Kids, Supplements and Stress
Heading back to school is always a wild time for whānau across the country...
...And this year more than ever. On everyone's minds is the question of how best to protect our wee ones from Covid-19, especially because sending kids back to school means they'll be doing what kids do best – meeting new friends, hanging out, and having schoolyard adventures.
That makes it harder to reduce their risk of exposure, which can make parents anxious – regardless of whether or not you've chosen to vaccinate them. We advocate and support all public health guidelines and measures, but right now no one under the age of 12 is fully vaccinated. This means all our tamariki are a little vulnerable. That's a bit of a scary thought!
Instead of thinking around in (more) circles, we thought we'd put together all the ways we're protecting our small people right now:
Support their nervous system
2022 is already a tad stressful, so calming herbs are always helpful. Chamomile, Californian poppy, lemon balm, passionflower, lavender – all these amazing plants help to support a regulated nervous system. They can help reduce the stress hormones in our bodies.
And remember - stress might look a little different for small people. It can mean sore tummies, feeling tired, or not wanting to go somewhere, so having herbs on hand can help in these situations.
Did you know – lemon balm is super easy to grow? It grows well in a range of garden conditions, and makes a lovely, safe herbal tea for the whole family.
Our Kids Rest and Calm is a great product to help support sleep, nervous systems or general feeling of anxiousness. You could give them some at breakfast to help with the return to school, or in the evening to help them pop off to sleep. It is a glycetract so it has a natural sweetness that helps with compliance, and our Rest and Calm (the 'adults' version) is safe for 8 years and up, making it a great choice for the whole family.
Consider having some supplements in the house for the next few months. There have been some pretty good studies and papers on the use of some herbs, vitamins and minerals that can help support your body if you get unwell – we've included some below at the end.
Zinc is very important for general health. We need zinc for a variety of functions: DNA and protein production, wound healing, growth and development, and also supporting immune function. We're often deficient in zinc as we do not eat enough in our diet. Zinc can come from a variety of foods such as meat, shellfish, beans and pumpkin seeds. We supplement with zinc when we're feeling under the weather or have been around people who have been unwell. We often opt for powders or drops – Ethical Nutrients Mega Zinc with Vitamin C is great, as are Clinicians Zinc Drops, which are affordable and easy to take.
Supporting the immune system means supporting the nervous system too - everything is linked. When we are stressed, we over-utilise our Vitamin C stores to make stress hormones, leaving us deficient unless we are supplementing with food or actual Vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C is helpful for our immune system, and to also help support our wellbeing. That is why often stressed kids – and adults – ‘catch’ everything; they do not have the reserves to build their immunity.
Supplements don't just have to be in a bottle – in their natural form they're easy to take and absorb, and can help with symptomatic relief. Some of our favourites are thyme, horehound, propolis, echinacea, ribwort and peppermint. Our Defence Elixir has a combination of herbs in it to help with symptomatic relief and is safe for small people. Herbal teas with lemon, honey, and ginger or peppermint can also be nice hydrating drinks - these two can also help with moving circulation or drying up snotty noses.
- We're definitely biased, but we love our tonics. Why? They are quick, easy, tasty and also a liquid. This means that the active constituents from the plants are easily absorbed. Our Immunity Tonic or Chest Tonic are great ways to start or end the day for small people, and our Daily Boost can easily be added to smoothies for a great nutritive boost.
So – how do we introduce supplements to help with stress for our kids?
You can help to reduce kids' stress by adding in nervous system plants like passionflower, chamomile, Californian poppy, lavender and oats. You can do this through:
- Teas - overnight steep them and use them as a smoothie base
- Consider glycetracts or tinctures if age appropriate – these more concentrated doses are great for the evening, because while teas are delicious, no one likes heading to bed on a full bladder.
- Remember baths with plants are a great idea – try lavender oil or Epsom salts (which are a great way to absorb magnesium). You can also just pop fresh herbs straight into the bath; a nice, un-intimidating way of introducing herbs to small people.
🌿Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Herbal Tea
How else can we help?
We obviously love herbs and herbal medicines, but we know that herbs and plant medicine are only part of the picture. Below are a couple of reminders – and not just for kids; these are for everyone – about other important 'external' ways you can help to ease the stress of this wild time.
- Breathe. All of us need to breathe. The kids might be a little more challenging than usual and we are already tired and a little preoccupied with what is going on – this can lead to situations escalating quicker than normal. I often forget to do this, and it very rarely ends well. So, breathe OR remove yourself temporarily before reacting.
- Talk with your kids. Ask if they have any concerns – they might be worrying about something you can help with. If you have booked them in for their vaccine, ask them if they have any questions – or if they want to visit the pharmacy or vaccination centre before to ask anything of the staff there.
- We have also seen the updated advice regarding cloth masks, which indicates that they might be less effective for Omicron. While we are really not big on single use anything, we have found that you can still minimise how many surgical masks you are using. One tip is to put the surgical mask in a paper bag (one for each day of the week) and rotate them while washing your cloth ones daily.
- Sanitiser is still a good idea, for when the kids get back in the car after school, alongside regular hand washing at school and at home.
- Have a plan! There are loads of amazing resources to help you with your plan – you can find the one we used here.
- Masks. Make sure your whole family's masks are fitted properly; this can make them so much more comfortable to wear, especially long term. We used this video to learn how to fit our masks. Top tip: packing a spare one in their bags is a good idea too, for when their masks inevitably go off on a wander.
We hope you found something useful amongst our collective musings, and that you and yours stay safe and happy during this wild and crazy time.
- Team Wild Dispensary
Guadagna, S., Barattini, D. F., Rosu, S., & Ferini-Strambi, L. (2020). Plant Extracts for Sleep Disturbances: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 3792390. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3792390
Lakhan, S.E., Vieira, K.F. (2010). Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition Journal, 9(42). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-42
Ngan, A., & Conduit, R. (2011). A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 25(8), 1153–1159. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3400
Shinjyo, N., Waddell, G., & Green, J. (2020). Valerian Root in Treating Sleep Problems and Associated Disorders-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 25, 2515690X20967323. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515690X20967323