Safe remedies for children

Your baby’s been crying all day, is obviously unwell, but when you go to the GP, you are told that you can’t have antibiotics and should, ‘Go home and give her a few doses of Calpol’.

Recent research has indicated that too much Calpol can lead to asthma, and doctors are now discouraged from handing out antibiotics for children. The study claimed that children who are routinely given Calpol up to 18 months of age are twice as likely to develop asthma or wheezing by the time they are six, and may also suffer from hay fever.  There are now 1.1 million children in the UK who have been diagnosed with asthma, which has risen three times in the last 60 years.


Antibiotics have in the past been handed out quite liberally, particularly when a doctor is faced with a pleading parent. However, they have no no effect on viruses and sometimes parents are left despairing about what to do.

  •  They are very effective at combating any kind of infection, but they do not have any effect on viruses.
  • While they wipe out infection, they also destroy the healthy bacteria we need in our gut to keep the immune system healthy.
  • Children who have been given a succession of courses of antibiotics and other strong drugs are often more prone to illness because their immune systems are depleted.
  • Overuse of antibiotics has led to resistance and has been implicated in the rise in hospital infections.

Millions of bottles of children’s painkillers are sold every year and many parents swear by them, but they contain paracetamol and should never be given regularly over a long period of time.  Research just out also claims that ibuprofen is not safe for children.

It is preferable to get to the cause of the problem than to persistently suppress the symptoms.

The holistic approach

Complementary therapies are based on treating the person as a whole and not the symptoms. Increasingly parents are becoming more discerning, and do not want children risking the side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs, preferring to opt for a natural solution.


Arnica photo courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce
  • Chamomilla homeopathic teething granules, also for diarrhoea
  • Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy – instant calming after shock or tantrum
  • Pulsatilla homeopathic tablets for moody, clingy and whinging children, catarrh and conjunctivis
  • Lavender oil – soothing, for sleeplessness, burns, bites, and general well-being
  • Arnica – homeopathic cream, or lotion for bruising and tablets for shock as well
  • Aconite – homeopathic for the onset of chills or flu
  • Apis – homeopathic for insect bites or stings
  • Jan de Vries Child Essence – a mixture of flower essences to calm a ratty child
  • Echinacea – herbal remedy to boost the immune system when colds and flu strike
  • Calendula cream – homeopathic cream for cuts, grazes and many skin conditions
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Lavender Oil Tisserand 9ml £5.35
Echinacea Complex for Children A. Vogel Bioforce 30ml £5.75
Echinacea Junior Chewable Tablets A. Vogel Bioforce 60 £5.75
Child  Flower Essence Bioforce Jan de Vries 30ml £4.55
Pulsatilla 30C Nelsons 84 £5.45
Apis mel 30C Nelsons Clikpak 84 £5.45
Arnica Cream Nelsons 30g £4.65
Calendula Cream Nelsons 30g £4.65
R Infants Teething Pains New Era 450 £5.10
Chamomilla 30c Weleda 125 £6.95
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Homeopathy is safe

There may be many complaints that homeopathy doesn’t work by certain doctors and parts of the media, but no-one ever says it isn’t safe. Homeopathy is a very safe form of medicine which is widely practised on children. It works on the principle that the best treatment for any symptoms in an ill person is a remedy which causes the same symptoms in a healthy person. The remedies therefore stimulate the body to heal itself naturally.

Visiting a homeopath

  • The first visit to a homeopath takes a lot longer than visiting the GP and you have to allow at least an hour;
  • Questions about medical history, family history, food likes and dislikes, school and more will be asked about;
  • The homeopath will try to understand the child’s personality – are they shy, outgoing, hardworking, jealous, awkward, loving?

Everyone is treated as an individual and the homeopath wants to find a remedy which matches not just their current symptoms but their characteristics as well.


For repetitive or serious problems it is sensible to consult a homeopath. But there are some remedies which can be kept at home for self- help:

  • Arnica for bruising;
  • Aconite for the first signs of colds and flu;
  • Gelsemium for flu and fever;
  • Pulsatilla for whingey and moody children; Nux Vom for feeling sick or insomnia.

Trials on homeopathic remedies have proved that they are completely safe and without side-effects. Homeopathy can work better and faster on children than on adults, because they lack pre-conceived ideas and their systems are untainted by toxins like alcohol!

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Arnica 30C Nelsons Clikpak 84 £5.45
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ELEANOR had a flu like illness with a hacking cough which she caught from her dad. Over the next few months she had three courses of antibiotics but her health didn’t improve. At 6 ½ Eleanor was supposed to read out loud every night but every time she tried she had a coughing fit. Eventually the doctor told her mother Karen that Eleanor must have a virus and not an infection because it had not responded to antibiotics. The doctor gave her an inhaler in case she had developed asthma.

FOUR MONTHS LATER Eleanor was still very unwell. According to Karen, ‘She had lost weight and her eyes had black lines underneath. She coughed so much at night it was making her nearly sick, and she was keeping the whole family awake too. She had missed a lot of school just at a time when she was due to take her Key Stage 2 exams.’

KAREN WAS TOLD ABOUT A HOMEOPATH  at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living and although she had never been to one before she was willing to give it a try. ‘He asked us very searching questions about our family medical history, family relationships, school and her general health. ‘Until this illness she had always been quite a healthy child. We saw the homeopath in June and he gave us just one remedy. After three weeks she was completely better and has been fine ever since.’

How to take homeopathic remedies:

  • Pop the little pillules under the tongue and let them dissolve;
  • Try to leave 15 minutes before and after eating and drinking;
  • Don’t handle the pills because they are delicate – pop straight in the mouth from the lid of the carton;
  • Children should avoid peppermint (including toothpaste) because it can lessen the effect of the remedy;
  • Avoid using strong aromatherapy oils, even in a vaporiser, such as eucalyptus and camphor while taking homeopathic remedies.

Children quite enjoy taking them which has a positive psychological effect in itself!

When you purchase remedies you will see that the potency is either 6c or 30c, with the higher number denoting greater strength. Either are suitable for children but only practitioners prescribe 120c potency.

Homeopathy on the NHS

Few people realise it but homeopathy is available on the NHS and according to the policy of your GP you may be able to get your child referred to a homeopath.

There are four NHS homeopathic hospitals around the country in London, Glasgow, Liverpool,  and Bristol and all are NHS run. You should be able to ask your GP for a referral but PCTs have their own policies, and it may take some persuading.

Most natural practitioners believe that illness is a symptom of emotional upset. Dr Bach who developed Bach Flower Remedies certainly believed that negative feelings lie behind illness.

Flower remedies

Homeopathically prepared and very safe for children, flower remedies are formulated to treat emotional upset.

A few drops of the appropriate flower remedy can be put into a child’s drink or popped on the tongue:

  • Rescue Remedy is a combination of flower essences which calm down a child whether they are distraught, frightened, shocked or have suffered from a fall or blow;
  • Impatiens is, as it sounds, invaluable for restless children, who rush around and are very impatient, and their parents too!
  • Holly is for those who have hateful or jealous behaviour;
  • Larch helps to boost confidence.
  • Australian Bush Flowers Confidence helps low self-esteem, shyness and confidence issues.
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Confidence Essence Australian Bush Flower Essences 30ml £9.95
Larch Bach Flower Remedy Bach Flower Remedies 20ml £6.40
Impatiens Bach Flower Remedy Bach Flower Remedies 20ml £6.40
Holly Bach Flower Remedies 20ml £6.40
Rescue Remedy Spray Bach Flower Remedies 20ml £8.25
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Aromatherapy oils


Essential oils can also be used for calming either through massage, bathing or vaporising.  Be careful with children though, because essential oils are strong and could hurt them if applied neat.  They must be well diluted in baths – some people suggest diluting with milk, but swirling them around with your hands should be adequate.

Lavender and chamomile are particularly safe for all ages – even babies – and a dilution of two drops in vegetable oil can be popped in the bath when kids are getting frantic early evening.

  • Lavender is helpful for sleeping and for an older child (over five) a few drops on a tissue can send them off quite quickly, while for those younger a small amount in a vaporiser has the same effect;
  • Eucalyptus – a few drops on a tissue under the pillow can ease a cold at night, or in a vaporiser helps breathing.
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Lavender oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml  £5.35
Eucalyptus oil Health Aid 10ml  £4.49
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