Herbal medicine in paediatric practice
While many herbal medicines are not suitable for use with children, as herbalists we do have at our disposal some simple, safe and effective medicines for use in childhood illnesses. Based on many years of practising herbal medicine, my favourite five herbs for children are discussed in the context of paediatric practice. These preparations are easy to make and administer: they also have the benefit of good compliance.
After school I trained as a nurse and then studied western herbal medicine for four years, qualifying in 1992. While running my family-oriented practice, I studied Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. I regularly see 20+ patients a week at my practice in Chandlers Ford in Hampshire. I have a longstanding interest in first aid and lead a herbal medicine first aid and acute clinic at several child-friendly events – a great place for paediatric clinical experience.
Children respond well to herbs. They don’t have to be strong herbs, nor do you need large amount of them. The herbs described here are all easily accessible, easily applied and with high child compliance. They are ubiquitous and simple but for more complex situations professional help should be sought. Qualified herbalists have a great deal to offer with a greater range of herbs and the ability to prescribe individualised preparations. This article is based on my own personal clinical experiences of treating children.
The spelling of the common name is interchangeable, both with an ‘h’ and without. The spelling depends on the origin of the word that you choose to use.
Chamomile grows throughout Europe. In the wild it can often be mistaken for scentless mayweed by the untrained eye. They look quite similar but scentless mayweed has no scent.
Crush the flower head to be sure – chamomile has a very distinct smell. Harvest the flower heads on a warm sunny day from June to August.