Fever is diagnosed when the body temperature is elevated to 37.8 degrees centigrade – 100 degrees Fahrenheit – or higher (when taken orally). It is a common symptom in adults and children, of colds and viral and bacterial infections. However, It is not commonly known that this rise in body temperature is a natural and necessary reaction, caused by the release of the body’s own immune cells.
Studies suggest that humans recover more rapidly and with fewer mortalities from infections and critical illness as a result of a fever. Some immune reactions are increased by fever and many pathogens are inactivated, and therefore hindered by raised temperatures. Recent research has even indicated that high body temperatures such as those experienced in a fever can kill rogue cancer cells.
In the West it is common practice to attempt to reduce fever using pharmaceutical drugs; however, it is far more beneficial to allow the fever to run its course. Parents in particular may be concerned when a child runs a high fever, but supporting the body’s response and monitoring the child can effectively manage the fever.
At 40 degrees centigrade (104 Fahrenheit) a fever is considered high, but harmless. It may cause some discomfort and should be monitored closely. Over 41 degrees centigrade is regarded as a very high temperature, which should be reduced. This can be achieved with herbal medication and sponging. The temperature rarely goes above this level. However, should it reach 42 degrees centigrade seek medical attention.
Natural and traditional methods to monitor and control fever when necessary allow the body to do what it does best – heal itself!
Tips for Fever Management
- Drink plenty of cool (not iced) fluids. This replaces water lost through sweat and improves heat loss through the skin.
- Keep cool. Dress in lightweight clothing with a light blanket to sleep.
- Allow airflow to the room. This keeps the room slightly cooler than room temperature and limits bacterial growth.
- If hungry eat easily digested foods such as home-made soups (miso or chicken stock are ideal) If not hungry, don’t eat!
- Bed rest and plenty of sleep. The heart is already under stress so no physically demanding activities.
- Sponging the body with lukewarm water (30-32 degrees centigrade) or cool flannels places on the forehead and wrists can help to cool the body down. If shivering occurs, stop the sponging and allow the body to warm.
If fever is prolonged or excessive then herbal intervention can be taken.
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) This herb is a diaphoretic – encouraging sweating and therefore cooling the body. It also acts as an anti-pyretic, influencing the hypothalamus to reduce the body temperature.
Chamomilla recutita (Chamomile) Chamomile has many constituents in common with Yarrow and the two may be combined for fever management. Chamomile’s relaxant properties are of value where convulsions and tension are present, particularly in children.
Extracted from a weekly radio broadcast 2010 ©
Meilyr James BSc (Hons) DBTh DAcu AcuC DIr MGNI.
Registered Medical Herbalist, Iridologist and Acupuncturist
The Herbal Clinic in Swansea provides natural healthcare with the use of organic herbs, acupuncture and iridology.