Healthy Immunity: Fight Your Child’s Colds Naturally

Last October, US and Canadian health authorities issued strong warnings to consumers not to give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children without first consulting a doctor. The result was a recall of most children’s cough and cold products. The warning told consumers that children under the age of two should not use decongestants and those under the age of six should not receive antihistamine medications. Both are commonly used to treat colds in children. One concern with these products is that many of them contain pharmaceutical ingredients that, if combined by taking more than one product at the same time, could lead to an overdose in children.

But what can you do to help your child fight off a cold?

As many know, the common cold is a viral infection. About 80 percent of fall and winter common cold cases are caused by rhinovirus. This nasty virus can live on a doorknob for three hours or more. Viruses enter your body through direct exposure (touching an infected person who is coughing or sneezing near you).

Once in your throat, a virus will try to infect one of your cells. You have a natural mucous layer in your airways that acts like duct tape to trap these viruses. However, in the winter, ovens dry out the air and this protective mucus layer can become dehydrated and crack. Once attached to your cell, viruses use your cells to reproduce. An infected cell in your body eventually dies, and the virus microbes find new cells to infect and multiply. The white blood cells of your immune system are the only thing that can prevent a virus from infecting and reproducing in your body. Nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can feed your white blood cells and help them find and destroy the viruses that are making you sick. Antibiotics only kill bacteria and are useless against the common cold. Going to the doctor can’t help you treat a common cold.

Considering the importance of the mucous membranes (inner skin) in the integrity of the immune system, it only makes sense to ensure that we strengthen them regularly during the winter months to protect ourselves from foreign pathogens.

What keeps these mucous membranes healthy and vibrant is the good bacteria, the good flora, that inhabits them.

Limiting your child’s intake of sugar, junk food, and dairy products is one way to promote healthy mucous membranes.

When you have problems (cold), you can speed up this process by supplementing with good bacteria (probiotics) in pill form, such as Acidophillus, Bifidus, etc.

Although washing your hands is helpful in warding off colds, it’s nearly impossible to avoid being exposed to viruses every minute of every day. When the virus enters your body, be armed and prepared with a healthy immune system. Herbs such as atralagus and echinacea are commonly used by adults to help boost their immunity and prevent colds, using variable doses that depend on the concentration of the product and its format (capsule or tincture). No studies have been done to determine if astragalus can be used safely in children. There is some evidence that an echinacea juice extract is safe for children ages two to 11 when used for up to 10 days. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in immunity-boosting nutrients is a great way to safely prevent the common cold in children. Multivitamins designed with safe doses for children can also help boost the immune system. Probiotics have been used in children in many research studies without safety concerns and may also offer some immune-boosting benefits.

One class of child-safe cold remedies is homeopathic, prescribed according to the child’s constitution and symptoms. Homeopathy has shown success in treating respiratory infections as effective as aspirin in relieving cold symptoms.

No matter how well you prepare, you can still end up sick with a cold. The body will produce mucus in response to the infection. It tries to slow down the ability of viruses to attack your cells and as a result also leads to cold, stuffy nose, cough and congestion. These symptoms are natural reactions that are good for you and your child, even if they are annoying. The safety advisory issued last October referred to over-the-counter products intended to treat these symptoms.

Symptom suppression is the way modern medicine treats disease, and not necessarily the way disease should be treated. Very often, when symptoms are suppressed, the disease process becomes more internal, only to manifest at a deeper level later.

We all know that there is no allopathic cure for the common cold… which makes naturopathy the only alternative. Fortunately, naturopathy offers many solutions that work. Along with naturopathy, using a humidifier, making sure your kids eat nutrient-dense foods, and stay well-hydrated by drinking water can help fight a cold. Plus, chicken soup is more than your mom’s fix. Scientists have found that chicken soup acts as a decongestant to provide minor relief from nasal congestion and positively affects the immune system. With growing concerns about the potential risk of using over-the-counter cold medications in children, it might be time to return to these time-tested natural remedies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top