Children’s Health – Cough

Question: “My daughter, five, has a re-occurring cough which often turns into a chest infection. She has had it since she was 5 months old and was seen by a few doctors and Specialists about it until she was two. They said the next step would be to give her a general anaesthetic so they can look inside with a camera. From a young age she’s had an inhaler – she uses the brown one twice a day. We eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of home-grown vegetables etc. However, it’s been suggested by a few people that instead of treating the symptoms, I should try to find the cause, which I whole-heartedly agree with. Money is tight and I have no idea where to start. Could you advise and/or share your thoughts on this please?”


It is always a concern when a seemingly banal cough, turns into a chest infection. The allopathic route is to consider inhalers to open the airways, antibiotics to treat infection and to possibly use proton-pump inhibitors if reflux is suspected.


It is interesting to note that the cough was first noted around five months and I wonder if solid food had already been introduced by this stage, and whether a change in bowel habits was noted. In Chinese medicine the Large Intestine is the Yang meridian to the Lungs which is Yin, which means they are partners. Often recurrent respiratory disorders have their root cause as an imbalance in the digestive system, which if compromised in any way, causes irregular bowel movements. Healthy digestion requires digestive enzymes which takes around six months to fully develop, and good quality gut flora (probiotic), which is dependent on whether your daughter was a natural birth or caesarean, breast-fed or bottle-fed, received antibiotics for the infections. It is possible for a five year old to be supplemented with both of these From a Naturopathic point of view, I would suggest testing for food sensitivities as there may be a single food or food group which is acting as the trigger.


It is possible that there is some reflux which is causing acid to trigger the cough and my thoughts here would be to see a Cranial Osteopath to have a structural assessment. Children tend to love this treatment as is feels very relaxing whilst the Practitioner makes small adjustments and releases the visceral tissue that surrounds the digestive organs. The Thoracics T1, T2, T3 and T4 Innervate (feed) the lungs, chest, larynx and trachea so imbalances in the spine can give rise to breathing difficulties or chest infections.


Vitamin A supports the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, throat and lungs to provide moisture. The richest sources are from fish (cod, halibut and shark), liver and kidneys, eggs and dairy products. It’s great to hear that you grow a lot of your own vegetables but note that to convert carotenoids into vitamin A from vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, winter squash, apricots, kale, collards and spinach, we require magnesium, zinc and many amino acids, so the best sources are animal-based.


Other Suggestions:


Essential Fatty Acids to reduce inflammation in general – coconut oil, ground flax seeds, avocado, salmon, mackerel.


Nutrients: Vitamin C and Zinc


Herbs: Marshmallow, Liquorice, Elderberry, Wild Thyme
Essential Oils in burners as they are natural air antiseptics: eucalyptus, thyme, lemon, rosemary.


Thyme tea helps to open the airways, soothe the throat and is a pleasant drink, with a little honey. White onion, ginger and rosemary are also useful teas.


HayMax barrier balm inside the nostrils to reduce inhalation of dust, a potential irritant.


Glass of water in bedroom at night to ‘moisten’ the air.


The advice is not intended to diagnose or treat, and any health concerns or dietary changes should be first discussed with your GP or Health Visitor.


Gabi Heyes, Naturopath, Herbalist and Iridologist practicing at Natural Practices Clinic.
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 1HG 01625 54 9000