There is something very comforting about using home remedies that have been passed down through the generations and when you become a parent you often find yourself turning to traditional remedies that your mother or grandmother used, such as honey and lemon to soothe a sore throat, perhaps it is because you remember how comforting, gentle and effective those home cures were.  With children in the household it is a certainty that you are always in need of treatments for minor ailments whether it is for cuts, bruises, nettle stings or tummy upsets;  and undoubtedly it is most helpful to discover the value of simple plant-based cures that can be made at home.

With the danger of antibiotic overuse becoming well publicised in recent  years there is an increase in wanting to  treat minor conditions such as coughs, colds and tummy upsets without asking the Doctor to reach for the prescription pad.  For centuries families have relied on plant based remedies to treat everyday illnesses and these gentle yet effective remedies are currently enjoying resurgence in interest and quite rightly to.

Healing Touch

Anyone that has ever experienced a massage will know how relaxing it is and so it is not surprising that massaging babies helps to alleviate inability to settle and colic. To perform a baby massages warm one egg cupful of grape-seed oil by standing it in a bowl of warm water. Add one drop of pure Roman Chamomile essential oil and mix well.  Lay your baby on a warm towel on your lap for the massage. Using gentle and soothing strokes work from your baby’s fingers along the limbs, towards the heart. Use light, circular motions over the tummy. Throughout the massage be guided by your baby and their reactions.  After massaging the front of your baby, turn them over and work either side of the spine and down the back. Finish by wrapping your baby up in a warm towel. This is a great way of helping to alleviate tension in your baby, stimulate sleep as well as being a lovely bonding activity.

Rose Hip Tonic

050A few decades ago it was a common practice to give children a spoonful of rose hip syrup to top up their vitamin levels and ward off colds. Then, almost overnight rose hip syrup vanished from the shelves due to the outcry that it was causing infant tooth decay.  However this recipe for Rose Hip Tonic contains all the vitamin C packed rosehips without any of tooth decay issues associated with the original syrup.

To make Rose Hip Tonic Take 1 teaspoon of dried rose hips  or 1 ½ teaspoons of fresh rose hips and mix with ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Pour over one cup of freshly boiled water and leave to stand for ten minutes before straining. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve as a tea. A little honey can be added to make it more palatable if necessary.



Marigold Rinse to the Rescue – for minor Wounds, eczema, insect bites and athletes foot

Marigold rinse is an invaluable natural treatment for all manner of skin ailments. For centuries pot marigold has been cultivated for centuries for its soothing antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.  In history marigold’s healing properties were so highly regarded that Henry VII recommended using it to cure the plague, as a modern parent it is well worth making a marigold rinse for the treatment of eczema, roundworm, athletes’ foot, insect stings, sore skin and inflammation.

To make Marigold Wash, place 125g of fresh marigold heads or 50g of dried ones in a large jug and cover with one pint of boiling water. Leave to cool, then strain into a bowl. For the treatment of minor wounds such as cuts and grazes or sore skin and eczema bathe the affected area in the marigold wash or apply with clean cotton wool.  To treat conditions such as inflammation or insect stings mix the prepared marigolds rinse with an equal quantity of cider vinegar and apply with clean cotton wool.

An Old Fashioned Kitchen Remedy for Diarrhoea:  Lemon Barley Water061

Children can quickly become dehydrated when suffering from tummy upsets and lemon barley water can help to replace lost fluids and it tasting good is a real bonus.

To make lemon barley water cover 125g of pearl barley with water and bring to the boil. Strain, return the barley to the pan and add 1 ½ pints of cold water and the grated rind of one unwaxed lemon. Simmer, gently until the barley is cooked, topping up with water as required. Once the barley is cooked leave to cool and then strain the liquid and sweeten with a little honey if necessary. Serve chilled.

As a breastfeeding mother I was conscious of not wanting to take so much as a Paracetamol, but I still found myself in need of a headache cure or tonic from time to time; thankfully I found that a rosemary oil scalp rub chases headaches away whilst garlic is a cure all. Women have acted as the key to the families’ health for generations:  dispensing advice, home-made remedies and employing the odd old wives tale here and there.  With a long standing female preoccupation in natural remedies it is not surprising that there is a long list of folk remedies devoted to addressing  temporary glitches in the menstrual cycle, to aid nursing and childbirth; alleviate frayed nerves and soothe the passage of the menopause.

Simple quick tips such as knowing that half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in warm milk helps alleviate cold symptoms whilst raspberry vinegar is excellent used as a sore throat gargle or sipped a teaspoonful at a time it works as a good cough remedy means  that your kitchen can soon become your natural pharmacy.

PMS Salad

Premenstrual Syndrome is something that effects a great deal of women and with its symptoms of bloating, headaches, breast pain and irritability it can make being a mother a difficult task with patience being at low ebb. For painful periods try drinking raspberry leaf tea, this is known for easing menstrual cramps, but to combat the bloating effects of PMS try this vitamin rich salad that has a natural diuretic effect that is mild but effective:


(a handful of each)


Young dandelion leaves

Chopped celery


Young nettle tips




For the dressing

50ml Walnut oil

1 Clove crushed garlic

Juice of 1 lemon



Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and combine the dressing ingredients together before drizzling over the salad. This should be enjoyed daily in sandwiches or as a part of main meals.

Stress is definitely not pleasant, but increasingly unavoidable when faced with parenting challenges and the strains and pressures of modern living. Gentle home remedies can help and these quick tips will help as general tonics to alleviate stress and strain:

  • Add two cloves to a cup of herbal tea to aid your mood and lift depression
  • Have a healthy helping of porridge – oats are full of vitamin B which is vital to the nervous system
  • Take 15 minutes a day to do nothing, but relax and try adding a few drops of rosemary oil to your next bath


Milk Aid for Nursing Mothers

The sweet tangy, mildly aniseed flavoured fennel has been used for centuries as an aid to nursing women to help stimulate milk production. Not only has it been used to help stimulate milk production but it passes through breast milk to help the baby’s digestion and relieve symptoms of colic.  Eating fennel is of benefit and you can also make a soothing tea.

To make fennel tea, crush 40g of fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle and then cover them with 1 pint of freshly boiled water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, before straining. Drink a cup at least three times a day. It will not only help to stimulate breast milk production and ease colic, but will also help with your digestive system and helps with balancing your menstrual cycle.

Constipation, Colds and Food Poisoning

Garlic is an ancient cure-all remedy that amongst other things is good for warding off colds as well as aiding the recovery of anyone suffering from food poisoning. Studies have shown that garlic can fight infection and can eliminate harmful bacteria in the gut and so two cloves of garlic a day may indeed keep the doctor away.  A handy garlic recipe to keep to hand is a mild, yet effective remedy for constipation. Warm one cup of milk in a saucepan, add five peeled cloves of garlic and simmer for three minutes, gradually bring to the boil. Strain and drink just before bedtime.  It will work as a laxative that is mild enough for adults and children alike.

More and more people are turning to natural solutions in preference to chemical substances.  As a parent the interest in safe, simple and effective home remedies often increases, but it goes without saying that any child that has sickness, diarrhoea, pain or fever for more than twenty four hours should be referred to a doctor and that if you are worried about the health of your child you should seek the advice of a GP without delay, however, for mild ailments and minor first aid traditional remedies can be a great aid for parents and their children alike.  There’s a wonderful world of traditional home remedies just waiting to be discovered in your garden and kitchen cupboards and I hope you will enjoy exploring some of them.