There are several ways that herbal medicine can be used to treat babies: externally as a cream or lotion applied to the skin or adding to the bath and internally as drop amounts or if breast feeding via the mother’s milk so the mother can be treated with a tincture or tea.
Two conditions which can be effectively treated with herbal medicine are eczema and colic.
Babies are born with perfect if very sensitive skin. The smallest thing can set off a rash or some sort of skin irritation. It is no wonder that many babies develop baby eczema with patches of red, dry, flaky and often itchy skin in very visible places such as the face, behind the ears, on the scalp and also in the elbow creases, behind the knees and even around the groin.
The most common cause of baby eczema is a sensitivity/intolerance to something in the baby or mother’s diet. The most likely foods are dairy particularly cow’s milk, soya protein, histamine containing foods such as citrus fruits, red skinned berries and food colourings, too much refined sugar, or yeast containing food such as bread.
External herbal treatment consists of an oat bath or the addition of chamomile tea in the bath to sooth inflamed skin. A cream can be applied to cool and moisturise inflamed, dry and itchy skin such as one containing hemp oil, liquorice and chamomile.
For internal treatment of baby eczema a Medical Herbalist will prescribe a gentle mix of herbs to reduce inflammation, balance the immune response, fight infection, and soothe dry, itchy skin. Herbs which have been shown to be very good for treatment include chamomile, heartsease, cleavers, liquorice, nettle, and calendula.
Many babies suffer from colic, most commonly in the first three months when the digestive system is adapting to life outside the womb. It is usually worst in the evening when all concerned are tired.
Colic can be due to the baby not being correctly latched onto the nipple or feeding too quickly so swallowing a lot of air with the milk. With bottle fed babies it can be due to an allergy to the formula milk or air in the bottle. Feeding too frequently can exacerbate the problem.
If breast feeding it is important that the mother avoids foods that can upset the baby’s tummy such as onions, garlic, beans, lentils, cabbage and spicy foods.
Herbal tea is an effective treatment for the mother if breast feeding or can be given to the baby a teaspoon at a time or added to a bath. A tea containing fennel, which is a carminative that reduces wind, and chamomile which is very relaxing for the digestive system, is a good combination for treatment of colic. A Medical Herbalist will provide a more specific tailored mix of herbs if further treatment is required.
To hear more about herbal treatment for Mothers and Babies visit the Baby Bubble on Monday November 20th. http://www.theglades.co.uk/events/baby-bubble/