A child with a bad cough can scare the you-know-what out of a mom. Small children have an uncanny ability to come down with BIG coughs, so preparation is key. Along with stocking a holistic medicine kit, file these natural cough remedies away and use them the next time your child comes down with croup or cough.
What is Croup?
The telltale “barky” cough of croup often follows a cold virus. Accompanied by noisy breathing and restricted air flow to the lungs, croup can be scary for the whole family.
What Causes Croup?
Croup and coughs often occur after a cold virus when the trachea becomes irritated and constricts. When the trachea constricts air flow to the lungs in diminished and a cough that sounds “barky” can occur.
Conventional Treatment for Croup.
If symptoms are severe a child may be prescribed corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety in extreme cases. If a child shows signs of distressed breathing, seek medical attention promptly.
Natural Remedies for Croup.
Increase clear fluids: Keeping hydrated is very important during croup or cough as fluids can help to dispel excess mucous. Focus on nutrient-dense clear broths such as bone broth, or light soups made with bone broth. Drink lots of filtered water. Cultured beverages such as Kevita will help to boost probiotic power for the immune system.
Steam: Increase the level of humidity in your home and especially the room your child is sleeping in. You can do this by using a humidifier, diffuser, hot shower or even putting a steaming bowl of water in the room. The moist air can help with congestion and lessen the intensity of coughing fits. Diffusing essential oils known to promote lung function may also be helpful (see essential oils section below).
Detox bath: Clearing toxins from the body helps with all acute illnesses when tolerated. Not only will a detox bath help your child to detoxify, but the magnesium will relax muscles to ease the cough and the steam from the bath will also help with congestion. Read my post on detox baths for kids for more information.
Raw Buckwheat Honey : Naturally tough on bacteria and viruses, raw honey is a holistic remedy you don’t want to be without. In studies raw buckwheat honey was found MORE effective than over-the-counter cough medicine, too (source). This remedy is not recommended for babies under 1 year old, but for children over 1 year, use a teaspoon of raw honey to soothe a cough.
Chest massage with essential oils: Rubbing a child’s chest with an essential oil blend can help to ease tight muscles and promote healthy lung function. Essential oils for lung function include Frankincense, Lavender, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Rosemary, Lemon and Thyme depending on your child’s age and symptoms. I use this brand of essential oils and I use this book (only good for Young Living essential oils) to help me decide which essential oil to use for my kids. Children may also benefit from mixing 1-2 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) and rubbing this mixture on the bottoms of a child’s feet.
Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathic medicine has been used for over 200 years. Widely practiced by MDs in Europe (over 30% of French MDs use homeopathy as part of their practice (source), homeopathy is still somewhat mysterious to many in the USA. We have used homeopathic medicine successfully for my kids since they were born. Homeopathic medicine (called a homeopathic remedy) gently stimulates the body’s own healing capacity with no risk or side effects. The only challenge with homeopathy (in my opinion) is that you need to match the correct remedy to a child’s specific set of symptoms for the remedy to be effective. So there isn’t just one homeopathic remedy for a cough. Instead there are several potential remedies for a cough depending on what type of cough (dry, wet, etc.) and other symptoms (cold symptoms, fever, etc.) The good news? There is no danger if you use the wrong remedy. But if you are looking for quick relief for your child it’s best to work with a homeopathic doctor who can help you identify the correct remedy immediately. Our MD is also a doctor of homeopathy so if one of my children is sick I give him a call with the rundown of symptoms and he decides on the remedy best suited for the illness. When I want to try finding a remedy on my own I reference this book and I am always amazed at how fast homeopathic medicine works when the remedy matches the illness.
Cold outside air: Often breathing the cold outside air for a few minutes can help to ease coughing fits. Try this with your child if you have access to cool, outside air. Make sure you keep your child warm by wrapping them in the blanket before you take them outside as you don’t want the child to get chilled.
Sleep and rest: Our bodies heal and repair while we sleep, so like all of my natural remedy posts, I encourage children to rest and sleep as much as possible when sick.
Herbs and Supplements
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is used to boost immune function and may shorten the duration of viruses. Buffered vitamin C powder is best for little tummies.
Probiotics: Probiotics may help to increase immune function. Make sure you choose a high quality supplement that has a high adherence rate. You can also get probiotics through fermented foods and beverages such as Kevita.
Elderberry syrup: Elderberry has a long been known as a friend to the immune system. We use this syrup a few times a week during cold and flu season. When my children are sick I use it daily.
Medical Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on the internet. This post is not to be considered a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always use your best judgement and seek the advice of your health professionals as needed.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What home remedies have you found helpful with a croupy kid?