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Giving Herbs to Children

The gentleness of herbal medicine is most appropriate for children, because they respond quickly and easily, since their bodies and minds have not been engraved with the patterns of illness for so many years. I recommend using the Clark’s Rule method of determining dosages based on a child's weight rather than age. Clark’s Rule assumes that a dosage for an herb or herb blend is based on an adult body of about 150 pounds. To figure the dosage for a child (or anyone of smaller-than-adult size), divide the recommended dosage by 150 and multiply the result by the child’s weight. Therefore, the dosage amount for a child of 50 pounds would be about 1/3 of the regular full dosage listed on the label. Very young children do not need strong herbs or large doses for good results, because their systems are usually quite responsive to a gentle touch, so a few drops of liquid extract diluted in water or a teaspoon of herbal tea may be enough.

Willingness to take herbal remedies varies widely among children, but most are very sensitive and responsive to the attitudes of the parents. If you have any concern or negative attitudes about taste or effectiveness, your child will be resistant to taking the herbs, regardless of whether you express your concern out loud. Children are very sensitive to your energy and body language and will take their cues from you. A relaxed, no-big-deal approach will usually get the best result. Herbs that have a bitter or unpleasant taste can be mixed with an equal amount of maple syrup or honey and taken as a syrup. Follow the herb dose with a bright-tasting berry juice, a bit of crystallized ginger or herbal tea such as peppermint. Do not give syrups containing honey to babies under a year old.

Be sure to discuss recommended dose amount and frequency with your herbalist.