Summer is the season of surrender to the pulse of life. Think of the child on the swing urging his parent, “Higher, Higher, Higher!” Picture the barefoot couple gyrating to the beat of salsa as the waves crash on the sand.  Recall how kids of all ages scare themselves silly on the roller coaster. Life is a party when the days are long and the sun is out.

Just as quickly, the mood can shift. One minute you’re kissed by the sun, and the next minute, you’re burnt to a crisp. The baby who was squealing with delight as he’s tossed into the air is screaming in his sleep when the lights are out. Too much excitement and too much fun can flip over into fright and flight.

In homeopathy, an entire family of plants addresses just this dynamic relationship of excitement and fright/flight. It even carries the name of the sun: Solanaceae, the nightshade family. They include the key players of the summer kitchen garden – tomatoes, eggplants and peppers — as well as the tobacco plant that perfumes the night.

The Solanaceae family has some of the most brilliant remedies for children. Here are some of my favorites for common childhood acute ailments.

Belladonna (“beautiful lady”) owes its name to a risqué habit of Italian Renaissance women who squeezed the juice of its berries into their eyes to create the look of wide-eyed allure.  In ultra-diluted form (12C and above), this remedy can resolve the same states of wide-eyed frenzy. It comes in handy when the child’s fever spikes in the middle of the night and heat radiates from his skin while he is moaning for water to quench his fire. Belladonna resolves the fever and restores his vitality overnight.  The child who becomes unwell after a haircut may also need Belladonna. “An angel when well and a devil when sick.”

Stramonium is the grand remedy of night terrors. It is for the child who wakes up screaming with fright, clinging to those near him. The creatures of the dark — ghosts, animals, shape shifting phantoms — appear out of nowhere and are out to get him. He can’t sleep without a night-light. He may also have strange hallucinations and want to flee.

Hyoscyamus is the silly goose who is always singing, talking, laughing, and jesting to provoke and to entertain. He takes off his clothes or gestures wildly to attract attention. He may pick at his bedding and play with his hands, dancing on the edge of cute and crazy.

Tabacum can be kept in the travel kit for the child who gets deadly nauseous after the car starts, turning cold and pale. He must keep his eyes closed, or his vertigo will get worse. Open air relieves, but vomiting may not.

n.b. Homeopathic remedies stimulate the body’s own healing response. They should be selected according to the individual’s holistic symptoms on the principle of like curing like. A little goes a long way. The indications above are a fleeting glimpse into an ocean of inter-related symptoms for parents looking for gentle solutions and are not intended as this-for-that prescriptions.

Inspired by a visit to the beach with my friend Pamela, when a whale visited Rockaway Beach 105 on the last Sunday of summer. We cried, we laughed, and we mourned for the lost child in us. We danced to the beat of Venezuelan drums, touched the wild, wild things and left as our NYPD heroes showed up in full force to rescue a missing swimmer.