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 mineral broth, or light soups made with broth. Drink lots of filtered water with a squeeze of lemon to help break up congestion. Juicing straight cucumber juice is a great way to hydrate your child and thin mucous as well.
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 is also a nice way to add humidity to the space–we like frankincense, pine, eucalyptus, and thyme. I diffuse each as singles instead of a blend. Make sure to check safety of essential oils for your child (some should not be used for young children).
Magnesium bath: A magnesium bath can help relax chest muscles and can ease a cough. Also, the steam from the bath may help with congestion. I take the opportunity to diffuse some essential oils in the bathroom during a bath, too. 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 that may support 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. We like using Ester-c. It’s easy on the tummy and is great for the immune system.
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.
Rosehips tea: Rosehips are a great source of bioavailable vitamin C and a powerhouse against the viruses and bacteria that cause coughs. Add honey and a touch of lemon if you like.
Thyme tea: Thyme is a strong antibacterial and antiviral herb that is a must-have for your holistic medicine kit. Here are my instructions for making thyme tea. This is a wonderful herb to help kick a cough to the curb!
Cough elixir: This herbal blend is made for children and contains many herbs known to fight coughs. It’s a good thing to have in your medicine kit. We follow the dosage instructions on the bottle.
Goldenseal: When one of my kids has a particularly strong viral or bacterial situation going on, I pull out the big guns…Goldenseal. This herb is stronger than an antibiotic in my opinion (neither of my children have ever needed to take antibiotics). Goldenseal should not be taken longer than 2 weeks and dosage depends on the age of your child. This one is straight goldenseal (it tastes terrible but it works for us) and this one is made for kids and blended with echinacea.
Turmeric/Ginger wellness shots: Turmeric and ginger are both great immune boosters and can be taken with any virus. My kids have trouble taking ginger because it’s spicy but sometimes I can get my older one to try this. I leave out the garlic (however garlic is amazing if you’re sick with a cough).
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?