Herbal Care Packages for Your College-Aged Children

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St. John’s wort

College campuses expose young adults to more than just new ideas. That first year can be especially stressful for freshmen, as they learn all about fast food, parties, and all-night study sessions. And all college students are at risk for colds, flu, and other ­common ailments, as well as more serious conditions, such as depression and sleep disorders associated with pressure to perform.

You can help the fledgling college students in your life by slipping a few carefully selected herbal remedies into their luggage. “Getting a young adult to take supplements can be difficult,” says Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist who specializes in nutritional medicine. “Kids generally feel they’re invincible until they’re finally on their own and begin to get run down.” To help her college-age daughter learn to take better care of herself, Cass began assembling herbal care packages.

“I always include echinacea, goldenseal, vitamin C, mycelized vitamin A, an herbal formula for sleep, and aloe vera juice for upset stomach,” Cass says. Combinations such as echinacea/golden­seal help cut down on the number of bottles; capsules are more ­convenient and taste better than tinctures. “Kids should not expect herbs to be a quick fix, and they shouldn’t overindulge in a purported remedy,” she cautions. More is not necessarily better.

Herbal healthcare providers surveyed in Herbs for Health magazine made the following suggestions.

An Herbal Care Package for College Students

Colds and flu

• ECHINACEA (Echinacea spp.). Taken frequently at the onset of a cold, echinacea tends to reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of this common malady.

• ELDERBERRY (Sambuca nigra). Elder­berry syrup provides excellent relief from sore throats that result from sinus drainage.


• ST.-JOHN’S-WORT (Hypericum perforatum). Alleviates mild, non-clinical depression, but must be taken regularly for at least four to six weeks before effects are felt.


• DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale). Good for detoxifying the system from all kinds of overindulgence. Burdock root has a similar effect.

• MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum). Protects the liver against the overuse of alcohol.


• CHAMOMILE (Matricaria recutita). A mild relaxant when taken as a tea before bedtime.

• VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis). Effective and non-addictive (but it smells like dirty socks).


• SIBERIAN GINSENG (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Helps endocrine and nervous systems adapt to environmental, personal, chemical, and ­biological stresses.

Adapted from an article by Erika Lenz in Herbs for Health magazine, September/ October 1997. Used with permission of Herb Companion Press.

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