It’s coming to that time of year again where the mucus just starts to stream from your kids’ faces. Phlegm starts to set in and they become grumpy, run down and susceptible to even nastier conditions. Personally I get anxious just thinking about it. The weather has cooled, the onslaught of viruses is about to begin… am I ready? I’ve actually got a good stash of products and herbs ready to go, as well as a few recipes up my sleeve to deal with the oncoming mucus and phlegm.
As you know, there is no cure for the common cold and it’s tempting to relieve their discomfort with pharmaceuticals, so as a parent you are no doubt keen to learn about home remedies for phlegm and mucus in kids at this time of year. At the start of autumn and all the way through winter I make up wellness and prevention plans for Red Tent clients because often by the time a mum comes to see me, her child has been sick on and off for months and can’t seem to shake it. I look at the family’s diet, teach mum how to massage her child, give the child some acupuncture and offer suggestions for helpful supplements and herbal medicine. Having a strong plan of prevention and treatment works well for reducing their misery and of course for easing parents’ anxiety too.
Phlegm and Mucus Prevention Using Natural Remedies
I’ll let you in on what I do for my kids and you can think about creating a plan in advance for yours. It helps to be ready, but it’s also important for your plan to be tailored and where necessary, seek advice from your GP. I always do. It’s important to have a good relationship with your GP and find one you can relate to and trust.
I have two kids, an eight-year-old and a four-year-old. So one is at school and the other is still in pre-school. I have to say, the onslaught of viral mania used to be worse than it is now. Thankfully their systems have grown up a bit and can fight off more bugs before they take hold. It is normal for younger children to be sick often as their immune systems are growing. However, being constantly sick with not many well gaps is not good and needs to be addressed. Regardless of how robust your little ones are, mucus and phlegm can be eased and thwarted when you have a solid plan in place to keep the bugs at bay.
My little guy sneezed the other day and some yellow mucus came out so I thought – there it is – okay, let’s do this.
Probiotics for Boosting Kids’ Gut Health and Immunity
I give each of my kids regular probiotics – usually daily when they’re sick and every other day in between illnesses during the cooler months. I use Bioceuticals* UltraBiotic Factors for Juniors because they’re chewable and the little one just loves them. The older one isn’t so keen – she prefers the capsules and I usually just open one up and pop the powder in her mouth. She gets UltraBiotic-45.
I choose to use Bioceuticals because they are tested to ensure they contain what is written on the label at the end of their shelf life – not the start. The chewables for kids don’t need to be kept in the fridge either, which is a plus. There are other good brands too but just know that you get what you pay for.
As humans we have up to 1000 different strains of bacteria living inside of us, so when you are replenishing your stock of probiotics, it’s a good idea to change brands from time to time to ensure a better variety of strains. Since 70% of our immune system is in our gut, that’s always a good place to start when boosting immunity in your kids and in yourself.
Nutrition for Managing Mucus and Phlegm
In terms of food, sweet foods and oily foods can create more “damp” according to Chinese medicine. A damp constitution often manifests as mucus and phlegm. So I say to my kids, Yes you can have biscuits, but later when you’re well, not now. Sugary and processed foods are big ones to avoid in order to eliminate damp. I try to involve them in how they are going to fight off the infection: Right now your body needs lots of nutrients to heal. You need lots of different coloured vegetables, you need soups.
Essentially I take them off dairy, sugar (including fruit) and deep-fried food. They eat pretty cleanly for a while and it helps to speed up their recovery. It’s also in your favour that they can’t taste very well when they’re clogged up with mucus so it should be easier to feed them nutritious foods. I also make more soup, chicken soup or congee. Where possible they eat mostly warm foods throughout this time, because when it comes to the thermodynamic properties of food, raw foods and foods straight from the fridge put a strain on their digestion and slow down their recovery.
If either of my kids have been having looser bowel movements or tummy upsets of any kind, then I also give them some fennel tea as it helps to settle their tummy and is gentle and nourishing.
Chinese Herbal Medicine for Kids
In terms of Chinese herbs, I give any number of different formulas when my kids are sick according to what is going on. I tend to have a few different herbs on hand depending on the situation – mucus or phlegm, tummy upsets, fever etc. Since I know how my kids go when it comes to colds, I monitor them for a while at first rather than give them herbs straight away. I want to see what their bodies can do by themselves with a few changes in their diet and some added probiotics. If they’re still struggling, then I start to offer herbal remedies.
My daughter can get quite a tight chest and often it’s difficult for her to get the phlegm and mucus out. So I give her some Mai Men Dong (Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici), also known as Lush Winter Wheat, to help her to release her phlegm and get it moving in her chest so she can actually cough it out. I also keep on hand Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula that helps to clear phlegm heat and nourish the digestion at the same time. At times I find other formulas useful such as Zhu Ye Shi Gao Tang (that’s if there’s a lot of heat, constipation, sore tonsils and coughing) and Xiao Chai Hu Tang (I use this if they feel hot and cold and it’s in the earlier stages of progression, before they start coughing a lot).
Herbs can be tricky as you need a formula that is going to work for the individual. Chinese medicine is not a one-size-fits-all approach. So it’s good to have your child assessed for what will work best for them in advance. Alternatively, see your herbal practitioner whilst your child is unwell so you can get the right herbal prescription for the current illness and you’ll be better prepped for the future too.
Supplements for Boosting Child Health
For my kids I use a smattering of other supplements throughout the year, especially when the weather cools, to keep their immune systems strong. I’m a fan of Vitamin D as it’s often low in children since we lather them up with sunscreen in summer. Vitamin D is also good if there’s a history of asthma. I give mine a drop each per day during the cooler months – it’s called D3 Forte – they’re vanilla tasting drops by Bioceuticals that kids stomach very easily. I also increase Zinc and Vitamin C around this time and drop in the occasional fish oil and multivitamin. Again I use Bioceuticals as I like how they test for heavy metals in their fish oil to greater levels than is the standard. I also like how they taste when you bite into them and you then know they’re definitely not rancid (they have good tasting ones for kids). Some companies won’t seal their fish oil correctly so you can be eating rancid fish oil unless you check – not great.
So that’s my little routine in a nutshell. Sure I do a few other things too when they’re sick, like give them acupuncture, and I recommend acupuncture if your child has recurrent illness that they can’t shake because it helps their body fight off illness like it’s supposed to. I usually teach parents acupressure (applying pressure to specific points on the body) for home though because it can work well for helping your child through those coughs, colds, flus and immune system attacks.
Learn Home Remedies for Kids’ Health
If you’re keen to develop a plan of prevention and treatment for common childhood illness, you can learn a natural approach in our home course for parents called From Anxiety to Security – the A to Z of Home Remedies for Children’s Health. In this course we go through many ailments kids suffer from like mucus, phlegm, constipation, party food syndrome, recurrent ear infections, eczema and tummy upsets. We give you the tools to be able to get your children back on track faster when they’re sick, powerful advice on prevention, and tips on how to determine when they need medical attention.
Learn more about The A to Z of Home Remedies for Children’s Health – study from home right now.
To get started right away, get your free recipe for congee and chicken broth below. These medicinal foods will have amazing benefits for your kids’ health and are excellent for when they are sick as well as for meals anytime. You can make big batches ahead of time and freeze portions. Plus, kids love them – they are simple, delicious and easy to customise to your kids’ tastes.
*Red Tent receives no commission from Bioceuticals for recommending their products. I’m a practitioner who has chosen to use their products and I find them effective with my clients. There are other very good products out there but this is the brand that I mostly use.