Some of you might have an encyclopedic knowledge of natural remedies for health and healing. For others, that awareness might extend no further than a vague recollection that aloe vera does something good for burns … or something …? Right?
My own forays into natural healing are still in their infancy, there’s so much to learn, but I’ve found most natural remedies incredibly effective, environmentally friendly, and safe — something that becomes even more important when you have kids. Not only are our children tiny and innocent and pure, but they also put almost everything in their mouths, so it’s even more important to use natural ingredients.
(Just for the record, a trained medical professional is your best source for treating serious ailments, and you should never ignore sound medical advice in favor of something you read on the internet. OK?)
Regardless of where you are in terms of amassing your own natural healing skills, there are four fabulous basics you’ll need to begin putting together a natural medicine cabinet for kids.
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1. Coconut Oil
As a balm for chapped cheeks or diaper rash on babies, used for a soothing after-bath massage to ward off dry skin and aid sleep (ha!), or as a carrier oil in tinctures, coconut oil is a versatile oil with many beneficial uses. It does double duty as cooking oil, too. (Just make sure to decant some into a separate container for cooking to avoid cross-contamination!)
2. Essential Oils
These concentrated essences of plants and flowers have immense healing effects on the body — from mood-boosting aromatherapy to powerful anti-bacterial properties. Some favorites:
- Lavender oil soothes and relaxes, and disinfects cuts and scrapes.
- Tea tree oil (melaleuca) is a powerful antiseptic I like for treating skin rashes — it’s also useful for the prevention and treatment of lice.
- Eucalyptus oil works well in a humidifier or as a chest rub when those winter colds set in.
Please use caution with essential oils, and make sure you know how to use them safely. Like any other medicine, they can be quite powerful and some oils (like eucalyptus) aren’t recommended for use on kids younger than 10. Do some research beforehand to make sure your natural remedy doesn’t do your kids more harm than good.
Raw, natural honey does so much more than sweeten your morning coffee, it’s a fantastic treatment for those life-ruining teen acne issues, and an easy-to-swallow throat soother (either dissolved in a bit of hot water with lemon, or simply taken plain). If you get the good stuff like pure Manuka honey — not the little plastic squeeze bear from the grocery store — it has been proven to have antibacterial qualities. Check out these home remedies using honey from Lifehack.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
In my opinion, apple cider vinegar cures everything — well, almost. Because of its slightly bitter taste it might be tough to convince your little ones to ingest it, but they can still benefit from its healing properties. Two cups diluted in bath water can be effective at tackling eczema, and diluted 50/50 with water it’s great for soothing sunburns or itchy skin. Like any of the other remedies mentioned here, what you get in is what you get out — so get the good stuff! Make sure you purchase an unfiltered brand like Bragg, which has the thick sediment at the bottom — appealingly called “the mother” — that’s where the magic lives.
These four ingredients are a good starting point for your own natural healing remedies. Simple and straightforward, most will be readily available at your local health food store and are a cinch to apply or administer.
If you’ve used any other gems from Mother Nature to treat your kids’ ailments, share them with the community in the Earthling Forum.
Feature image courtesy of Aikawa Ke
Editor’s note: Originally published on April 8, 2015, this article was updated in December 2018.