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Herbal Immune Support for Children by Lena Wilson


hen considering bolstering and supporting a child’s immune system with herbs, the most prevalent concerns are safety and effectiveness. Even though folk medicine and herbalist remedies have been used for a long time, they are not necessarily supported with scientific research. Therefore, there are guidelines to starting with herbs and dosages that provide immune action but are generally safe for children. Many herbalists recommend children under six months should not be given herbs because their digestive systems are immature. Some suggest that mothers could take a full dose of an herb so that it might pass through her breastmilk. If in doubt, it is recommended that one consult with an appropriate physician. As is practical with anyone, if there are ever any signs of discomfort or reaction, herbs should be discontinued immediately. Age-Old Immune System Herbs The following herbs have been used in traditional herbalism and found to be safe over many years. As with all herbs, one should take care to determine the variety and quality of herb one is procuring. Adverse reactions and ineffectiveness could be the result of improper use or usage of the wrong herb. Ashwaganda has been gaining popularity, largely due to its use for reducing stress levels. It is commonly used for stress-induced or disease-induced insomnia, fatigue and inflammation. It is considered an immune tonic, which means it enhances overall functioning. In Ayurveda, Ashwaganda is used to restore Ojas (the ultimate vital energy or life


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energy). Ashwagandha sometimes causes drowsiness and, if taken in large doses, could cause diarrhea or vomiting. Astragalus is an adaptogen, meaning it helps one to adapt. It is antibacterial and antiviral. It’s also considered tonic. Astragalus is believed to strengthen, modulate, stimulate and restore the immune system. It has been used historically in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. It has no demonstrated toxicity from regular, daily use or large doses; however, it can cause flatulence for those sensitive to legumes since it is in the legume family. Echinacea is a commonly recognized herb, but there has been some recent dispute on the efficacy of different varieties. Some experts say that Echinacea purpurea is not as effective as E. angustifolia. There is also dispute as to whether echinacea provides any prevention to colds, but it is generally believed it can be helpful if used every half hour at the onset of a cold or flu. It is believed to help raise immune function in active infections if taken internally in the right dosage, although some feel it is more effective for people younger than middle age. Echinacea is analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and an immune modulator and stimulant (not a tonic). One should not take large doses for a long time or use for repeated illness; in which case one should repair and recuperate the body. Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) actions include adaptogen, adrenal tonic, antidepressant, antifatigue, antistressor, immune tonic, normalizer and mental clarity stimulant. It is an extremely safe herb and there are reports of Russians using extremely

large doses for 20 years with no ill side effects; however, others believe that extreme overuse could case tension and insomnia. Those with high blood pressure should get approval from a physician before using. Eleuthero is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to tonify vital energy (Qi and Jing). It is believed that it helps build resistance to infectious disease, decrease likelihood of autoimmune reactions, increase work capacity and reduce occurrences of influenza, when consumed regularly. Reishi, the mushroom of immortality, has been found to be liver regenerative and protective, analgesic, antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antistressor, antitumor and immunomodulant, among other things. In China and Japan, it has been used for at least 4,000 years. It is traditionally used as an antiaging herb and has a wide range of health benefits. People taking Reishi report a sense of peacefulness. This appears to be cumulative. There are few cases of adverse reactions reported, although caution is advised to anyone allergic to mushrooms.

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Natural Awakenings West Michigan ~ August 2019  

Natural Awakenings is your guide to a healthier, more balanced life. In each issue readers find cutting-edge information on natural health,...

Natural Awakenings West Michigan ~ August 2019  

Natural Awakenings is your guide to a healthier, more balanced life. In each issue readers find cutting-edge information on natural health,...

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