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Back to School: Immunity for Kids
Angela Willard is a Clinical Herbalist with a passion for growing herbs. She loves wildcrafting, herbal consulting, and sharing her love and knowledge of plants. Angela finds balance between nurturing Harmonic Arts' vision and raising a young family.
Fall is here, and many kids are heading back to full classrooms as cold and flu season starts again. Parents are concerned, and this year there’s an added layer of unease due to the pandemic.
Friends have asked me a lot lately about what I do to set my kids up for healthy success.
I try to cover all the bases to keep our family strong and resilient. Some of what I am going to share may seem obvious, but the key is to follow them all together- the sum of all these parts is what helps our kids stay healthy and free of disease.
Here are the key pillars our family upholds to maintain vital health and support immunity:
- Self-Care: We hydrate fully, rest well, breathe clean air deeply.
- Movement & Routine: We move our bodies outside freely, we follow a routine to create a reliable sense of rhythm, and love one another completely, without reserve.
- Gut Health: We support healthy gut flora by eating cultured foods with every meal, prebiotic foods such as mushrooms and seaweeds, and allowing our hands to get dirty in nature (Gardening and lots of outdoor play!). The more diverse our microbiome is, the stronger our immune systems prove to be.
- Sunshine: We get adequate amounts of SUN. After September, here in the northern hemisphere we do not get strong enough sun rays to adequately supply our Vitamin D needs. Now is the time to top up our reserves and catch the sun for at least 15 minutes or longer, depending on your skin tone, the time of day, and the amount of skin you choose to expose.
- Eat the rainbow: Our family recognizes that when we eat food, we are taking our medicine. Eating a rainbow of foods and including all of the 5 flavours helps ensure that we are receiving the best nourishment the earth has to offer.
- Supplements and herbs: I try to blend any enhanced herbal therapies into the kids’ food, as their taste buds can be more sensitive, making it difficult at times to administer bitter-tasting medicines.
Herbal medicine for kids:
Every now and then you might luck out with a child that enjoys bitter herbs, as my first son did - he actually asks for them! Try ‘testing the waters’ and see if your child will take a tincture in just plain water, as this can develop an affinity for stronger flavour profiles.
One of my favourite ways to give the kids herbs is in our smoothies. I’ll often add in tinctures as the smoothie almost completely masks some of the stronger herbal flavours. Powders or cut and sifted herbs can also be added in small amounts.
Some staples I put in every time are 5 Mushroom Powder, Sea Veg Blend, and Green Power Blend for the “food as medicine” component, and then to really boost immunity I’ll add tinctures like Cold Defense, Immune Depth, or Viral Support. For acute concerns I will choose Cold Defense and Viral Support, using them for up to 10-14 consecutive days, otherwise, as a general immune boosting day-to-day choice I will give my kids a dose of Immune Depth tincture.
It’s easy to make herbal medicine enjoyable for your kids! Simply add a dose to their favourite juice, smoothie, hot drink, or soup- depending on the season. I trust my kids' intuitive cravings and let them choose what delivers their daily dose of herbal goodness.
Dosage is another topic that often comes up in conversation, and I like to use the following general rules of thumb when it comes to herbs for kids:
Fraction the amount down by your child’s weight. Harmonic Arts’ dosage recommendations are for a standard 150lb adult. So if a child weighs 50 lbs, you would use 1/3rd the amount on the bottle. If the recommendation on the label states 1-4ml, 2-4 times per day, then for my 50lb child I would give them 0.3-1.3ml, 2-4 times per day. Generally, I start on the lower dosage of the spectrum (0.3ml), observe any impacts the tincture has over the first few days, and then adjust as needed.
Immune Boosting Smoothie:
This highly nutritious smoothie enhances our morning ritual and sets us up for the day!
½ Banana, ½ C Avocado, or ½ C Apple sauce (fresh or frozen)
Handful of berries (fresh or frozen)
½ C Live Kefir or Yogurt (coconut or grass fed dairy depending on food choices)
Protein powder source (Whey, hemp, Harmonic Arts Engage)
1 TB Flax or Chia
Frozen mylk cubes (Almond, oat, or coconut)
¼ tsp 5 Mushroom Powder
½ tsp Sea Veg Blend
1 tsp Green Power Blend
Blend together until smooth and enjoy!
Keep in mind that for herbs to do their work, they need the right conditions in the body. Making holistic, health-conscious choices every day will set your family up for a strong and resilient path of good health for life!