Vi har sat en af Australiens specialister i børnebehandling stævne rundt om køkkenbordet fyldt med unger, der alle er vokset op med urter som en del af hverdagen. På dansk kan du finde: “Sunde børn blir glade voksne” af Marianne Palm, forlag Klitrose. En bog som udover brug af urter fortæller om behandling med vitaminer, mineraler, fedtsyrer, homøopatiske midler m.m. udfra biopatiens grundprincipper. Bogen kan bestilles gennem din boghandel.
Herbs for Children
by Erin Collins, Phytotherapist in Australia The use of herbal medicines is not only a safe effective way of treating children’s illnesses, but used correctly, herbs can actually benefit the long-term health and resilience of the child. Many of the illnesses contracted by children are by their very nature self-limiting and if left untreated, will generally resolve spontaneously. Sometimes however, illnesses to which children are prone may cause depletion or downgrading of the general health, or it may take the child a long time to recover, in some circumstances experiencing extreme discomfort. Parents and care-givers are reluctant to see a child suffer distress or discomfort, yet many are with good reason, cautious about giving medicinal drugs with potential side effects, to their children. For example, while a course of antibiotics may cut short an acute infection, illnesses may recur frequently or side effects may prove to be almost as debilitating as the original illness. Herbs can not only alleviate the discomforting symptoms of disease, they can also support and improve the child’s immune system so that illness is less likely to recur, and, if it does, the child will probably recover more quickly and thoroughly. Herbs can be nutritive, especially useful for poor eaters, and they can facilitate convalescence after an illness.
There are a several options which can be explored for eliminating colic in a young baby. Results seem to vary , but all are simple, safe, and therefore definitely worth trying! Firstly, feeding techniques should be checked to ensure that the baby is not swallowing air. If the baby is breastfed she or he can react to certain foods which the mother is consuming. The child’s immature digestive system may be just not coping with some substances which can pass through into the breast milk. Many colicky babies will improve markedly if the mother avoids cows milk and dairy foods for the early weeks of breastfeeding. Other commonly encountered foods and drinks which can upset baby are garlic, onions and spices, coffee or chocolate, legumes, beer, and in some cases vegetables and fruits- most commonly the Brassica family of vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower). On the other hand, adding vitamin E and essential fatty acids to the mother’s diet will make the breast milk nice and fatty which is much appreciated by the baby! There are a number of herbs known as carminatives which can reduce discomfort in the gut, and in appropriate doses these can be safely given to even very small babies. If the baby is breastfed, the medicine can be given to the mother either in the form of good quality herb-teas or extracts, and will pass through to the breast milk. Otherwise, depending on the age of the infant, weak teas can be given directly to the baby. Some of the best Carminative herbs include Chamomile, Catnip, Fennel, Dill (afkog af frø), Cinnamon and Peppermint.
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) kamille
Gentle-acting herb, which can ease colic and griping due to carminative action, thus very useful for flatulence, diarrhoea and indigestion
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) fennikel
This herb also relieves griping and is well-suited to treat flatulent colic in children
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) kanel
Calming and anti-microbial, Cinnamon is useful in treating upset stomachs, diarrhoea and wind .
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) Pebermynte
This herb has an anti-spasmodic and calming action which is useful in pain and griping in the stomach, and inflammation of the intestinal tract.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) Dild
Dill has a carminative action and at the same time stimulates digestion, it is effective in treating colic in children
Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) alm. kvalkved(fås kun hos phytoterapeuter i Danmark)
Cramp Bark is anti-spasmodic and is therefore useful to relieve the cramping and griping associated with colic.
Most babies sleep less at night than parents would like. It is absolutely normal for a very young baby to wake during the night for a feed. With infants, unless they are suffering from colic or breathing difficulties due to problems such as respiratory infections, it is often just a case of developing a good regular sleep pattern. If the child is very distressed when sleepless, calming herbs can be used to help establish a good sleep pattern if other methods have failed. A warm bath with essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile or Lime flowers (Linden), perhaps followed by a relaxing baby-massage, may be sufficiently relaxing to induce a restful sleep. Many parents are understandably cautious about giving oral medicines to very young infants Relaxing herbs can be given to quite young infants as long as the dose is appropriate. As with the colic herbs they can be given in the form of weak herb teas or a few drops of a good quality extract diluted in water. Herbs recommended for improving quality of sleep
Zizyphus (Zizyphus jujuba) brystbærtræ
This herb has a sedative action and is very useful to assist the transition into sleep, especially where there is a lot of anxiety.
This herb works well as a sedative, especially where there is nervousness, irritability and exhaustion.
Lemon Balm (Mellisa officinalis) Citronmelisse
This herb has a very calming action and is especially useful for children, as it is gentle safe and pleasant-tasting.
Oats (Avena sativa) havre
This herb is useful for treating insomnia especially where the nervous system is depleted
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) kamille
This herb is gentle and safe to prescribe for children: it has a mild sedative action which is useful in treating insomnia
Lidt mere om de enkelte urter…
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) kamille Chamomile has been used from the earliest times for convulsions, nervous tension and insomnia. It may be used for anxiety states, spasmodic or colicky pain, vertigo and notably for children’s problems, especially nervous excitability or tension. It is gentle in its action and thus is well suited for babies and children. Chamomile has an affinity for the digestive system. On the one hand it relaxes the gut wall, slowing or regulating peristaltic movements, relieving colic, nervous or irritable hyperactivity, diarrhoea and spastic colon; the volatile oil is also carminative, reducing flatulence. On the other hand it is an appreciable bitter stimulant, maintaining adequate digestion, bile flow and pancreatic action, thus it does not depress digestive function. Chamomile has been traditionally used as a local healing poultice for ulcers, skin inflammations and slow-healing wounds, as a mouthwash or eye-bath, or in steam inhalations for catarrh and inflamed respiratory mucous membranes. These uses have been strongly supported by modern investigations showing constituents of the oil having anti-inflammatory effects. Passiflora Incarnata, passionsblomst Passiflora is the herb of choice for treating insomnia, especially when this is accompanied with symptoms of nervousness, irritability and exhaustion. It aids the transition into restful sleep and relaxes the nerves safely and effectively. This herb combines well with Valerian. It is well-suited to babies to relieve restlessness and wakefulness. Zizyphus jujuba, brystbærtræ Zizyphus is cultivated by the Chinese for both medicinal and culinary purposes. This herb is very effective in treating insomnia, especially when this results from nervous tension or anxiety. It has a relaxing and sedating effect but it does not cause drowsiness the next day, and it does not cause physical dependence. Other symptoms such as anxiety and nervous tension have improved after taking Zizyphus. The Chinese have traditionally used Zizyphus to treat nervous exhaustion, which causes symptoms of weakness, excessive sweating palpitations, insomnia and night sweats. Zizyphus combines well with Valerian and Passionflower in cases of sleeplessness with anxiety and tension, if there are headaches, it is effective in combination with Lemon Balm. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) citronmelisse Lemon balm is very useful for complaints in children as it is gentle, safe, relaxing and pleasant-tasting. Thus it is very useful in treating stress, nervous tension and their related symptoms. Lemon Balm combines well with Passionflower and Valerian to treat such conditions. Lemon Balm is also useful in treating digestive upsets, as it relieves spasms of the digestive tract and also has a soothing and healing effect on the gut. It is indicated in digestive problems that are related to anxiety or stress and it combines well with Chamomile. Lemon Balm is a cooling herb which is well indicated as a pleasant tasting, cooling tea for fever, especially where there is anxiety or tension.
The Toddler (børn i 2-4 års alderen)
Some children seem to constantly suffer from colds, always have a streaming nose, or simply catch whatever bug is going around. While allergies can be responsible for this type of syndrome, often it is simply that the child’s immune system is just not coping. There are many factors that can contribute to an inadequately functioning immune system. Poor diet, often due to children being picky eaters, stress (it happens to children too!), inadequate sleep, and even growth spurts can temporarily make the child more susceptible to infections. In such children, herbs can be used over a longer term to build up the child’s immunity. Echinacea is the first herb of choice as an immune system tonic. Echinacea helps the system to be surveillant against any infections, helping the body to fight off the infection before it gets a chance to take hold. Licorice is what is referred to in herbal medicine as an adrenal tonic; that is, it supports the adrenal cortex, helping the body in times of stress. Licorice also has an anti-inflammatory effect which makes it invaluable in allergic conditions affecting the respiratory tract, such as asthma.
Echinacea which can be given in quite high and frequent doses during an acute infection. Echinacea also assists the lymphatic system. Even if the tonsils themselves are not effected other glands around the neck and throat are frequently swollen and tender when infection is present. Other herbs that will assist the lymphatic system include Calendula and Cleavers. Poke Root, because of its very low dosage, is best used only as prescribed by a qualified practitioner. For the pain of sore throat Sage tea, gargled (with Echinacea if the child will take it) and then swallowed, is a timeworn and effective remedy. Thyme is also useful as it is antiseptic and astringent to the inflamed tissue. Propolis Resin is strongly antiseptic to the throat and oral cavity. For very young children gargling may not be possible, and even for older children herbs such as Sage and Thyme may not be very palatable. This of course can be a problem with all medicines, but there are various ways to make herbs more palatable. For herbal teas, mixing with honey or fruit extracts or syrups can be enough to sweeten them. Especially useful for sore throats, these teas can be frozen into herbal ice-blocks. These are very soothing if the pain is so severe as to prevent swallowing. Some of the stronger herbal preparations are now available in an alcohol-free glycerine based preparation which is often much more acceptable to children. Also some of the sweeter tasting herbs such as Licorice, which is also very soothing can be added to a herbal mixture to make it more palatable. Some children seem to suffer frequent recurrent sore throats and it may be wise to consider having the child take an immune support tonic for a few months, especially over the winter if the problem is seasonal. Allergies may also be implicated if the problem is still recurrent. If this is the case immune support would still be appropriate, but the diet or environmental factors may need to be evaluated.
While coughing is a normal physiological reaction to clear irritating material from the airways, a moderate to severe cough can be very distressing to a young child. Especially in a young child, a cough may not achieve the desired effect of removing the irritating mucous, or the cough may be unproductive and dry causing distress but no benefit. Even if the cough is not productive, we do not wish to totally suppress it. Herbal treatment should attempt to soothe the irritation and spasm of the cough while assisting the body to expel the irritant. This is done by assisting the excretion of mucous, thus making expectoration much easier. The herbs that assist in this process are known as expectorantsand anticatarrhals. Herbs which are soothing to the lung tissue are known as demulcents; and the most demulcent herb known is the Marshmallow Root. The soothing effect of Marshmallow Root will help abate the coughing. Licorice also has an anti-inflammatory effect. This means that it will have beneficial effect in the treatment of both infections and allergic-type coughs including the cough of asthma. Immune stimulants should always be part of the protocol for treating coughs whether they are due to infection or to allergic problems.
Urter til luftvejene
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) fennikel Fennel is generally known as an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy which relieves flatulence and colic whilst stimulating the digestion and appetite. It is especially effective in relieving cramps, colic and flatulence in children and infants. However, it also has a calming effect on coughs and bronchitis. Fennel oil is useful as a steam inhalation for bronchitis. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) lægestokrose Marshmallow has a high mucilage content, which makes it an excellent demulcent. Thus it is very soothing in irritating coughs, bronchitis and respiratory catarrh and it reduces the spasms of asthma and whooping cough. Marshmallow works best in cough syrups as a glycerol extract, as glycerol is the most ideal way of extracting the mucilaginous properties of the root. The demulcent (soothing) properties of Marshmallow are also effective in soothing irritation in the digestive system and the urinary system. White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) alm. kransburre This herb has been used as a cough remedy from the time of the Egyptians to the present day. The herb is still included in the Austrian and Hungarian pharmacopoeias as an expectorant, and it remains a popular domestic and folk medicine. Wherever European emigrants have travelled they have taken this plant and grown it in in their herb gardens. The generic name, Marrubium was first used
by Pliny and refers to the bitter taste; the common name is derived from the old English har hune meaning a downy plant. The active constituents include tannins, volatile oil, comprising marrubiol, mucilage, resin, sterols, a bitter priniciple, marrubin, and vitamin C. White Horehound is useful for many respiratory disorders, but specifically in bronchitis, respiratory catarrh and coughs. It is especially indicated in non-productive (dry) coughs. This herb works well in combination with Licorice, Elecampane and Mullein to soothe and promote expectoration. White Horehound is also beneficial to help promote appetite and improve digestive function by increasing the flow of saliva and gastric juice. Elecampane (Inula helenium) læge alant Elecampane was commonly used both by the early Anglo-Saxons and Celts as well as by the Greeks and Romans. It is still employed in folk medicine as a favourite constituent of cough remedies and has always been popular both as a medicine and a condiment. It is also employed as an ingredient in some wines and liqueurs in Europe. Its use as a flavouring in sweets continued until the 1920s, and it was traditionally cultivated in herb gardens. The herb was also known as Scabwort due to its traditional use in the treatment of skin diseases. Elecampane is well indicated in bronchitis, coughs and catarrh. It promotes the active elimination of mucous from the lungs, while at the same time providing a soothing effect to the respiratory membranes, due to its mucilage content. It also has an antiseptic effect. It has a relaxing effect and so is further indicated where there is an anxious component to the cough. In addition to using herbs as medicines for the cough, food medicines can be beneficial. Such foods as Garlic, Ginger, Onion and Honey if included in the diet, will have an antiseptic, immune and circulatory stimulant effect.
The School-age Child
By the age of three or four most children are beginning to spend more time with other youngsters. While this is generally seen as a positive for social interaction, it can be a setback in terms of health for two reasons. Firstly the child will be exposed to many more pathogens, and it may take some time for her or his immune system to adapt. Secondly other children may be allowed less healthy food choices, which naturally your child will wish to experience, at least occasionally. For optimal health and growth the child’s diet needs to be quite varied, with adequate intake of good quality protein, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide sufficient vitamins and minerals.
While we would all like to believe that children can be adequately nourished from the food we give them, there are times in children’s lives when this may not always be the case! Some children seem to be naturally poor or ‘picky’ eaters, and even when presented with the healthiest foods possible, may simply refuse to eat them. For such children a combination of digestive and nutritive tonics can be of great value. Digestive tonics will, over time improve appetite and absorption, but during this time nutritional herbs and vitamins and minerals as a supplement may be required. Giving herbs known as bitters or bitter tonics has long been known to stimulate appetite and improve digestion. In fact the ritual of the aperitif or such drinks as Angostura Bitters work on just this principle; taken before meals, they contain herbs which assist both appetite and digestion. In herbal medicine, tonics can be nutritive, helping to compensate for poor eating habits or malabsorption. Some herbs will also act as appetite stimulants, encouraging the child to eat a wide variety of more nutritious foods. Herbs such as Withania and Nettles improve iron status. Withania is also an excellent general tonic herb for children supporting adrenal function and improving absorption of foods, thereby improving nutritional status. onvalescence after an acute illness is another time when tonics can be of utmost benefit. Giving herbs and/or vitamins however will not replace the necessity for good fresh foods. The quality of the diet effects not only a child’s energy levels, but also their immune function, their growth, their mental capacity and nervous system function.
Gentian (Gentiana lutea) gul ensian
A bitter tonic which improves appetite and absorption of nutrients
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) kvan
A warming bitter tonic which will improve appetite and also ease colicky pain
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) kamille
A gentle digestive tonic, it helps to increase appetite as well as relieve diarrhoea, wind and irritable bowel symptoms.
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) alm.agermåne
Agrimony is useful in diarrhoea, especially in children and also helps to promote appetite
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) ingefær
It has a calming effect on the digestive system and is useful for nausea, colic and wind, as well as stimulating appetite
Withania (Withania somnifera)Verdens bedste børneurt – gjort ulovlig af fødevareministeriet!
This is a useful herb for children who are underweight and failing to thrive, it helps to stimulate appetite and improve absorption of nutrients.
Acute illness in Children
Although the illness may be self-limiting, the process of fighting the illness may leave the child’s immune system in a weakened state making the child susceptible to further illness. Herbs can make the child more comfortable during the illness, to assist their immune system in overcoming the illness, and also to support their convalescence with tonic and immune-enhancing herbs to promote a speedy recovery, and lessen the likelihood of subsequent ill- health.
Management of Fever
Often one of the most distressing or uncomfortable aspects of illness in children is fever. The role of fever is to raise the temperature of the body sufficiently to kill or disable the virus or bacteria. Therefore suppressing the fever can actually prolong the illness. Many people feel that fever represents the danger of febrile convulsions. In the very young child, the immature brain reacts more readily to increased temperature, causing what is referred to as a lowered convulsion threshold. However even given this lowered threshold, statistically, convulsions only occur in approximately one percentage of children with fever. In the Australian Paediatric Review Professor Frank Shann of the ICU, Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne states that: ” Paracetamol should almost never be used to treat a fever. Fever is a beneficial response to acute infection, and antipyretics increase the morbidity and mortality of infections, prolong illness and reduce the antibody response. Paracetamol does not prevent febrile convulsions”. If however, fever is accompanied by listlessness, severe neck or head pain and/or stiffness, the child should be seen immediately by a physician. None of this suggests that we do not treat the child with an acute fever. The fever can be assisted in its action by the use of herbs known as diaphoretics. Diaphoretic herbs will reduce a fever, not by suppressing it, but by promoting perspiration and the elimination of toxins through the skin via the sweat glands. I frequently use a warm tea comprising Yarrow, Elder, Peppermint and Ginger sweetened with a little honey. This, if given frequently as a warm tea will generally quite quickly “break” the fever by promoting perspiration. Another herb renowned as a diaphoretic is Eupatorium or Boneset which can also be used as a warm tea. Secondly, the immune system can be assisted with herbs such as Echinacea, and vitamins and minerals (specifically ascorbic acid and zinc).
Antibiotics – Panacea or Pandora’s Box
No-one would dispute that antibiotics, with their ability to overwhelm bacterial infections, have saved lives and prevented many a serious consequence of diseases. As is so often the case however, many physicians have tended to use antibiotics as a panacea, prescribing them frequently, and in many cases where lesser measures would be adequate. We now see this as a problem, because although life-saving in certain circumstances, antibiotics are not entirely benign, and present several negative effects, particularly with frequent or long-term use. The gastro-intestinal tract contains bacteria that are actually beneficial to our health. These bacteria, among other things actually help produce certain vitamins and play an integral role in the bioactivation of many biological compounds. Antibiotics not only overwhelm pathogenic bacteria, but also these probiotics in the gut, creating an imbalance that can lead to yeast overgrowth, including thrush, diarrhoea, malabsorption and potential vitamin and mineral deficiency. Secondly antibiotics present a simplistic method of overwhelming bacteria, whereas immune-enhancing herbs or simply a very efficient immune system will overwhelm bacteria through several mechanisms. Herbs such as Echinacea, by enhancing non-specific immunity, are effective against both bacterial and viral infections and increase long-term immune health. More recently there has been media attention on certain strains of bacteria that are actually resistant to antibiotic treatment. Many of these bacteria are of a particularly virulent strain, and potentially present an enormous health risk. As antibiotics continue to be overused these resistant strains of bacteria are likely to become more prevalent. Professor Chris Del Mar1-6 and his associates from Queensland University have recently brought into question the overuse of antibiotics, particularly in the treatment of infections commonly experienced by children – specifically sore throat and ear infections. Reviewing published research, Del Mar and his colleagues found that in the treatment of sore throats, including conditions diagnosed as pharyngitis and tonsillitis, that the use of antibiotics reduced the duration of symptoms by an average of only eight hours over 3 1/2 days. For children given placebo, the symptoms were improved in 50% of patients after 3 1/2 days and in 90% of cases after one week. When antibiotic therapy was used 50% of patients improved after 3 days and 90% after one week. Some doctors claim to use antibiotics as a prophylactic against secondary infections – namely rheumatic fever or acute glomerulonephritis. However the incidence of these diseases in developed countries is so rare these days that such prophylaxis is not warranted. Using herbal treatment, both for the acute symptoms and for immune support would further decrease any risk of secondary infection. In fact, with herbal treatment we would expect to see most sore throats resolve quickly and without complications. Studying children with acute otitis media (middle ear infections), Del Mar found similar patterns. Within twenty four hours 60% of all children, whether they had had medication or not had relief from pain. After 6-7 days 80% of untreated children were free from pain, and 90% of children who had been given antibiotics were pain-free. Statistically then, for one child to benefit from antibiotics 20 children may be unnecessarily treated! Given that antibiotics are not free from side-effects, (and that most herbal medications are), makes herbal treatment of not only sore throats and middle-ear infections, but other infectious illnesses a worthwhile option. A child who suffers chronic or recurrent ear infections or pain may be suffering with food intolerances which can create narrowing of the eustachian tube due to inflammatory processes. These children should also be given long-term immune support, especially during the winter months. As for all immune problems, Echinacea would always be the first choice and can be safely taken regularly for long periods of time.
During an acute attack of ear-ache, a few simple measures may help manage the pain:
Warm oil: either plain olive or almond oil or herb oils such as Mullein, Calendula or Hypericum are very soothing if drops are put in the ear. Do not use anything directly in the ear, if the eardrum has perforated. Sitting the child upright will assist in draining blocked eustachian tubes.
Most children will find a hot-water bottle or warm towel soothing if placed next to the ear.
For the acute infection, Echinacea can be given frequently (every 2 hours), and herbs such as Golden Rod, Eyebright, Licorice and Golden Seal can be given 3-4 times daily. This combined with long-term treatment will resolve most attacks.
1. Del Mar C Managing viral upper respiratory infections Aust Fam Physician 1991 20-5:557-561
2. Del Mar C Managing sore throat: a literature review. I. Making the diagnosis? Med J Aust 1992 156(8):572-575 3. Del Mar C Managing sore throat: a literature review. II. Do antibiotics confer benefits? Med J Aust 1992
4;156(9):644-649 4. Del M C Antibiotics for sore throats. Patient and doctor should reach decision together BMJ 1995 7;310(6971):58
5. Del Mar C, Glasziou P, Hayem M Are antibiotics indicated as initial treatment for children with acute otitis media? A meta- analysis BMJ 1997 24;314(7093):1526-1529
6. Del Mar C, Glasziou P Acute otitis media in children. Are antibiotics always appropriate? Aust Fam Physician 1998 27(1-2):83-86