Someone on a list I am part of posted an article from the New York Times about the dangers of cold medicines for young children and asked if there were alternative remedies for colds. I could not agree more about the dangers – we have been using alternative medicine for colds and flus since my children were born and they have never failed us. Here is my response…
My favorite herbal remedy is fenugreek tea for a flu with stomach issues. You can buy fenugreek at most natural food stores and any Indian or Arab Food market. You can also order it online. it looks like little yellow rocks. The kids love the taste. It is a bit maple-syrupy. You simmer it for 20 minutes on a low heat (1 tsp. herb per 1 cup of water) and then, when you serve it to the kids, add some honey and some milk of any kind (rice, soy, organic, etc..). It tastes delicious and it brings down a fever very gently, soothes the stomach and provides a lot of nutrition and balances blood sugar too.
For colds or flus with trouble breathing you can make tea from thyme leaves. It tastes delicious and it releases all that phlegm and opens up the lungs so quickly! For adults we use one cup twice a day. For 12-year-olds we use one half cup and for 6-year-olds a 1/4 cup and 3-years-olds 1/8 cup, etc….we just keep dividing in half.
My favorite remedy for colds with runny nose is elderberry tea. It tastes like juice if you don’t simmer it too long and if you put enough honey in it (or stevia). A lot of people mix this with peppermint and yarrow for the best effect but I find that that is too much “taste” for little ones usually. I usually make a syrup from it every winter and then when the kids are sick I give them a spoon or two. It is delicious! And it brings down the fever and stops a runny nose. I’m not even tempted to try cold medicine after discovering this.
30g of dried herb (1 ounce or 2 TBS.)
750ml of water boiled down to 500ml (3 cups boiled down to 2 cups)
1. Place the herbs in a stainless steel saucepan or glass pan
2. Add cold water
3. Bring herbs to a boil, then simmer for about 1 hour until volume is reduced by 1/3 and the water now measures about 500ml (you can approximate this and add more water later to bring it up to 500ml if you have to).
4. Strain herbs out through a muslin cloth to be able to squeeze all the juice out of them.
Portions: Same guidelines as above**
Make a quadruple strength decoction (Simmer down to 1/2 cup instead of two)
125ml (1/2 cup) of decoction (see above)
Add 125ml (1/2 cup) of honey or vegetable glycerine**and heat and stir together until honey is dissolved (5 minutes). Cool and store in a glass corked bottle in the refrigerator up to 3 months. Dose for adults is 2 TBS. 3 times a day. For children: 1-2 Tsp. 3 times a day (see hcp).
**vegetable glycerine can be found at pharmacies. Make sure it is the quality for consumption. This is a little better than honey to use so try to find some if you can. Although honey still is effective.