Getting Kids to Take Chinese Herbs

Honest helps the medicine go downOne of the hardest things about treating children is getting them to take Chinese herbs. The children are often opposed to the strong, bitter taste that some of the herbs have and parents and carers may be met by locked lip and a definite “no way”. However don’t despair all is not lost.  There are ways to get your children to take herbs.

The following are some practical tips to get your child to take their herbal medicine:

Infants and children under 2 years.

  1. Dissolve the herbal powder in hot water.  Allow to cool.  You can either do it with approximately 2-4 mls and add a few drops of stevia (This is a concentrated extract of Stevia rebaudiana, which is about 200 times sweeter than white cane sugar ) or mix the herbal mixture into their food such as a small amount of sugarless jam or their favorite meal.

If administrating as a liquid using a five ml syringe, gently squirt the desired dose 1 ml at a time into the side of the mouth towards the back.

However, I have found that by introducing herbs at a very young age, that children actually enjoy the taste of the herbs and have no problems taking them.

Young children

  1. With young children you can also use the same methods that you use with infants, however simple honesty is often the best method.  Explain to them that they don’t always taste nice ” but that they will make you feel better.”  We often underestimate how smart our children are and that they are willing to comply if they know that it will make them better.

 “It is best to under-promise and over-deliver, by being clear about what kids can expect when they take Chinese Herbal Formulas”. Robin Green

When prescribing herbs tell the children why they need to take them and explain how they will work, for example how the herbs will relieve there headache or help there body get better.  Tell them that they are bitter and often unpleasant to take but you know that you will be able to do it.  Honesty works best with children and their natural instinct is to try and please you.  Whilst trying to trick children often back fires and creates additional problems that we can all deal without.  They often have a huge sense of pride when they finish there herbs.  My son has great pleasure showing me his empty glass often with a huge grin.  He is so proud of himself!

  1. The herbs can also be mixed with a little apple juice.  Although I don’t advocate fruit juices for children, a little to get the herbs to go down is OK. As the saying goes “Pick your battles”.
  2. You may also use a little honey (only in children over 12 months due to the risk of botulism) or nut butters provided the child does not have a nut allergy.  Nut butters include tahini, peanut butter and almond butter.

Although my children are generally great at taking herbs, some times it does take a little patience and effort.  We might have to provide a straw, allow them to drink from an unusual container or jar, drink from mum’s favourite tea cup or allow to drink from a bowl.  What ever works!  You may even like to create a sticker chart and then at the end of the week when the herbs are finished and your child is feeling better they might be able to get a special prize or treat.