Top 5 Medicinal Herbs for Childhood Ailments

Children are constantly getting ill as they grow up. Parents want safe and effective relief from common childhood ailments that don’t pose the risk of a lot of side effects. Here are 5 top medicinal herbs for childhood health complaints.


This is effective for upper respiratory issues like colds and flu, reliving the common symptoms and speeding recovery. It is also good for cuts, scrapes and other common accident-related injuries.

Echinacea is generally safe for children from 2 to 11 years of age, but about 7% of them may develop a rash as a result of internal or external use.

Slippery elm

Children often get sore throats from colds, flu, strep throat, tonsillitis and more. Slippery elm can work wonders with few side effects. The inner bark of the elm tree is used. It is powdered and liquid is added when it is to be used. It forms a thick tea that coats the throat and soothes it. It can be drunk hot as a tea. It is also available in powdered form that will mix well with children’s juices.


Ginger is tasty and great for all forms of upset stomach. Children usually love the zesty taste in gingerbread, or candied ginger. (Wash off the sugar coating before giving it for medicinal purposes.) It relieves stomach upset and stimulates appetite.

Ginger root tea will reduce fever. It is also a good topical treatment for cuts and scrapes. It is generally safe except for those with diabetes or bleeding disorders.


Mullein is like a medicine cabinet for children. It is uses for a wide range of childhood illnesses, including whooping cough, croup, colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throat and migraines.

But its most effective documented use is against ear infections in children, which can be an excruciating and frequent problem that leaves many children screaming in pain and their parents desperate for relief.

Mullein can be used in the ear safely for up to three days. There are various over the counter remedies available that contain other herbs which may help.


Do you have a child who never seems to listen? Or who seems to be run by a motor, barely stopping throughout the day? Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been on the rise in the last 2 decades. The prescription drugs available to treat it have significant side effects. Therefore, an interest in natural remedies for these conditions has grown.

Rhodiola rosea has been shown to lessen symptoms in a similar manner to Ritalin and Adderall. Rhodiola rosea can be bought as tablets, capsules, or liquid for younger children. With more than 400 clinical studies related to the herb and literature about it dating back as far as the Ancient Greeks, parents can be assured it is safe and effective. There are no reported side effects in children.

It improves mental and physical function, and also elevates mood.

Sourcing Herbs – Where & How Herbs are Grown Matters

When it comes to using herbs for medicinal purposes, the most important thing to consider is where and how they are grown. Organic is best, so you can get all the power and potency of the herb with no pesticides or other chemical compounds.

Grow them yourself

You can of course grow them yourself. Small window boxes are suitable for an apartment. If you have a garden, you can grow an array of fresh herbs you can use any time you wish.

Source them locally

If you don’t have a green thumb, consider buying them at a local farmer’s market. Chances are they are being grown organically (but do ask) and will also be a lot fresher than anything you can get in a supermarket.

When choosing the herbs, make sure they do not look yellow, curly or wilted. Know before you go by looking up pictures of the herbs you want to buy so you can see what they look like fresh.

Check the smell. It should be lively and fresh. Take a taste. If it is full-flavored, it should be fresh.

Source them online

There are a number of companies that sell organic herbs and botanicals in bulk online at reasonable prices. They will often sell them in different weights of packages as well, so you can buy exactly what you need as freshly as possible.

Starwest Botanicals, based in Sacramento, California, has been selling high-quality organic herbs since 1975. You can buy their herbs directly at:

or through Amazon.

The Frontier Co-op, based in Norway, Iowa, has been in business since 1976 and sells herbs and botanicals in bulk. The co-op also sells the Aura Cacia line of pure essential oils. You can buy directly through their site:

or via Amazon:

Essential oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated oils made from plants and botanicals in order to capture the “essence” or healing effects of the item. While essential oils are usually used in aromatherapy and simply inhaled, some are applied to the skin, and some are also eaten. This being the case, it’s best to look for an organic oil which is edible-grade and kosher, in order to ensure you are getting the highest quality product.

Reading labels

When you’re in a health food store considering the dazzling array of products available, a few items of information can help you narrow down your choices. Look for the word organic, and/or a logo that says USDA certified organic. Check the date on the bottle. How far forward is the use by date? Finally, look at the country of origin. Try to source your herbs from the US, Canada and the European Union, rather than China.

Follow these simple guidelines and you should be able to source safe, healthy herbs.

Solar & Lunar Infusions

Solar and lunar infusions are believed to harness the power of the sun and the moon to boost the potency of one’s herbal remedies. It can often mean picking the herbs at certain times of the month and then creating medicine from them.

What are infusions?

An infusion is a large amount of an herb or combination of herbs which is steeped in water for a long time. The ratio is 1 cup of dried herbs to about ounces of boiling water, with the infusion steeped in a glass one-quart jar with a lid. For some infusions, the lid will be put on. For others, it will be left off. The infusion will usually be steeped for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Choosing your herbs

Choose herbs you like and use a lot of. Also choose ones you know are effective, because you want to boost their power even more.

Check your calendar

Go to and check the Sun and Moon tab. Add your location so you will get the exact times for starting your infusions.

Find a suitable location

You will need a suitable location for your jar/s so they will be exposed directly to sunlight or moonlight for at least several hours as the herbs infuse. You may have to find a couple of spots that will work well as the sun or moon transit across the sky.

Solar Infusion

For a solar infusion, let it sit in direct sunlight with the jar lid on for at least 4 hours, if not all day. Strain into a clean jar using a wire mesh filter and/or coffee filter, put the lid on, and use as needed for your herbal healing. Compost the used herbs you’ve strained out of the infusion.

Lunar Infusion

For a lunar infusion, let it sit in full moonlight with the jar lid off all night.

Or, let is sit all night under a dark new moon. Strain into a clean jar, put the lid on, and use as needed for your herbal healing.

To keep insects and pollutants away, you might with to cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Make sure it will not get rained on.

Doing both together

For really powerful infusions, consider doing both together. Start at sunrise and allow the infusion to sit all day and into the night, ensuring it is exposed to the moonlight as well, or the elements in a dark new moon.

Herbs to try

Common infusions with many purposes include:

  • Nettle
  • Yarrow
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile

The resulting infusions should be super potent, medicinal and healing. Be sure to label your jars to make sure you don’t mix up your powerful potions for health and healing.

Preparing and Preserving Medicinal Herbs

Preparing and preserving medicinal herbs is easy once you know how. It depends on the herb and what you are going to be using it for. Some herbal medicines come from flowers, others from roots, stems, leaves, and so on.

Collecting Medicinal Plants

The first step is in knowing what you want and whether it grows in your area. This map can help if you are in the United States.

Know what the plant look like so you can harvest it. Some photos from Google Images can help. Some can look very similar without a good picture to match it. Don’t pick within at least 1 mile of a highway, due to lead contamination from car exhaust fumes. Look for areas where the herb grows abundantly, which will suggest good soil. Pick around mid-morning, so the herbs are not soaked with dew, which can make them go moldy.

Take only the parts you need. If you need leaves, choose tender, unwilted ones. Avoid flowers that are losing their petals, because they will already be past their prime. If you need bark, cut small branches from the tree and then strip them. You don’t want to run the risk of ruining the whole tree with poor de-barking.

Put your herbs in small cotton or muslin bags. Keep separate to avoid confusion. Try not to crush your herbs on the way home.


As soon as you get home, dry your herbs to store them. The fast method is indoor oven drying. The slower method is outdoor frame drying.

In the oven, you can dry herbs in a matter of 1 hour that would take up to 6 weeks to dry on a frame. Spread out the herbs one baking trays so they do not overlap. Cover the trays with aluminum foil, reflective side down. Pinch the foil around the edges of the tray, leaving a small vent in one corner to let moisture escape.

Place the tray into the oven and set the temperature to 150°F. Bae 15 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and turn the herbs over to ensure that the moisture is drawn out evenly from all sides of the plant. Re-cover and bake another 15 minutes. Do not allow plants to burn to a dark brown or black color or all potency will be lost. Test the herbs after 30 minutes and 45 minutes. If the leaves or other botanicals crumble in your hand without powdering, and it is a similar color to the original, it is fully dried.

The disadvantages of this method are that many people cook the herbs, not dry them, and they lose about 1/3 to 1/2 of their potency.

Frame Drying

With frame drying, the herbs lose about 1/4 of their potency, but it takes weeks and you need the space. You need a wooden frame and will have to turn the herbs over every day. If any of the herbs are really damp, they can make a whole batch go moldy.


Once they are dried, they should be stored in a dry container in a cool, dry place for use in various forms of remedies.

Herbal Remedies for Lowering Cholesterol Naturally

High cholesterol has been linked with heart attacks and strokes. Blood serum cholesterol levels are 25% what you eat, and 75% what you produce within your own body. Some people produce a lot more than others, so regulating their cholesterol through whatever means possible is one way for them to stay healthy as they age.

Many people with high cholesterol are put on statin drugs. However, these are known to have numerous side effects, and have been linked with the growing number of cases of type 2 diabetes in the US.

Fortunately, there are several natural, safe and effective herbs that can help lower cholesterol.

Garlic and onions

These tasty allium vegetables give a strong flavor to soups, stews and other dishes. They also cleanse the blood and improve circulation. They are generally safe, but garlic should not be used by anyone with digestive or bleeding disorders. Onion should be avoided by anyone with a bleeding disorder or diabetes.


Skullcap is used for a wide range of medical conditions, but it is particularly used for lowering cholesterol and combatting hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Research has shown that it reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and boosts the production of HDL (good) cholesterol. It is also used to help in recovery after a stroke.

Be careful of skullcap if you are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to have surgery.

Indian Gooseberry

Indian gooseberry has been used for years by Ayurvedic and TCM practitioners to help keep arteries clear of cholesterol. It is also useful for many other health conditions, making it a cornerstone of an herbal medicine cabinet. However, it should be avoided by those with diabetes, bleeding disorders, or liver problems.

Guggul, or Gugulipid

This resin has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to lower cholesterol. It also prevents bad LDL cholesterol from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Many herbalists claim it works just as effectively as statin drugs, but without the common negative side effects.

It is generally safe; however, if you have bleeding disorders, hormone-related cancers, or thyroid issues, you should avoid guggul.


Hawthorn is a common tree all over the Northern Hemisphere that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of heart health problems, including blood pressure issues, high cholesterol, and congestive heart failure. It improves circulation and cleanses the blood.

It has powerful phytochemicals in it, however, so it should only be used under a doctor’s supervision if you are already taking heart medications.

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is used in TCM and throughout Asia instead of statin drugs to lower cholesterol significantly. As the name suggests, it is a combination of yeast and rice that has been fermented. It has been shown as highly effective and can also help with aches, pains and fatigue.

However, because it is so powerful, people under 20, and anyone with liver, kidney or thyroid issues should not take it. If you produce a lot of cholesterol naturally, however, it would be worth considering adding to your self-care routine strategically and then seeing how low your numbers can go.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep With These Herbal Teas

Many people have trouble falling asleep at night and want safe, effective relief from their problem. Most commercial sleeping pills make them feel sluggish the next day, and offer other unpleasant side effects.

A hot drink before bedtime can often calm and soothe (though it can also sometimes make you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom). Certain herbal teas are noted for their calming effects that aid in getting a restful night’s sleep. Here are a few of the best herbs to try.


Chamomile tea will always leave you feeling calm and restful, making it one of the most useful herbs you can use throughout the day to deal with stress, and use at night in order to make you relaxed enough to sleep. Chamomile is also good as a skin wash and wound cleanser, leaving you healthier inside and out. There are many commercial brands of chamomile tea bags available, or you can use a small quantity of dried flowers and strain them.

It is generally safe, but those with a ragweed allergy might wish to avoid it.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, so it soothes in general and calms digestion in particular. It reduces stress and anxiety, leaving you in a state of mind that is more receptive to sleep. You can add it to chamomile to enhance its sleep-giving properties and vary the taste.

It has also been used to treat people with Alzheimer’s, anxiety and ADHD.

It is generally safe, but start slowly and watch out for nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dizziness.

Valerian Root Tea

This is one of the most effective herbal teas you can use. Valerian is commonly prescribed as a sedative and sleep aid that can relieve anxiety and help with insomnia.

It is also used for pain relief and chronic fatigue. Some people also use it to relieve the hyperactivity in Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Because it slows down responses and has a calming effect, do not operate heavy machinery after taking it, and be aware that it can affect anesthesia levels if you have surgery.

Vervain (Verbena)

Vervain is used in for mood disorders ranging from depression to irritability. It can be drunk as a tea several times a day, and used at night as a sleep aid. It also offers pain relief, which can help people fall asleep more easily. It is generally considered safe for all except pregnant women—some cases of miscarriage have been reported.


Lavender is prescribed by many natural health professionals for mood disorders and feeling “on edge.” It calms nervousness and restlessness and can help with migraine and insomnia.

Lavender can be used as an essential oil in aromatherapy. Many people like to sleep with a pillow stuffed with dried lavender flowers as a relaxation and sleep aid.

It is generally safe, but anyone planning to have surgery should stop using lavender about 2 weeks before their procedure.

Differences Between Conventional and Herbal Medicine

Conventional medicine is the usual term for modern Western medicine. It often relies on over the counter or prescription drugs in order to relieve symptoms.

Herbal medicine, as the name suggests, relies on herbs to relieve symptoms.

Many conventional medical practitioners look down on herbalism as myth or “old wives’ tales,” but the truth is that herbs and botanicals are the source of more than 70% of the drugs used in conventional medicine, with even more on the way in the drug development pipeline.

A history of herbalism

Native American herbalism was also passed down orally. There is a growing appreciation of it as more research is conducted as to the effectiveness of various plants in treating illness.

Key differences

Conventional medicine usually treats the symptoms. Herbal medicine, on the other hand, is holistic, and looks at the whole patient. It also tends to try to prevent illness from happening in the first place.

Herbs can be used on their own, or with other treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, acupressure and more.

Herbalism is a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This means it can be used in addition to conventional medicine, or as an alternative.

Herbalism tends to be cheaper than many prescription drugs. In some cases, it might be even more effective. A good example would be natural antibiotics such as oregano, garlic, or turmeric kill harmful bacteria while preserving one’s healthy bacteria in the gut. They can even kill off conventional antibiotic-resistant superbugs like MRSA.

They can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol safely with fewer risks of side effects.

A lot of conventional medical practitioners claim herbalism is “unproven,” but this is not the case. Many have been researched systematically, and at least 70% of all drugs come from natural botanicals. They also tend to have fewer side effects in their natural form.

Herbs are easy to use and generally safe. Use a good database such as: to look up uses, side effects and doses, and see how herbalism can help you feel your best.

Container Gardening – Herb Gardening Simplified

Many people love the taste of fresh herbs. Many others love herbal remedies, teas and so on. Most herb-lovers long to grow their own. But what if they live in an apartment? In that case, container gardening is the perfect solution.

Healthy herbs anywhere

You can grow herbs anywhere in your home with a bit of forward planning. The basics you will need are:

  • A container, preferably a 24 inch-diameter pot
  • Soil
  • Water
  • Sunlight

You might also like a window box or a hanging basket, as long as it is easy for the plants to get sun and for you to water them. The plants will grow best in rooms with a southern or a western exposure. Some people will supplement the sunlight with grow lamps or fluorescent lamps, especially during the short days of winter.

Setting up the pots

Herbs grow wild all over the world, in even the harshest conditions. All they really need is a well-drained soil that is not too rich.

To help with drainage, line the bottom of each pot with an inch of gravel.

You will also need coarse sand or perlite to mix into the soil at a ratio of 2 parts soil, 1 part mix. Add 1 tablespoon of lime (handle carefully). Mix well and fill the pot to about 1-1/2 inches from the top. Plant your herbs. Label the pots so you don’t forget. Be sure to read the instructions on the seed packets. You might wish to tape them to the pots so you always have them handy.

Watering the herbs

Don’t drown them. You need to avoid getting the roots of the herbs drenched or soggy. Using a mister will help maintain the kind of moist conditions they would find in nature.

Harvesting the herbs

Harvest them regularly to keep enjoying the benefits of herbs, and to keep them growing.

Fertilize the herbs

Use some fertilizer from time to time to help your herbs flourish. Choose a brand that is suitable for edible plants, such as: Dr Earth

What to grow?

This is obviously a matter of taste and need, but some herbs really thrive even in a container. Here are a few suggestions.


This is a staple in Italian and Mexican cooking. It is great in soups, stews and sauces. Oregano has antibacterial properties and is great for upper respiratory issues.


Basil is a staple of Italian and Thai food. It is the main ingredient in the green Italian sauce pesto, which you can make at home with garlic, olive oil and pine nuts and poor over pasta. It aids in digestion and cleanses the blood.


Curly and flat-leafed parsley can be used as a garnish or flavor enhancer in a variety of dishes. It is used for a wide variety of medical conditions, including stomach issues, high blood pressure and urinary tract infections.

Head to your local nursery to get your container gardening supplies and see how easy it is to grow your own herbs for health.