My Secret to Getting Kids to Take Chinese Herbal Formulas

Child taking Chinese Herbal medicine

Do you want to know what my secret is in getting kids to take herbs? 

It's really quite simple. 

I under-promise and over-deliver, by being clear about what kids can expect when they take Chinese Herbal Formulas.

The reality is most kids are used to sweet syrupy tasting medicines, so taking Chinese herbs can be quite shocking if they're not properly prepared. They may seem strong, bitter, and unpleasant at first. 

There are a few children that LOVE their herbs right off the bat, but that's pretty rare.

As I'm prescribing herbs to a child I actually sit down with them and talk to them directly. I tell them what I'm prescribing, like Windbreaker, for a head cold. I tell them how it's going to help their body heal.

Then I tell them the most important thing, "These herbs aren't going to taste good. They will probably be very strong, but I know you can't take them even if you think it tastes gross."

Then I go on to explain how they can put the herbs in a little juice or have a small treat after they take it. 

Now, I could just tell all this to the parent, but I can guarantee you it won't work as well. It's best to address your patient directly, even if they're only four years old. If you're honest with them about what they can expect and you're not trying to trick them they will trust you, especially if what you are recommending helps them feel better.

When I present herbs this way, most kids come back and tell me what it was like. They'll say, "It was gross" or "It wasn't that bad," but most often they're proud of themselves. Proud that something they thought would be bad wasn't so bad and they did it!

Being that it's allergy season, I also wanted to share with you my favorite non-Chinese remedy for allergies called, D-Hist Jr.  It's a lemon-lime chewable made just for kids by Orthomolecular Products and it works really well for allergies. 

For difficult cases, I often combine it with Jade Windscreen, Headclear, or Purge Sticky Stuff from Kan Herbals. Most kids find D-Hist Jr. pleasant tasting even if they're super picky.

What's your secret to getting kids to take herbs?  
Share what's worked for you in the comments below!

3 comments

Juliette Aiyana

Thanks, Robin!

This is how I approach it as well. However, I secretly let the parents know that if all else fails, they can mix the herbs with Hersey's chocolate syrup ;) 

Acupuncturist | Herbalist | Educator
Specializing in Dermatology/Allergies/Asthma/Autoimmune Disorders /Chronic Disease in Kids & Adults
p:646-504-2251a:32 Union Square East Suite 615N, NY, NY 10003w:healthystuffu.com  e: julietteaiyana@gmail.com
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Marcella Hammond

I gave all three of my boys herbs in glycerin tinctures starting when they were babies. Sometimes they'll ask for herbs even when they don't need them, because they see it as a treat, like gummy vitamins.

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The earlier the better.  Kids who experience different flavors as a baby are more likely to be open to them later.  First from breastmilk being flavored by mom eating different flavored foods and then having fresh veggies as baby food and finally on to what they see you do.  Parents who take herbs and vitamins have kids who take herbs and vitamins.  They want to be like you so if you are eating healthy they will too!  

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