Homeopathy for Children
(Reprint of 05/2000 Newsletter)
My younger daughter is counting down the days to the end of school, and all of us with children will soon be enjoying the fun and challenging days of summer. Because of that, I thought I would use this month's newsletter to talk a little bit about children and homeopathy.
First, homeopathy is invaluable for dealing with the nagging little ailments and injuries that come with an active summer. Bug bites, poison ivy, sun burns, homesickness during camp, and even overindulgence in ice cream can all be alleviated with the remedies. If you don't have a copy of the summer remedies list, e-mail me and I will send one to you.
At any time, my list of clients is made up of about one third to one half children. I work with children from the minute that they are born including using remedies during birth. Children have not been exposed to many of the pollutants and other toxins that adults have encountered, and it seems that their systems react amazing well to the remedies. Their "vital force" is often strong and can respond quickly and effectively to any illness or medication. In homeopathy, this strong, immediate response is called a plethoric constitution.
Homeopaths often view the high fevers of childhood as a sign of a plethoric constitution since the fever is considered to be a reactive response to a bacteria or virus that the child's immune system is dealing with.
Homeopathic remedies are not given according to the weight or age of the patient. Interestingly, it is common to give the same "dose" to a newborn as you would give to an adult man. Remember that the remedies are not based on the concept of amount as in regular medicine. A miniscule dose of a remedy that matches the person's symptoms, signals the body to respond by balancing itself. Raising health homeopathically requires that the right remedy is chosen and that the person has enough "vital force" to respond by balancing itself. Even with the correct remedy and plenty of vital force, some illnesses require treatment with regular medicine in a timely fashion. That is neither the failure of the remedy or a lack of strength in the person who is ill. Illness, like death, is a normal part of life.
The concept of "like cures like" in homeopathy can be hard to grasp, but the main thing to remember is that overdose is not possible with homeopathic remedies as it would be with regular medications. You will notice that there is not child guard on the remedy tubes. Even if a child were to take a whole tube of the remedies, they would not be affected any more than if they had taken one dose. Every year I get a few calls from concerned parents whose children have eaten remedies because of the sweet taste of the pellets. One brother and sister ate an entire kit including high doses with no ill results other than the considerable stress on their parents and the expense of replacing so many remedies. As with all medications and food supplements, it is good to keep remedies out of the reach of young children. The homeopathic remedies are particularly tempting to kids because of the taste of the sucrose-lactose pellets that the medicine is on.
All homeopathic remedies except those in liquid form are dispensed on sucrose-lactose pellets of varying sizes. I suggest pellets because they are easier to get than the liquid, and I don't like the fact that the liquid is alcohol-based. I have not found that the small amount of sugar that the child gets from the tablet is a problem for their teeth even if the remedy is being given frequently. I have also been happy to see that the lactose in the pellet is not a problem even for those children who are lactose intolerant.
When giving a remedy to a child, it is important that the adult not touch the remedy. Remedies can easily be given to newborns by laying them on their back, gently squeezing their face to make a "fish face" and then tossing the remedy from the cap into their mouth. They cannot choke on the remedy. Very young babies will make a thrusting tongue motion that may push the pellet out of their mouth. Do not be concerned if the remedy is pushed out. There is no need to give another dose. The homeopathic medicine on the pill is like the dust on a moth's wing. Once the remedy touches the child's mouth, they have gotten the dose and it doesn't matter if the vehicle for the medicine - the pellet - is spit out, chewed, or swallowed. There is no need to try to put the remedy under the child's tongue or to get them to let the remedy dissolve slowly. With children, I don't worry about when they have last eaten or had something to drink. Children eat and drink constantly and it is important for them to get the right remedies without the parent having to worry about their food and drink intake.
Toddlers soon learn to put their heads back and open their mouths wide like little birds for remedies. After age seven or eight, most kids can take remedies themselves with supervision and teens often call me themselves and handle taking remedies on their own. If you are letting younger children take remedies alone, expect to lose remedies from spillage without getting angry. The tubes are not really user friendly, and I would rather see a tube replaced than a child being scolded because remedies got away from them.
I always made it a point to tell my kids the name of the remedy I was giving them and why. Lots of times it seemed like it went in one ear and out the other, but over the years I have seen them become more proficient at self-prescribing. When my older daughter was around four or five, I was amused to find her watching cartoons and commenting that one of the characters needed some Arnica after plummeting off a cliff. Now at twenty-one and fourteen, they often comment to me that one or another of their friends could sure use a remedy to help them deal with acne, chronic cough, depression, or eating disorders. For the most part, they have learned to keep those thoughts to themselves because of the complexities of suggesting remedies to kids who are unfamiliar with homeopathy and would have to get permission from a parent who is most likely unfamiliar with it.
I particularly encourage parents to use the remedies for the emotional ups and downs of childhood as well as the physical. Most physical ailments are self-resolving, but many fears and emotional hurts of childhood can stay with them into adulthood. A remedy or two to ease the emotional bumps can be an investment in the future that is well worth the effort.