I have to say, as a busy mom of four, I am really really ready for back-to-school! But, as I’m looking forward to this much needed break, I’m not looking forward to the influx of germy yucks and the battle of the Fall and Winter bugs that will be creeping in along with my babes and into my home. With the return to the indoors and being in close quarters around hundreds of unrested, unnourished, sneezy, goopy kids all day, my little cubs are in for the battle of a million disease-causing microorganisms, viral bugs galore, bacterial who knows what and busy busy busyness… We all know that just one sick kid in the room can bring down a whole house for a week and no one wants that, so around here Wellness is where it’s at. So, what can we do to boost our immune system naturally with herbs? Well definitely start early! And we can start by supporting wellness with strengthening herbs year-around, but also by adding herbal immune boosters to our daily routine.
Here are six of my favorite kid friendly tips for Back-to-School Wellness.
1. Good sleep….this is really a no brainer but well worth the mention. Adequate sleep is something everyone needs but more so if you want a fighting chance against the Fall and Winter onslaught of snot infestation! If your babes have trouble getting to sleep try simple teas with chamomile, lemon balm and oatstraw. It will help them relax, fall asleep, stay asleep and be well rested. Even my high schooler loves mommas teddy bear tea!
2. Herbal Green Smoothy: In our home, this happens everyday. It’s a great addition to a high quality breakfast and really easy to whip up if you are short on time. It’s high in protein, packs a punch in vitamins and minerals, plus it will keep their little bellies from grumbling all morning. And for my oldest (who would rather spend time doing her hair and make up, this is sometimes the only thing she gets down before heading off to school.) But here’s where I go herb momma crazy and slip in all the goodness. You can add any immune supporting herbs in powder form that you want to this smoothy and they are gonna love it, but this is one of my kids’ favorites:
2-3 cups almond milk (or any other nut or other milk you prefer)
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or other good quality probiotic, coconut kefir etc.
Handful of power greens (kale, spinach, amaranth, chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, collards, parsley, purslane etc.) mix and match!
3 soaked and pitted dates
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbls each of flax, sesame and chia seeds (soaked)
And a scoop of your own homemade Super Powder (mine is a blend of powdered nettles, rosehips, beet root, acia berry, spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, turmeric, astragalus root, bee pollen and orange peel. Blend and enjoy!
3. Elderberry Thyme Oxymel: Everybody knows about the nifty little elderberry, and you can find syrups and such in pretty much any healthfood store or pharmacy. It’s a favorite for immune health because elderberries contain bioflavonoids, alkaloids, vitamins, minerals and anthocyanins which support healthy immune system function. And although yummy berries in general support normal production of white blood cells, the tiny little elderberry seems to be the most useful among them. It really doesn’t matter how you get them into your body, but instead of syrups or tinctures, I like soaking mine in raw apple cider vinegar and local honey. Vinegar’s a naturally occurring germ killer and contains more than thirty important nutrients, a dozen minerals, over half a dozen vitamins and essential acids, and several protein enzymes. It has cleansing, detoxing, healing and energizing health qualities like nothing else and has a huge dose of pectin for a healthy heart. Mix that with the humble elderberry and the super food honey and you are set.
A bottle of raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup of raw (local if you can find it) honey
1 cup of dried elderberries
1/4 cup of dried thyme leaves (great for coughs and colds)
Add all ingredients into a glass jar that has a rubber flip top or a plastic lid as the vinegar will corrode metal, shake up and allow to sit and infuse for 2-4 weeks. Strain, rebottle and enjoy. Can be taken daily for immune support by the teaspoonful, or mixed into juice or tea.
4. Flower Essence to Reduce Stress: Emotional stressors, such as anxiety and depression stimulate the secretion of adrenal hormones, which suppress the activity of the thymus gland and white blood cells, and when stress happens and our adrenals are low, we are susceptible to The Yuck. Luckily, there are so many ways to reduce stress and support emotional wellness and one of my go-to’s is flower essences. The Bach Flower Remedies are great for kids and help them to deal with every day fears, daydreaming, self-esteem, worries, depression, self-acceptance etc. Get a bottle of Rescue Remedy or pick out personalized individual essences for specific stressors. For example, Elm is said to be helpful if they are feeling overwhelmed. Or for anxiety due to a lack of self-confidence, try Larch. Then just add the essences to their beverage, or directly in their mouth daily. Or put it in their smoothy!
5. Creamy Ginger and Turmeric Milk: All I can say is MMMmmmm. I blend this up in a large mason jar so I can just scoop a bit into warm milk and honey when ever I want….Turmeric is an exceptional antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory abilities thanks to its active ingredient curcumin, which has been shown to protect and improve the health of almost every organ in our body. Sounds good huh! Plus curcumin is known as an immune modulator and can improve the ability of specialized immune cells to engulf and destroy germs (we like that). And ginger, is an amazing herb; it supports brain function, seriously wards off the viral yucks, and can give a zap to our immune system like no other. It’s a favorite warming herb too and can be used before a cold strikes to boost body temp a bit and increase circulation.
Here’s how I like to combine these two. Take equal parts powdered turmeric and ginger and then add a nice big dash of any or all of the following: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cayenne, black pepper and vanilla bean powder.
6. Garlic Honey: Fresh garlic has natural antibiotic and immune-boosting qualities. This feisty culinary herb has a wide array of health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection to immune stimulation and shows amazing effectiveness against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Honey, also a natural antibiotic, has an ancient reputation as a super food. It’s immune stimulating and wonderful at promoting vitality. If you can, try and find local wildflower honey because it has the essence of all the wonderful medicinal plants around you. I like to put these two together and let them steep and meld and then pass them out to the kids (and myself) to nibble throughout the coming months. The garlic becomes like candy and is absolutely delicious. Once you make this, you’ll be hooked, so I suggest making several jars!
~ Enjoy and Be Well, Jessica Morgan
Jessica Morgan has been a practicing herbalist for over 20 years. Her lifelong passion for herbology, holistic nutrition, and gardening has led her to develop Morgan Botanicals where she shares her knowledge of plants and helps people reconnect with the healing powers of the plant kingdom. Jessica offers a year-round Herbal CSA, medicine making workshops, herbal mentoring, children’s classes, plant walks, wellness consultations, custom blends and garden and crop advice.