|Children and Herbal Therapy |
Although rarely seen in breast fed babies, it is not abnormal for breast
fed babies to have bowel movements as infrequently as one in seven days.
Treat breast fed infants for constipation only if the child appears to have
pain and cries during the bowel movement. The indications for treatment
in bottle fed babies or young children include:
If bowel movements are accompanied by much pain, abdominal bloating and
crying it is important to refer for skilled diagnosis to rule out conditions
such as Hirschsprungs disease, impaction, etc..
- Painful passage. Pain during bowel movement is abnormal and in
some cases trauma to the anal canal can lead to anal fissure. This is confirmed
by finding bright red blood around anus or on toilet paper.
- Inability to pass stools. Children who feel the need to have
a bowel movement and are unable to do so. The exception is infants less
that 12 months of age who grunt push, or strain, and become flushed in the
face during bowel movements. This is normal behavior as long as the episode
is not accompanied by pain.
- Infrequent movements, going more than four days for young children.
It is inappropriate to use laxative remedies with children unless absolutely
necessary, as constipation almost always responds to dietary changes. For
babies over six months of age you may add strained apricots, prunes, pears
to the diet. For older children try:
- Increase intake of water.
- Increase fruits and vegetables particularly raw foods with peels such
as figs, raisins, pears, apricots, beans, celery, cucumber, lettuce, apples.
- Increase fibre by using whole grain cereals or making bran muffins.
- Decrease constipating foods, e.g. dairy products, white rice, bananas,
cooked carrots, white flour.
- Use Psyllium seed preparations in children over two years of age.
- Flavored cod liver oil.
The number and consistency of stools varies a great deal. Loose stools are
normal in the breast fed infant. If baby is vomiting and having more than
8 watery stools there is danger of dehydration and loss of electrolyte balance.
Refer the child if there is blood in the stool, abdominal pain causing crying
for over two hours, or signs of dehydration such as lack of turgor, depression
of the anterior fontanel, or dry mucous membranes.
Consider it diarrhea if the number and fluid content of the stools has dramatically
increased or exceeds 10 per day in the child under one year of age. Infection
with Shigella, Salmonella and Campylobactor will often result in blood flecked
diarrhea. Ampicillin will sometimes result in diarrhea, however the most
common cause is mild viral infection.
A number of the astringent remedies are particularly suitable for children.
Possibly the most useful is Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). Unfortunately
whilst available it is not widely stocked in North America. Tell your herb
supplier they need to carry it! These herbs are also helpful for children
Geranium maculatum (Cranesbill)
Euphrasia spp. (Eyebright)
Solidago virgaurea (Golden Rod)
Verbascum thapsus (Mullein)
Plantago media (Plantain)
Rubus spp. (Raspberry)
Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
Potentilla tormentilla (Tormentil)
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Rosemary Tea (quoted from Natural Child Care by Maribeth
Rosemary is antispasmodic and astringent, so a mild tea made from this herb
is excellent for infant diarrhea. The antispasmodic property relaxes painful
abdominal cramping and the astringent quality helps tighten the lower intestine
and solidify the stool.
1/4 oz. Rosemary
1 cup water
- Combine Rosemary with the water in a covered pot, bring to a boil and
simmer for 5 minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat and steep the herb for 15 minutes.
- Thoroughly strain out the herb through cheesecloth and discard it.
- You may see some essential oil floating on top. Stir this back in and
cool the tea to tepid before serving. Do not sweeten. Refrigerate the unused
tea and reheat with each use. Discard remaining tea after 3 days.
Application: Bottle-feed an infant suffering from diarrhea 1/4 cup
of tea 3 times each day, for 3 days, or until the diarrhea is checked. Most
infants do not like the taste of the tea, so you may have to use a teaspoon
or sterile dropper to administer it. Diarrhea in an infant can become a
serious condition owing to dehydration. If the diarrhea is severe, dehydration
can occur in less than 24 hours. If mild diarrhea does not improve after
3 days or treatment, or if the diarrhea is severe, with frequent uncontrolled
bowel movements and painful cramping, consult a physician.
About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it with hope, he as an individual had to be whole within himself....more