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Herbal Healing For Children With Ciara O'Meara

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Today we are looking at herbal remedies for conditions commonly found in infants and toddlers.

Many parents may be looking towards herbal alternatives for treating their kids ailments, today we'll be showing them how to treat colic, teething problems and nappy rash

Ciara O Meara - Medical Herbalist
I have a long standing interest in natural medicine. From a young age I found myself allergic to antibiotics, this prompted a proactive approach to preventative medicine, ensuring that through diet and exercise I was always doing my best to stay healthy. I completed an honours Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. I then spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK. It was during this time that I took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in holistic medicine.
First hand experience of successfully using herbal medicine  prompted me to pursue an interest in the subject. I soon realised that this interest was part of a much broader, richer and complex area of natural medicine which required dedicated study to appreciate both its subtleties and power. To deepen my knowledge on the subject and acquire the ability to confidently use it as a health professional I completed a four year degree at Westminster University in London.
This University is a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists. Its facilities encompass a central London clinic for herbal medicine where members of the public can avail of treatment. This is where I completed 500 hours of clinical training as part of my degree, treating members of the public from young to old with a range of illnesses. This was an integral part of the educational programme, in the interests of maintaining a high level of safe practice. This training included differential diagnosis of illness up to a high standard of training clinically on par with that of a GP.

Colic is uncontrollable crying in infants. Babies can cry for hours without any real obvious reason at all. This is a very common condition in newborn babies. It tends to occur after a feed or in the evening when the baby is tired and their digestion maybe not functioning optimally. It is important to distinguish that it is colic and not a feeding problem like gulping down air with the bottle, or if the teat on the bottle is too large or too small. Babies pull their legs up to their stomach or stretch them out.

Occasionally the baby may have intolerance to cow's milk (often via breast milk) or substances in the formula. This is especially true in babies of a family with atopic tendencies eg, asthma, eczema, hay fever.

Herbal Help
When using herbs with babies a fluid ounce (30ml) of a weak herbal infusion can be given before each feed to relax the gut.

This is a wonderful herb for relaxing the gut and reducing the spasm associated with colic.

. Take ¼-1/2tsp of Fennel seeds in 100 ml of boiling water.
. Give 1oz before and after feed also if necessary.


Teething can start from any age in babies. Many babies will have signs of teeth coming, usually the lower incisor at six months of age, when the transition to solid foods begins. Many babies however may not have a tooth until they are 12 months old!

Some babies may have an easier time than others. The main symptoms are
. Red Cheeks
. Excessive Drooling
. Gum Rubbing Or Chewing
. Wakefulness At Night
. Sensitive Gums

Herbal Help

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is very soothing to the nervous system and can help sooth a distressed child as well as helping to achieve a restful nights sleep.

. 1/4 - 1/2 tea spoon of chamomile flowers to a cup of boiling water, allow infuse for 10-15 mins, keeping the cup covered.
. Use 1oz of this when making up formula bottle, or give one ounce with ½ tsp of  honey.


Nappy Rash
Nappy rash occurs when damp skin is enclosed for long periods with ammonia from urine without enough air to circulate. Often it can become severe with small red raised spots.

There are a number of herbal solutions
Firstly wash the nappy area with an infusion of chamomile or lavender (1tsp per cup of boiling water) at each change allow dry fully.

Herbal creams which are of benefit

1. Chickweed cream: this is suitable for mild nappy rash; it is cooling and has anti-itch properties.
2. Calendula cream: This is suitable for moderate to severe nappy rash, it has antibacterial properties, anti-fungal properties and is very healing and soothing.( If there is weeping or any sign of infection you may want to add a small amount of ti-tree cream to the calendula cream)

NOTE: Do not use talc on a child with nappy rash as it cakes on the skin, holding in the damp and collecting bacteria, and can aggravate nappy rash and introduce a secondary infection.

Soothing bath wash for skin irritation, suitable for dry or irritated skin.
Oats: Oats have a very soothing and softening quality on the skin.

. Place a handful of oats in an old pair of clean tights.
. Leave in the hot bath water for at least 10 minutes, squeeze the bag in the water to allow the milky water flow out of the bag.
. Wash the child in this water do not rinse off the milky water pat skin dry.

For more information on Ciara please visit .

Locations of Ciaras clinics are,
Midland Centre for Natural health
Mitchel Street, Nenagh
Co Tipperary
The Herbal Clinic
Suir View
Cathedral Street
Co .Tipperary

For More Information On Herbalists
Visit the Irish institute of medical herbalists -