Keeping Up with Your Immune System
by Pandora Peoples
It is so easy to stop thinking about a kid's cold when your child is back in school. He is better and almost back to normal, right? It is easy to write-off a runny nose or a residual cough, but as long as the body is showing signs that it isn't in perfect health, it needs attention.
Untreated colds and influenza lead to weakened immune systems. When I say treated, I mean with herbal teas, syrups, rubs, plasters, tinctures, aroma therapy, acupressure, and homeopathy. When the body doesn't fully re-cooperate from minor illness and allergic reactions, lingering unfavorable conditions remain, paving the way for later illness.
This doesn't mean that we have to freak out every time our families get sick, but it does mean that we have to have follow-through and be diligent about the recovery process. We must insure full recoveries by boosting our immune systems, making sure that we get plenty of water, sleep, balanced diets, and herbal supplements in the days following our acute symptoms.
If we go the conventional way, by focusing on treating the symptoms, we never restore the body to health by balancing the underlying causes of illness. When we use cough suppressant, it may let us get some shut eye, but it fails to allow our bodies to expectorate phlegm. Therefor, using herbs to speed up the expectoration process like slippery elm or elecapane or lily bulb, coupled with herbs to soothe the throat like mullein, cinnamon, ginger, or marshmallow root, we help the body to re-cooperate and heal inflammation and infection.
If we reduce safe fevers before our body has a chance to raise to internal temperatures capable of killing harmful bacteria and viruses, then we limit our body's ability to effectively fight off offending pathogens. Our own pediatrician Dr. Jody Lappin, who works in the office with dr. Jay Gordon, suggested that doctors now understand that a temperature as high (103 or 104) when a child is not lethargic, is active and upbeat, is not a fever which needs to be reduced. (Temperatures higher than this must be immediately reduced and taken very seriously.)
In the case of safe fevers, I use a little peppermint, holy basil, and lemon verbena tea, but dont break out the acetaminophen anymore. The food coloring and corn syrup added to the children's pain reliever are not desirable to me. Peppermint is a wonderful pain reliever, because is relaxes the muscles. It is a decongestant, reduces plaque and relieves mild mouth pain. These mildly reduce fever, boost the immune system, and clear congestion in the sinuses and lungs. Lemon verbena antipyretic and nervine; It relaxes the nerves and helps the body to sweat, which cools the body. Holy basil has similar function in Ayurveda. It also helps clear lungs, sooth coughs and has been used in India as a children's medicine for thousands of years.
A good way to get children to drink tea is to play tea party with them. Halloween is when we started our tea tradition three years ago. Carve a pumpkin. Light it. Drink apple cider with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Add some orange or lemon slices. Simmer with a lid until your cider is mulled and the herbs are infused. Start with cider and a snack (roasted pumpkin seeds and apple slices, cheese and crackers or a homemade scone). This is a very good habit for the school-aged child who is whiny and hungry when he or she comes home from school.
Kids will delight in watching the flickering light inside the pumpkin while drinking their mulled cider. The mulling spices are a wonderful blend to clear sinuses, improve circulation, relieve headache or aches, relieve indigestion and soothe colic. Over time you can add more tea to the cider as your child becomes accustomed to drinking peppermint, chamomile, and other kid-friendly herbal teas. Kids love tea-juice. My kindergartener will even drink it at school.