By Kris Vaughan, CH
If you’re a parent then Back-to-School can be the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be a dreaded time of year. Before I learned some back to school strategies it seemed like my kids always got a cold or flu within 2 weeks of starting school. It’s as if I sent them to a giant petri dish of virus and bacteria and hoped for the best. I was always sorely disappointed when we had illness run rampant through their classrooms and then our home each year. After becoming an herbalist and natural medicine geek I developed a few back-to-school strategies to boost my kids immune systems and keep them well.
- Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to influenza in various studies. We may live in Arizona which is a very sunny state but we also have one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency. Adding a daily supplement of vitamin D to your child’s routine can aid in preventing the flu.
- Homeopathics are a natural and effective way to boost immunity and protect your child, and yourself, when they have been exposed to something. My favorite is a product called Muco Coccinum which acts against colds and flu. I give one a day to my children beginning a few days before going back to school and through the third week of school.
- Elderberry Syrup is a pleasant herbal syrup made from the berries of Sambuccus nigra. Studies have shown elderberry to be the top anti-flu herb with the ability to prevent and to shorten the duration of the flu. Elderberry should be taken several times a day during exposure for best results.
- Healthy Foods are critical for the best function of our immune systems. Make sure your kid’s lunches are full of high quality proteins and snacks such as fruits and veggies. Loading kids up with nutrient-dense foods gives the cells in our body the fuel to function at their best. Avoid sugary snacks in school lunches except for occasional treats. Sugar lowers the immune system function and opens our kids up to catching unwanted germs.
- Water keeps your kids hydrated and hydration equals strong immunity. Sugary drinks such as sodas, chocolate milk, and juices will lower the immune function and also can make your kids have difficulty focusing during class.
- Hand washing makes a difference. Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently throughout the day and especially after touching other people’s things or surfaces. There are millions of chances during the day to be in contact with germs and then transfer them through the nose and eyes by touching our faces. Frequent hand-washing lowers the chances that your kids will come home with unwanted viral visitors.
Of course nothing is fool-proof but the above strategies are helpful for protecting your kids and preventing colds and flu at the onset of school time and throughout the year. This listing is a good start and there are many more strategies that families find helpful. It’s important to keep in mind that each child and each situation is unique so having a health care partner on your side is valuable in determining the best tools for you and your family.
Schedule an appointment with a Certified Herbalist in our wellness clinic to develop personalized strategies for your own family. You may find the items listed in this article in our apothecary.