The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Using Herbs with Children: Where is the “Line”?

Every parent has a “Line” when using herbs with children. Crossing the Line means that outside help is required, whether it be a professional herbalist, a naturopath or an MD. It is important to acknowledge the Line and to think about where it is.

Various factors effect the position of the Line and it is different in each situation. Two issues to consider are:

  • Where is the nearest hospital or urgent care facility? Travel time to outside help plays a role in how soon one makes that decision. Five minutes to an urgent care facility is very different than the two+ hours that can occur in rural parts of the Southwest.
  • What are the parent’s training and skill levels in regards to the child’s health issue? If an adult has successfully dealt with ear infections before and knows what to do, the line may be further away. This is very different than an unexpected and unexplained severe stomach pain with no previous history.

It is also essential to have two areas of support. One is a good reference library. This can consist of books or websites. When stressed, it is easy to forget indications for specific herbs or important signs for assessing one’s health.

Health care professionals in all fields have checklists and flowcharts to guide them in the care they provide. It is certainly worthwhile for parents to have some trusted sources to refer to when questions arise. References for these have been posted in previous blogs.

The other primary area of support is people. Don’t wait for a medical emergency to look for a pediatric physician. Ask around for recommendations and make contact with one ahead of time.

In addition to physicians, it is also beneficial to have an emotional and logistical support network developed ahead of time. A neighbor can watch over remaining family members still at home if an unexpected run to the doctor is needed at 2AM. Sometimes, even a simple phone call to a trusted herb friend asking for advice or feedback is all that is needed.

One of the key areas of home-based herbal health care for parents is knowing when to ask for help and having it available when needed.

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