Flu season is coming in full force and with kiddos sharing germs at, what seems like, every opportunity possible, it might feel inevitable that they will get sick. But you can choose the right herbs and supplements to help keep your family healthy! By starting your little ones on a healthy regimen, you can help prevent the bug from hitting your family by keeping their immune system strong – during flu season and throughout the whole year. It’s important to focus on a healthy, plant-filled diet, a balanced sleep schedule, and herbal supplements.
I have parents reach out to me frequently because they need to know what supplements are recommended for children that are actually beneficial and, most importantly, what to look for (and look out for) when making decisions on what to buy. I let them know that the source of the supplements they buy is very important, especially for children, because their bodies are rapidly growing and developing.
I first recommend that you choose reputable brands that provide due diligence, such as testing for purity (and consult a health care professional if you have any questions or concerns). Second, pinpoint what your child will benefit from and keep it minimal.
Here are my eight go-to herbs/supplements that are both kid and parent friendly, from a traditional herbal medicine sense and evidence-based perspective:
1. Innate Response Vitamin C Powder
I highly recommend giving your little one a healthy dose of this Vitamin C powder at the first sign of a sniffle. Innate Response is one of my favorite supplement brands right now because it is entirely food based. This means that the absorption rate is higher for most people.
The common drugstore Vitamin C powders often contain concerning ingredients like ‘natural flavors,’ which can really mean anything, and sugar. This Vitamin C powder is a much healthier choice.
How to use: it is a yummy, fruity powder so mix a scoop with 8 oz of water or your kids’ favorite beverage.
2. Certified Organic Mary Ruth’s Liquid Multi and Mineral, Liquid Probiotic and Vitamin D Gummy
A daily probiotic is a standard recommendation in my practice. A proper balance of probiotics will support healthy digestive function, help to ensure that nutrients are being properly absorbed, and a healthy gut ensures a healthy immune system. In addition to being USDA organic, vegan, gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, and soy free Mary Ruth’s products is a great probiotic for children because it’s liquid, odorless, and tasteless, so you will have absolutely no complaints with this one!
Mary Ruth’s also makes flavored liquid multi-vitamin (morning) and a liquid multimineral (evening) that are easy for the whole family to take. Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and the Mary Ruth’s vitamin D gummy is easy to take.
How to use: Follow dosage instructions on the bottle. Take the multi in the morning, the mineral in the evening, and the probiotic on an empty stomach.
3. Ultima Replinisher Hydrating Powder
A high quality hydrating power is absolutely essential to keep kids fully hydrated and energized, especially during a time where their immune systems may be compromised. But can we all agree that those drugstore electrolyte drinks should be avoided at all costs?! Corn syrup should never be an ingredient we give to our dehydrated kids, and it is one of the main ones in most electrolyte drinks!
I love Ultima Replenisher because in addition to Potassium it also provides: Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Selenium, Phosphorus and Zinc. All 6 electrolytes are present and balanced in Ultima and there are no artificial colors or flavors added. Ultima makes several flavor options and variety packs to make it easy for you
How to use: This is a great one to keep around for making sports drinks, during times of sickness, or anytime you or your kiddos need to hydrate.
4. Black elderberry – Gaia is a good brand
Black elderberry is a long-established tonic for immune support. It is the perfect herb for both prevention and quick action. Research suggests that it can improve flu symptoms in just two days!
Kids who always have a runny nose and cough—and perhaps allergies and tummy issues—might also benefit from several weeks of black elderberry syrup.
How to use: Syrup can be given straight off a spoon or mixed in juice. Use once a day for immune support and three to four times a day for the flu.
Note: While some species of elderberry are known to be toxic, commercially available products that specify “Black Elderberry” are suitable for consumption.
5. Echinacea – Herb Pharm Orange Flavor For Kids Alcohol Free
The immune-supporting herb Echinacea helps fight a cold and supports ongoing immune function. Research suggests that Echinacea can cut down on frequent sniffles, earaches, and other respiratory illnesses.
How to use: During cold and flu season, take once daily for general immune support or several times during the day at the first signs of a cold. Moms and dads: pack it in your carry-on bag, too. Taking Echinacea before and during your flight may prevent travel-related respiratory symptoms
6. Chamomile – Nature’s Answer Alcohol Free or Traditional Medicinal Tea
The tummy ache remedy made famous in Peter Rabbit is also a popular herb for children. Chamomile flowers and essential oil have a pleasant taste, so their tea is particularly nice before bed to relax a child’s body, mind, and spirit. Side note: chamomile tea is also a soothing mouthwash for inflamed gums and canker sores from braces or teething.
Clinical studies suggest that chamomile could benefit symptoms of sleep disorders, anxiety, and stress-related dermatitis.
How to use: Urge your little ones to drink 1 cup in the evening to induce deep, restful sleep. Diffuse 5 drops of essential oil to calm and uplift an irritable or cranky child.
Caution: Avoid if a child has a hypersensitivity to the Aster family or daisy family.
7. Lemon balm – Herb Pharm For Kids Alcohol Free or Traditional Medicinal Tea
Lemon balm is one of the most uplifting and calming plants I know. Kids tend to love its zesty lemon aroma and diffusing it can aid sleep, calm restlessness, and improve mood. Lemon balm has long been used for kids’ digestive ailments, sleep issues, fever, and colic.
In modern-day herbal medicine, this herb is also commonly used to calm restlessness and hyperactivity; reduce mild anxiety, nervousness, or agitation; and improve cognitive function and focus. Scientific research on lemon balm has upheld traditional use for cognition and mood.
How to use: Think of lemon balm as a soothing lullaby. Drink one cup nightly, or add to a child’s bath (it will calm and relax you both).
8. Ginger – Nature’s Answer Ginger Alcohol Free Tincture or tea or Traditional Medicinal Tea
There is a reason that ginger ale is the go-to for tummy trouble. Ginger has a long history of use in alleviating nausea and vomiting. The root’s volatile oils are responsible for ginger’s pungent odor and taste as well as the medicinal qualities.
Modern research has supported its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it has been found to help motion sickness. Warm, pungent ginger is a perfect herb for upset tummies or bugs that include nausea and vomiting. For motion sickness, try a dose of ginger 30 minutes before getting in the car.
How to use: Add ginger to baked goods or drinks, or slowly sip as a tea when nausea is present. Alcohol-free syrups or tinctures can be served in 1 to 2 ounces of water or juice.