Alternative cures for headlice, cuts and scrapes and ear infections

Here leading natural health writer Susan Clark presents more alternative remedies for common childhood complaints.

HEADLICE

'If you have a child under the age of ten, check for nits every night,' says Susan. 'It is much easier to prevent infestation at the outset than to break the life cycle

and get rid of them for good once the lice have set up home.' First check the base of the hairline for the eggs. Then use a metal comb to remove any adult lice and their eggs.

Tea tree and quassia shampoo and conditioner
'This combination should get rid of headlice for good,' says Susan. Quassia is an infusion of woodchip and a natural insect repellent; tea tree is a powerful herbal disinfectant that will help prevent reinfection. After you have got rid of an infection you can also use it once a week to prevent reinfection.

The conditioner can be massaged into the scalp and onto dry hair each day to keep headlice away. The adult lice can survive for a day or so away from the body. They will be hiding in pillows, bedlinen, towels and clothes, so wash and change these regularly.

Lavender oil

Headlice hate lavender oil. For emergencies and when you are away from home this is really useful. Sprinkle a few drops onto the hairbrush, rub into the bristles and then work through the hair at bedtime. If you're on holiday or in a hotel, blow-drying the hair for five minutes every day will kill both nits and the adult lice.

CUTS AND SCRAPES

Tea tree oil

'The first thing you need to do with an open wound is to clean and disinfect it to prevent infection,' says Susan. 'Next, wash it with diluted tea tree oil, making sure you use a brand that is pure and high in the active ingredients.'

Manuka honey

This honey is harvested in New Zealand from bees feasting on the pollen of the tea tree and is such a powerful healing agent it has now been licensed for medical use in hospitals throughout Australia. Makers have introduced a new Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) potency scale so look for a product that has a UMF of 10 or more. It may be best to use when there is no need to cover the wound.

Calendula cream

This is another excellent antiseptic lotion particularly good for cuts and grazes.

MSM

Organic sulphur - sold as MSM which is short for methyl-sulphonymethane - promotes tissue healing from the inside. This nutrient plays a key role in making collagen, the primary component of cartilage and connective tissue. It is present in cow's milk and fresh fruits, as well as meat and seafoods, but is easily destroyed by cooking so supplementation is a safer bet.

Rosa mosqueta oil

This South American oil was originally developed as an antiwrinkle skin cream, but holistic skin therapists were soon reporting back on its ability to significantly reduce scarring. Their empirical findings have now been corroborated by Chilean researchers at the University of Concepcion who confirmed its incredible skin regenerative properties after treating 180 patients presenting with surgical or burn scars. Do not massage onto the affected area until the wound has healed.

EAR INFECTIONS
Probiotics

As the conventional treatment for an ear infection is antibiotics, which can kill off the healthy bacteria in

the gut, try to replenish your child's gut flora by giving him or her a good quality probiotic yoghurt.

Zinc

Zinc also boosts the immune system and one of the best ways to administer this to a child is with throat lozenges. These are now available in most High Street health shops.

Echinacea and plantago

You've heard of echinacea, the top-selling immune-boosting herb - but you may not have come across plantago. This odourless plant is found in Europe and Asia, where it grows in vast quantities in dry meadows and fields. It has both astringent and expectorant properties which have made it a traditional treatment for bronchial infections and infections of the nasal passages, as well as inflammation of the inner ear. Its soothing action is thanks to the high proportion of mucilage found in the plant. Some companies now combine both echinacea and plantago in a herbal tincture.

Liquid garlic

Another way to clear an ear infection is by gently putting two to four drops of warmed liquid garlic in each ear. Make sure that you use a different dropper for each ear, to stop the spread of infection.

This advice is not to be treated as a substitute for medical advice from your family doctor or any other qualified medical practitioner. This is important because natural medicines, such as herbs, can be every bit as powerful as prescription drugs and are likely to interact with existing medication. Doctors who are sympathetic to complementary medicine are better able to advise on the likelihood and the consequences of such interactions.

Click on the links below for more alternative health cures for children

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