tea tree oil works well on fire ant bites, as it is a natural antiseptic. It also works on scorpion bites, and I can attest to that personally. OUCH!
  • Lavender oil is wonderful for calming the entire body, but it will also heal any scaring from a burn. Essential oils do not interfere with any prescription medication that a child may be taking.
  • Aloe vera gel not only heals sunburns, but it makes a great moisturizer for children who are sensitive or allergic to fragrances.
  • I love Rescue Remedy for children. It is a plant-based product that helps ease emotional stress. It was developed by Dr. James Bach in the early 1900’s and is considered safe to use with any prescription medication. My own children took Rescue Remedy at the beginning of the school year and during testing periods and their stress levels were alleviated considerably.