When my children were young (they are now 25 and 27) there were a few essential herbs that we were never without at home and in our garden. I would reach for them time and again as a natural treatment when dealing with common childhood illnesses as they were effective, easy to use, and easy to grow. You may already have herbs and natural remedies in your cupboard or your garden.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) known for its ability to soothe gastric upset, it is no wonder Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him a cup of Chamomile tea after he overindulged from Mr. McGregor’s garden. It is mild yet quite effective as a home remedy. It has anti-inflammatory properties both internally and externally. A wet tea bag can be applied topically for a variety of skin irritations or wound healing. It is mildly bitter and thus aids indigestion.
Chamomile also helps calm and quiet the nerves. It can help with restlessness and bring about a mood for sleep. Two cups of a strong Chamomile infusion added to a warm bath before bedtime can help to bring about a restful night’s sleep. Chamomile is also effective at relieving menstrual cramps and helps relieve premenstrual tension. Chamomile has so many healing properties, too many to list here. For more information on this amazing plant read the following article. (Janmejai K. Srivastava, Eswar Shankar, Sanjay Gupta, 2010)
Another great herb is Catnip (Nepeta cataria) and not just for cats! Due to its unique compounds, Catnip can be a helpful anti-anxiety aid and has traditionally been used to improve the quality of sleep. (Herbal Academy, 2014) Several Native American tribes used it to help combat common colds and flus that are accompanied by fever, sore throat, and cough. The Mohegan tribes used the tea to relieve infant colic. (Gaia Herbs, Catnip Benefits, Uses) As a diaphoretic, catnip helps induce sweat while neither raising or lowering body temperature, thus helping to break a fever.
Lastly is Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), a dependable antiviral herb that is also calming and anti-septic. It has a very pleasant taste and blends well with the other herbs listed to help soothe nerves, calm anxiety and help to quiet an overactive mind. Studies have been done on the efficacy of Lemon Balm for helping improve memory, mental focus, and sustained attention.(Lemon Balm Kennedy et al., 2003) This action makes it a great morning tea to help maintain focused attention and concentration. I forgot to mention that it tastes great too!
These herbs are particularly well-suited for children and make a lovely soothing bedtime tea when combined in equal parts. One tablespoon of herbal blend steeped in 8 oz. of boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Sip slowly after tea has cooled down. A bit of honey or stevia may be added if needed. Enjoy!
Madame Womble, Master Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist
Madame Womble received her Diplôme d’Etudes Françaises from l’ Université Paul Cézanne – Aix Marseille III. She is a certified Waldorf World Language teacher. She also completed Biodynamic Gardening Training at Rudolf Steiner College. She holds three certifications in Aromatherapy, is a certified Master Herbalist, a certified Doula, and is certified in applied nutrition. Her passions are alternative health care, environmental wellness, social justice, and women’s health. She enjoys traveling and meeting people from lands far and near. She is a volunteer birth assistant for women in need of support who have limited or no financial means. Madame Womble joined WSSD in 2004.