Herbs have been used for healing long before recorded history. The majority of childhood ailments tend to be mild and herbal remedies are considered safe, effective and are much gentler than conventional and pharmaceutical alternatives. Internationally known herbalist and educator Rosemary Gladstar says, “Administered wisely, herbs do not upset the delicate ecological balance of children’s small bodies as does much of modern medicine, but rather work in harmony with the young child’s system.” Herbal remedies along with plenty of rest, nourishing food, liquids and love often provides all that’s needed to help your little one bounce back to health!

For infants and small children, it’s best to administer herbs in a mild tea form or as a syrup. For older children, you can make herbal candy balls. Simply combine the desired herbs with raw organic honey, maple syrup, or nut butter and shredded coconut. Roll into balls and store in the refrigerator. Do not use honey for children younger than one or nut butter for children younger than two.

Using herbal remedies in the home also helps to nurture a child’s relationship with the earth. Most herbs are easy to grow and take little care to flourish. By helping children plant their own herb garden and teaching green practices you can instill a life-long love and respect for the planet.

Dried herbs may also be bought in bulk at natural food markets, health food stores or at a local farmer’s market. Just be sure that they smell fresh and look vibrant as they tend to lose their power over time. I buy most of my herbs locally or online from Mountian Rose Herbs.

The below herbs will make a wonderful addition to any natural home remedy kit.

Aloe vera. Best known for healing burns and its skin soothing effects, the best way to use aloe is directly from the plant itself. Apply the clear sap inside directly to the affected area. It is this sap that has been shown to have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Anise. Great tasting and commonly used for children’s complaints such as coughs, asthma, bronchitis and also aids in digestion.

Apis. Wondeful remedy for stings and bites. It is particularly indicated in bites that burn, itch, sting and swell with redness. Apis is also a key remedy for sore throats and red, puffy tonsils.

Arnica. One of the most well known homeopathic remedies, Arnica is an excellent first aid treatment for bumps, bruises, swelling and soreness by reducing inflammation and speeding healing.

Basil. Basil is considered a safe and gentle tonic for breastfeeding mothers. Taken as a tea, it helps to expel gas in infants and has been shown to increase lactation in the mother.

Bee Propolis. The humble bee has given humanity much in the way of all-natural substances that promote healing. We should be grateful to the busy bees for all their hard work in collecting resin from trees and flowers and turning it into propolis which has been shown to strengthen immunity.

Calendula. This is the first thing we reach for whenever someone has a cut, scratch, scrape or rash. Calendula reduces inflammation, promotes wound healing, and is an antiseptic. Fresh calendula petals can also be infused in boiling water to treat mouth sores.

Chamomile. Peter Rabbit’s mother fed him soothing chamomile tea in Beatrix Potter’s classic tale. It soothes swollen gums, eases pain and fever, tummy aches, menstrual cramps, and promotes a sense of calmness in irritable and restless children.

Echinacea. A wonderful immune boosting herb that is considered a “mother’s helper” by herbalists. Echinacea has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is useful for bites, toothaches, sore throats, wounds, upper respiratory infections, colds and flus.

Elderberry. This is an essential remedy to have on hand. Black elderberries are rich in vitamins A, B and C, and support immune system functioning. They have been shown to prevent colds and flus and speed recovery in those who have the flu. It is available in as a syrup or you can save some money by making your own.

Fennel. This wonderful tasting herb is a natural antacid that neutralizes excess acids in the stomach and intestines and promotes digestion. It is good for fussy babies, irritable bowel and anxiety and also increases lactation in the mother.

Garlic. Powerful antioxidant that has been used for many years to boost the immune system and prevent ailments such as colds, flu, menstrual pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coughs and bronchitis. It has also been proven to kill various fungal infections, viruses, bacteria, and intestinal parasites. One of the most effective natural remedies for ear pain associated with an ear infection is warm garlic oil. Learn how to make it here.

Ginger. Excellent anti-inflammatory herb and digestive remedy. It is useful for ailments such as nausea, motion sickness, diarrhea, indigestion, colic, arthritis, colds, flus, headaches and poor circulation.

Lemon Balm. This pleasant tasting herb is calming, gentle and good for children. It’s antiviral and antiseptic and used to lower fevers and headaches, promote digestion, ease anxiety and can be used as a mild sedative. Lemon balm makes a delicious tea that can be served with lemon and honey throughout the day to alleviate stress and anxiety. Blend equal parts lemon balm, oats and chamomile and steep as a tea for a nervous system tonic.

Licorice. Used for bronchial congestion, sore throat, coughs and inflammation of the digestive tract. Use it in syrups and teas, or give children licorice sticks to chew.

Meadowsweet. This healing herb soothes and protects the mucous membranes of the stomach and digestive tract and reduces acidity. It calms an upset stomach and quells nausea. It’s a gentle astringent combined with nutritive making it safe, mild, and effective for treating diarrhea in children.

Mullein. In the form of warmed oil (or combined with garlic oil), it is helpful for treating bronchial congestion or simple ear infections. Rosemary Gladstar says she has seen mullein and/or garlic work in 95 percent of cases of her own children and others’, unless there is a long history of infection or the case is quite serious.

Nettle. Rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and calcium. It is a natural remedy for allergies and hay fever and helps alleviate growing pains in young children.

Oregano. Contains a broad spectrum of anti-microbial activity against germs, fungus and viruses. It’s a natural antibiotic and we find oil of oregano effective for treating colds and flus. This herb is quite strong and not recommended for young children.

Raspberry. Raspberry tea is a good tonic herb with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals that help build strong bones and general good health. Raspberry tea is given to reduce fever and calm diarrhea in children.

Rosemary. High in antioxidants, helps the nervous system and is good for headaches, fatigue, poor appetite, low blood pressure and weak circulation.

Slippery Elm. Helps soothe and moisten dry irritated throats and when paired with raw honey (which is naturally antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal) it provides a wonderful natural remedy for coughs. To use as a cough medicine, mix 1 tablespoon slippery elm, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon raw honey. To make a tea, simmer 1 teaspoon of slippery elm in 1 cup of hot water. It also helps with both diarrhea and constipation. 

Yarrow. A time-honored cold and fever remedy recommended in the early stages of children’s colds. It may once have been used much as aspirin is today.

Further Reading

Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality by Rosemary Gladstar
A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra
Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand
Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman
Natural Baby and Childcare: Practical Medical Advice and Holistic Wisdom for Raising Healthy Children by Lauren Feder
Kids, Herbs & Health: A Practical Guide to Natural Remedies by Linda B. White, M.D. and Sunny Mavor
Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health by Aviva Jill Romm
Herbal Healing for Children by Demetria Clark

The information about the use of herbs and/or essential oils contained in this site is not meant to be a substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before administering or taking herbal remedies, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

To locate an experienced herbalist in your area, contact the American Herbalists Guild. To locate a licensed naturopath in your area, contact the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.