Like nutritional supplements, herbs are an effective option to help support immune health, stress and brain function in children. Learn specific recommendations for kid-friendly herbal supplements that can be used all year round. Dr. Mary Bove is a pediatric naturopathic physician, author and formulator of children’s herbal supplements with Gaia Herbs.
In addition to a multivitamin, herbs can be taken regularly to support a child’s overall health:
- Include an omega-3 supplement and a probiotic to support immune function, mucus membrane health and digestive wellness.
- Choose astragalus root for supporting the immune system and promoting gut membrane health. This may be taken as a tea, tincture or powder depending on the age and preference of the child.
- As a powder, ½ to 1 tsp may be added to foods such as smoothies, apple sauce, oatmeal or yogurt.
During allergy season, Dr. Bove recommends specific herbs that help provide relief for on-the-go children:
- To minimize allergy symptoms, start a child on some supplements a few weeks ahead of the season.
- Daily Vitamin C at 100 to 1000mg and mixed bioflavonoids at 100 to 500 mg depending on the child’s age, used along with herbal supplements including nettles, acai berry, fenugreek seed, eyebright, elder flowers, elder berry and licorice root can be helpful.
Herbs can be beneficial to help manage stress and support normal, healthy sleep:
- A lavender flower bath or a tea of rose petals, milky oats and lemon balm may be used to help relax the mind and body.
- According to Dr. Bove, if a child has ongoing stress, herbal adaptogens such as ashwaganda, holy basil, rhodiola root or eleutherococcus root will aid the body systems in adapting, thus minimizing the negative effects on the child’s health. These plants can be taken daily in a capsule or as an extract.
- Also, licorice root can be added as a daily tea or licorice candy for adrenal health. Make sure to choose a good quality candy made with real licorice root.
- Traditional children’s sleep herbs include lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap, lavender flowers and chamomile flowers, often found in a blend of several of these plants. These herbs may be given as a tea or extract in the evening to help promote sleep and calm restlessness, agitation and irritability.
To support a focused brain and nervous system, Dr. Bove suggests:
- Natural options such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbal supplements all have an impact on the function, development and performance of the human brain.
- Specific herbs shown to be supportive of focus, concentration and memory include gotu kola, lemon balm, ashwaganda, holy basil and ginkgo.
- Combining these herbs with plants that act to calm agitation, irritation and restlessness such as skullcap, passionflower and wild milky oats offers a great formula for use during the school week.
- Try these in the morning before school, after school and once again after dinner. These herbs may be used long-term if needed throughout the entire school year.