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Food & Eating

Herbs to soothe your child’s chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Food & Eating, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Henriette Kress
author of Practical Herbs 1 & 2

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella virus. It’s belongs to the herpesviruses. You can remedy all problems caused by this group the same way, including cold sores (herpes simplex) and shingles (herpes zoster).

The most important thing to know about chickenpox is that it can get a lot worse if you use aspirin or ibuprofen. Leave them in your medicine cupboard whenever somebody has chickenpox or herpes.

The second important thing to know is that you have the virus for life. You can get rid of the symptoms, but you can’t get rid of the virus itself. Chickenpox is fairly mild if you get it in childhood. It’s a lot worse if you first get it as an adult, and it’s very contagious. It’s dangerous to the fetus if caught by a pregnant woman.

Herbs for chickenpox
I like three herbs for chickenpox:
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa) has been shown to be effective against various herpes-family viruses. It’s a mild herb and can be given freely as a tea. Here’s how:

Lemon balm tea
1-2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
or 3-4 teaspoons fresh crushed leaves of lemon balm
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as he likes.

2. Coneflower
Coneflowers (Echinacea-species) are wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system. They’re also effective against different viruses in the herpes family. Purple coneflower is widely available as a tincture. To use, dilute the tincture in water and give it to your child:

Diluted coneflower tincture
15 drops coneflower tincture
100 ml water
Mix and let your child sip this throughout the day. Generally, coneflowers work better in acute problems if they’re taken as small doses often rather than as larger doses three times a day.

If you find dried coneflower herb, you can make that into a tea instead. The recipe is:
Coneflower tea
1-2 teaspoons dried coneflower
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as she likes.

3. St. John’s wort
An infused oil of St. John’s wort works wonders for the itch of chickenpox. It’s also great for the pain from shingles. You can make your own, but you can also buy it in well-stocked health food stores. If you can’t get an oil or salve of St. John’s wort, you can use a calendula salve instead.

Infused oil of St. John’s wort
• Fresh flowering tops of St. John’s wort
• Extra virgin olive oil

Fill a jar with the chopped-up flowering tops, then cover the herb with olive oil. Leave the jar in your oven on 50 ºC for two hours and strain the liquid into a wide-mouth jar. Let the water settle out until the oil is clear instead of murky, for about 5 days. Bottle your oil and add a label: ‘St. John’s wort oil’ plus the date. Store in the fridge.

It’s an excellent oil for bruises, sprains, strains and similar and is very effective for chickenpox and shingles.

4. An oat bath
An oat bath is extremely soothing to the itch from chickenpox. To make it, you’ll need a small or large bathtub and rolled oats:

Anti-itch bath
A handful of finely rolled oats
warm (not hot) water
Draw a bath with warm water and adjust the temperature to suit your child. Lower your child into the water and very gently rub a handful of finely rolled oats over his skin. Older children can to this for themselves, too.

5. Chickweed
Chickweed is among our best herbs for various itches. It’s an abundant weed in lush garden soil. Use scissors to take the top off the chickweed and crush it in a little water. Strain and use the resulting green-tinted liquid as a gentle wash on your child’s itchy spots. Chickweed can also be made into an infused oil (see under St. John’s wort); it’s soothing in that form, too.

Those who have had chickenpox can get another outbreak of the same virus decades later. This time it’s shingles, though. Shingles is usually brought on by stress or by an immune system that’s laid low by some other disease. You can use the same herbs for shingles as you used for chickenpox.

Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available now, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: www.aeonbooks.co.uk

Quick and healthy family meals for busy parents

By | children's health, Food & Eating, fun for children, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Jess Crocker
Manager, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

We’ve all been there – after a long day, staring into the fridge willing a decent meal to appear as a tired child moans in our ear. We want to serve up healthy meals our children love, but this ideal can seem far away at times. At the Food Partnership we’ve been teaching adults and families about cookery and nutrition for over 10 years so we’ve seen these same issues again and again. So many of our strongest happy memories are connected to food, so we want to see more families finding simple ways to have positive experiences together in the kitchen and at the dining table.

Here’s our top time-saving tips to make healthy meals easier:
• Hidden veg tomato sauce Lots of parents blend or chop vegetables into pasta sauce to up their children’s veg intake, but we love to find new ways to make this go even further – freeze a large batch of the sauce so you can use it on pita-bread pizzas (see below), in stews, shepherd’s pie and or even as a base for a minestrone soup.

• Do it together
Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to get them trying new foods. Many parents involve even young children in activities like baking but the time, sugar and mess means this isn’t really an everyday option. We often find family meals that give children choice and control help to improve eating habits – and this can be quick too. One of our favourites is pita bread pizzas – all you need are store-bought breads, tomato paste or a basic sauce, grated cheese and some toppings (think frozen sweetcorn, peppers, chopped fresh tomato). Even toddlers can assemble the pizza themselves and wait excitedly to try their creation.

• Don’t fear frozen
Frozen veg often retains more nutrients than fresh food which has been left to languish in the fridge, plus you can portion out exactly what you need and cook it quickly. Keep a range of veg (and fruit) in the freezer to ensure your children get a good variety of foods without spending a fortune. Toddlers who are teething may even enjoy eating frozen peas or sweetcorn, and a little bit of frozen spinach can disperse through a dish as a very gentle introduction to more bitter flavours. It can take up to fifteen times for children to accept a new food, so don’t worry if it takes a while, if you’re eating it yourself they should eventually follow suit.

• Protein power
People often focus on vegetable intake in children – don’t forget protein. Children need two portions per day, roughly the size of their own fist or a handful. As well as meat, eggs and fish, we find that red lentils cook quickly and can easily disappear into a tasty carrot soup or casserole to add extra nutrition easily.

Check out our website for lots of quick and easy family recipes. If you have a top tip or recipe that helps your family eat quickly and well, we’d love to hear from you.

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen