Parents turn to homeopathic remedies to treat children with colds

Some tout traditional remedies to treat colds

INDIANAPOLIS - Despite constant medical advances, there is still no cure for the common cold, and some families are turning to the past for relief.

Some contend that old, traditional remedies are just as effective at fighting colds, without the side effects.

SLIDESHOW: Common natural remedies

In 2008, manufacturers voluntarily too over-the-counter cough and cold products for children under age 2 off the market because of safety concerns and fears of overdose.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends cold medicines not be given to children under age 4 unless a doctor recommends it.

Gavin, 4-and-a-half, doesn't like to be slowed down by sniffles, and his mother, Staci Small, doesn't want the medicine she gives him to make him tired or wired.

"When they get runny noses and coughs, I give them homeopathic products," Small said. "This one is for cold and cough, and it really is effective. It dries up the nose, lessens the cough."

Small has no traditional over-the-counter medications in her medicine basket, only all-natural remedies.

"I'm looking for no artificial colors, no artificial flavorings," Small said. "I don't want artificial sweeteners and things of that nature. I just want all natural items going into my kids' bodies."

Rhonda Marsh, a nurse practitioner, said more families are asking her about homeopathic options for earaches, stomach aches, coughs and colds.

"I think I'm starting to see a lot more parents just start to cycle back around," Marsh said.

Families are opting to use remedies that were popular 200 years ago, such as honey and lemon to coat sore throats and steam to ease congestion.

Conner Prairie's "Dr. Campbell," George Grogan, is very familiar with the herbs, seeds and plants Hoosiers used in the early 1800s.

"I've got several medicinal plants growing there, tansy and peppermint and pennyroyal and chamomile. I've also got some spearmint growing," Grogan said. "A lot of your just common stomach aches can be treated quite successfully with essence of peppermint."

Children suffering from a cold got lots of fluids and bed rest in the 1800s, much like today, along with hot toddys with much less whiskey for children. Doctors in the old days also practiced blood-letting using leeches.

Still, some of grandma's remedies of old, such as chicken noodle soup, are proven to help bring relief. Several clinical studies have shown that hot chicken soup is a natural decongestant, and the amino acids released from the chicken resemble the effects of a drug typically prescribed for bronchial problems.

Glasses of cranberry juice can provide relief for urinary tract infections. Cranberries contain certain compounds thought to inhibit infection-causing bacteria.

Marsh prescribes prevention instead of just treatment -- daily doses of vitamin C and zinc to prevent and less the severity and duration of a cold.

Small also gives her children probiotics -- bacteria that help regulate the intestines daily. She intends to stick with natural remedies.

"With artificial chemicals, we don't know what the long-term effects of artificial chemicals are," Small said. "I get results with the homeopathics, and that's what I love. His sneeze gets better. His cough gets better, and really that's what every parent is looking for."

Pediatricians said they should be made aware of all homeopathic treatments a child takes because there can be dangerous interactions.

The FDA does not regulate herbal remedies, and some argue that there is no sound scientific evidence that they really work.

Marsh recommends 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for children over age 2, zinc and 1,000 international units a day of vitamin D.

Honey should not be given to children under age 1.

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