Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cough and Cold Relief for Kids (and Grown-ups, Too)

We are well into the season for colds and coughs; our family has already suffered from one bout with a nasty cold. I thus wanted to share some remedies that gave us relief from some of our symptoms.

My daughter is still at an age where it is not safe to give her over the counter (OTC) cold and cough medications. The FDA strongly recommends that children under 2 not be given OTC cough and cold products at all. It is still studying the safety of these products for kids ages 2 to 11, and thus has not issued a recommendation regarding kids in this age group. In addition to potentially dangerous drugs, most conventional cough and cold products for kids also contain things like artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners and harmful preservatives that I want to avoid.

We had good results from two chest rub products that we tried. My daughter was able to sleep through the night despite having a persistent cough during the day with each of these products. Badger Aromatic Chest Rub is certified organic and contains essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary and tea tree in an olive oil and beeswax base (it smells really good).

We also tried another rub that worked well for her: Maty's All Natural Baby Chest Rub (even though she is no longer a baby). This also contains essential oils, including eucalyptus, lavender and chamomile, in a sunflower and coconut oil base. Maty's also makes an All Natural Vapor Rub to be used by anyone age 2 and up.

I purchased the Badger Chest Rub at Whole Foods and the Maty's at the South Hills Giant Eagle Market District.

It is important to me that these ointments don't contain the potentially harmful ingredients found in more popular products, such as Vicks VapoRub. The camphor in the Vicks product can be toxic if it is absorbed through mucous membranes or broken skin. VapoRub also contains turpentine oil, which is not safe for children or people with lung problems, including asthma. Finally, it also contains petrolatum, a petroleum product which I prefer to avoid.

In addition to these products, I also gave her teaspoons of honey to mitigate her cough. Several studies (including this one, and one here) have demonstrated that, in addition to soothing a sore throat, honey may be an effective cough suppressant. Remember: never give honey to infants under one year of age; in rare cases it can cause infantile botulism.

The combination of one of the above chest rubs and honey worked really well for us. What do you use to treat your family's colds?

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