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  • Go Natural: Home Remedies for 6 Common Childhood Ailments

    Most likely, you already have these ingredients in your pantry
    by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." So goes the saying by Hippocrates, who is commonly known as "the father of modern medicine." Some people might say that Hippocrates' statement is "outdated" but others would probably attest to the truth contained within it: many times, what you consume can actually "heal" you in certain ways.

    This is true even in common childhood ailments like colds, cough, and diarrhea. Dr. Bernardita Martinez, a pediatrician who is now a natural medicine practitioner, shares a few natural remedies for such conditions below:   

    1. Diarrhea
    Home remedy: 1 teaspoon muscovado sugar + half a glass of water

    muscovado sugar and water

    Photos from joepastry.com, imgbuddy.com

    Drink it as you normally would drink water. You can also opt to use brown sugar, and add a little salt in the mixture.

    "I have observed in both children and adults that the irritation or inflammation, stomach pain or hyperirritability of the gastrointestinal tract stops with this remedy," Dr. Martinez shares. "It also stops the frequent bowel movement, and is applicable for acute or sudden and recurrent prolonged diarrhea. It also helps patients regain their energy."

    Another home remedy for diarrhea is guava "tea." Just boil some guava or bignai leaves in clean drinking water. It's also advisable to eat only rice gruel (porridge or congee), crackers and grilled fish if you're having loose bowel movement episodes.

    2. Colds and cough
    Home remedy: 1/2 cup of honey + 3 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed calamansi juice + water (to dilute)


    honey calamansi

    Photos from juixing.com, pixgood.com

    Honey with calamansi is a relatively well-known home remedy for the common cold and cough. Honey, in particular, was even reported to be more effective than cough medicine by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine in the U.S.

    (Important: Please remember that children below 1 year old should not be given honey, as it could cause infant botulism.)


    3. Phlegm
    Home remedy: 1 teaspoon honey + juice from oregano leaves

    honey oregano

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    Photos from juixing.com, stuartxchange.com

    Oregano is also useful for relieving colds and coughs. All you need to do is soften some oregano leaves by heating them over a little fire, then squeeze the leaves to extract the juice. "Drinking oregano juice, mixed with a little honey, can soften phlegm," Dr. Martinez explains.

    (Important: Please remember that children below 1 year old should not be given honey, as it could cause infant botulism.)


    4. Head lice
    Home remedy: Virgin coconut oil

    virgin coconut oil

    Photo from homeremediesforlife.com

    According to Dr. Martinez, head lice can be killed by virgin coconut oil (VCO). "After bathing, rub or wet the hair with VCO," she advises. If colloidal silver is available, you can use it, too.

    Related: How to Get Rid of Head Lice


    5. Fever
    Home remedy: Vinegar + a bowl of cold water

    vinegar plus water


    Photos from theaveragegirlsguide.com, justclickchange.com

    Fever is not a disease in itself, and is usually a symptom for many different sicknesses.

    According to Dr. Perri Klass, a pediatrician who wrote about an article about a few benefits of fever for the New York Times, "fever can indeed be scary, and any fever in an infant younger than 3 months is cause for major concern because of the risk of serious bacterial infections. But in general, in older children who do not look very distressed, fever is positive evidence of an active immune system, revved up and helping an array of immunological processes work more effectively."

    If your child has a fever, Dr. Martinez recommends increasing his or her water intake, and giving him or her a sponge bath with cold vinegar all over the body. "Vinegar can absorb the heat from the body quickly," she explains. "Avoid using alcohol because it's toxic."  

    Do take note, though, that in most cases, fevers should be treated only if it's causing your child discomfort. However, if your child is younger than 3 months old with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or is an older child with a temperature of higher than 102.2°F (39°C), it’s best to consult your pediatrician.

    6. Diaper rash
    Home remedy: Virgin coconut oil

    virgin coconut oil


    Photo from homeremediesforlife.com

    “VCO is excellent for treating diaper rashes, and other rashes on the body,” Dr. Martinez explains. “You can also use it on burns — even second degree ones.”

    In fact, according to different studies, coconut oil has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, and is effective as a skin moisturizer, among other things.

    Related article: 4 Mom-Recommended Diaper Rash Remedies

    Of course, when it comes to our children, it’s always best to back up the use of any home remedies with medical advice and guidance from trusted health care providers. Although some people may not entirely agree with the use of home remedies for common childhood ailments, it might be useful to note that even the World Health Organization (WHO) considers traditional medicine as having made “great contributions… to human health.”

    Locally, the Department of Health has also established the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), which aims to “uphold the right of every Filipino for better health through the provision of safe, effective and affordable traditional and alternative health care products, services and technologies.” Clearly, this shows the importance of exploring alternative remedies, even for our children.
    With this in mind, home remedies such as the ones described here are certainly worth exploring. As Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D., PhD, the pharmacologist behind Pfeiffer’s Law, states: “For every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect.”


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