Home remedies make parents’ hearts beat faster: they promise relief before the child has to take a drug. Which ones really work, which doctors would even apply to their offspring?
In many families, home remedies have been handed down from generation to generation. And although there are medicines for most ailments today, many parents find that grandma’s tips work just as well. This may not be proven in detail – experts can explain the phenomenon anyway.
“Basically, home remedies are virtually unexplored,” says Rainer Stange, an internist, and expert on naturopathic treatment at Immanuel Hospital Berlin. But it does not just have to do with the individual active ingredients anyway. The children feel the attention of the parents, explains Hermann Josef Kahl, press spokesman of the professional association of pediatricians. “The psychological effect of such measures should not be underestimated.”
There is nothing wrong with treating some symptoms with home remedies. When a doctor looks better the child – for parents, usually have a feeling. “As a parent, one can assess when the child is unusually different than usual: grayer, lethargic or whinerish,” says pediatrician Andreas Volbracht. If parents feel uncomfortable about their child, they should trust their instincts. “It’s pretty well studied that parents’ concerns are consistent with the severity of the disease,” he says.
For mild ailments, there is a whole range of resources available in almost every family household. An overview:
- Fever: Kahl recommends lowering fever only from 39.5 degrees. “Fever has a stimulating effect on the immune system.” Only if children have had a febrile spasm, parents must act the same. Try it first with calf wrap: A dipped in water and wrung thin cloth comes to the lower leg and is packed with a towel again. The water should not be too cold, says Andrea Hagen-Herpay from the midwife association. “Just cool, hand-cold water, which does not scare me if I keep my hand clean.” If the fever lasts more than three days, the condition worsens or if it is an infant, parents have to take the child to the doctor.
- Cough: Onion syrup is his favorite home remedy, says Volbracht. Add one or two peeled and diced onions with a few spoons of sugar or honey to an empty jam jar. After simmering the pieces for at least two hours, the onion syrup remains. You can dilute it with water. Children with cough may take one to two tablespoons several times a day. “It causes muscle relaxation in the bronchial muscles. This dissolves the muscular cramping of the respiratory tract, “says Volbracht.
- Earache: The onion performs well even with slight earache. Put the pieces of onion in a teabag and put them in front of your ear. “It takes a bit of the tension pain from the eardrum,” says Volbracht. If the pain does not diminish or high fever occurs, a doctor’s visit is advisable.
- Runny nose: Instead of decongesting nose drops, children with a blocked nose sometimes also use a simple saline solution. If you do not want to make it yourself, you can buy finished ampoules from the pharmacy. Midwife Hagen-Herpay drips a droplet into her nose even in the case of cuddly babies. This cools and moisturizes.
- Tummy-ache: Children solve many problems over the belly, says Hagen-Herpay. Belly-pain is therefore not always due to a problem in the abdomen. A light massage, as well as hot water bottle or cherry stone pillows, usually have a calming effect. Abdominal pain with fever, on the other hand, is a case for the doctor. In case of a gastrointestinal infection, it is especially important to compensate with plenty of drinking the fluid loss. An electrolyte solution can be made by parents themselves by giving dextrose and a pinch of salt to the baby’s favorite tea. “Bigger children also accept black tea,” says Kahl. “It has a healing effect on the inflamed intestinal mucosa.”
- Sores and bruises: “In cases of inflammation, compression and bruising, in the case of harmless insect bites – whenever there is heat in the soft tissues and pain, quark is good,” says Stange. Best cold from the fridge, it is applied directly to the painful area. The effect is similar to a cooling pack. “Only that the contact is even better, it gets to the skin well, is very good modellable and also sticks well.” Superficial abrasions, however, only clean. “Just let water run over it, the dirt is gone, and then let the wound dry,” advises Kahl.