By Anne Salazar RH(AHG), Lead Clinical Herbalist
The transition from summer to the school year can be exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure, for both parents and kids alike! Going back to school is never without its obstacles, especially with the constant adjustments we’ve had to make over the last couple of years. Two important factors–immunity and focus– are what we want to address to help ease the back-to-school switch. (And for parents looking for peace of mind about smaller kids being in constant contact with their classmates, check out our blog on monkeypox support and prevention!)
Focus and concentration are often challenges in any situation for many children. And extra time in front of a computer screen without a balancing amount of activity and social engagement, and this problem is exacerbated. Some tools to consider would be supplements that feed and nourish brain health and calm the spirit.
Providing gentle herbs that calm and ground children, can go a long way in allowing for learning and focus to be easier to facilitate. A lovely product that grounds and calms the spirit and mind is “Calm Child” by Planetary Herbs. I have seen this product take the edge off many a child (and adults too for that matter), allowing for relaxation and aiding focus and learning. Calm Child combines the soothing botanicals Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Catnip, with the nourishing tonifiers Hawthorn, Zizyphus, Gotu Kola extract, and Amla. Additional herbs and nutrients, traditionally used by cultures around the world, support alertness and focus in children.
And do not forget the simple, yet effective, Lavender essential oil. A good quality Lavender gently wafting from a diffuser, or massaged into the feet, or added to a relaxing tub can work wonders on the agitated soul….
The essential fatty acid DHA ( Docosahexaenoic acid) which is found ubiquitously in fish (and certain algae), is known for its capacity to nourish and support brain health. A deficiency in DHA can be associated with deficits in learning. 2 The other fatty acid in fish, EPA, is also important. Taken together is the ideal balance. A product like Nordic Naturals “Nordic Omega Fishies” for children is a great choice.
Every Fall it is a good time to build and support immunity in everyone. By now we should all know the importance of a strong immune system! School-aged children are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections as their immune systems learn to adapt and strengthen. There are multiple ways to do this safely and effectively, while still allowing their innate immune systems to become stronger. The goal is to mitigate acute symptoms and to minimize time spent being sick.
A healthy gut is key to keeping immunity strong and flexible. A healthy biome means a strong immune response. Supplementing with child-specific probiotics is the first step in supporting this response. What kind of strains, and the strength of the probiotic (expressed as Colony Forming Units or “CFUs”), is predicated on the child’s current health history. If they already have some immunity issues (eczema, allergies, digestive issues, etc) then a comprehensive formula such as Pharmax’s (chewable) “HLC Child” would be appropriate. If the child is otherwise healthy, perhaps Jarrow’s “Yum Yum Dophilus” would be the ticket. Consistent intake of healthy bacteria is important either way.
It is also crucial to mention that a healthy gut also means a healthy brain. There is clear evidence that the “Brain/Gut Highway” is a very real phenomenon (1)! Clinically speaking, whenever working with anyone with emotional issues, focus issues, etc. I always address gut health as well.
Another important tool for strengthening immunity is herbal medicine. Not only do herbs safely support innate immunity, they also work to ameliorate acute symptoms of all kinds; all the while working with and strengthening natural immunity. To support immunity, products like Wish Garden’s “Daily Immune For Kids” can be taken daily. Its main ingredient is Astragalus (along with Echinacea, etc); long known for immune defense. It is tinctured in delicious, healthy vegetable glycerin, perfect for kids. This pairs brilliantly with probiotic supplementation.
If cold, cough, flu, or some other acute symptoms arise, there are multiple options. For colds, there is Wish Garden’s “Cold Seasons for Kids”, which features Thyme, Elder, Yerba Santa, Sage, and other medicinal herbs that fight and curb cold symptoms. We also carry “Sinus Support” by Gaia Kids, which works wonderfully for head cold symptoms for children of all ages. And if a persistent cough arises, along comes Remedy’s “Kid’s Bronchial” with cherry bark and lobelia, which really helps open the lungs. All of these can be taken frequently during the day, for acute challenges.
These are but a few choices we can bring to you and your family. Please come in (or call!) and we can help you and your young ones hit the ground running with back-to-school preparation.