10 Natural Ways to Boost Your Child's Immune System and Keep Him--and You, Well! (Do These If You Love Your Child)
As a former elementary school teacher, I know very well how kids get sick---especially at the beginning of the school year when they come into contact with new kids and adults. The other spike tends to be just as Winter hits, then another in early Spring. It only takes one student with a bad cold or flu to send it spreading through the entire class! Then....illness comes home to you, too.
There ARE some things you can do to help your children (and the rest of the fam) stay healthy this cold and flu season! Some are herbal and natural ways, and others are more common sense. All are simple, and if done consistently, you should have a great school season with (hopefully) very little illness.
Warning: Some of my comments may seem a little harsh. If that's the case, feel free to read something else. All statements I make in this article are made because of a very caring heart, 34 years of experience with kids, and lots of years of study. My disclaimer is at the end of the article and also here.
You may also be interested in these related articles in my cold and flu care series: How to Prevent a Cold/Flu Naturally, What Herbs & Remedies to Take if You Feel a Cold or Flu Coming On, How to Deal With Symptoms of Cold & Flu if You Do Happen to Get Sick (Fever, Congestion, Cough, Sore Throat, etc.), and How to Recover Quickly and STAY Recovered.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. TY, Heidi (Full Disclosure Here)
Ways to Prevent Illness in the First Place
The video game thing: So many kids want to stay up late and just keep playing. I've had a few fifth graders over the years who were allowed to stay up into the wee hours...and their health (and learning) suffered. Rest is vital to anyone's health, especially children. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, and as a parent, you can probably tell when your child hasn't had enough rest.
Aim for at least the amount you know is necessary, plus thirty minutes more, minimum. For example, if you know your child is cranky if he doesn't get at least 8 hours of rest, then get him in bed 8 1/2 hours before having to get up to be sure he's getting enough sleep.
OK---I'm going to rant here for a moment.
When I was teaching, I just couldn't believe the kinds of things that kids brought to school in their lunch boxes. I tried not to judge---I really did. After all, I raised four kids myself, and I know how they love treats.
Here is what one student last year showed me in his lunch box, and he thought this was a healthy lunch! He proudly showed me his sugar-added peanut butter and sugar-laden jelly sandwich on white bread, potato chips, a Snickers bar, and a couple of carrot sticks. What could I say? Nothing.
OK: I know this mom was trying because she at least added the carrot sticks. But please do your research, parents! High carb, sugary and chemically processed foods cause weight gain at the least, and illness in the body at most, and usually both. A better option is to try to get your kids to eat proteins and obviously more vegetables. Fruits are good, too, but keep in mind, they are still full of sugar.
I won't even go into the "healthy" school lunches.
Here are some options for healthy proteins to put in your child's lunch:
Home cooked meats, like left-over chicken breast, roast beef, tuna fish, or even canned chicken. These are easy to make a sandwich with (hopefully on whole grain bread with seeds), or even to use as finger foods, along with a couple slices of cheese.
And please, try to reduce the amount of hidden sugars and chemicals your kids eat. Hot fries, Takees (Did I spell that right? Those were the latest horrors addicting kids the last couple of years.), Fruit Snacks (tons of sugar, folks), Roll-Ups, sugary fake yogurts....I'm sure you get the drift.
Basically anything processed, unnatural (even if it says "natural"), and with more than about two or three ingredients is BAD news.
If you've lasted this long, I'm not even going to apologize. I almost did, but I'm just. not. sorry.
I raised my kids back in the 80's and 90's, when all this processed junk was just getting a foot hold, and since then millions of processed foods are being touted as "healthy," even though they contain killer ingredients.
Here's the thing: If your child's body is busy trying to process all those unnatural additives and toxic chemicals, that's a LOT less energy his little body will put toward protecting his immune system.
End of rant.
And if you'd like to read an article about 10 Foods You Think are Healthy, But are Really Killing You, just click through.
One last idea for you to help get extra greens and nutrition into your child's food....(SHhhhhh! And they'll never even know)....is to use Nettle Leaf Powder. You can also use Spinach leaf powder, beet green powder, or kale powder. It's SO easy! Click the link about Nettle Leaf Powder to find out how to make it!
Get Outside in the Sunshine---Vitamin D and Exercise
Kids need exercise too! Why not spend half an hour or so riding bikes with your child? Or go for a hike in nature? They'll get time with you, AND they'll be getting exercise. I know that not everyone has time to spend after a long day of work going bike riding. But even if you can do this once or twice a week, every little bit helps.
Another option is to sign your child up for a sport! I love seeing kids involved in sports. They learn how to interact with others, learn sportsmanship skills, and become healthier on top of it! Talk about an all around WIN.
The important thing about getting outside is that the sun helps your body create Vitamin D, which is more important to our health than previously realized. Vitamin D helps the immune system create more anti-bodies to help fight off illness. In fact, a 2010 research study found that kids who got or took 1200 I.U. of Vitamin D were less likely to contract flu, and there is evidence that kids who get enough Vitamin D experience fewer respiratory illnesses.
How easy is that? Just get outside to boost that immune system!
Keep Things Clean
We all know how kids can rub their noses and eyes, spreading germs on everything they touch. Then someone else comes along and touches the same thing, then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes....and a new cold is born. Same goes for adults.
So. One thing I used to do in my classroom is keep those desks clean with a good disinfecting cleaner. After school, I just went quickly around and wiped down the desks. Nobody was the wiser, and my room was always clean.
You can do the same thing at home! Just keep things clean. We all know this.
Use Fire Cider Daily
Fire Cider is a traditional tonic you can make inexpensively at home and take a bit little daily. It's a super immune system booster! Fire Cider is spicy, so for kids, it's probably a good idea to dilute it in another drink, like broth or water. You can also adjust the recipe a bit, to tone down the spice. You can purchase Fire Cider, but it is super expensive. To make your own? Easy and Cheap.
Will your child be delighted and drink it right up? Probably not. But who's the boss here? Who has to pay the medical bills when Little Johnny gets sick? If it's something you've researched and believe in, then have them drink up!
Parents who allow their kids to have things that are bad for them are not showing love. And kids grow up and figure it out, too. They'll know in just a few years if you loved them enough to try to keep them healthy, or if you were trying to be their friend. Just saying.
Here's a recipe for Fire Cider you can try. It takes a few weeks to make, so start now, if you want it ready for the cool months! There is lots of information about this tonic and why it works so well out there on the inter webs in case you want to do some research (which is always a good idea).
Thyme Infused Honey
Thyme is one of those amazing culinary herbs (along with Oregano, Rosemary, etc.) that contains plant chemicals that boost the immune system and help keep you from getting sick. One thing I like to do is take raw honey, heat it gently, and add some fresh thyme sprigs to it. Then just let it infuse for a couple of weeks.
You can leave the thyme in the honey indefinitely, or you can strain it out. I just leave mine in. Thyme is not as strong tasting as Oregano or Rosemary, and it's very pleasant in the honey.
To use it, just take a teaspoon a day. You can add it to other foods, or just lick it off the spoon. That's my favorite way. Yum!
Diffuse Essential Oils
I'll tell you what: This is probably my favorite way to keep from getting sick! Essential oils smell lovely, and they work incredibly well.
You can buy immune-boosting blends like this one from Organic Aromas, or you can make your own. I just put this DIY essential oil blend recipe in my newsletter yesterday for my readers, and I'll go ahead and share it here too:
- 2 drops Lemon essential oil
- 2 drops Cinnamon essential oil
- 2 drops Clove essential oil
- 2 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 1 to 2 drops Rosemary essential oil
Just put the water in your essential oil diffuser, add the essential oils, and start. Run this for about 30 minutes or so several times a day. It smells amazing, and it really works! Your child will love watching the mist rise out of the diffuser.
If Your Child Does Get Sick---Do These Additional Things for a Speedy Recovery
Drink Immune BoostingTea Throughout the Day
Here's a quick recipe for an immune boosting tea blend with easy to find herbs:
- 2 parts Peppermint leaves
- 2 parts Calendula
- 2 parts Echinacea root
- 1 part Ginger root
- 1 part Goldenseal or Oregon Grape Root (These have antibacterial properties, so they work if you are already ill.)
- 2 parts Red Clover (for the nutritional value)
- 1 part Elder Flowers (Elder Flowers contain anti-viral compounds)
Just blend the herbs together. To make, use about a tablespoon or two in one to two cups of just boiled water. Allow to steep for at least 30 minutes, and you can let it go for a couple hours if you want a stronger infusion (which I recommend). Keep in mind the longer you infuse the herbs, the more bitter the tea may be.
Drink one to three cups throughout the day to help support your immune system and get better faster! You can sweeten it with a bit of lemon-infused honey for added power!
Where do I get my herbs?
If you're not sure where to find great herbs, my favorite place to buy them is Starwest Botanicals. They have a huge selection of high quality herbs and you have choices about what type (organic or wild-crafted) you want, as well as quantity. They also have bulk culinary herbs that are of MUCH higher quality than those found on grocery shelves. If I don't grow it or forage it myself, I get my herbs from Starwest.
Use Natural Remedies that Help Symptoms and Also Heal the Body
Most OTC medications only help alleviate symptoms, but they don't actually help the body to get better. Natural herbal remedies are easy to make, inexpensive, and they can address both issues: symptoms AND healing your body from the inside.
Here are links to a few easy remedies you might want to try. I think you'll love them and never go back to chemical/sugary OTC's again:
One caveat: Even if nobody is sick in your house right now, you can get some of these made ahead of time! That way, you'll have them on hand, and will actually see how great they work! Some of these remedies don't have a super long shelf life, though---use common sense when storing. And refrigerate any that have vegetable matter.
Essential Oils to Speed Recovery from Common Colds/Flu
There are many essential oils that will help speed up recovery from colds and flus, and also make you more comfortable. Eucalyptus, thyme, lemon, and orange essential oils you can use either in a blend or alone to help stimulate healthy immune responses.
Final Thoughts About Helping Your Child (and You) Stay Well this Fall and Winter
You've probably noticed I'm big into prevention and using natural methods to stay well. Honestly, great health comes from taking care of your body from the inside out---doing the things every day that are good for you, like getting rest, eating right, drinking lots of water--you know, those things we always hear to do. And they all help!
Teaching your kids these natural ways to stay healthy from a young age will benefit not just your child, but you, too!
So, if you need some little immune boosters along the way, why not use them? Get that Vitamin D, use herbs known to support the immune system, and perhaps even try out some wonderful essential oils.
I welcome comments, questions, and other ideas! Go ahead and leave me a comment in the comments section--I'll reply! :-)
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical doctor, and in no manner, stated or implied, is any statement made in this article, elsewhere on my website, or in any of my publications meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any illness. Please seek advice from a medical doctor if you are having health concerns. These statements are for informational purposes only, and are simply my personal opinion based on experience and study.