Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

Top 7 Herbs To Support Your Child’s Respiratory System

If you're not a fan of giving your child over-the-counter medications to support their respiratory system, then try one of these herbal remedies instead.

Herbal remedies are a good way to support your child's respiratory system without harsh side effects.

Supporting your child’s respiratory system can make it easier to manage cold and cough symptoms. Not to mention, it may help stop the spread to other family members or younger siblings.

Many over-the-counter medications are not recommended for children under a certain age. Furthermore, they tend to come with unwanted side effects that many parents want to avoid.

In this guide, our physicians break down the top 7 herbs you can give your child to support their respiratory system.

1. Echinacea

Introducing your child to herbal teas and remedies can help support their respiratory system.

Apart from reducing swelling, this herb detoxifies the body and enhances blood circulation. It also improves immunity, eases the symptoms of a cold, and does away with heatiness, bad breath, and recurring respiratory infections in children.

2. Cordyceps

“Traditionally, cordyceps is used to help asthmatic children regulate their constitution and maintain a healthy respiratory system”, explains Eu Yan Sang physician Ho Li Ying.

Separately, cordyceps can replenish qi (vital energy) and tonify the kidney yang. This makes it an ideal health supplement for enhancing memory, stimulating growth, and restoring energy levels in children. 

3. Chinese Yam

The typical uses of Chinese yams in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are to boost body constitution and nourish lung qi and lung yin. It’s also good for promoting food movement and absorption whilst tonifying the spleen and nourishing the stomach.

Mild-natured, the Chinese yam is safe for consumption by children. As such, you may add it to a child’s porridge or soup to aid digestion and absorption of food. This strengthens their constitution and helps prevent a cold or the flu. Also, its effect of nourishing yin can help moisten the lungs and mitigate coughing.

4. Bird’s Nest

Made with solidified swiftlet saliva secretions, bird’s nest is a prized delicacy amongst people across the world. Its popularity can be attributed to its effects in ameliorating the signs of fatigue, mental exhaustion, and physical weakness. It also assists in the recovery of frequent coughs or colds.

Meanwhile, physicians may recommend the use of bird’s nest to nourish yin, replenish qi, fortify the spleen and invigorate the stomach, and moisturize the lungs. 

5. Loquat Leaves

Cough syrups concocted with TCM formulas typically contain loquat leaves. They have proven to be effective in easing coughs and eliminating sticky, yellow-colored phlegm. Loquat leaves can also be used to regulate gastric function and improve loss of appetite. It also contains high antioxidants, which boost the immune system.

6. Elderberry

Elderberry is a popular herbal supplement many American moms give their kids for immune health.

A fruit that has uses in Western medicine and TCM, elderberries have demonstrated the ability to ease the detrimental effects of influenza. A double-blind trial involving 40 influenza B-positive adults and children in Israel showed that the consumption of black elderberry syrup helped to reduce symptom severity and duration without causing any adverse side effects.

In this manner, elderberry juice is used in TCM to suppress cold symptoms and speed up recovery. “It has the effect of dispelling Wind and dampness, clearing heat, detoxifying, promoting blood circulation, strengthening qi, and relieving flu symptoms, such as fever and cold. It’s also suitable for children with a sensitive respiratory system and recurring respiratory system infections,” says physician Ho.

7. Licorice Root

Licorice root can support a number of respiratory system illnesses, such as cough and the common cold. It can also relieve inflammation and expel phlegm. Because of this, the herb is often included in formulations that support asthma management or soothe a sore throat. 

In TCM, the herb is combined with Atractylodes, ginseng, and Poria mushrooms as part of an ancient formula called a Four Gentlemen Decoction. This formula is especially beneficial for physically weak children with poor digestion, loose stools, or a lack of energy. Specifically, it replenishes their energy and helps to strengthen their immune system. 

Multiple natural cough powder remedies can be incorporated into the treatment of respiratory system infections in children. However, you must seek consultation with both a clinical and TCM physician before using specific herbs. This is to ensure that the consumption of natural formulas is appropriate and will not trigger adverse side effects in your children.


  1. Mary Ann Liebert Inc. Publishers. 2018. Herbs for Viral Respiratory Infections. [online] Available at <https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/act.2017.29150.eya>
  1. St. Luke’s Hospital. Licorice. [online] Available at <https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000262.htm> 

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