Monday, August 20, 2012

The Critical Mom's Guide to Children and Colds

Here are some things that have helped me, my children (now 8, 10 and 13) and my husband:

(1) At the first sign of a runny nose, a frog in the throat, the sniffles:  drink warm fruit tea with honey.  Camomile, apple, hibiscus, rose hip, lime tea are all teas that my family have enjoyed, and rose hip is known for its high vitamin C content, a help with colds.  A pediatrician might tell you any liquid and we've all had kids who won't drink this and won't drink that, but teas are really good.

(2) An over-the-counter natural remedy containing Pelargonium Sidioides is good:  in the USA this is marketed as Umcka, in Europe as Umckaloabo.  The dosage is usually about 12-15 drops for a small child, 20 for a tween and 20-30 for an adult.  It tastes great, and is more effective when you drink fruit tea or water with it.

(3) Sea-salt nose spray.  There are a number of over-the-counter sprays or you can make your own, or use a neti-pot (see for ideas)

(4) Steam.  Lots of warm steam.  You can just close the bathroom windows, turn on the hot water, and let the child sit on a chair and sniff the steam for a few minutes.  Or buy a humidifier, but if you use one of those, you'll always need to clean after each use.  Low tech:  the shower or the tub; steam created with hot water.

But for even better results:  buy dried chamomile flowers--at your local pharmacy if you live in Germany, online, I suppose, elsewhere.  Put them in a deep pot or bowl.  Have  a big blanket ready.  Pour boiling water over the chamomile flowers, have the child lean over the bowl covered with the blanket--the blanket is a tent holding in the steam.  How long?  For as long as they can stand it.  Read to them or tell them stories.  Until they say, "Mommy, my face is dripping with steam!  I'm sweating."

After the chamomile steam, run a bath using a bath oil with thyme or eucalyptus or both.  My youngest is right now soaking in a Thyme oil bath to which I've added about four drops of pure eucalyptus oil.  Not more--it'll burn.

(5) Gargle with hot salty water, preferably sea salt.  Hot as you can stand it.

(6)  Echinacea.   Again, take with fruit tea or water.

(7) Garlic.  The natural antibiotic.  Use it in cooking or eat it raw.   A good recipe for a lot of fresh garlic is pesto:  in a food processor put a half cup of olive oil and several hunks of fresh Parmesan cheese.  Process.  Then add washed arugula leaves or basil and LOTS of garlic cloves.   Process.  Eat over pasta.  Freeze remaining portions in small plastic containers.  Adjust amounts of all ingredients to taste or number of persons served.

(8) Homemade chicken soup.  Soothes throats and tastes great!  I mean the kind where you boil a whole chicken in a pot.  But the powdered stuff will do, especially if they won't drink anything else.

(9) Vick's Vapo Rub:  Yeah, it helps.  For a bad cold, put on soles of feet with warm socks and on chest.

(10) Earaches:  if there's no fever, or even if there is, but you can't get to the pediatrician til tomorrow: chop up a room-temperature onion into five or six pieces.  Take an old pair of socks and put onion pieces in each; tie a knot in the sock to keep the onions from falling out.  One for each ear, and put a headband or ski band or cotton cap on the child's head to keep the socks placed against the ear.  Have the child sleep on his or her back.   When the earache is just caused by congestion and is not yet a real infection--and often even when it is--this can work very well.  Worked great with my daughter when she was four, five, six.

(11) Comb websites geared to homoeopathic remedies and experiment:  aconite and belladonna are things I've found useful.

(12) Diarrhea:  if you want to avoid the jumpiness that comes with coke and pretzels, try boiling a couple of peeled carrots and a dash of sea salt for three or four hours.  Mash it and make sure the kid consumes the liquid the carrots are boiled in too.  In general, boiled carrots and boiled potatoes help with diarrhea.

(13) If you're washing sheets and holding bowls for a kid who is erupting at both ends, you will want to wash your hands and also to invest in an alternative liquid hand cleaner called "Thieves" produced by  "Thieves" smells marvelously of cloves, and derives its name from a concoction used by actual French thieves who smeared a blend of cloves, rosemary, and other essential oils over themselves when pilfering the pockets of the dead and dying during the time of the bubonic plague in Europe in the Middle Ages.  And lived to tell the tale, and never contracted the fatal disease.   Now, I've used hand sanitizer and alcohol-based products, but the time I used "Thieves" was the one time I did not come down with intestinal flu when I cleaned up after a sick child.

(14) General prevention:  healthy diet.  That means non-processed foods, no sugar, less or no meat, lots of healthy grains--there are a million websites out there about that.

(15) A disclaimer:  All this advice is good for what any mom recognizes as the common cold or the sniffles.  If your child is running a high fever, or just looks awful, see a doctor and use these remedies only until you get there. 


  1. Thieves oil was invented by Rroma (gypsies). They weren't out graverobbing just carrying on with their daily lives when a doctor noticed the gypsies were immune. The gypsies finally told him their secret. As a thank you for saving people, he turns around and calls it "thieves" oil. How nice.

    The same group of persecuted people saved the day only to be slapped in the face and history re-written as USUAL....

    Give credit where it is due. Say thank you to the Rroma.

  2. Hey! I didn't know this--but isn't it possible that more than one group of people invented the same thing? My source was the Young Living organization, that manufactures "Thieves"--take a look at their website--and their idea is that the folks using this oil were using it in Medieval France. Please tell me where you found that the Roma were the first to get there, and I will also look this up. Thank you for writing!

  3. P.S. You asked me to say thank you to the Rroma--so THANK YOU! But now, please share your own special recipe for what one can order on the net as "Thieves" oil--and why not write the YoungLiving company and tell *them* what you think, too?

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