via Kids Health: When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It’s an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment.

It’s not natural to smile when we’re sad or upset. But it turns out that smiling might be the best thing to do when you’re ready to shift into a brighter mood.

Smiling Can Lift a Bad Mood
Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel actual happiness, joy, or amusement.

Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. But how do you smile if you’re not feeling it?

Fake It Till You Make It
Our body language can influence our emotions. In one study, researchers discovered that people who stood in a confident way actually felt more confident. In another study, people who intentionally put on a facial expression (like a smile or a frown) ended up feeling the emotion that went with it.

Here’s the best part: A smile helps you feel happier — and being happier helps you keep the smile going in a genuine way. Your fake smile is now a real one!

Smile Like You Mean It
There’s just one trick to making smiling work for you: You need to do it right. A true, genuine smile is called a Duchenne smile. It uses all the muscles in the face, including the “laugh lines” around your eyes. Engaging all these muscles is important, even in a fake smile.

If you’re smiling on purpose to help your mood, you want to smile until your cheeks lift and you feel your laugh lines crinkle. You can see how it feels by holding a pencil horizontally between your teeth as you smile.

Smiling and Laughing Reduce Stress
Since body language and mood are so linked, it makes sense that laughing on purpose helps us too.

Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and calms the nervous system. Laughing sends more oxygen to the brain. That triggers the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals help us feel positive. Laughing can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost mood.

Here’s a simple exercise from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to help you tap into the benefits of smiling:

As you breathe in, say to yourself:
Breathing in, I calm body and mind.

Then, as you breathe out, think:
Breathing out, I smile.

By repeating this simple breathing exercise several times, you’re relaxing your nervous system and countering stress.

Smiling Helps Us Bond With Others
Just like “fake” smiling, “fake” laughing turns into spontaneous real laughter, and it’s contagious. Try this: Get a group together. It can be your family, classmates, or teammates. Have everyone do some fake laughing. Now see if you can keep a straight face!

Some people tap into the relaxing power of laughing in a group setting by doing a kind of yoga called laughter yoga.

Because smiling and laughing are contagious, they help people bond. Smiling sends a friendly signal that usually results in the other person smiling back. One important purpose of smiling might be that it creates social bonds. Scientists have even found that we connect in a physical way when we share a smile or a positive emotion. Our breathing and heart rates sync up, bringing powerful benefits to our health and well-being.

So, the next time someone tells you to “cheer up” when you’re in a low mood, own it. Your shared happiness might end up making that person feel happier too.


via verywell family: Let’s be clear: I love coffee as much as the next busy parent with little kids and a job, but I am a fully-functioning adult who is responsible and able to recognize when my caffeine consumption habits are veering off into dangerous territories. Toddlers are not able to do this.

Believe it or not, toddlers are the latest group of individuals to join in the coffee craze. According to a 2015 study by the Boston Medical Center, 15 percent of toddlers consume about four ounces of coffee every single day. That’s half a cup, which is not an insignificant amount for a child of that age and size. The study found that 2.5 percent of one-year-olds were drinking coffee and that number increased by the age of two. But, can toddlers drink coffee?

Why Are Toddlers Drinking More Coffee?

There are several factors at play.

Parental ethnicity, especially maternal, plays a large role in coffee consumption in young children. Compared to children from Hispanic and Mexican-American families, children from white families are more likely to have coffee every day. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that higher-income children are more likely to drink caffeine than children from families at or below the poverty threshold.

In the Boston study in particular, however, Hispanic families were more likely to give their toddlers a coffee drink every day. Boston has a high population of Hispanic families. Researchers learned that these families simply saw no reason to exclude toddlers from the coffee-drinking tradition that started. Interestingly enough, female toddlers and infants were more likely than male toddlers to have coffee every day.

Accessibility may also play a role. Toddlers are more likely to see coffee around the house or in their parents’ hands these days. They want to be “just like Mom” or “just like Dad” and sip their morning cup of joe. Toddlers learn about the world from the adults around them, so it makes sense that they may be curious about coffee if it’s a daily habit in their caregivers’ lives.

Effects of Drinking Coffee in Children
In 2014, the AAP put together a special task force to address the rising consumption of caffeine in children. In their special report, they noted that 73 percent of American children drink some form of caffeine every single day. The most common sources included soda drinks. Coffee drinks came in second—between 2009 and 2010, approximately one-quarter of caffeine consumed by children came from coffee. Energy drinks came in third and their consumption is also on the rise. Tea was also especially common in young children starting around the age of two.

So far, the AAP has not specifically set guidelines for caffeine in children, although they do recommend that children under the age of 12 not have caffeine of any kind. This recommendation came after the rise of energy drink consumption, especially among teenagers. Other studies have found coffee and caffeine consumption, paired with other lifestyle habits, may lead to negative outcomes such as:

  • Depression
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Nervousness
  • Stomach problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent urination
  • Dehydration

In toddlers especially, two-year-olds who drank coffee or tea between their meals actually had triple the odds of being obese by the time they were in kindergarten. Extremely high doses of caffeine can cause both seizures and cardiac arrest, which can lead to death. And obviously, children, especially toddlers, are more at risk to experience negative health outcomes of caffeine since they have less body mass and their bodies are not as adept at processing the caffeine.

The biggest and most unknown risk to consider is that scientists simply don’t know what the long-term effects of caffeine are on a developing brain, especially in the toddler years, when so much growth and development is happening. It may be apparent immediately that a cup of coffee in a two-year-old causes him or her to have lots of extra energy, but what happens to a toddler’s brain if he or she is drinking that same cup of coffee every day for years? It’s hard to say what the long-term consequences might be.

What You Can Do

Overall, the rising trend of children drinking coffee and caffeine reflects how many Americans view caffeine as something that is “normal” and without risk. The truth is, caffeine is a powerful drug and stimulant and despite its widespread availability and use, should be treated as such. A caffeine addiction is still an addiction.

Is one sip of coffee going to mean a lifetime of negative health consequences for your toddler? No, probably not. But a daily habit of coffee or tea could be something that may harm your toddler’s health. If you are starting your little one on a habit of drinking coffee or tea every single day, you may want to speak to your doctor about the potential impact on your child’s development.

It’s also important to talk to your child about healthy caffeine habits, especially if caffeine is frequent in your home. Talk to your child about why coffee might not be a healthy choice for them, check labels of drinks or foods that might contain caffeine, and if you want your child to partake in a family tradition of drinking a hot cup of coffee together, consider fixing a special drink that does not contain caffeine. For example, you may steam milk, stir up some hot chocolate, or consider an herbal tea instead of serving them up a cup of joe.

The Takeaway

Although much is still unknown, if you’re wondering when a “safer” age to give your child caffeine might be, the AAP suggests that you wait until the age of 12 and then limit your child’s caffeine consumption to no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is typical for a cup of home-brewed coffee. Just look out for coffee shop varieties, as they may have a lot more caffeine in them!


via healthlineHeart disease in children

Heart disease is difficult enough when it strikes adults, but it can be especially tragic in children.

Many different types of heart problems can affect children. They include congenital heart defects, viral infections that affect the heart, and even heart disease acquired later in childhood due to illnesses or genetic syndromes.

The good news is that with advances in medicine and technology, many children with heart disease go on to live active, full lives.

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a type of heart disease that children are born with, usually caused by heart defects that are present at birth. In the U.S., an estimated 1 percent of babies born each year have CHD.

CHDs that affect children include:

  • heart valve disorders like a narrowing of the aortic valve, which restricts blood flow
  • hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped
  • disorders involving holes in the heart, typically in the walls between the chambers and between major blood vessels leaving the heart, including:
    • ventricular septal defects
    • atrial septal defects
    • patent ductus arteriosus
  • tetralogy of Fallot, which is a combination of four defects, including:
    • a hole in the ventricular septum
    • a narrowed passage between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery
    • a thickened right side of the heart
    • a displaced aorta
  • Congenital heart defects may have long-term effects on a child’s health. They’re usually treated with surgery, catheter procedures, medications, and in severe cases, heart transplants.

Some children will require lifelong monitoring and treatment.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the term used to describe the buildup of fat and cholesterol-filled plaques inside arteries. As the buildup increases, arteries become stiffened and narrowed, which increases the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. It typically takes many years for atherosclerosis to develop. It’s unusual for children or teenagers to suffer from it.

However, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other health issues put children at higher risk. Doctors recommend screening for high cholesterol and high blood pressure in children who have risk factors like family history of heart disease or diabetes and are overweight or obese.

Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes like increased exercise and dietary modifications.

Arrhythmias

An arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. This can cause the heart to pump less efficiently.

Many different types of arrhythmias may occur in children, including:

  • a fast heart rate (tachycardia), the most common type found in children being supraventricular tachycardia
  • a slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • long Q-T Syndrome (LQTS)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW syndrome)

Symptoms may include:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • difficulty feeding

Treatments depend on the type of arrhythmia and how it’s affecting the child’s health.

Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is a rare disease that primarily affects children and can cause inflammation in the blood vessels in their hands, feet, mouth, lips, and throat. It also produces a fever and swelling in the lymph nodes. Researchers aren’t sure yet what causes it.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the illness is a major cause of heart conditions in as many as 1 in 4 children. Most are under the age of 5.

Treatment depends on the extent of the disease, but often involves prompt treatment with intravenous gamma globulin or aspirin (Bufferin). Corticosteroids can sometimes reduce future complications. Children who suffer from this disease often require lifelong follow-up appointments to keep an eye on heart health.

Heart murmurs

A heart murmur is a “whooshing” sound made by blood circulating through the heart’s chambers or valves, or through blood vessels near the heart. Often it’s harmless. Other times it may signal an underlying cardiovascular problem.

Heart murmurs may be caused by CHDs, fever, or anemia. If a doctor hears an abnormal heart murmur in a child, they’ll perform additional tests to be sure the heart is healthy. “Innocent” heart murmurs usually resolve by themselves, but if the heart murmur is caused by a problem with the heart, it may require additional treatment.

Pericarditis

This condition occurs when the thin sac or membrane that surrounds the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed or infected. The amount of fluid between its two layers increases, impairing the heart’s ability to pump blood like it should.

Pericarditis may occur after surgery to repair a CHD, or it may be caused by bacterial infections, chest traumas, or connective tissue disorders like lupus. Treatments depend on the severity of the disease, the child’s age, and their overall health.

Rheumatic heart disease

When left untreated, the streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat and scarlet fever can also cause rheumatic heart disease.

This disease can seriously and permanently damage the heart valves and the heart muscle (by causing heart muscle inflammation, known as myocarditis). According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, rheumatic fever typically occurs in children ages 5 to 15, but usually the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease don’t show up for 10 to 20 years after the original illness. Rheumatic fever and subsequent rheumatic heart disease are now uncommon in the U.S.

This disease can be prevented by promptly treating strep throat with antibiotics.

Viral infections

Viruses, in addition to causing respiratory illness or the flu, can also affect heart health. Viral infections can cause myocarditis, which may affect the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.

Viral infections of the heart are rare and may show few symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they’re similar to flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort. Treatment involves medications and treatments for the symptoms of myocarditis.


via Everyday Health: Children who are fidgety or hyperactive may have restless legs syndrome. Often misdiagnosed in kids, restless legs syndrome can interfere with sleep and affect childhood development.

A restless legs syndrome diagnosis isn’t exclusive to adults. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimates one million school-age children have restless legs syndrome, or RLS. The symptoms of restless legs syndrome in children are often mistaken for growing pains or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis.

The most common sign of RLS in children is, as with adults, an overwhelming need to move the legs, usually at night, says Binal Kancherla, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Children’s Sleep Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Typically, restless legs symptoms are worse in the evening, when the child is at rest, lying down, or sitting,” says Dr. Kancherla. Children with RLS will complain of discomfort in their legs, but they may have trouble describing their symptoms. Children may say their legs feel itchy, like pins and needles, or “creepy crawly.” They may be able to tell you that the pain only goes away when they move.

More Signs of RLS in Children
The strange sensations in the legs and the irresistible need to move are not the only symptoms of restless legs syndrome in children. Other signs to look for in children include:

Struggling with sleep. Because of the urge to move their legs, children with RLS have trouble staying in bed and falling asleep. “Restless legs symptoms can lead to sleep deprivation and fragmentation of sleep,” says Kancherla. The leg discomfort can wake children up, and they may have trouble getting back to sleep.

Daytime drowsiness. Not getting proper sleep may result in daytime drowsiness. Children with restless legs syndrome will often have trouble getting up in the morning, and they may be tired during the day.

Behavior and academic problems. Sleep deprivation from restless legs syndrome has serious consequences. RLS may affect a child’s behavior at school and his or her academic performance. “Lack of adequate sleep in children can affect neurocognitive development, daytime focus, and attention,” says Kancherla. “It can lead to irritability or hyperactivity.”

The Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome in Children
Restless legs syndrome runs in families, says Kancherla. The exact cause is not known, but it is most likely inherited. It is considered to be both a neurological disease and a sleep disorder.“Up to 10 percent of the U.S. population is living with a restless legs diagnosis, with more women affected than men.” Some people have a mild form of the disorder; for others, RLS seriously affects their quality of life.

RLS can be caused by an iron deficiency. “Children with low levels of serum iron and ferritin, a substance that binds iron, have been related to restless legs syndrome,” says Kancherla.

Some medications can make RLS symptoms worse. Antihistamines block dopamine receptors, the brain chemicals that control movement. Anti-nausea medications and antidepressants can also aggravate the RLS symptoms.

Caffeine and caffeine products like chocolate can intensify symptoms and should also be avoided.

Getting a Diagnosis: Restless Legs Syndrome in Kids
Making a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome in children can be challenging. RLS is more common in adults, so a primary care physician may not look for RLS in children. Your doctor may not immediately associate symptoms such as aggression, inattention, and hyperactivity with RLS. “We make the diagnosis based on symptoms, but family history, the child’s medication use, and the presence of other medical conditions are also vital,” says Kancherla.

There is no specific test for restless legs syndrome, adds Kancherla, but when making a diagnosis, a doctor may measure the child’s serum iron and ferritin levels to see if an iron or vitamin deficiency could be the cause.

Is It RLS in Children or Something Else?
Evidence connecting restless legs syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is growing, although the exact relationship is still unknown. RLS and ADHD have similar symptoms, and ADHD is common in people with RLS. When getting a diagnosis for restless legs syndrome, ask your doctor about ADHD.

Growing pains and restless legs syndrome have very similar symptoms with one important difference that could change the diagnosis. Both disorders cause children to feel leg discomfort, usually in the evening or at night, but with RLS, the uncomfortable sensations usually go away when the child moves. With growing pains, the discomfort is more constant and is not relieved by movement.

Treatment for RLS Children
Treatment should be individualized to the child. The first step is to reduce factors that make the symptoms worse. “If the child is iron deficient, iron supplementation may relieve symptoms,” says Kancherla. “Ferritin levels should be monitored by your health care provider during treatment.”

Other non-drug restless legs treatments for children include massage therapy, hot baths or ice packs applied to legs, and initiating good sleep habits. “In more severe cases of RLS, anticonvulsant medications such as gabapentin have been used in children,” says Kancherla. “These should only be prescribed under the guidance of an experienced pediatric sleep specialist.”

RLS is generally a lifelong condition and, currently, there is no cure, says Kancherla. However, a diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Under guidance of an experienced pediatric sleep specialist and with current therapies, restless legs symptoms in children can usually be controlled.


via healthline

Overview

Apples are a popular and healthy fruit, and a big part of American culture and history. Apples are easy to cultivate and tailor to certain tastes because of their resilient genetic diversity. They also have antioxidant properties that help protect against cancer-inducing oxidative damage, which can lead to various health problems. The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has withstood the test of time because of the impressive health profile of apples.

But as you bite deep into an apple, you are confronted with something not so sweet in its core: tiny black seeds. Unlike the sweet tang of the fruit, the tiny black seeds are another story. They contain amygdalin, a substance that releases cyanide when it comes into contact with human digestive enzymes. But acute toxicity is rare if you accidentally eat some of the seeds.

How cyanide works

Cyanide is a chemical known as one of the deadliest poisons. It has been used in chemical warfare and mass suicide. Many compounds that contain cyanide—called cyanoglycosides—are found in nature, often in fruit seeds. Amygdalin is one of these.

Apple seeds, and many other fruit seeds or pits, have a strong outer layer resistant to digestive juices. But if you chew the seeds, amygdalin could be released in the body and produce cyanide. Small amounts can be detoxified by enzymes in your body. However, large amounts can be dangerous.

How much cyanide is lethal?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1–2 mg/kg is a fatal oral dose of cyanide for a 154 lbs. (70 kg) man. Most apple cores contain around 5 apple seeds. However, this amount will vary based on the health of the plant. You would need to finely chew and eat about 200 apple seeds, or about 40 apple cores, to receive a fatal dose.

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) says that exposure to even small amounts of cyanide can be dangerous. Cyanide can harm the heart and brain, and even lead to coma and death. ATSDR adds that people should avoid eating the seeds of apples, and the pits of fruits that include:

  • peaches
  • apricots
  • cherries

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning can occur quickly. They include shortness of breath and seizures. Both can lead to loss of consciousness.

What about apple seed oil?

Apple seed oil is a byproduct of juice processing. It’s made from the raw apple pomace. The amount of amygdalin found in apple seed oil is generally very small.

People use it for its fragrance, to condition hair, and calm skin inflammation. Some studies suggest that it’s also a good source of antioxidants and shows some potential as an anticancer agent. Another study found apple seed oil to be active against bacteria and yeast.

The takeaway

Apple seeds contain amygdalin, a substance that releases cyanide into the blood stream when chewed and digested. However, apple seeds in small amounts do not contain enough cyanide to cause harm. However, it is better to spit out seeds to avoid any potential issues.


via Kiddle: The macadamia nut is the fruit of a tree that first came from the east coast of Australia. There is more than one kind of Macadamia tree. Only one kind is grown for food.

The tree is an evergreen (stays green all year long). It grows up to 25 feet (7.6 metres) high. It has groups of small white flowers. It grows best in subtropical (wet and always warm) climates. It needs well-drained soil (water can flow away easily) and 40 to 100 inches (1,000 to 2,500 mm) of rain a year.

The nutmeat (the soft part inside the shell that can be eaten) is mostly a creamy white color. Sometimes it looks a bit yellow. It has a flavor that many people like. Macadamias are eaten roasted (cooked) by themselves. They are used in cookies, cakes, pastries, and candies. People use them like almonds and cashews as part of cooked meals. This is an Oriental style of cooking.

The first commercial orchard was started in Australia in the late 1880s. Commercial production started in Hawaii during the 1920s. Production later spread to California, Mexico, and other places with warm climate.

Macadamias are poisonous to dogs. A dog usually needs 24 to 48 hours to recover fully after eating macadamias.The plant is in the Proteaceae family of flowering plants.

Description

Macadamia is an evergreen genus that grows 2–12 m (7–40 ft) tall.

The leaves are arranged in whorls of three to six, lanceolate to obovate or elliptic in shape, 6–30 cm (2–10 in) long and 3–13 cm (1–5 in) broad, with an entire or spiny-serrated margin. The flowers are produced in a long, slender, simple raceme 5–30 cm (2–10 in) long, the individual flowers 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in) long, white to pink or purple, with four tepals. The fruit is a hard, woody, globose follicle with a pointed apex, containing one or two seeds.

History

1828
Allan Cunningham was the first European to discover the macadamia plant.
1857
German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus the scientific name Macadamia – named after von Mueller’s friend Dr. John Macadam, a noted scientist and secretary of the Philosophical Institute of Australia.
1858
Walter Hill, superintendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens (Australia), observed a boy eating the kernel without ill effect, becoming the first nonindigenous person recorded to eat macadamia nuts.
1860s
King Jacky, aboriginal elder of the Logan River clan, south of Brisbane, Queensland, was the first known macadamia entrepreneur, as his tribe and he regularly collected and traded the macadamias with settlers.
1866
Tom Petrie planted macadamias at Yebri Creek (near Petrie) from nuts obtained from Aboriginals at Buderim; 1882
William H. Purvis introduced macadamia nuts to Hawaii as a windbreak for sugar cane.
1888
The first commercial orchard of macadamias was planted at Rous Mill, 12 km from Lismore, New South Wales, by Charles Staff.
1889
Joseph Maiden, Australian botanist, wrote, “It is well worth extensive cultivation, for the nuts are always eagerly bought.”
1910
The Hawaiian Agricultural Experiment Station encouraged planting of macadamias on Hawaii’s Kona District, as a crop to supplement coffee production in the region.
1916
Tom Petrie begins trial macadamia plantations in Maryborough, Queensland, combining macadamias with pecans to shelter the trees.
1922
Ernest Van Tassel formed the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Co in Hawaii.
1925
Tassel leased 75 acres (30 ha) on Round Top in Honolulu and began Nutridge, Hawaii’s first macadamia seed farm.
1931
Tassel established a macadamia-processing factory on Puhukaina Street in Kakaako, Hawaii, selling the nuts as Van’s Macadamia Nuts.
1937
Winston Jones and J. H. Beaumont of the University of Hawaii’s Agricultural Experiment Station reported the first successful grafting of macadamias, paving the way for mass production.
1940s
Steve Angus, Murwillumbah, Australia, formed Macadamia Nuts Pty Ltd, doing small-scale nut processing.
1946
A large plantation was established in Hawaii.
1953
Castle & Cooke added a new brand of macadamia nuts called “Royal Hawaiian”, which was credited with popularizing the nuts in the U.S.
1997
Australia surpassed the United States as the major producer of macadamias.
2012–15
South Africa surpassed Australia as the largest producer of macadamias.
2014
Macadamia nuts were responsible for the delay of Korean Air Flight 86 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. This “nut rage incident” gave the nuts high visibility in the South Korean economy and marked a sharp increase in consumption there.


via theherbalbalance: Herbs and kids go together like two peas in a pod, with many lovely, gentle herbs that children readily respond to. These botanicals can be used to not only bring aid to little ones during times of illness but also to inspire children with the wonders of nature and the plant world. Yet, if we want to use herbs with a child for health reasons or for play, knowing how to find and use safe herbs for kids is of the utmost importance.

Safe Herbs For Kids

Herbs have a long history of use for helping families and their children to thrive and be healthy. I like to use safe herbs that are gentle and mild with children and have time-tested traditional use. Kids are more sensitive than adults and respond strongly to mild herbs while stronger herbs may cause unwanted reactions in little bodies. Some of my favorite plants to use with kids include gentle nervines and nourishing herbal plants which are wonderful for bringing a bit of herbal love to children.

When choosing which plant to use with your child, it is important to do your homework. Get a good children’s herbal book (recommended books below) and refer to it when needed. You can also follow the links offered throughout this article to learn more about individual herbs including their properties and how to use them. The herbs mentioned in this post are used by herbalists for children and are generally considered to be safe herbs for kids, however no herb is safe for every person, please see guidelines below for further information about using herbs with kids.

Nourishing Plants for Kids

These plants act like a nutritive food in the body and indeed the herbal assistance that comes from nourishing herbs is through their ability to offer high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals that are easily absorbed. Boost the nutrient content of your food by adding these plants to foods such as salads, soups, and casseroles. They also make wonderful teas and infusions which can then be used to make kid-friendly herbal treats such as ice pops, smoothies, and even jello!

Examples of nourishing plants include:

  • Nettle (Urtica dioica), dry or cook before using
  • Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
  • Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
  • Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Seaweeds
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • Rose hips (Rosa species)
  • Violet (Viola odorata)

Gentle Nervines for Kids

Nervines are plants that help to nourish and calm the nervous system. These plants are wonderful for helping to soothe nervousness and anxieties, for example when kids are nervous about the first day of school or a big performance coming up. These herbs also lend a calming hand when children have become so overtired and that they are wired. Nervines can help to ease away occasional insomnia as well as aches and pains including headaches. And these plants also assist in providing calm comfort during illness when rest is essential.

Examples of nervines for kids include:

  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Rose petals (Rosa species)
  • Lavender (Lavandula species)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

When Things Go Amiss

It is wonderful to be able to use natural remedies to help an ailing child feel better. You can put a little nurturing love and care into making and using herbal remedies with kids and when they feel that love, it helps them feel better! Herbs can be helpful to alleviate symptoms and speed recovery from stuffy noses, sore throats, coughs, and tummy aches. Along with the herbs listed here, look to nervines which are also helpful during illness offering calm support along along with antimicrobial properties in their own right.

Here are some examples of helpful herbs to use with sick kids:

  • Elder flower & berry (Sambucus nigra)
  • Violet & pansy (Viola species)
  • Anise seeds (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • Nervines listed above

Appropriate Dosing Of Herbs For Kids

It is just as important to know how to use herbs safely with your kids as it is to be able to choose safe herbs. An essential part of using herbs safely with children is giving them the proper dosage of the herb or herbs you have chosen. Herbalists have a couple different ways to figure out safe dosages of herbs for kids. These rules are based on weight or age of the child to figure the dosage and can be of great help.

Clark’s Rule

This rule is based on the weight of the child and assumes that the adult dosage is for a 150 pound adult.

To use Clark’s Rule take the weight of your child and divide it by 150.

For example, if your child weighs 38 pounds you would divide 38 by 150 (38/150 = .253 or ¼) so your child would take ¼ of the adult dosage (White et al., 1998).

Young’s Rule

Young’s rule for figuring dosage is based on the child’s age. To use, add 12 to the child’s age and divide the child’s age by this number.

Here is an example for a 6 year old child: 6+12 = 18, then 6/18 = .3 from which you can calculate the fraction of the adult dosage to use. In this case 1/3 of the adult dosage (Gladstar, 2001).

Although the herbs listed above are among the most commonly used herbs for kids, adjusting herb dosage for kids makes many herbs effective and safe for kids. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar explains, “my experience has been that almost any herb that is safe for an adult is safe for a child as long as the size and weight of the child are accounted for and the dosage is adjusted accordingly” (Gladstar, 2001, pp. 163). She also says that these herbs should be “in small amounts for short periods of time only, and in conjunction or formulated with milder herbs” (Gladstar, 2001, pp. 163).

What to Watch For

Other safety precautions are important for everyone and especially children. Please keep in mind that no herb is safe for absolutely every person, just as strawberries and peanuts are not safe food choices for everyone. Please watch your child carefully for signs of negative reaction.

The Scratch Test

If you are not sure that an herb will be safe for your child or have never given him or her a plant before and want to be cautious you can perform a scratch test. Take a small amount of the herb, tea, or tincture and gently rub it on the inside of your child’s arm. Wait for 24 hours to see if there is any negative reaction before using the herb.

This guidance in no way takes that place of qualified medical care. If your child is very sick and/or not responding to your efforts please consult your doctor. As a parent your intuition about your child’s health is often the best guideline and it is important to listen to that wise voice.

Herbs are Fun Too!

If you want to engage your child in the world of herbalism even more check out our Introduction To Herbs For Kids series. With eight lesson on learning about herbs, it is written with a voice towards children and is full of ideas for playing with and learning about herbs including plenty of activities, recipes, and printables!

For a more in-depth study of using safe herbs with kids consider signing up for our Introductory and Intermediate Courses or our Herbarium membership all of which have resources available to aid in your herbal studies.


via The Tick And Mosquito: When it comes the time of the year when mosquitoes are crowding your home, and you are sick and tired of swatting them and wave them away with your hand, you start looking for other solutions to this problem. There is certainly good reason to — mosquitoes are not only annoying, they carry serious diseases. While controlling mosquitoes outside is the best way to address the root cause, you sometimes need to get rid of mosquitoes indoors. Controlling mosquitoes indoors can be a little more tricky, because you hate to use harsh chemicals or mosquito repellents with deet in an indoor environment. Making sure you have a safe indoor environment is a balance between keeping mosquitos and diseases away, but also making sure that things like drinking water and air quality are top-notch. To that end, we focus many of our tips below on plant-based solutions, as reviewed by the NIH. To help you control the indoor environment for you and your family, we have come up with a list of the ten best ways to get rid of mosquitoes indoors, but first, focus on the obvious fix:

FIRST AND FOREMOST: FIX YOUR SCREENS AND DOORS

Many bug and insect issues can be solved through patching obvious gaps in your window screens and doors. If you do not have window screens, get some. You don’t need them for every windows, only the ones you like to have open often. A good, basic door strip is not expensive and will keep bugs out. It will also give an added benefit of keeping cold and hot air, and even mice, out. As for screens, fix the ones you have with a simple patch kit, and if you have none you can retrofit any window with an easy adjustable screen. Natural Indoor Mosquito Solutions

NATURAL INDOOR MOSQUITO SOLUTIONS
Once you have addressed windows and doors, it is time to make sure the mosquitoes that do make it inside don’t touch you or your family. Here are some of our favorite, safe, natural ways to repel skeeters.

1. Ultrasonic Bug/Pest Repeller
Ultrasonic repellers have been around in some form for a while, but manufacturers are making them smaller, more attractive, and more affordable today. While it is difficult to prove, the ultrasonic devices are said to emote a radio frequency that will be very unpleasant for pests like mosquitos, bugs, and mice. The frequency is not picked up by humans or most pets, so you should not be affected by it. Anecdotes suggest that these repellers work well in many cases, and given that they also might keep mice and ticks away, could be worth a try. Best of all, there is no chemical be released, only radio waves.

2. Camphor Oil
Camphor has been found to have the longest lasting effects as a repellant. All you have to do is light camphor in a room with all the doors and windows closed and leave it like this for 15 to 20 minutes. Your room will be mosquito free in absolutely no time. Camphor has many other benefits too, such as being an herbal solution for muscle pain, better breathing, and sedation.

3. Tulsi
Tulsi has been found helpful in killing mosquito larvae and keeping mosquitoes away. Simply plant a Tulsi shrub near your window as the shrub has properties which prevent mosquitoes from entering your house. Tulsi is an Indian herb which sometimes goes by the name “holy basil”, used for cooking in many Indian dishes. It is also known to be useful in treating mosquito bites when applied directly to the bite area.

4. Dry Ice
Because the carbon dioxide we exhale attracts mosquitoes, we are quite vulnerable to them. Dry ice emits carbon dioxide, and all you have to do is place some dry ice in a container and keep that container some distance away. When you see mosquitoes attracted to the container, close the lid. Although it is a time-consuming method, it is quite effective.

5. Garlic
With a strong pungent smell and mosquito larvicidal properties, garlic is one of the most efficient mosquito repellants on this list. All you have to do is crush a few garlic cloves and boil them in water for some time. Pour the water in a spray bottle and spray it around the room to prevent any mosquitoes from coming near you. Or, if you like cooking with garlic, heat up your favorite garlic-laden dish when you notice the mosquitoes are starting to get bad. You can get garlic at the grocery store, or find it here and have it shipped to your home.

6. Mosquito Traps
You can buy mosquito traps from the supermarket, find them online, or even make them at home. To make yourself a homemade mosquito trap, you need to cut a plastic bottle in half. Then, add brown sugar in hot water and mix it well. Once the mixture cools, pour it into the bottom half of the bottle and add yeast. Next, put the funnel half of the bottle on the bottom half in an upside down direction (with the bottle cap off). Wrap black tape around the bottle and place it in the mosquito vulnerable area. The solution needs to be changed periodically, according to directions.

7. Peppermint
A natural insecticide, peppermint can be sprayed as a mosquito repellant around your room, but it can cause skin irritation, so you must be cautious when spraying it. Also, the minty aroma of peppermint means that you do not have to be annoyed by the strong and pungent odors of bug sprays or other mosquito repellant remedies. One of our favorite natural repellent relies on peppermint as a main ingredient.

8. Tea Tree Oil
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of this essential oil make it one of the most effective when fighting off mosquitoes. It’s smell keeps the mosquitoes at bay and all you have to do it dilute a few drops of the oil in a few drops of water and apply this to your skin to prevent mosquitoes from coming anywhere near you. Also known as melaleuca, this oil is also a well-known herbal antiseptic that treats cuts, cold sores, and bug bites. This is another oil that not only can keep mosquitoes away, but can also treat the bite if you are too late to prevent them.

9. Coffee Grounds
Wherever you find stagnant water in or around your house (for example, if there has been heavy rain and you find a puddle of water in your front yard), sprinkle some coffee grounds in it. This will force the mosquito eggs present in the water to float to the surface, and they will be deprived of oxygen, which means that they will be killed before being hatched. Thus, you will have prevented new mosquitoes from being born.

10. Mosquito Repellent Plants
Catnip and feverfew are a few plants which can repel mosquitoes, and you can easily plant them in your flowerbed or windowsill to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. You can even place them in your garden. As for indoors, you might be able to get a house version of the plant, or perhaps plant a bunch of them near your doorstep.

All of these remedies have been proven to prevent mosquitoes from entering your homes, and they are quite successful when used correctly. So, make sure you follow the instructions we have provided, and you will be able to remove many of the mosquitoes in your house. Obviously, these solutions are best done in conjunction with some basic home improvement steps, such as making sure your window screens are all intact and in good condition, and check all of your doors to make sure they completely shut and seal out bugs and air. Also, be sure that the spaces around your doors and windows are well-sealed and there are not gaps. This technique will also help you prevent other infestations, such as those from boxelder bugs, mice, or flies.


via Almanac: Use these natural mosquito repellents and mosquito bite remedies to keep the mosquitoes away and get relief from itchy bug bites!

We love summer but staying away from mosquitoes is annoying. No one wants to wear long clothes in the heat just to prevent mosquito bites, but the bugs can be relentless.

It’s not all mosquitoes that feed on blood, though: male mosquitoes only drink nectar, whereas female mosquitoes nourish their developing eggs with protein-rich blood. To that end, the female mosquitoes prefer to bite ankles and wrists, where blood vessels are nearer to the skin’s surface. Ever noticed where you get bitten?

WHY DO MOSQUITO BITES ITCH?
When a mosquito bites you, it injects a small amount of saliva into the wound to stop your blood from clotting. Our bodies react to this foreign substance and, in defense, produce a protein called histamine. Histamine triggers the characteristic inflammation seen around mosquito bites, as well as the itching.

(Note: Though it’s rare, mosquito saliva can also carry encephalitis, malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever. If you have any complications with bug bites (besides itching), check for symptoms of these other diseases.)

NATURAL BUG REPELLENT REMEDIES
Did you know: A higher body temperature and more sweat make you more likely to be bitten. A first step is to wash off any sweat and keep your body temperature down.

Topical Mosquito Repellents

  • Many readers claim that rubbing apple cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects. If you take in enough apple cider vinegar by putting it on foods you eat, you’ll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies. One great and refreshing summer drink for this purpose is switchel, made from apple cider vinegar.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil is recommended by the C.D.C. to repel mosquitoes, as is picaridin.
  • Some people swear garlic works and swallow slivered garlic to ward off these summer pests. Others take garlic tablets or rub garlic juice directly on their skin.
  • If you are going to use a DEET repellent, do not use one with more than 25% DEET. Unlike the SPF rating in sunscreens, higher concentrations of DEET don’t mean more protection.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

  • To keep mosquitoes to a minimum, eliminate their breeding sites on your property. They need standing water to lay their eggs in, so empty those puddles, old cans, buckets, and plant pots. If you have a pond, don’t worry—dragonflies love ponds, and they are a big mosquito predator.
  • It is thought that certain plants repel a broad spectrum of insects. Marigolds, chrysanthemums, asters, and pyrethrum daisies, as well as herbs such as basil, anise, and coriander, are all thought to repel insects. See more plants that repel mosquitoes.
  • Citronella candles are not proven to work, however the smoke repels mosquitoes. Or, burn a little sage or rosemary over coals to repel mosquitoes.
  • Add a bat house to your home! Did you know that one small brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in one hour? Check this page for more information on bats and other creatures that eat annoying pests!
  • Be aware that using pesticides to get rid of mosquitoes can also harm more beneficial bugs like fireflies and dragonflies. Try some home remedies before making that decision!

MOSQUITO BITE RELIEF: HOME REMEDIES FOR BUG BITES AND ITCHING

  • It helps to ice the area of the bite to constrict the capillaries near the skin’s surface and reduce swelling.
  • If you are going to use a topical cream, stay away from caladryl and calamine lotions for mosquito bites; it’s better to apply a low-potency hydrocortisone and simple patience.
  • Remember not to scratch the bite; this will only make it worse. For itchy bites, rub on meat tenderizer or lemon juice. A paste of mashed garlic can also help make bug bites stop itching.
  • White vinegar is another remedy for relieving the itch of insect bites. Apply it in full strength. Don’t use vinegar if the area is raw. See more household uses for vinegar.
  • A paste of baking soda and water can provide much-needed relief to bug bites. Learn more about the countless household uses for baking soda.
  • Oatmeal can also help to provide itch relief—not only for bug bites.
  • Some people have luck with high doses of vitamin B1 (100 milligrams, two or three times a day), but it doesn’t work for everybody.
  • If you have an intense reaction to mosquito bites, consult your doctor.

We hope these natural mosquito repellents and bug bite remedies help you beat the bugs this season! Have some tips of your own? Please post in the comments below!


via FarmFresh: Potatoes are full of stuff that’s good for kids. In fact, compared to rice and pasta, potatoes give you a bigger bang for your buck in terms of healthy nutrition:

  • Carbohydrates: A good thing that’s getting a bad rap lately, carbs fuel both brains and bodies and are the main source of energy for growth and sports.
  • B Vitamins: Helps your body put carbs to work, providing energy and staying healthy.
  • Vitamin C: Essential for healthy skin, bones and hair.
  • Fiber: Every body needs it. You know why.
  • Folate: Helps your body make red blood cells.

Potatoes are not fattening

  • Potatoes are naturally fat free; it’s what you put on top of them that may need to be enjoyed in moderation.
  • If you’re looking for lower-cal, lower-fat potatoes recipes, check our recipe section.

Potatoes are satiating

  • Kids get hungry fast, so they need quality foods that help them feel full longer and provide the energy they need to keep going. Potatoes can help!

Kids will eat them

  • Of course there are lots of healthy foods to choose from. But all the Brussels sprouts in the world won’t help, if they just get pushed around the plate. After all, it’s not really nutrition until your child chews and swallows it.

The Great Back-To-School Spud-Off

These next two weeks—from September 3 through the 16th— we’re celebrating back-to-school time with a Facebook contest that’s all about kids who love of potatoes. A great way to kick off the new school year, our contest highlights how potatoes give kids the healthy nutrition they need to do well in the classroom. Best of all, we’re giving you a chance to win fun Back-To-School prizes — all you have to do is share why your kids love potatoes so much!

Entering is Easy

Submit a fun photo of your kid eating spuds and tell us what he or she loves so much about munching on potatoes. Then, share your post with your friends and family, encourage them to vote for your submission and share it with others. The six entries with the most votes will win prizes — including a grand prize of a $1,000 Visa gift card for school supplies.

So what are you waiting for? Click below to go to the contest page and submit your photo now. Good luck — this will be fun!