Back to School, Boost Your Childs Immune System

 As summer draws to a close, we sharpen pencils, cover text books and pop copy books into new school bags, and a brand-new school year begins. With all the excitement of new uniforms, new teachers and new classmates, it can be easy to forget about some of the familiar challenges both children and adults face at back to school time. From challenging subjects and social stresses, to fighting off infections and getting proper nutrition, the school year can be hard on both children and parents. This year get ahead of the curve and play an active role in protecting and nurturing your son or daughter at school by preparing, protecting and boosting their first line of defence; the immune system.



Ensure plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Try and have a varied diet and include adequate protein like fish, poultry, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds as protein provides the building blocks for antibody formation in the body.

 Do not leave the house without breakfast!

Porridge or a boiled egg and toast will sustain children and prevent them snacking on or craving sugary foods. You can add honey, banana, stewed or grated apple or a little cinnamon or vanilla to porridge to make it more interesting! Keep ‘sugar-rich’ cereals to a minimum and avoid any added sugar as it lowers the immune response.

Diluted juice (preferably freshly juiced) will give a vital vitamin boost in the morning.

Protect and Populate with the Friendly Probiotic

Most children have up to eight colds a year, so chances are that your child can be exposed to a lot of viruses at school. Many factors, including a poor diet and antibiotic use, can affect the amount of friendly flora in your child's intestinal system. These flora are essential to good health, digestion, nutrient absorption and immune strength. Help to get the balance right by supplementing with a childrens formula probiotic.


Essential Fatty Acids

Healthy fats will keep inflammation under control and provide excellent ‘brain food’ for your little students. Eat 2-3 servings of cold water oily fish per week and a variety of organic nuts and seeds. Often these foods are absent from childrens diets so alternatively take a childrens formulated supplement.

Eye q chews €25.55 for 180 capsules. Take 6 capsules daily for 12 weeks, then 2 capsules daily once the body’s stores of long chain fatty acids have been built up. Also available in liquid, smooth formulations and one suitable for babies.



Just walking or other exercise for 20 minutes per day can have vast benefits for the body it reduces stress and can improve mental outlook. When and where possible, allow children to walk or cycle to school. If dropping them off, park a little further away and have a few minutes exercise and fresh air at the start of the day.


Protect the Back

Childrens bones are still developing, protect the neck and spine by choosing a school bag with wheels and an extendable handle if they are carrying heavy books.


Bee Pollen (Propolis)

This is an excellent nutritive and tonic supplement for building up the immune system and helping the body to cope with stress.  Pollen contains 21of the 23 known amino acids, many of the B vitamins, Vitamin A and numerous minerals. It also contains powerful anti-oxidants.

Childrens Propolis Herbal Elixir (Lemon and honey flavour) €10.95 for 200ml. Take 2 teaspoonfuls daily (Not suitable for children under 2 years of age). Also available as tablets, lollipops and lozenges.


Multivitamins and Minerals

A good compliment of vitamins and minerals are essential for immune function. Naturally it is best to eat a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables to ensure good nutrition. Children can benefit from a little helping hand at back to school time, particularly if they have a limited diet.

Solgar kangavites €8.99 for 60 chewable tablets. Take as directed.

Floradix Kindervital €8.95 for 250ml, is a liquid formulation. Take as directed.



Echinacea(Echinacea angustifolia/purpurea)

There are two types of Echinacea species Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. It is generally accepted that the angustifolia is the stronger of the two species in immune stimulating action.  Most research done on this herb focuses on the root portion of the plant having proven effectiveness. It is important when buying the tincture that you look for this. While the angustifolia is the stronger in action of the two species, research has found a synergy in action between the two types of Echinacea.

Start taking Echinacea now and continue periodically over the winter months to help prevent infection. Taken in larger doses, more often, it is a proven immune stimulant when taken at the first sign of an infection (see your medical herbalist for individual prescribing doses for acute infection).

Dosage: Over the Counter (OTC) Childrens preparations, as directed per product. Available in tincture or tablets

A.Vogel Echinacea Junior €6.75 for 60 chewable tablets.

Naturlife Kids Echinacea €12.99 for 100ml (contains Echinacea angustifolia root)


Elderberry Juice

Provides a rich source of vitamin C and anti-oxidants and has a proven anti-viral action. The juice can be bought from your health food store and added to the daily drinks for school etc. As well as being useful in actively fighting a flu (It has been proven to reduce length of recovery from flu by 50%), it boosts the immune system and actually tastes delicious, providing a ‘kid friendly’ base for sneaking other herbs into!

Sambucol - a concentrated elderberry syrup, formulated for children €11.15. Take as directed.


Kelli’s Onion Syrup

Many of us will have a bag of onions in the house so this is a simple and economic medicine to prepare. Start taking this syrup daily to prevent colds and flus. it has anti-bacterial anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Onions are a rich source of the element sulphur; this element helps to detox and purify the body. It is also needed for new cell formation and is traditionally used for breaking up and reducing phlegm due to the warming and heating properties of the vegetable. Onions contain plant chemicals with bactericidal, anti-fungal and anti-protozol (parasite) activities.

Onion contains quercitin; this is a bioflavanoid which can help to improve the health of capillaries and connective tissues this makes it an important tool in cardiovascular health. Another benefit is that it helps to inhibit the release of histamine it is thought in this regard to help with conditions brought about by allergy. Quercitin is also present in many other fruits and vegetables.

I have added cloves for a warming winter flavour but also importantly for their powerful antiseptic qualities.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) not only imparts a delicious flavour, it is also has antibacterial and antiviral actions. It will help prevent and relieve respiratory infections, easing coughs and sore throats..;



Organic Onions

Honey/Unrefined cane sugar

3tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves

1 inch Ginger Root (optional)

Garlic (optional)

2-3  Cloves

Zest of ½ Lemon (organic, unwaxed)

How to make the syrup

1. Roughly chop up as many onions as required to fill a jam or parfait jar.

2. Mix together onions, thyme, lemon zest and cloves, garlic and ginger (optional).

 If you are using sugar place the onion mixture in the jar, layer up with a sugar layer followed by a layer of onion mixture until you fill the jar, leave for 3-4 days and strain out the contents label and store in a cool place.

3. If you are using the honey method fill the jar with onion mixture and pour the jar of honey on top until the jar is full, leave for 2 days and strain out the contents label and store in a cool place.

Dosage: 1-3 tsp daily.

Helpful Hints!

  • Check out for local honey
  • Garlic (not for the faint hearted!): add as many cloves as liked chopped or crushed at raw onion stage. An optional extra, it will add anti-bacterial power to your syrup.
  • Ginger (fresh): Fresh ginger is warming and will help clear congestion and phlegm in the upper respiratory tract. Added to the syrup it will make it ideal for pouring on your morning porridge warming up the stomach and boosting circulation first thing in the morning!
Method chop or grate an inch of fresh ginger (or more if you like it!) into the jar at the stage of adding the raw onion.


Herbal inhalation

To be inhaled in a bowl of hot water - could do it every day. If you felt a cold coming on you could increase it three times a day if convenient. Ideal for those who suffer with ongoing sinus problems.

You will need
. Eucalyptus essential oil
and lavander essential oil

  1. Take three drops of each and drop into a bowl of steaming water.
2. Position your childs head over the bowl and let them inhale slowly and deeply as long as can be tolerated while holding a towel over their head.

Helpful Hint! For children too young to safely do an inhalation, ass 3 drops of essential oil to the bath water.

Eucalyptus €4.49 for 10ml

Anti-infective skin oil:

Tea tree essential oil

Lavander essential oil

Sweet Almond Oil (Carrier oil)

Tea tree is (antibacterial anti-microbial) and lavender is both (antibacterial and relaxing) oils - put them in the bath (10 drops), or in a bowl and allow steam inhalation - (put a few drops in a bowl water and put towel over your head.

Tea tree €6.49 for 10ml

Lavender €11.90 for 20ml

The sweet almond oil can be used as a base oil; add 3 drops of each essential oil into 30 mls of base oil. It is ideal to rub the oil onto the skin around the lungs and around the glands below the ears and under the throat. It can be a nice part of the evening routine, a light relaxing massage before bed.

€3.75 for 50ml

Never use undiluted essential oil on the skin.

Lavender has a nicer aroma than the tea tree - antiseptic and anti bacterial properties relax and calm children ..

Echinacea - tablets

Take with water / food daily as a preventative

There are two types of Echinacea species E. angustifolia and E.purpurea. It is generally accepted that the angustifolia is the stronger of the two species in immune stimulating action.

Most research done on this herb focuses on the root portion of the plant having proven effectiveness. It is important when buying the tincture or capsules that you look for this. While the angustifolia is the stronger in action of the two species, research has found a synergy in action between the two types of Echinacea.

Proven effective as an immune stimulant when taken at the first sign of a cold or flu. It reduces the severity and duration of the infection. Can also be taken as a preventative throughout the winter months taken for a few weeks at a time with a short break, then continue treatment.

Caution if you are sensitive to members of the daisy family of plants. Chamomile and Mmarigolds are also members of this family. Allergic reaction is extremely rare but can happen in sensitive individuals

Please note that the advice given in these notes is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice and treatment. Always visit a fully qualified medical herbalist or G.P. for diagnosis. If you are pregnant, have an existing condition or are currently taking medication consult a medical herbalist to see which herbs are appropriate for you to take.

If your child has experienced recurrent infections or is currently taking prescribed medication it is best to see a medical herbalist for individually tailored comprehensive treatment.

All products available over the counter at your local health food store.

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