The Children’s Composition formula we discovered has essentially the same uses, (for colds, flu, congestion, stomach problems, fevers and diarrhea) but is milder and more pleasant tasting. It contains yarrow, elder flower and peppermint. While gathering wild herbs one summer, I found these three herbs and decided they would make a good fever remedy. Mixing them in equal parts I extracted them using the sealed simmer method. We were so pleased with the results, that I made a special trip to the mountains each summer to gather these herbs and make another batch.
The great herbalist, Edward Shook, says the following about the combination of elder flowers and peppermint in his Advanced Treatise in Herbology.
“For the treatment of colds, influenza, and fevers of all kinds, there is no remedy known to man that is so safe, sure and speedy as elder flowers, an all-around alterative, blood purifier, and general systemic cleanser. They are without a superior.
Because elder flowers are emetic and somewhat nauseating to some people, the ideal synergist to blend with them in the treatment of colds, fevers, and so fort is peppermint. Peppermint is a stimulant, nervine, calmative, and antiemetic, and the combination is world-famed as the greatest fever remedy ever known to man.”
Considering that right after the last World War, upwards of six million people died of influenza and that millions have died since, is it not a very great privilege and blessing to be in possession of the knowledge of such a remedy? Herbalist, Henry Box of Plymouth, England, says,
“For colds, influenza, fevers, inflammation of the brain, pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), stomach, bowels or any part, this is a certain cure, I have never known it to fail, even when given up and at the point of death. It will not only save at the eleventh hour, but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless that you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain.”
In the Utah Mountains, yarrow blooms about the same time as the elder flowers. Yarrow was the first medicinal herb I learned to identify and use. It also has been used to help fevers and colds. The plant contains a volatile oil, similar in composition to chamomile oil, which has been medically documented to be very effective, anti-inflammatory agent. By itself, yarrow tastes bitter, but the addition of peppermint masks this disagreeable flavor.
Most of the time, when our children are sick, we give them some of this formula. It helps promote perspiration, open the bowels, reduce inflammation, settle the stomach and calm the child. Our usual dose is about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful, although I will let them have more if they want it. If the formula tastes good to them it is a sign that the body wants more. We give them the formula at least two times a day, but often we have given the child some at hourly intervals during an acute situation. We have even given this (and other formulas) as often as every 15 minutes until the illness begins to subside.
When our children have been congested I’ve added a little elderberry glycerites to the formula. Both elder flowers and elderberries contain substances with ease inflammation and pain. Elderberries soothe the intestines and have been used for all inflammatory bowel diseases. They have a very gentle laxative action, which may explain their decongestant properties. They also have a mild tonic action to help arrest diarrhea. Many other herbalists besides myself have observed a strong connection between bowel problems and respiratory congestion. There also appears to be a strong connection between bowel obstructions and fevers in children. So, the addition of the elderberries makes the formula even better.
Last year, I discovered the “my” favorite children’s formula was an old-time pioneer remedy. A lady cam into our herb shop and told me that her great-great-grandfather had been an herbalist who had helped attend to Brigham Young’s family. She said that his journal records one of Brigham Young’s favorite herbal formulas for treating his children. Guess what! It was composed of yarrow, elder and peppermint. Considering that Brigham Young once stated that he had not had the necessity of calling upon a doctor more than a couple time in over twenty years, the remedy must have worked well for him.
Furthermore, while I was researching to write this book, I found an article in the June 1990 issue of Vegetarian Times about the elder. It gave a recipe for a fever-reducing tea: equal parts elder flowers, yarrow, and peppermint. The author, Kathi Keville, calls this “a classic herbal remedy to reduce fever.” She says the Iroquois Indians also used elderberries for fevers because they increased sweating and acted as a gentle laxative. And I thought I’d made a great discovery! I guess I only made a REdiscovery of a wonderful traditional remedy.