Herbs for Kids
As a general rule, we like the herbs and mushrooms that support the Spleen and Lung organs for kids. We like to focus on gut and lung health with little kids, to avoid potential food allergies and asthma down the track. These herbs include:
There are times when other herbs or formulations could be useful for children, especially if they have a tendency towards Kidney deficiency or for older kids to help adapt to stress (for example, during exams), however, it's typically best to get a diagnosis from a practitioner or speak to your favourite herbalist or naturopath about the appropriateness of the herbs for your child. Older children can tolerate herbs more easily than smaller kids.
Regarding dosing, each child's constitution and pattern of disharmony will be unique, so be mindful of that when setting a dose. Consider the following factors:
- age and weight of child
- their vitality - in general, are they frequently tired, pale, and listless? Or more robust?
- their current state of health - are they ill, how long for, how this state differs from their normal condition
- the frequency of the illness (if recurring)
- the child's constitution - from our lens we would consider the child's Five Element constitution.
As a general rule, we like to use tonic herbs only with children that are already eating solids. From ages ~6 months to 2, we like the following dosage formula:
(Age in months x adult dose)/150= child's dose
For example, if Aiya is 6 months old and the adult dose of astragalus is 400mg x 3/day, we would give her
6 x 400 / 150 = 16 mg x 3 per day
As you can see, this is a TINY amount. For our daughter, at this age, we literally dipped her finger in the herb and let her lick it off. That was a dose!
For older kids, we like this formula:
(weight in kgs x adult dose)/67=child's dose
Aiya is 4.5 and weighs 19 kgs - the adult dose of astragalus is 400mg x 3/day, so we would give her:
25 x 400 / 67 = 113 mg x 3 per day
This is equivalent for a child of Aiya's age to about 1/3 of an adult dose.
An even simpler way to work this out, especially if you're on the fly (no remembering complicated formulas!), is to calculate the weight of the average adult (around 70-80 kilos) divided by your child's weight - that will give you a rough approximation of the ratio of the dose to give your child (simply multiply this result by the adult dose).
Aiya is 4.5 and weighs 19 kgs - the adult dose of astragalus is 400mg x 3/day, so we would give her (assuming the average adult weighs 80 kgs):
80 / 19 = 0.2375 (so we would want to give Aiya approx 1/4 an adult dose based on this calculation)
0.2375 x 400 = 95 mg x 3 per day.
Once you know this ratio you are able to do quick calculations and get pretty accurate doses. Keep a close eye on your child and adjust the dose higher or lower depending on their needs. This is the method I use, as I have found it to be effective, especially once kids reach toddlerhood.
In my opinion, less is more with kids, so always opt for a lower dose over a higher dose.
One final note is that in my experience, before babies start solids, it's best to treat the mama unless the child is seriously ill, or breastfeeding is not possible. I also really love homeopathics for this age group. If deemed necessary to treat with herbs, use Fried's Rule above, and if you are inexperienced with herbs, please seek out the support of a practitioner.
Remember you really don't need a lot of these herbs for their powerful effects to be felt. We like to use tiny amounts, especially with kids, as their tiny bodies tend to respond super well to this potent medicine.
As always, if in doubt consult with a herbalist or practitioner who specialises in paediatrics. We believe in sovereignty and mamas and papas being able to support their families at home with herbs, but we also believe that sometimes individuals need education and support to truly understand the effect of these potent medicines. If your child is seriously ill or you are trying to treat a specific condition, we highly recommend seeking outside support.
Yours in health,