Getting Kids To Take Herbs
By Stephanie Tephyr Burgess The Garden 1997 Updated March 2003
The Garden Web site
(For educational information only. No parts of this document are to be taken as diagnosis or prescription for any illness. See your Healthcare Practitioner for any personal health concerns.)
As a mother trying to introduce herbal remedies to my family, I know how difficult it can be to get children to take herbs. Teas very often taste horrible, no matter how much honey (*) we put in them.
Tinctures, even hidden in juice can often be detected and we are confronted with the struggle of? well, begging them to please take it! If you are lucky you started using herbs when they were infants: this is the best way? then they don't know any better and they can actually be "trained" to just open their mouths and take what ever you offer. Often though even this early training stops working when they start thinking for themselves. Then what? I have found a very old fashioned preparation called an electuary works great.
They are incredibly easy to make:
- Powder the herbs needed. (I prefer powdering my own or opening capsules rather than using purchased powdered herbs; I feel they have a much shorter shelf life). I use either a mortar and pestle or more often (and easier) one of those small hand held coffee grinders. Check an herbal or a Health Practitioner for dosage. Small people need small dosages.
- Mix the herbs with honey*, maple syrup, peanut or other nut butters**.
- Put it on a spoon and let the child lick it off. If using peanut or nut butter you can also dip the spoon in honey* or maple syrup. You could use chocolate with an especially stubborn one too.
I have used this with great success. Including with encapsulated vitamins. Just take the usual precautions in taking and giving herbs (see Toxicity article on this website). It is also recommended to use electuarys for the very elderly. Though don't let that stop you from making yourself some too: herbs mixed in tahini and honey make a great herbal halvah!
Another great way I have found is to give children is herbal ice pops. Even my 20 year old still loves these. They are particularly good for sore throats. Make an infusion, add it to their favorite juice (more infusion than juice if you can) and freeze in those ice pop molds. Making them before you need them and storing them in the freezer is a big help. It's a real easy way to get herbs in them. And yes, you'll love them too: particularly for that sore throat.
*Please remember to never, ever (ever) give children under one year of age honey in any form. It contains a form of Botulism spores that older digestive systems can deal with, but not little ones. The results can be fatal. In my classes I always get people who are very skeptical of this. During one class where one student was trying to argue with me about it I had another student stand up; she was an emergency room nurse and began to describe her experiences treating infants who had been given honey and experienced this reaction. It was truly frightening and silenced the critics. I wish I could have her in every class. So, please take this seriously.
** There is a growing phenomena of possibly fatal peanut allergies in children. Do not give children peanuts or peanut butter unless their parents have told you their children are not allergic to it. Like the above honey problem there are still people out there that will not believe that peanuts can be fatal. Talk to anyone's Mother who suffers this and she will convince you. Again: Please, please take this seriously too.
The Garden, Stephanie Burgess ..................Co-Creative Gardener Learn to plant, harvest and use plants in a conscious manner, working directly with Nature's Spirits. Work shops and Work Study. Write for details: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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My favorite 'hidden herb trick ' is finger jello. I use lime for catnip tinctures, strawberry for echinecia, pineapple for the more bitter herbs.
To prepare, mix one 4 oz package of flavored jello with *1/2* the required amount of hot water, then add *1/2* the amount of cold water (or follow directions for finger jello on the package). after the cold water has been added, mix thoroughly and then mix in the herbs, tasting as you go so that it does not overpower the fruit flavor. I have found I can put aprox. 5-8 droppersfull in each batch, depending on the herb. Powdered herbs can also be used, however they are more obvious. "Hey, mommy, what is that stuff in my jello??" Keep track of the amount of herbs you put in, so you can calculate the dose- and then make sure it is labeled and secured so that it is not mistaken for a treat!
For those who prefer not to use the 'artificial everything' type jellos, use unflavored gelatin (there are also veggie jellos) and mix with concentrated, sweetened fruit juices.