Back-to-School can be the most wonderful time of the year for a parent, but it can also be a dreaded time of year. Before I learned some back to school strategies it seemed like my children always came down with a cold or flu within 2 weeks after starting school. I felt as if I sent them to a giant petri dish of virus and bacteria and hoped for the best. I was always sorely disappointed when we had illness run rampant through their classrooms, and then our home, each year. After becoming an herbalist, I developed a few back-to-school strategies to support my kids’ immune systems and keep them well. Here are my back-to-school strategies for the immune system.
- Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased viral infections. Getting adequate time outside in the sunshine each day is important for vitamin D levels. Adding a daily supplement of vitamin D to your child’s routine can further support the immune system. Check with your healthcare provider for the right supplementation amount for your child.
- Elderberry Syrup is a pleasant herbal syrup made from the berries of Sambuccus nigra. Studies have shown elderberry to be the top supportive herb for the immune system during the seasons of cold and flu. You can give elderberry syrup on a spoon or add it to morning oatmeal or a smoothie. Elderberry should be taken several times a day during exposure for best results.
- Healthy Foods are critical for the best function of our immune systems. Make sure your kid’s lunches are full of high-quality proteins and snacks such as fruits and veggies. Loading kids up with nutrient-dense foods gives the cells in their body the fuel to function at their best. Avoid sugary snacks in school lunches except for occasional treats. Sugar lowers the immune system function and opens our kids up to catching unwanted germs.
- Water keeps your kids hydrated and hydration equals strong immunity. Sugary drinks such as sodas, chocolate milk, and juices will lower the immune function and can make your kids have difficulty focusing during class.
- Hand washing makes a difference. Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently throughout the day and especially after touching other people’s things or surfaces. There are millions of chances during the day to be in contact with germs and then transfer them through the nose and eyes by touching their faces. Frequent hand-washing lowers the chances that your kids will come home with unwanted viral visitors.
Of course, nothing is fool proof, but the above strategies are helpful for supporting your kids’ immune system at the onset of school time and throughout the year. This listing is a good start and there are many more strategies that families find helpful. It’s important to keep in mind that each child and each situation is unique, so having a healthcare partner on your side is valuable in determining the best tools for you and your family.
About the Author: Kris Vaughan is a certified clinical herbalist, educator and Program Director of Herbal Wisdom Institute, and Director of Wise Woman Herbals. She is a board certified Holistic Healthcare Practitioner with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) and a member of the American Herbalists Guild.