Banana for a Splinter: A Parent’s Dream Solution

Most adults have painful childhood memories about having splinters removed and, as parents, dread the day they have to remove one from their own child. Sterilized needles and holding the screaming child down is a thing of the past: grab a banana instead! School will soon be out for the summer, but that doesnt mean illness and injuries are on hiatus. Sunburn, poison ivy, colds, diarrhea, rashes, insect bites, splinters, cuts and bruises can all put a damper on precious family moments.

When your children are sick or injured, you want them to feel better fast! Although in some cases there is no substitute for traditional medical care, prescription drugs are not always the best answer. In a new book by Master Herbalist Andrea Candee, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), Candee, also a mother of two, shares more than 30 years experience using natural remedies for wellness. Dubbed the natural Dr. Spock, and written as a parents guide to child-friendly herbs and other natural remedies, gentle and easy holistic therapies are given for common childhood ailments and injuries.

The home pantry, as well as the health food market, can store a wealth of healing and nurturing, says Candee. She wrote the book because “there is little available information to help parents implement a natural approach for their children”. “It’s a great guide for babysitters, too”, says Candee, it should be given to the babysitter along with the usual emergency numbers. While there’s no alternative to medical help in an emergency like a broken bone, there are many first-aid remedies in the book that may help resolve a situation without the need for the trauma of a visit to the emergency room.

Although marketed to parents and grandparents, “these remedies can be used by adults as well,” says Candee. “What’s safe for children is also safe for adults, but what’s safe for adults is not always safe or appropriate for children.”

Many pediatricians are now incorporating herbal recommendations for their patients. Ginger tea for nausea or a queasy stomach, eucalyptus oil for a stuffy nose, chamomile for colic or teething. Lawrence Baskind, MD., a pediatrician in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, who wrote the forward to Gentle Healing for Baby and Child, believes Candees remedies are safe and effective: The herbs and remedies that Andrea suggests are gentle with a wide margin of safety. There are a hundred years of clinical experience behind them. Our conventional medicines are based on herbal prescriptions.

“It’s important to learn proper dosing for a child,” says Candee, who maintains a consultation practice in South Salem, NY where she is frequently consulted by doctors on how to treat children with natural medicines. Candee says the most reliable method for determining how much of an herb to give a child is to use weight, not age, as a guide. Using an adult weight of 150 pounds as a baseline, divide 150 by the childs weight to determine how much to give. If your child weighs 50 pounds, divide 50 into 150, therefore the dose is one-third that of the adult dose. Candee advises keeping the frequency the same, just reducing the quantity. A cup of tea given three times a day to an adult would be 1/3 cup given three times a day to the 50 pound child.

What is Candees favorite herb for children? Chamomile is the most versatile herb, she says. It can be used as an anti-inflammatory compress for irritated skin, a warm bottle of tea for colicky stomachs, a relaxing cup of tea before bedtime or for emotional upset. A gauze pad can be immersed in the tea, frozen, and kept on hand for teething pain; a chamomile teabag can be moistened and placed on closed eyelids for irritated eyes. All that relief from just a teabag of herbs! exclaims Candee.

Recommending a parent first get a medical diagnosis, Candee suggests that an educated parent can often substitute natural medicine for the pharmaceuticals, and to be sure to let the pediatrician know what is being used just in case there are contraindications.

Wondering how to use that banana for a splinter? Simply cut a piece of the ripened peel, tape it on, pulp side to the splinter, leaving it in place overnight. In the morning, the enzymes in the ripe banana will have pulled the splinter to the surface. Deeply embedded splinters may require another night or two of fresh peel. Just think of the memories your child will have when they’re adults!

Even the parent accustomed to the familiar route of mainstream medicine will find effective, user-friendly, soothing solutions in this invaluable guide through childhood ailments.