It’s time to get a bit gross! Let’s face it, being a parent can be disgusting at times – late-night puke cleaning, bed-wetting, and the thing we all just quiver at the thought of hearing: the sound of head-scratching or cries of ‘I’ve got an itchy bottom’. Yes, parasites!
We are focusing on the most common childhood parasites: head lice and thread worms.
In brief, the sooner you can catch head lice the better. Ideally, at the first sign of intense itching, which is caused by the injection of a sort of anti-coagulant saliva by the head lice. Lovely thought! They mature at around two weeks old, ready to reproduce. Catching them early is key.
Head lice oil
30ml olive oil
10 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix the oils together. Patch test first to check for irritation, then run through the hair. Cover with a plastic bag for 30 minutes. Apply shampoo (before water), rub through and then rinse. Next, apply conditioner and comb through with a quality nit comb. You should see lots of dead lice and eggs. Rinse out the conditioner.
For the next two weeks, comb through the hair with a nit comb whenever you get the chance, removing any rogue eggs. You can use a rosemary hair wash, made from a rosemary infusion, to rinse through the hair at the end of washing as an extra repellent.
Worms, also called pinworms or threadworms, have a four-week life cycle, and they are amazingly well developed to manipulate us to support their life cycle. It still blows our minds when we think about it. An egg is swallowed by mouth. It hatches in the small intestine. Near to egg-laying time, chemicals are released by the worms that stop complete defecation by the host, meaning the worms are now positioned to easily wiggle out of the anus and lay their eggs, in a slightly sticky substance, around the perineum area. The sticky substance is an irritant and causes itchiness. The host scratches their bottom and transfers the eggs to their fingers and nails. The intestinal worms then initiate behaviour in the host that will further support its life cycle, such as nose-picking and nail-biting. Yes, the worms actually cause a human to bite their nails and pick their nose more! The eggs can then travel back into the upper digestive tracts, ready to start again.
Approach to treatment
With digestive worms, we always think of reducing the population and creating more resilience, rather than looking at complete eradication. Worms, as well as causing physical discomfort, can also cause emotional irritability, extreme bouts of tiredness and dark rings under the eyes.
We take a multipronged treatment strategy. We make a Wormy Out glycerine from some of the following herbs: garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, wormwood and rosemary. This is taken daily for one lunar cycle and then every full and new moon for the next three months.
In addition, we like to make a spiced milk with almond or oat milk, with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and nutmeg. This can be drunk regularly. These spices are all anti-worm in some way. They either paralyse the worms so they can be excreted or they destroy the eggs.
While treating worms, reduce sugar and caffeine intake, keep sheets and towels clean, and give the home a good vacuum.
Make an anti-worm massage oil for your bellies to rub in twice daily, morning and evening.
Wormy Out belly rub oil
30 ml olive oil
5 drops clove essential oil
3 drops oregano essential oil
3 drops thyme essential oil
Karen Lawton and Fiona Heckels are the Seed SistAs, herbalists, eco-activists, writers, performers and speakers. Authors of The Sensory Herbal Handbook and Poison Prescriptions, they travel far and wide teaching about plant medicine, while running the community interest company Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution. Join them for courses, sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media. seedsistas.co.uk and on Instagram @seed_sistas
Photo by Kindel Media
First published in Issue 81 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.