Every fall and winter during cold and flu season, parents are asking what should they do about coughs, congestion, and croup for their infants and children. Over the years, we have come up with 4 different options that work very well and are pharmaceutical free.
Before we researched alternative methods, we were in and out of the doctors getting inhalers and steroids and nebulizer treatments. We tried the over the counter cough medicines and cough drops, if our kids could even swallow them. I did not like the trips to the doctors and never felt good about any of the strong medications for children. I dreaded my children getting coughs.
Now, when my children get coughs and runny noses, which is much more rare, I don’t panic. The doctor doesn’t cross my mind. I know exactly what to do and it is easy, inexpensive, comforting to my children, and doesn’t require leaving the house.
Method 1: Hot Water with Honey and Lemon
This is an age old treatment and it works! Most of my kids, as soon as they are not feeling well, immediately heat some water, then add a spoonful of honey and a few squirts of lemon juice. They will sit over the steamy up and breathe in the steam while sipping it slowly. This calms their coughs, slows their runny noses, and generally lasts for about four hours. If not, well, kids can have as much honey, lemon juice, and hot water as they desire. You never have to worry about over dosing.
Why does this work? Well, honey alone is a good cough suppressant. Even the mayoclinic suggests the use of honey to treat coughs in children. Lemons are high in vitamin c, which will help boost your children’s immune system.
*this is not for children under 12 months
Method 2: Pineapple Juice
We don’t always have pineapple juice on hand. I am trying to remedy that by having more in stock than my children want to drink, but it is a little like trying to keep candy around with 10 voracious eaters. Pineapple juice works because it helps to dissolve the mucous that often causes coughs. Have you ever eaten too much fresh pineapple and ended up with a painful or numb feeling in your mouth? Pineapples contain a plant protease enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain readily breaks down protein and is used as a natural meat tenderizer. That can cause pain in your mouth, but it also helps break down mucous , thereby reducing coughs.
Method 3: Homemade Chest Rub
This is great for overnight. Since I began using this chest rub, I have not had a child come down with that frightening barking croup cough, making it my favorite home remedy. It has also helped us to avoid nagging over night coughs.
This is my recipe:
1/2 C of coconut oil
6 drops of lavender essential oil
6 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops of peppermint essential oil
I rub this on their chests and use it for children over 6 months. Lavender essential oil is the only oil I will use on a child under 6 months of age.
Are these essential oils safe for a baby 6 months or older? I have not found anything definite about it. This site says diluted peppermint oil is okay but not eucalyptus, and this site says eucalyptus is good. Zarabee’s Natural sells a chest rub similar to what I make, with pine and beeswax instead of peppermint and coconut oil. You could easily make that at home too.
Always implement prudence when using any concentrated substance like essential oils and always use a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil to dilute them.
Method 4: Fresh Peppermint Tea
This is the favorite method of my teens. They grow their own peppermint plants and boil the leaves to make a tea. They say it cures a runny nose in a single day and the steamy drink is delicious, sugar free, and comforting.
Nature has provided us with a multitude of ways to ease symptoms and heal our bodies. My family has found that not only do they work, but they tend to boost our immune systems and keep us healthier than we were back in the days when we trusted our health to doctors and the big pharmaceutical businesses.