Young children are very prone to picking up infections at school because their immune systems are immature.

It's quite normal to get every bug going.

Even so, every parent wants to help their child get up and about quickly.

There are many natural ways to treat winter ailments, which don't have any nasty side effects.

Homeopathy is one such method.

It is based on the observable law of treating like with like. A pattern is observed in the patient's symptom picture and a remedy, that also produces the most similar pattern, is given to them.

Homoeopathic remedies come in small pills to be sucked.

The patient should not have anything to eat or drink within 20 minutes of taking the remedy. A recommended dosage is one-sixth potency hourly for up to five hours.

If you see no improvement by then, it is best to stop and try another remedy. The higher potencies you might see in the shops are best prescribed by a qualified homoeopath.

For the very early stages of any illness, the remedy, aconite, can be helpful. This is made from the purple plant, monkshood.

When children first complain of a sore throat or a headache, this is a great one to avert a full-blown illness.

Aconite is good for any condition that comes on very suddenly and is a very intense remedy, so it can be helpful for sudden, short, rasping dry coughs and burning dryness in the throat.

If the patient has a high fever, is very thirsty and the eyes are looking brighter than usual, Belladonna is an excellent treatment.

It also treats bright red tonsils and a sore throat very effectively.

For more offensive and pussy throats with swelling, try Mercury.

If your child becomes very clingy and is producing lots of thick yellow green mucous, Pulsatilla would be the first choice.

Pulsatilla is made from anemone. It is good for catarrhal noses and less intense earache. It is also effective for thick catarrhal coughs.

For earaches with a sore throat, Ferrum Phosphoricum (also called Ferrum Phos) can be very effective.

If they are accompanied by bad breath and swollen glands in the neck, or a sore throat with pus on the tonsils, administer Sulphur.

For hard, dry, coughs, causing a pain in the chest, take Bryonia.

For tickling coughs with exhaustion, Phosphorus is indicated. A wheezy chest with a tight cough can be helped by Arsenicum album.

Remedies won't work if you use strong smelling and flavoured products at the same time, such as camphor, menthol or eucalyptus.

Peppermint also antidotes homoeopathic remedies, so make sure they don't brush their teeth within an hour of taking any remedy.

If your child gets the same illnesses regularly, it would be advisable to visit the clinic to be given a more potent and specific course of treatment.

By Emma Amyatt-Leir.

HOMEOPATHY is one of the therapies available to children at the Children's Clinic at Dolphin House, 14 New Road, Brighton. Charitable donations are always welcome.