Back now to the New Zealand reality of winter setting in.

Already our holistic health care clinic shows an increase in child appointments. I am not surprised. Every year it is the same. School-age children are always the first to bear the brunt of the first round of winter illness.

Isn't it inevitable that we all become part of the community school germ pool?

Is it at all viable to try and isolate every cough or cold while keeping regular work hours?

How can I keep my kid healthy this winter?

A few years back, one particularly hard winter, I had the Absolute Essential clinic full of mums at their wits end. All asking each other these very same questions. There was much discussion about the politics of sick leave and the reality of working families. And there was a lot of information about just how hard it is to cope when younger siblings get sick and suddenly everyone is bed ridden.

The main issue, of course, was the wanting to use natural health care products, to allow the strengthening process of sickness and recovery to take its course, against the pressure to give in and use quick-fix pharmaceuticals to ease the immediate misery.

I did what I could. We have some really lovely child products for coughs and colds that are very gentle with 100% pure plant ingredients.

Chest Care Cream is blended with all the best medicinal plant oils for respiratory support and we made it with an extra calming, relaxing aroma for bedtime comfort. Also a Baby Care Nose & Chest pure essential oils blend that is especially for diffusion and bath use.

But the real breakthrough came when I prescribed the parents with our Immune Plus blend to at least arm them as caregivers with some protection against the waves of incoming germs. Then suddenly the question on every parent's lips was 'can we use this on our children?

Needless to say, all my creative bells began to ring.

Because designing formulas is a passion of mine and the formulation for children needed to be different.

What parents were asking for was a natural way to protect their kids from the seemingly endless and unavoidable rounds of infections. This called for a high potency at a milder, child-friendly frequency.

Conveniently, the natural variation of the plant kingdom often produces families of plants that share similar essential properties, in varying degrees of intensity.

New Zealand Native Manuka, for example, is a Kanuka/Tea Tree cousin. It has very gentle immune stimulant, anti-viral and antibacterial properties that are ideal for a child blend. Then of the deeply therapeutic pine oils, Fir Balsam safely benefits the lymphatic and respiratory systems, which are of course inextricably linked to immune health.

Mild Eucalyptus Smithii has the famous tonic effects for improved oxygen flow; wonderful Lavender not only offers anti-viral and antiseptic qualities but it is the ideal oil for relaxing and calming young children; Ravensar is hugely tonic; and Bergamot and Lemon are cleansing and uplifting.

The final outcome is of course Child Immune Plus (certified organic) which has more than lived up to expectations.

One kindergarten teacher told me that after diffusing Child Immune Plus in the classroom through the winter months, she noticed a definite improvement of attendance and general healthiness on the previous year.

Another lady told me that in her community where a lot of parents chose not to immunize their children, she used Child Immune Plus to get her two girls through the whooping cough. She said that they got through the worst of it relatively quickly and seemed a lot less affected than many of their peers.

Of all our holistic health products, this one perhaps most neatly illustrates the premise of natural health care. It is not all about making the sickness go away.

It is about supporting the body to develop an even stronger system of assimilation that allows us to recover our natural healthy balance more efficiently.