I'm guilty of reaching for the paracetamol whenever a headache strikes, which seems to be quite often at the moment. But when it comes to my children I prefer to treat minor ailments the natural way.
Although I'm by no means an expert there are five must-haves that I always have on hand in our first aid kid, for home and handbag.
As well as being kind to my children's bodies, they're also kinder to my pocket as many have a wide variety of uses.
Here's my Top 5 natural remedies.
- Arnica: This comes in homeopathic tablets and as a herbal cream which is ideal for the inevitable bumps and bruises children always have. I use both on mine but am careful not to use the cream on open cuts. The homeopathic pill form has been shown to be no more effective than a placebo in clinical trials, but the herbal cream has had some positive results -- though more research is still needed.
- Tea Tree Oil: This essential oil is so versatile every home should have a bottle. It is antibacterial and antiseptic and can be used in a variety of ways. When we've had a stomach bug I spritz the rooms with this in water using a spray bottle. It can also be used to clear bunged noses by putting on pillows or hankies and I've even used it in a nappy bucket to mask the smell of cloth nappies waiting to be washed. Be sure to buy essential oil not blended.
- Lavender Oil: I'm a bit of a disaster in the kitchen and have the battle scars to prove it. Thanks to this oil, which I apply direct to the burn, relief is to be found (honey also works but this is a lot less sticky or keep an aloe vera plant on the windowsill). Lavender is also a great aid for those who can't sleep and can be massaged into the temples to relieve headaches.
- Bach Rescue Remedy: This is wonderful stuff and comes in drops or a spray. Not just for shock, this can help with stress, anxiety or panic. Of course, it could be just a distraction but once I've administered this to my children they almost immediately calm down. It's not been scientifically proven but for us, it works.
- Chamomile Tea: Now I have to admit my children are not fans of this, but had I started them young I don't think they would complain quite so much. This is ideal for upset tummies and for those who can't sleep. It is also said to boost the immune system. The tea bags can also be used topically to ease inflammation.
These five are just the tip of the iceberg. I also include eucalyptus oil in our kit because it's also anti-viral and great for coughs and colds and can be massaged into the body to relieve muscle pain. Dr Greenfingers Calendula antiseptic cream for cuts and grazes also seems to have a regular outing from the first aid box. A book which is great for every aspect of children's health and which lists conventional and natural remedies is Commonsense Healthcare for Children. It's one I turn to often.
Of course, care should be taken when using natural remedies, they are still potent. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding check with your doctor first and keep the first aid kit out of children's reach.