What do you recommend for colds and flu?

I want to protect my two children, aged five and eight, from colds and flu. What supplements do you recommend?

What do you recommend for colds and flu?

This really depends on a number of factors. If your children are quite robust in their health, eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of activity, and sleep well then chances are they don’t need anything extra. If one or more of your wee ones tend to catch whatever cough, cold, or ’flu going around at school or daycare, they could likely benefit from some supplementation.

Sambucol for Kids, a formulation based on the immune protective properties of black elderberries (Sambucus nigra), is ideal where a child’s immune system requires strengthening.

Source of Life’s Animal Parade is a supplement in the form of delicious chewy animal shapes. This may help in cases where you are concerned a fussy eater may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals from their diet, since the hidden ingredients include carrot, broccoli, spinach, beet greens, whole brown rice, and spirulina. Animal Parade chewables are available from Evergreen Healthfoods (091- 564550).

When behavioural issues are a problem, essential fatty acids (EFAs) are key. EFAs are also recommended if there are allergy issues, particularly involving inflammation, skin rashes, and/or asthma. EFAs can be found in oily fish, nuts, and seeds, or choose a supplement made specifically for children, such as MorDHA-mini from Healthy & Essential.

Probiotics are the only ‘general’ supplement I recommend for children and adults alike. This is particularly true where antibiotics have been used, or if digestive troubles, diarrhoea, or constipation are present. Biocare has a great range of probiotic powders for children, including one specifically tailored for infants.

I have a problem with sweaty feet, particularly when I wear trainers. Is there a natural treatment for the sweating, or to make my shoes smell better?

Sweating more than normal is usually considered to be an indication the kidneys are overburdened. Using a herb to support the kidneys, such as Buchu leaf (Barosma betula) may help reduce the sweating. Using a teaspoon of herb to a cup of boiling water, steep for 3-5 minutes and drink three cups each day.

To help improve the odour in your shoes, try combining equal parts of cornflour (cornstarch), baking soda, and arrowroot powder with a few drops of cypress, peppermint, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil. Pour the powder into a plastic container, poke holes in the lid, and shake into your shoes before and after you wear them.

Soaking your feet at the end of the day may also help. Add ¼cup of baking soda to your footbath, along with the juice of a lemon to help control bacterial and fungal activity. The tannins in black tea can help too — add five black teabags to four cups of hot water, and soak your feet for 20-30 minutes.

I have just found out that my two-year-old daughter has a condition called molluscum contagiosum. It doesn’t seem to affect her much, apart from the itching and scratching. The doctor has told me there is nothing we can do, and to just let it run its course. Is there anything that can help with the itching while this is healing?

It can be very difficult to communicate to a young one that itching only makes matters worse — even as an adult, there is nothing more frustrating than being told that you aren’t allowed to scratch your itching skin.

Molluscum contagiosum is, as the name would suggest, highly contagious. However, it is important to note that this refers to the spread of the tiny waxy bumps as a result of picking and scratching, it is considered to be only mildly contagious to others.

Caused by the DNA poxvirus, Molluscum tends to take quite some time to ease – anywhere from six to 18 months – but it does disappear of its own accord, as your doctor has already said.

Neem cream has been reported to work well with this condition. It will work to soothe the itching and prevent further infection by inhibiting the virus. A Vogel has developed a Soothing Neem Cream which is made using a neem tincture, along with plant oils and other herbal extracts. It is available from health stores where 50g costs €6.75. Use as often as required.

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