Thursday, January 1, 2015

What Does the Herbalist Do when Sickness Threatens?

Last night, I got home later than usual (The shop closes at six, but last night I gave a talk at the Columbus chapter of the National Herb Society!). My four year old was already in bed, asleep. As I sat downstairs, I heard him cough, over and over. Eventually, it woke him up and he hollered downstairs, "Daddy? Is Mommy here yet?" I yelled back, "Yes, I am- come downstairs, sweetie!"

He scrambled down his ladder (he is the bunk bed king) and downstairs and came running for a hug. "I'm coughing a lot, Mommy." I responded, "I know, hon- I bet it woke you up, too. Does your throat hurt? Are you sick anywhere else?" We determined that he was congested, but it was the common seasonal congestion that is not (yet) an infection, clogging his sinuses and making him cough up phlegm. (If you didn't already know, the color of your mucus is one way to tell if you have an infection or not- seasonal allergies and congestion will be clear, but infections will be yellow or green.)

The winter weather has been weird here in Ohio this year. One day it will be in the 60's, then below 20's . Many people get sinus pressure and congestion with the seasonal changes in air pressure, and if you nip it in the bud, there's no reason for it to get any worse or turn into an infection. So as an herbalist with lots of natural remedies at my disposal, what did I do with my 4 year old?

First, I gave home some Elderberry and Horehound syrup that I made for us. I tend to make an Elderberry Thyme mix for the shop called Stop the Crud, which is an all-around good anti-microbial. But he and I both are susceptible to sore throats and earaches. So we always have this syrup (Horehound is awesome for sore throats) and Earache Oil in the house. Since he had been hacking for well an hour, the coughing was slow to stop, as his throat was sore and irritated.

Next, I put on the kettle. He loves his Sick Kid Tea. (Yes, it is a tea that I first made for my son, and now I sell it for all kids. It is safe and gentle, even for infants (for babies, serve at room temp with a syringe for tiny ones).) I added some local honey to his tea and while he waited for the kettle, I did one more thing.

I always keep a jar of honey in the cabinet that has a large amount of cinnamon mixed in (it is thick and brown and delicious and it is great for sore throats). I gave him a spoonful (and who wouldn't want to eat that?!) which stopped his coughing, stat. He loves licking that spoon. I make cinnamon and elderberry honey seasonally, called Purple Paste that kids love.

Then he drank his tea while I stroked his hair and we shared information about our days. The tea lulled him into drowsiness again and then we went to bed at the same time. The tea helps with calming sick kids down as well as with yucky symptoms of illness. So it works like a charm.

This morning, just to be sure, I gave him another dose of Elderberry Horehound syrup and a dose of Lemon Balm Glycerite in some juice. No infections will be able to survive now!


  1. I just found your blog and would love to know more about your sick kid tea but the link is dead. Thanks ��

  2. Hi Carrie!

    We recently moved websites, which is why the links on this older blog are dead. You can check out our newest blog posts, all our products, and classes and events at


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