Ask Andrea

Have a question? Need some general advice? Andrea hosts this Q&A forum just for you. Send in your question and Andrea will publish and answer selected questions on this page! Be assured that privacy is always respected and names will not be posted. Questions should be of a general nature as more personal issues may require an individual consultation. Scroll below to read the most recent questions:

How To Dose Herbs for Children

Q: I feel insecure about how to give herbs to my child. I never know how much to give, or how often to give it. Are there any easy guidelines to follow?

A: Since children at any given age can vary greatly in size and weight, I prefer to use weight rather than age as the deciding factor in how much to give.

* To best determine the dose for your child, use an adult weight of 150 pounds as the baseline
* Using the figure of 150 pounds as the common denominator, put your child’s actual weight over
it to determine a fraction of the standard adult dose. (Thus, if your boy or girl weighs 50 pounds
and the standard baseline is 150, you will want to give 1/3 of the adult dose.

50 lbs (childs weight)
150 lbs (adults base weight)

The following general guidelines apply:
10 pounds = 1/5 dose*
20 pounds = 1/8 dose
30 pounds = 1/5 dose
40 pounds = 1/4 dose
50 pounds = 1/3 dose
60 pounds = 2/5 dose
70 pounds= 1/2 dose
80 pounds = 1/2 dose
90 pounds = 3/5 dose
100 pounds = 2/3 dose

* The smallest dose of a liquid extract is 3 drops diluted in 1/4 cup breast milk, formula, or water, or
2 teaspoons of tea.

When you calculate a child’s dose according to weight, always reduce the quantity of the dose rather than its frequency.
* For example, an adult dose of 1 cup of medicinal tea to be administered 3-4 times a day
translates into 1/3 cup, given 3-4 times daily for a 50-pound child.
* To make the math easier, it is often helpful to first convert cups to ounces. For instance, an 8
ounce adult dose becomes 1 ounce for an infant of about 20 pounds.

* The standard adult dose for eardrops is 3 to 4 drops in each ear.
* A toddler’s dose would be 2 drops; an infant’s, 1 drop in each ear.
* After treatment, to avoid an uncomfortable oily buildup in the ears, cleanse the ears by inserting
a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.
* Here’s another helpful hint: The easiest time to insert eardrops (especially for very young
children) is when they are sleeping!

©Andrea Candee
All rights reserved.

How to Give Cayenne

Q: I’ve often read about the healing virtues of cayenne but my child objects to its spicy, hot taste (for that matter, so do I!) Can you suggest a way we can get it down?

A: Although it is perceived as an irritating herb, cayenne (Capsicum annuum) is known, in its raw state, to have demulcent or soothing properties that result from its high calcium and mineral content. When cooked, cayenne changes chemically and becomes an irritant. To preserve its health-promoting properties, I therefore recommend that you add cayenne at the end of cooking rather than before you start the food preparation–that is, if your family likes spicy foods!

The first question to be determined is: when is a child old enough for cayenne therapy. That’s a decision best made with your child. Variables such as emotional maturity, compliance, self-confidence, and willingness to try new things enter into the decision. One child of eight may be more ready to try it than a child of twelve. Of course, the nature of the problem is also a factor. When an oral dose of cayenne is needed in an emergency situation, such as a severe nosebleed, treatment may have to prevail over readiness.

You can administer cayenne to your child in powdered or liquid extract form. I do not recommend cayenne capsules as it is more beneficial if the child’s esophageal fluids move the herb naturally down the digestive tract. The liquid extract of cayenne is available in health food stores, while the powdered cayenne can be found on the supermarket shelf. Perhaps there is already a supply of it in your pantry.

* The standard therapeutic adult dose for cayenne is 15 to 20 drops (diluted in water or juice), 3
times a day.
* To build a tolerance for cayenne’s hot sensation, begin dosing your child with a diluted drop or
two, gradually building up to the full weight-appropriate dose. (See the archived Q&A on How
to Dose Herbs for Children).
* Cayenne can also be taken in powdered form, beginning with 1/8 teaspoon (diluted in water or
juice), 3 times a day. In an acute situation such as an asthma attack, cayenne may be given
every 15-20 minutes for the first hour and once an hour thereafter until relief is attained.
* The best way to give cayenne is as follows:

1. Put a favorite treat on the counter. (You’ll see why later.)
2. Place the appropriate amount of cayenne drops in a shot glass. Add an ounce of water or
3. In addition, have a full glass of water or juice on hand.
4. Have your child take the full contents of the shot glass in her mouth (at this point it won’t burn)
without swallowing it.
5. Have her add a mouthful of water/juice and swallow it all down together. Taking both the
diluted cayenne solution and water/juice at the same time allows the cayenne to be further
diluted as it goes down the throat, where it can burn.
6. Continue to give more water or juice until the discomfort subsides, which it does very quickly.
7. Here’s where the treat comes into play. Doesn’t the child in all of us need a reward for action
that’s above and beyond?

To relieve the burning sensation cayenne can leave in the throat, offer the Eastern Indian accompaniment to hot, spicy foods: plain yogurt.
* The hot chemicals in cayenne dissolve in fat so be sure the yogurt is made from whole milk
rather than the low fat version.
* A swallow of whole milk, or, even tastier, a teaspoon of full-fat ice cream, can also cool the

How to Remove a Splinter?

Q: Whenever one of my children gets a splinter a distressing scene ensues. Either they run from the mean mommy with the sterilized needle or painfully cry for both of us as I try to be quick about removing it. There must be another way!

A: Yes, indeed, there is another way. It’s called The Banana Trick. Whether its a splinter, sliver of glass, remaining tick part, or any other unwanted foreign object, the customary plan of attack is to go in after it with a sterilized needle. Rather than expecting your child to withstand this uncomfortable exploration or worse, leaving it alone in peril of becoming painfully red, swollen and infected, call forth the banana as hero of the day. A ripened banana peel is rich in digestive enzymes. It is the drawing action of the enzymes that will pull the foreign matter to the surface of the skin.


* Cut a 1 square piece of ripened banana peel to cover the affected area.
* Apply the pulp side of the banana peel against the skin
* Hold the banana peel in place with a piece of surgical tape. Leave on overnight. In the
morning, the banana will have drawn the foreign matter to the surface, ready for easy
removal–or, better still, may show in the peel when you remove it from the skin. More
deeply embedded splinters may require one or two more nights of this treatment, in which
case you should use a fresh section of peel each time.

I guarantee that this is a remedy your child will broadcast to the neighborhood, and that it will catch on like wildfire. It certainly did in my neck of the woods!

© Andrea Candee
All rights reserved.