Help Your Kids Thrive
By Mark Stengler, ND
Dump the Ritalin and discover natural alternatives to drugs for kids’ colds and flu, eczema, and ADHD.

Your kids are back in school and you want them to not only do well in class, but to stay healthy. Nutritional and holistic therapies work very well with children when used correctly. This article covers three common conditions that occur in kids, and the natural remedies that I use in my practice.

Knock Out Colds and Flu
To prevent or shorten the course of a cold or flu (each are caused by a virus and are unresponsive to antibiotics), use herbal teas such as ginger and peppermint. Chicken soup and broths containing ginger, onions, and garlic help to drain the sinuses. Avoid simple sugars found in soda, white bread, white pasta, and candy, all of which tend to suppress immunity. Also limit dairy products, which can increase mucus. For nasal congestion, use a humidifier and make sure your child gets at least eight hours of sleep a night. Supplements that fight cold and flu viruses include the following:

  • Echinacea—A review published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases found echinacea effectively decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58 percent and the duration of a cold by 1.4 days. Give your child 10 to 15 drops three times daily for a week when exposed to those with a cold or flu. You can easily find kid-friendly versions that are free of alcohol, including flavored liquid and gummy candy versions.
  • Zinc lozenges—Zinc acetate, gluconate, or gluconate-glycine lozenges have been shown to reduce duration of common cold. Give 9 to 15 mg three times daily for up to five days.
  • Astragalus—is an herb I have long recommended for the prevention of the common cold and flu in children. It strengthens the immune system safely. Give 15 drops of astragalus tincture or liquid extract twice daily during the fall and winter seasons.

Ease Childhood Eczema
Approximately 15 percent of children have eczema, which is characterized by red, itchy lesions. My experience is that most kids with this condition have undiagnosed food sensitivities, the most common of which include gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains), citrus fruits, tomatoes, and soy- and/or cow’s milk. Try your child’s diet without each of these foods one at a time for two weeks to see if the skin starts to clear.
Helpful supplements for eczema (in children and adults) include the following:

  • Probiotics—A healthful balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract helps reverse eczema. A double-blind trial found a probiotic preparation containing 1 billion organisms of Lactobacillus fermentum, taken twice daily, reduced the severity of eczema in a group of young children with moderate to severe eczema.
  • Essential fatty acids—These healthful fats are also very important. Give your child fish oil (find a product that has a minimum of 500 mg of EPA and DHA combined) or flaxseed oil (2 to 3 teaspoons) daily. Reduce the dosage if their stool becomes loose. This approach works quite well but wait for at least four weeks to assess effectiveness. Nordic Naturals, Barlean’s, Carlson Labs, and Dr. Sears all make excellent EFA products for kids.
  • Chickweed cream—This little-known herb is the basis for a nontoxic alternative to steroidal and other commonly used pharmaceutical creams. Apply the cream two to three times daily to reduce itching and redness. It is available in health food stores. You can make your own chickweed preparation by mixing 2 drops of peppermint oil with 1 teaspoon of chickweed liquid extract. You can also add the liquid or powder (from capsules) to a bath to ease redness and inflammation.
  • Homeopathy—Homeopathic formulas designed for eczema or skin rashes can also help to clear up eczema. Use as directed on the label. Some effective options include Bach Rescue Remedy Cream.

Sharpen Focus and Memory
Many children—including those not diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—have problems with their focus and memory at school. Dietary improvements are vital for improving this condition. For example, a 2007 trial published in The Lancet found artificial food color and additives resulted in significantly more hyperactivity and shorter attention spans. Regular meals and snacks that are low in refined carbohydrates and include moderate amounts of protein (especially fish and eggs) balanced with whole foods are essential for proper brain function.
In addition to a children’s multivitamin, I recommend the following supplements:

  • Fish oil—This has been shown to improve memory and attention in children. Give a children’s fish oil supplement containing at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA daily.
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS)—This nutrient is a safe and effective brain nutrient for helping with memory, particularly those with ADHD. Take 200 to 300 mg daily.



Product Examples (from left)

Help protect your kids and boost their natural immunity with Irwin Kids Immuno-Zappers. These tasty jelly-yums contain elderberry, vitamin C, zinc, and quercetin to provide a formidable defense against nasty bugs.

Just ½ teaspoonful of Carlson for Kids Cod Liver Oil contains 550 to 625 mg of healthful omega-3s. And its great lemon flavor makes it easy to swallow.

Nature’s Way Primadophilus Kids Cherry Flavor Chewables is a three-strain probiotic formula is specially designed to promote healthy digestive flora in kids ages 2—12. Each chewable tablet guarantees 3 billion CFUs, including lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.Kids love its delicious, natural cherry flavor.

Natural Factors Learning Factors Daily Nutrient Boost with Pea Protein nourishes growing bodies and brains with a range of vitamins and minerals. And for each bottle of Learning Factors purchased, Natural Factors will donate one bottle of Learning Factors Balanced Omega-3 chewable softgels to Vitamin Angels. To learn more, go to vitaminangels.org.

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