Herbology For Children & Youth

By Karyn Sanders, © Copyright 2008.

Herbology Has Helped Kids With

  • Asthma
  • Broken Bones
  • Cancer
  • Colds & Flu’s
  • Emotional issues
  • Eczema

Herbology Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Children live much closer to their spiritual selves. Even very low doses of the correct herb can be very effective.

Body: It’s good for all kinds of illnesses; chronic asthma, allergies, acute-colds, and ear infections. Works well with measles, mumps and other childhood illnesses against which some parents may choose not to immunize.

Mind: Herbs work very well for children with brain dysfunction and similar problems.

Emotions: Herbs work well for depression, anxiety, etc.

Social: It’s best to treat the whole family if challenges are on a social/emotional level. Usually, the herbalist gives herbs to the child and counsels the parents, but sometimes the whole family receives herbs.

Brief Description Of Herbology

  • Uses herbs to bring the child’s body back into balance.
  • Good health depends on the mind, body and spirit of the child being in harmony with each other. If one is off, they’re all off. Herbology restores that balance.
  • An herb is anything that is plant matter.
  • Healing comes about through the alignment of the sick child’s energy, the illness, and the herb.
  • The challenge is to get to the root of the illness. Why is it there, and what is causing the symptoms? Herbology meets that challenge.

Success With Herbology

  • Bill, six years old, had severe asthma attacks. His herbalist gave him herbs in an herbal syrup, which she made just for him. She also discussed with Bill’s parents the amount of time he spent playing video games and using the computer, and explained she felt these kept him too wired to breathe deeply. Bill’s parents report he hasn’t had an asthma attack in months.
  • Janie, a two year old, cut off the tip of her little finger in a fan. Her parents didn’t believe in Western medicine or surgery as a first option. The herbalist bound the injured tip onto the child’s finger with herbs and made up an herbal salve for the parents to apply. The finger tip and even the nail bed grew back in time.
  • Jeff, a nine year old, was a very violent child and had been since he was three. He was isolated and taunted by other kids, which made him depressed, miserable, and even more violent, especially toward his younger sister. The herbalist gave him several spirit plants to help him control his impulses. As he began to calm down, he was then given other remedies to lift his depression and help him make friends. Over the course of a year, Jeff became much more cooperative with his parents and teachers and developed a good relationship with his sister.
  • Jimmy was seven when he developed bone cancer. Along with surgery and chemotherapy, he took herbal remedies. His recovery went much smoother than expected by the surgeons and the cancer specialists. He also had less side effects from the chemotherapy.

Herbology Is Appropriate For Ages

  • Newborn through adolescence
  • There are herbs to help heal circumcision, treat colds, earaches, acne, PMS, etc.

Children & Youth’s Reactions To Herbology

  • Most children are drawn to the herbs. They love the colors and smells of the herbs. They can feel the magic. They understand when they feel better.
  • Some children love the taste, others aren’t fond of it. Of course, a lot depends on both the child’s age and which herb they’re given.
  • They like it--not necessarily taste. Practitioners often tell children the taste of it is the plant’s “voice.” “Don’t say “Yuck!” when you take an herb or it will hurt the plant’s feelings.”
  • Children desire harmony. If they believe the remedy will bring harmony to them, they will cooperate in taking it.
  • Herbalists often make the remedy fun, with games and songs and stickers for small children. This increases their cooperation and it aids in healing.
  • Children usually notice some positive change right away. They usually like to take their remedies.

Extra Care Is Needed

  • The herbalist needs to be completely objective and not approach working with the child with any assumptions.

Contraindications: When Herbology Should Be Avoided

  • Pregnancy - with some herbs
  • With multiple health issues, one has to be careful. A remedy could be good for asthma for example, but bad for an ulcer. An experienced practitioner is needed for this.


  • The use of herbs for healing dates back to the first appearance of people on the planet. In ancient times, the connections between people and plants were obvious and apparent everywhere.
  • In intact indigenous cultures, herbalism is still practiced today, as it has been for thousands of years. This has never been lost.
  • In the Western European cultures, most modern medicines have been developed from plants.
  • Today, in Western European cultures, the value of learning about and from the plants in their original forms is once again becoming obvious and the number of herbal practitioners is growing profusely.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Herbology

  • Energetic Herbalists work with energy--the energy of the child, the illness, and the plant--to achieve balance.
  • It takes several hours with the parent and the child to determine, through a series of questions and observations, what the basic nature of the child is when they are well.
  • During that same time period, the practitioner also determines the exact nature of the illness.
  • Using knowledge, experience, and wisdom, the practitioner determines what remedy works best with that illness, then creates the remedy and administers it.
  • Often, once the immediate symptoms of an illness--such as asthma attacks--have been relieved, the herbalist then uncovers the deeper cause of the illness; such as depression, anxiety, poor nutrition, over-stimulation, etc., and then treats the deeper cause.
  • Most herbalists use herbs from the continental biosphere in which the child lives.
  • Herbs may be administered in many different ways: orally through syrups, teas, tinctures, or drops; and externally through poultices, baths, smudges, or creams, depending on the nature of the illness and the age of the child.

Description Of A Typical Session

  • When the child comes in for a session, the herbalist gives the parent a long intake form that goes over every organ system. It also asks for a detailed history of the child.
  • If the child is old enough, the herbalist asks them many questions about themselves. If not, the herbalist questions the parent and observes the child at play.
  • It’s very important that the herbalist listens to and observes the child/patient in a non-judgmental way. It’s also important the herbalist is respectful of the child or youth.
  • The herbalist examines the child and usually gives them a remedy before they leave. In some cases, however, the herbalist needs to “sit” with the problem for awhile before deciding on the best course to follow.
  • The herbalist trusts that between the interaction of the plant and the child, balance can be restored.
  • Sometimes the parents or the whole family also receive a remedy.

Major Differences Of Opinion Between Practitioners

  • Dosage levels: Some herbalists believe a dose of 6 drops is enough of a remedy, while others may prescribe up to 60 drops.
  • Some Western herbalists don’t have an energetic system and are just working on a physical level.
  • There are several schools of thought amongst herbalists and sometimes they complement one another; sometimes they conflict.

Fees/Costs In 2007

  • A sliding scale fee from $0-$135 with an openness to trade for everything from eggs to carpentry.
  • This covers the initial session and a six week supply of herbs.

Average Time Per Session

  • The initial visit takes two to three hours.
  • Follow-up sessions, if needed, may take up to an hour.

Recommended Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • In acute cases, the herbalist may need to be present with the child to administer herbs every fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes the child and their family move in with the practitioner and stay for a few weeks.
  • Ordinarily, the time between sessions is five to six weeks.

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • In acute cases such as measles, colds and earaches, results will often be noticed in moments to hours.
  • In long-term chronic illnesses, most clients notice some immediate change. However, it can take up to a year for complete recovery and different remedies will be needed over time as conditions change.

Suggestions To Make Herbology More Effective

  • Make sure your child or youth takes the prescribed remedies as directed.
  • Remind the children the herbs are medicine and may not taste good but will help them.
  • Believe in the healing power of the herbs.

Other Methods That Are Similar To Herbology

  • Since Herbology works with the child’s energy systems - their vital forces, other energetic bodywork such as massage, Bowen, or Feldenkrais can be a great addition to working with herbs.
  • Homeopathy is similar.
  • Use of Flower Essences and essential oils is similar.

Other Methods That Complement Herbology

  • Almost all healing modalities blend well with herbology, including homeopathy, acupuncture, body work, and traditional Western medicine. Since we carry things on a cellular level, shifts in energy that restore balance can be achieved by many paths toward wellness.

Nature And Length Of Training To Be A Practitioner

  • There are a number of herbal schools in the United States and Canada. Each has its own standards and length of training.
  • Ideally, an herbalist should do a lengthy, in-depth apprenticeship of seven to ten years with an experienced practitioner.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

The practitioner must:

  • Make sure they have done work on themselves, on their power dynamics.
  • Train themselves to be perceptive in many different ways - not simply verbally.
  • Learn to be quiet and patient, so they can wait for the child’s revelations.

Certification/Licenses Held By Practitioners

  • There are no licenses for Western herbalists.

Professional Associations To Contact For Names Of Local Practitioners

  • Herbs are the people’s medicine. Herbs are about people, for people, and belong to people to use and grow themselves.
  • There are herbalists trained in many different approaches all over the world.
  • Use the word-of-mouth approach.
  • It’s best to ask people for referrals to practitioners they know and trust.

Number Of Certified Herbology Practitioners In U.S., Canada, And Mexico

  • Herbalists are not certified.
  • However there are thousands of practitioners in all three countries.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Practitioner

  • Do they pay close attention to the child and the parent?
  • Do they respond without judgment or blame?
  • Are they able to set aside ego, and let the child and the plants guide them to the healing remedy?
  • Are they willing to take plenty of time and are not motivated by greed?

Leading Clinics, Centers, Practitioners

  • Rosemary Gladstar atwww.rosemarygladstar.com
  • Contact Michael Moore at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine; P.O. Box 4565, Bisbee, AZ 85603; Website: www.all-natural.com/herbindx.html. “After 28 years, we have retired and closed down our 500 hour residency program. We now offer two distance learning programs with residency segments…”

Resources, Research Papers, Books, DVDs, Websites


  • Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Remedies for Children’s Health. Pound, Vermont: Storey Books. 1999.
  • Hutchins, Alma R. Indian Herbs of North America. Boston: Shambala Press, 1991.
  • Moore, Michael. Herbal Formulas for Clinic and Home. Keats Publishing Inc, 27 Pine St., New Canaan, CT 06840. 1995.

Helpful Tips For Parents

  • Get a book about using herbs with children.
  • Grow simple herbs like comfrey, aloe vera, peppermint, etc. with your child, and share the uses with them.
  • Don’t treat complicated issues by yourself. Find a good practitioner.

Biography of Karyn Sanders, Author

  • Karyn Sanders has been practicing herbal medicine for 33 years. She sees about 40 children each month. She has a full-time practice and is founder and head instructor of the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine. She produces and hosts a weekly live radio show about herbal medicine on KPFA 94.1 FM in the San Francisco Bay area.

Karyn Sanders’ Personal Statement

Herbal medicine has a profound healing effect in a gentle way with very little side effect. Energetic herbalism gets to the core of the issue and heals the whole illness and not just the symptoms.

To Contact Karyn Sanders, Who Contributed This Chapter

Karyn Sanders; 13310 Patterson Creek Rd.; Fort Jones, CA 96032; Ph: 530-468-4342; Fax: 530-468-4342; Website: www.blueotterschool.com; Email: cohosh.karyn@gmail.com

Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Herbology: Energetic Herbalism can be wonderfully healing for children, youth, and parents. It is the spirit of the plant that can be helpful. There are safety concerns regarding the use of herbal medicines with children & youth, especially long term use. What safety data we have involves adults. Proceed with caution by getting the help of a practitioner experienced in working with children & youth.

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Herbology: One of my grandmothers was an herbalist. She and her herbs helped me grow up easier. My family could not afford prescription or over the counter remedies and drugs. A practice that is thousands of years old must work or else people would not make use of it.

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