Naturopathic Approaches to Fever
Fever phobia is fairly common among parents of young children, and even some adults when they become sick. We worry that something serious is going on. Most often, that’s not the case.
Fever occurs when our body’s internal thermostat (an organ in the brain called the hypothalamus) shifts our body’s normal set-point upward, indicating that something is out of balance. It can be brought on by a virus, bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, teething, pain and vaccinations just to name a few. Symptoms may include:
- Chills and shivering
- Headache and muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
While these symptoms are uncomfortable, be comforted knowing that fever is a natural and beneficial response of the immune system. It plays a key role in helping the body fight off infections and can even help strengthen immunity. It typically resolves on its own.
You should know . . .
- For infants, toddlers and young children, a slight fever generally will go away with attentive care and holistic therapy such as those outlined in this newsletter. However, for infants younger than two months, fever should be discussed with your family doctor.
- If a child is unable to hold eye contact/seems unresponsive, has intense neck pain or uncontrolled vomiting, seek emergency medical care. Adults should seek emergency care if they become confused, experience abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, intense head or neck pain, or have a seizure.
- Children between the ages of six months and five years might experience febrile seizures. The seizure is triggered by a rapid change of temperature. About one-third of children who have one febrile seizure will have another one, most commonly within a year. This is generally not harmful and unlikely to cause long-term damage. If a seizure occurs, loosen tight clothing and gently hold the child on the ground in a safe area to prevent injury.
Holistic, Gentle Ways to Manage Fever
Since most fevers resolve on their own, don’t be quick to reach for over-the-counter meds to lower it. Instead, consider the following simple therapies aimed at supporting the body’s innate ability to heal and restore balance.
- Fast the Fever. Never feed a fever. The body’s resources should not be diverted to digesting food while it’s fighting fever. Drink clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or suck on ice cubes.
- Keep a Journal. Record when the fever started, temperature, how you measured (oral, ear, rectal, etc.), and note any symptoms. Be sure to measure temperature consistently, not with different instruments each time (note differences in recording methods). Also, note if there was exposure to anyone who’s been ill. List all medications, vitamins and supplements taken. You’ll need this if you have to see the doctor or go to the ER.
- Use Hydrotherapy. This home remedy increases comfort while supporting the body’s ability to lower temperature. It involves the use of cold towels or sheets with a wool blanket over top and all wrapped around the body. Details are in the therapy section of this newsletter.
The bottom line is that a fever is the body’s attempt to restore balance. Your holistic practitioner may have other suggestions and strategies for supporting the body through a fever so be sure and check in with them!
Food for Thought. . .
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”– Helen Keller
Broth: Health Benefits Approved by Mom
From Mom’s best health advice – to holistic doctors everywhere – soup broth tops the list of healing foods to eat when you’re feeling sick or simply need a soothing, light and nutritious meal.
Varieties of soup broth include vegetable, fish, chicken, beef and bone broth without meat. Make your broth by simmering the ingredients, straining off the solids and saving the liquid. Overall, broths don’t contain much protein, are low in carbs, and abundant in nutrients. For robust flavor and nutrition power, you want the broth to include a variety of veggies and herbs such as carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onion, spinach, leeks, broccoli, green beans, bay leaf, turmeric, ginger, parsley, and pepper to name a few.
The soothing effect of drinking warm, steaming broth happens to be an effective way to loosen up mucus when you have a stuffy nose and it can ease irritation from a sore throat. Broth helps provide what the body needs to prevent dehydration and manage nausea. This is because broth contains many minerals, including potassium, sodium, and calcium, which are important to hydration and heart and muscle function. Broth also contains Vitamin A which is important for immunity. The wider the variety of veggies and herbs included in the broth, the more robust the vitamin and anti-inflammatory power.
Consider this soup-broth bonus: it’s not only good for you when fever hits; the endless varieties of broth offer health benefits when you make it a frequent part of your usual diet.
Dr. Henry Bieler was a visionary American physician who advocated for the treatment of disease through diet. He believed the primary cause of disease is not germs, but imbalances in the body caused by lifestyle, including poor diet. His famous broth is rich in potassium and sodium. It supports the healthy functioning of the liver and the adrenal glands. This broth also provides nourishment for the body when feverish.
- 4 medium zucchinis, chopped
- 3 cups string beans, ends removed
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 bunches parsley, stems removed
- 1 quart filtered water
- sea salt to taste
- ghee (optional)
*Use organic veggies when possible, or local and in season.
- Place water, zucchini, string beans, and celery in a stock pot.
- Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are softened but not overcooked. Spoon the mixture into a blender, add a handful of parsley, and liquefy. Pulse a few times to get it started. Make sure you hold onto the lid.
- One pot of broth will create several blender batches. Have a pitcher or jars on hand to fill as you blend. To thicken the broth and enhance the healing properties of the broth, add a teaspoon of ghee to each blender batch.
Skip the Gatorade and Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink
Why use a commercial electrolyte replacement beverage when you can make your own and know that it will have far greater benefits and less sugar and chemical additives than anything sold in stores? An electrolyte drink is essential for rehydrating after intense training or competition in the heat, for hydrating a day or two before a sports event, and for preventing or recovering from the dehydration caused by illness.
- 16 ounces filtered water
- 1 large or two small oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1/3 tsp Celtic sea salt
- 1 tsp liquid trace minerals *optional
- 1 Tbsp raw honey (use maple syrup for children under 12 months of age) *optional
- Juice the orange and the lemon.
- Mix the fresh juices with the sea salt, honey (maple syrup), and optional trace minerals.
- Blend the juice mixture with filtered water in a tall glass.
- Serve electrolyte replacement at room temperature, NOT cold as this inhibits absorption.
- Sip and drink half within about one hour. Consume the rest as needed.
Refrigerate remainder of juice. Use within 2-3 days. Remember to bring to room temperature before drinking.
Ease Cold Symptoms with Echinacea
Just a glance at the lavender-hued petals and deep crimson center of Echinacea flowers can brighten a gloomy day. That’s probably why this wildflower is a staple in many gardens. Plus, with many medicinal uses, echinacea is a wonderful addition to your home apothecary, especially during cold and flu season.
Historically, Native Americans used echinacea for more therapeutic purposes than any other herb. Fresh root was chewed to numb a toothache while juice made from the roots was used in baths and salves to treat skin irritations and even snakebites. By the mid-1800s, American herbalists were using it to treat cold, cough and other respiratory symptoms. Usage in America declined in the 1900s but picked up in Germany where much of the research on the herb has been done.
Today, echinacea is one of the most well-studied herbs. Herbalists and physicians from many different countries use it for the treatment of the common cold, flu, cough, sore throat and fever. While many believe echinacea can be used to prevent illness, it’s more effective at reducing the intensity and length of a cold by about two days. Echinacea also helps boost immune function thereby enhancing the body’s ability to resist infection.
Echinacea can be taken as a tea, tincture or in capsule form. Daily use of tea is a wonderful addition to your relaxation ritual. When taking echinacea to combat a cold, it’s best to take it at the first sign of illness. Ask your holistic physician which form and dose of echinacea is best for you.
Hydrotherapy Home Remedies for Fever
When an adult is struck down with fever, we make our way through the misery. When a child runs a temp that just doesn’t come down (or keeps rising), you want to have every reasonable remedy at the ready to help make the child comfortable. The hydrotherapy remedies described below are also suitable for adults but our focus is on children.
“Magic” Socks at First Signs of a Fever
Typically done at night before sleep, this therapy can really boost immune function. Wet a pair of thin cotton socks and wring out well. Put on wet socks and cover with a thick pair of wool socks. Snuggle up in bed and allow the body to dry the socks through the night. This can also be done during the day as long as the person is lying down and resting until the socks have thoroughly dried.
Cold “Magic” Towel Remedy to Reduce Mild Fever (99-102 degrees)
Place a cold, well-wrung out towel on the abdomen and cover it with a wool blanket. Leave it in place for 20 minutes as the body warms up the towel. This will reduce temperature by one degree or return to normal temperature if the body is ready. If fever is 102-103 degrees, this method can still be beneficial or try the remedy below.
Spanish Mantel (or Magic Carpet) Remedy for Fever over 103 degrees
Since the fever is higher and the child’s discomfort is greater, a full body wrap is used. Wet a sheet in cold water, wring it out well, and wrap it around the body; then, cover in a wool blanket. This will bring the fever down by two degrees or the fever will break.
- When fever is over 99 degrees, the child must be on a liquid fast, drinking clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or sucking on ice cubes. Food requires digestion which generates heat that causes temp to rise. The body doesn’t use resources for digestion when fighting a fever so either your youngster will wind up nauseated as food sits in the gut or the fever will persist much longer than if fasting.
- The liquid fast should continue until the temp stays below 99 for at least six hours. With very high fevers, this could take a few days. At this time, introduce homemade vegetable soup or other foods suggested to you by your holistic practitioner.
- The child may lose a pound or two, but once free of fever and return of appetite, they will regain that weight.
Seek emergency care immediately if you are unable to manage the fever, if an infant has persistently dry diapers, or if a child becomes lethargic or unresponsive. Never hesitate to get help.