As a mother, my heart goes out to the kiddies who fall ill. When they catch a cold, parents can be left feeling helpless. If the situation isn’t serious, are there things you can do at home before heading to the doctor? Yes, there are lots you can do. As a naturopathic doctor, I use natural therapies with excellent results to help babies and young children get through discomfort and illness. Here I share some ways to naturally support your child’s immune system when they come down with a common cold.
About the common cold
The first thing to be aware of is common colds are usually due to viruses, particularly the rhinovirus or adenovirus. Antibiotics therefore are not the appropriate treatment. They are more indicated against bacteria, not viruses.
What does a common cold look like?
Your child could present with a variation of symptoms associated with the common cold. These include sore throat, runny nose, congested nasal passage, sneezing, headache, fatigue, irritability or fussiness, and low-grade fever.
It is important to note that some of these symptoms could be pointing to something else going on. If you feel it is more than a common cold, it is always a good idea to see your doctor.
Here’s how to naturally support your child’s immune system
- Encourage your child to rest.
Their body needs energy to fight the infection.
- Do not force your child to eat.
A loss of appetite allows energy to go towards the immune system rather than on digesting food. Instead, when they do eat, make sure your child is obtaining quality nutrients such as good proteins, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, give your child some liquid every 15 – 30 minutes to keep hydrated.
- Support your child’s immune system with nature’s most powerful antimicrobials.
Along with being an important antioxidant, Vitamin C also helps to enhance white blood cell function, interferon levels, antibody responses, and antibody levels.
Cod liver oil
This contains vitamin A, which has been shown by some studies to improve immune function.
To soothe sore throats, give zinc lozenges. Some kids may not enjoy the taste and some are not old enough to take lozenges without swallowing them.
Probiotics are an excellent way to help support the immune system. A large portion of our immune system is created in our digestive tract. Good gut health is essential We therefore need to add good bacteria such as the Lactobaccillus and Bifidobacterium families. Without good bacteria, things can get out of control and the production of immune cells is weakened.
At the onset of a cold, the medicinal properties of this herb work to increase the production and activity of white blood cells. Echinacea also works to increase the production of interferon, an important part of the body’s response to viral infections.
The active ingredient of garlic is called alicin. Alicin is a strong antimicrobial, which means it can fight bacteria, viruses, and parasites. There are creative ways to give garlic to your child such as adding crushed garlic to chicken soup.
- Make sure you avoid weakening your child’s immune system!
Ditch the sugar. I like to characterize sugar (glucose) as making the immune system sticky therefore dampening the powerful players of your immune system. Consuming sugar therefore can greatly compromise our ability to deal with illness. Having 100 grams (8 tsp) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can reduce white blood cell function by about 40%. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than 40 minutes after consumption and can last for about 5 hours.
Is there anything else you can do?
Yes! I have had great results using homeopathic remedies with my little patients. Homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective treatment, when used appropriately. They provide us with another avenue to address your child’s acute and lingering cold symptoms.
Kids are still building their immune system and getting sick is a normal part of growing up. Teach them good hygiene such as washing their hands and covering their sneezes. Support your child’s immune system through good nutrition, rest, plenty of liquids, and herbal homeopathic remedies. These simple and effective tips help with acute and lingering conditions.
Disclosure: This article does not replace information from your doctor. Always seek professional advice before changing or eliminating important medications and supplements. It is important to talk to your naturopathic doctor before using botanical medicine or food changes as there may be an interaction with your medication, allergic reaction, or not advisable to use with certain diseases or conditions.