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Doctor-Approved Natural Remedies to Combat Children's Anxiety

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If you're searching for natural remedies to relieve stress for kids, chances are, you're already in a tough place. Maybe your child is anxious or upset and you want to help her feel better — fast. So we asked doctors (who just happen to be parents) for the natural remedies they rely on to combat their own children’s tension. Read on for their top strategies.

Magnesium for anxiety and jitters before a big event.

“My daughter tends to get nervous before a big event, like a ballet recital or before we travel,” says Taz Bhatia, M.D., a mother of two and author of Superwoman Rx. To keep her anxiety in check, Dr. Bhatia puts 2 or 3 drops of a carrier oil, like olive oil, in her palm, adds a few spritzes of magnesium oil and rubs the mix on her daughter’s feet. “Magnesium aids a number of neurological and physiological processes when the body is under stress,” explains Dr. Bhatia. “And using magnesium oil rather than an oral supplement means you get to bypass the digestive system, allowing the oil to be absorbed straight into the bloodstream to reach the cells that need it,” says Dr. Bhatia. “It really works! My daughter feels better in just 15 to 20 minutes.” One to try: Piping Rock Magnesium Oil, $7 for 8 oz., Amazon.com.

Herbal tea for anxiety and insomnia.

“When our family moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan, my daughter had a hard time adjusting,” says father-of-two Edward R. Rosick, M.D., medical director of the Michigan State University Healthy Campus Initiative. “She had trouble sleeping and complained of being anxious.” Dr. Rosick’s remedy of choice: lemon balm, valerian root and chamomile. “Each herb is effective in treating anxiety, insomnia and restlessness in children, and they’re very safe,” he says. “I found a tea that had them all, so I’d give it to her after school and an hour before bed.” The herbs boost levels of the calming brain chemical GABA. “She feels less anxious within the hour,” says Dr. Rosick. A tea to try: Hampstead Tea Lemon Valerian, $4 for 20 tea bags, iHerb.com.

Minty massage for tension headaches

“My middle daughter is an overachiever and tends to stress out because of it, winding up with tension headaches,” says mother-of-three Nancy Bono, D.O., chair of the department of family medicine at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. So Dr. Bono massages 2 drops of peppermint essential oil into her daughter’s temples for 90 seconds. “I then massage 2 to 4 drops on her chest,” says Dr. Bono. At the same time, she encourages her daughter to take deep breaths in through her nose until she feels her belly expand, then breathe out. How it works: Peppermint’s menthol acts as an anesthetic to quell head pain, and the deep breathing eases anxiety.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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