The ABC’s of Herbal Therapy

The ABC's of Herbal Therapy | Growing Up Herbal | Using herbs for your kids can be as easy as ABC. Find out how!

Wanna know more about using herbs with your little one when she’s sick?

There are plenty of different approaches, but today, I want to share one of the easiest ones I’ve come across with you.

It’s As Easy As ABC… Literally.

In the book, The ABC Herbal, author Steven Horne shares how Edward Milo Millet, an influential herbalist to Horne, taught that using herbs for health and healing was like keeping a fire going in a fireplace.

“When the fire of life is dying we first need to fan it or Activate it. We also need to Build up the fire with proper fuel. Lastly, we need to remove the soot and ashes that may be clogging the firebox or chimney. This last step is Cleansing. So, all we do to heal any disease is to A – Activate by keeping the body energies going, B – Build by getting good nutrition in the system, and C – Cleanse by helping the body to eliminate waste by making sure all four channels of elimination are working well) (Horne, 2005, p.11).”

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

The ABC’s of Herbal Therapy

A – Activate

When a fire starts to die down, putting a load of wood on it won’t do much to get the fire going again unless you stoke it and introduce oxygen to it. Same goes when you or your little one is sick. Their system is under attack by a virus or a bacteria and it needs a boost of energy to get going and heal itself.

To make it easier to remember, aromatic herbs are considered to be activators. Below are a list of aromatic herbs that are great to give to little ones at the start of an illness.

  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Catnip
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish

The ABC's of Herbal Therapy | Growing Up Herbal | Using herbs for your kids can be as easy as ABC. Find out how!

B- Build

Building is a constant process and isn’t only for sickness. Feeding your little ones good, healthy, nutritional food should be done on a daily basis.

Diet isn’t the only thing I’m talking about here, though. Herbs can be used a tonics. An herbal tonic is something you make (like a tea) and drink on a regular basis to provide health and nutrition to your body. Herbs aren’t for healing only. They have many nutritional properties, and they should be used for preventing sickness so that they aren’t needed for healing.

To build your children’s bodies, take the time to feed them healthy, whole foods. Stay away from processed, refined foods, too much meat and dairy, and too many sugary foods that bog down their immune systems. Make sure they’re getting the vitamins and minerals their bodies need to grow strong.

When they do get sick, don’t force them to eat. Their bodies need the break so it can focus its energy on trying to heal itself, not on digesting food. If you try to make your kiddo eat, you’re just bogging down their fire. Give them some activating herbs followed by some cleansing herbs and a little homemade chicken broth. Once they start feeling better, their appetite will come back, and you can start building them up again!

C – Cleansing

It’s thought that sickness can result not only from something trying to invade your system (like bacteria or viruses) but also because there are unhealthy, obstructed body systems that are trying to clear themselves. 

There are four main systems your body uses to cleanse itself.

  1. Bowel
  2. Skin
  3. Respiratory Tract
  4. Kidneys

If the body is trying to cleanse itself through the bowels, diarrhea may be the result. If it’s trying to cleanse through the skin, some kind of rash may appear. If it’s trying to cleanse through the respiratory tract, you may experience a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, etc. If your body is trying to cleanse itself through the kidneys you may notice lower back pain and or leg cramps. Of course, these are just a few examples of symptoms that can come from each of these cleansing systems.

The point is this. If you or your kiddo’s body is trying to cleanse itself, rather than trying to suppress the symptoms, help your body to do its job. I’m not going to get into how to help with each of these areas because that would make this post WAY too long. We’ll save it for another day.

So the ABC’s of herbal therapy are basically, B constantly, and then A-C-B when illness comes knocking.

What I try to keep in mind for myself or for my kids is to let the body do its job. Work with it. Provide it the nutrition it needs to heal itself. That’s what God designed it to do in the first place.

What’s one thing that jumped out at you from this post? Share your insights with me in the comments below.


  • Horne, S. H. (2005). The ABC Herbal: A simplified guide to natural health care for children. Winona Lake, IN: Wendell Whitman.
  1. Becca says:

    I appreciate your comment about not forcing food when sick- it makes sense how you describe it as energies focused on healing, and digestion can distract from that. A new thought for me- thanks!

    • Meagan says:

      Absolutely. I’m amazed at how many old sayings show true when compared with what we know now like the saying “Feed a cold, starve a fever”. Thanks for your comment Becca!

  2. delia says:

    I was going to say exactly what Becca said 🙂 I also loved the analogy you use in regard to the fire place ….its nice to have a picture in our head to relate to 🙂

  3. R D B says:

    Hello Meagan. I am dealing with a very toxic situation of where I cleaned my carpeting with 2-butoxiy ethanol. Am trying to get it replaced. Any suggestions on what to replace it with?
    Do u know of any organic concrete stains that I could use? Plse help if u can. R D B

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I’m so sorry! I’m of no help here. I would do a Google search for organic concrete stains if I were you. Best of luck!

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