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Natural Therapies for Croup

Infant and Children, Immune | July 27, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Immune, infants

Natural Therapies for Croup

If your child is suffering from a barking cough, hoarse voice and noisy breathing which worsens at night—it sounds like they may have croup. This viral infection, usually caused by the parainfluenza virus, is a common infection in children under the age of 5. Although, it is not usually a serious infection, it can cause extreme discomfort in children and keep them awake at night

Croup is an infection that results in inflammation of the windpipe (trachea) and the vocal cords. The inflammation is usually caused by viruses responsible for common upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. This swelling causes narrowing of the airway which can make it difficult for a child to breathe. Croup is contagious and can spread through hand contact, sneezing and coughing.

Symptoms of croup

The symptoms will usually begin as cold symptoms which include a fever, sore throat, runny nose, irritability and fatigue. After this the symptoms of croup will appear which include stridor (a high-pitched squeaky sound when your child breathes in), a hoarse voice and a barking cough. At night, the symptoms are typically worse because of the cold night air. Symptoms can also worsen if your child gets upset.

In rare cases, it can cause trouble breathing in children. In these instances, urgent medical attention is required.

Natural therapies for croup


echinaceaEchinacea is a potent immune boosting herb. Numerous clinical trials have shown that it can help to reduce the length of a cold and improve symptoms. In children very susceptible to respiratory tract infections it could be taken in a low dose as a preventative.  Echinacea is available in liquid form and can be mixed in a little juice 3-4 times a day.


Both the berries and the fruit of the elderberry plant are used for viral infections, particularly those affecting the respiratory tract. Clinical trials in children have found that elderberry can reduce the severity and duration of a cold, meaning it’s fighting the same viruses that cause a cold. The trick is to start giving it to your children when symptoms first begin. Elder flowers are anti-catarrhal, meaning they help to clear up nasal congestion. It is also indicated if there is a fever and assists the immune system during this time.


One of the best respiratory herbs that can help to soothe inflamed airways, support the immune system and reduce inflammation. It is traditionally used for coughs, sore throats and bronchitis. One of the best things about using liquorice in children is that it naturally tastes sweet—making it easier to give to fussy kids. Simply brew a good quality tea and sweeten with a bit of manuka honey. Allow to cool and administer regular doses throughout the day.


Turmeric—nature’s strongest anti-inflammatory! It is useful in croup to reduce the inflammation in the airways and to help ease the pain. Try using turmeric in soups, warmed rice milk or curries. For stronger results, you could buy a liquid turmeric and take a few times a day or powder mixed in a little juice. Kids will love their new vibrant coloured medicine!

Cod Liver oil

An oldy but a goody, cod liver oil is great for respiratory infections and associated conditions.

cod liver oilIt contains omega-3 which can help to reduce inflammation in the airways and support the immune system. It naturally contains vitamins A & D, which are essential for airway health and healthy immunity.

Purchasing a good quality product will ensure a non-fishy tasting product. Once opened simply store in the fridge and use up within 2 month

Zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D

These nutrients are essential for a healthy immune system. When the body comes into contact with a virus, these are some of the nutrients your body needs the most. They help to remove viruses quickly and reduce free radical damage caused by the infection. This will enable your child to get better quicker! It’s easy to find a powder that covers these nutrients and most of which taste great too. If your child is old enough, there are chewable products available, most of which are suitable for over the age of 3.


If your child is susceptible to croup and seems to get it every year, consider a probiotic. There are specific products which contain strains that have been clinically proven to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in children. Probiotics are safe to take long-term and have a very neutral flavour.

Essential oils

croup euclyptusDepending on the age of the child you could apply a chest rub of menthol, eucalyptus or lavender. This will help to decongest the sinuses and when inhaled will help to kill off any bugs. Alternatively try burning, or using a diffuser and put in the child’s bedroom for them to inhale during the night.

Plenty of rest

Allow the child to rest at home, drink plenty of liquids and go to bed early. Although children usually lose their appetite while unwell try small portions of soups or broths, avocado on rice cakes, fresh fruit and a little protein such as chicken. Avoid processed or sugery foods and dairy—this will only add more congestion and take the immune system longer to recover.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Jawad M, et al. Safety and efficacy profile of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complementary Alternat Med. 2012;2012:841315. Epub 2012 Sep 16

Sambucus Nigra monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Mar;10(1):51-4

Glycyrrhiza glabra monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Sep;10(3):230-7

Lapillonne A, et al. Infants fed formula with added long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids have reduced incidence of respiratory illnesses and diarrhea during the first year. BMC BPediatr. 2014 Jul 2;14:168

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