As an undergraduate student, Jenna Jorgensen, N.D., had initially planned on becoming a physician’s assistant, but when she realized that this intended career path might prevent her from taking a comprehensive approach to care, one that factored in a patient’s lifestyle and circumstances, she pivoted, obtaining a doctorate of naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University instead. “Really, looking at the preventative factors that can be used for people, but also bringing in a clinical aspect and keeping it more on the natural side, was what drove me into [naturopathic care],” says Jorgensen.
ParentMap seized the opportunity to ask Jorgensen to recommend her favorite natural remedies for common childhood ailments.
Do any natural remedies help ease sore throats?
I like to stick with teas — marshmallow tea is one of my favorites for a sore throat. It can be really, really soothing. You can also mix that with some chamomile tea to help with irritation in the throat. A hot pack around the throat can also be helpful.
What helps take the edge off nausea?
Ginger is our best friend when it comes to nausea. If you can’t get kids to drink ginger tea or eat pickled ginger or anything like that, then ginger chews [like these] can be really helpful.
Is there anything we can do to help keep allergies at bay?
Vitamin C is really helpful, as is quercetin, which is an extract that comes out of the stinging nettle plant as well as onions. [Quercetin is] basically a really strong antioxidant that acts like an antihistamine.
What’s your advice for easing mild headaches?
My first go-to is hydration. The most common cause of a headache in a kid is that they’re not drinking enough water, so make sure that they’re well hydrated. Sometimes even just a cold pack or a wet towel to the back of the head can help with a headache.
What’s an effective natural remedy for mild sprains and bruises?
For mild sprained ankles, I like to use topical arnica gels or a really low dose of the oral, depending on the child’s age. But the topical is safe for any age. I would definitely use arnica for bruises. My very first experience with arnica was with a softball colleague who rolled his ankle. It was black and blue, and I told him to try some arnica gel. He just kind of slapped it on and literally had no bruise in the shape of a hand with fingers where he put it on. So, arnica works exceptionally well for bruises.
How do you treat mild cuts or scrapes?
Manuka honey is my go-to. Honey is highly antimicrobial; it will reduce your risk of infection and is highly effective against MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics] as well. You can get straight manuka honey in bulk from some food co-ops, but it’s a little bit messy, so I like to use these Band-Aid-like strips from a company called Medihoney that essentially combine honey with colloidal silver. They work really well.
Also, anything with calendula is really soothing and healing: a cream, a salve, or you can even make a tea, dip cotton in it and soak it on top of the skin.
What natural treatments do you recommend for burns?
Topical lavender oil, as long as there’s not a risk of [kids] ingesting it. Lavender typically can relieve the pain of burns really quickly, and those same manuka honey strips work really well for burns.
How can we lower our kids’ risk of seasonal depression?
Definitely getting outside as much as possible is helpful. Vitamin D and omega-3 oil supplements can be really helpful for mood balancing in the winter. Also, probiotics to make sure gut health is well-balanced, which is really helpful for mental health. I like to use the regular refrigerated capsule versions; I open the capsule and pour it into yogurt or applesauce or something like that, because it doesn’t have any flavor to it. I primarily use the Ther-Biotic brand here in my office.
Is there anything that’s safe and helpful to combat insomnia?
Chamomile is probably the safest general recommendation for insomnia in children; it’s best as a tea. Usually kids like chamomile, and you can even freeze it into ice cubes, and they can suck on them that way as well. It calms the nervous system and settles an upset stomach.