Have you ever wanted to try natural remedies, but you’re confused about what’s safe and effective?
Or maybe you’ve tried using an herbal formula, but it didn’t really do anything and you’re wondering what went wrong?
When I first got into natural medicine, I made some very common mistakes.
I thought of herbs as just replacements for Western medicine. For instance, when I had a headache I tried white willow bark instead of Advil, which didn’t do much for my head but it did give me a stomachache. When I used Echinacea for a cold it worked sometimes, but not all the time.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the remedies I had chosen. It's just that the linear Western model of symptom/problem —> drug/solution is an incomplete way of using natural remedies.
Top 6 Reasons Why Natural Remedies Fail to Work
The linear one-size-fits-all approach to natural remedies doesn’t work well because:
- It doesn’t take into account a person’s unique nature or constitution
- It doesn’t consider the unique symptoms of each person
- Using a single herb is often less potent than herbal combinations
- Other herbs are missing in the remedy that can mitigate unwanted symptoms
- The remedy isn’t taken long enough or consistently enough to have the desired effect
- The remedy is started too late in the illness to work effectively
What’s needed is a more holistic approach to natural remedies.
The Chinese medicine approach involves understanding your child’s unique nature and then diagnosing the imbalances that lead to illness. Then you can pick the right remedy that will have a much higher chance of helping.
Treating an illness or health condition this way usually involves more than one herb, substance, or remedy. I like to think of these substances as the things we add into our healing program.
I recommend selecting one or more remedies from the following categories:
Substances: Herbs, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, vitamins, minerals, and supplements
Kitchen remedies: bone broth, honey, fermented foods, teas, etc.
Topical remedies: essential oils, baths, steams, salves, nasal rinsing, etc.
Environmental remedies: humidifiers, air purifiers, climate control, etc
In addition to adding things into our healing program, it’s often equally important to remove things from our diet, lifestyle, or environment because they may inhibit healing.
Common examples of things to remove are:
Toxic household cleaners, or other items like mattresses, furniture, or flooring
Plastics, pesticides, herbicides on our food and around our homes
Additives, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors in food or drinks
Foods that trigger adverse reactions such as gluten or dairy
Excess consumption of sugar
I treat kids with natural remedies all the time in my clinic. Kids respond extremely well to them and it doesn’t take much for them to come back into balance.
To use natural remedies effectively, there a few keys things you need to understand.
#1 Natural remedies aren’t necessarily as fast acting as a drug
This means your child will have to take the remedy several times each day. The most common mistake is not giving a remedy frequently enough. Think breakfast, lunch or after school, and before bed as the optimal times to give a remedy.
#2 For chronic issues, you’ll need to stay the course and be consistent
Your child may need to take the remedy for a few weeks to see results and even longer to affect long term change.
#3 It takes more than one remedy
For some conditions you’ll need more than one remedy to address the symptoms, plus you’ll need additional remedies to heal the root cause of the illness. The remedies needed will also change over time as the child's pattern of imbalance changes.
#4 Get a custom Chinese herbal prescription
Chinese herbal formulas are very effective for both treating symptoms and resolving the underlying root cause of your child’s health problem. Prescribing an herbal formula is quite specific for each condition and I highly recommend you visit a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist to get a custom herbal prescription. You can find one at the Kids Love Acupuncture Directory.
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Q: How do we know the herbs we are giving our kids are safe?
A: We only purchase from companies who test for bacteria, pesticides and metals, molds fungus, etc. We also do a visual ID and make sure they are good quality and we purchase organic when available.
Q: How can parents be sure they are purchasing good quality herbs?
A: Make sure you purchase herbs with a cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) certified rating.
Q: What about herbs and nursing?
My Recommended Remedy Reference
I highly recommend having a good reference book on hand to help you determine the right remedy for your child’s issue. My personal favorite is Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child (Zand and Roundtree, 2003). For each condition, it gives suggestions for dietary changes, supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, acupressure, and more!