Fevers seem to strike suddenly. A sign that our immune systems are under attack and working hard to fight back. A fever allows our body to produce a antiviral substance called interferon. Interferon is critically necessary for fighting infection. A fever will also increase the movement and activity of white blood cells which is also important for healing.
Benefits of a Fever
The benefits of a fever have been acknowledged for thousands of years. In fact, history tells of many patients who have been cured of disease with therapeutic fevers. Presently, there is significant research suggesting that mild to moderate fevers should be allowed to run their course. A fever may actually:
- shorten the duration of the illness
- reduce the chances of spreading the disease to others
However, during the creation of the pharmaceutical movement in the mid-19th century, aspirin compounds became available commercially and were marketed heavily to the public. By the start of the 1900’s, the drug companies had, with great success, convinced general practitioners and patients to become wary of fevers and vigilant in bringing them down. In reference to the common cold, the flu, or a regular viral infection, it may be counter-productive to suppress our body’s natural defense. Of course there are exceptions; for example, you should seek medical attention for fevers over 104 degrees Fahrenheit lasting longer that 4-6 hours or for any level of fever in infant’s under 6 months of age.
Natural Treatment Alternatives
When it comes to fevers in our home, I treat primarily for comfort. No doubt it is a frightening thing when our children or spouses are hit suddenly with a fever. But, by immediately treating with Tylenol or Ibuprofen we may not be providing the best care.
So here are a few tips for providing comfort and assisting the body in healing:
- Herbs – Elder flowers, feverfew, and yarrow are known to assist in treatment of fevers. Ginger has a warming effect and is therefore useful in providing relief for the chills. I like to prepare herbal teas when administering medicinal herbs to the children. It also helps me know that they are staying hydrated and nourished. A few of the herbal teas I offer for fevers include: chamomile, echinacea, red clover, and peppermint. Lemon juice and honey can also be added to the tea for an extra dose of vitamin C and to sweeten. (Note: It is advised to never give honey to infants under one year of age).
- Homeopathy – Belladonna, Aconite, Nux Vomica and Pulsatilla are four of the most common homeopathic remedies that I have used for fevers with great success.
- Provide Nourishing Foods and Fluids – We often lose our appetites when sick with a fever, so it is super important to provide nourishing fluids like fresh fruit/vegetable juices, herbal teas, and homemade bone broths to maintain energy and hydration levels.
- Rest and Simple Activity – While it is very important for persons with a fever to rest often, simple activity is very beneficial. A simple walk around the block in the beautiful fresh air will raise anyone’s spirits!
- Essential Oils – Lavender, thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus, and sage essential oils provide comfort when treating fevers. They are also known to help support the work of the immune system to support the body’s natural defenses. For example, apply a few drops of lavender essential oils in cool water and soak a washcloth in the solution to wipe a child’s forehead for a cooling, relaxing effect. I have also had great success with the following recipe:
Herbal Spray for Fevers
-1/4 cup 70% Isopropyl Alcohol-1/4 cup witch hazel-3 drops peppermint essential oil-3 drops lavender essential oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to mix. Store in refrigerator to keep cool.
To use: Spray on pulse points up to every hour while awake. Pulse points are areas where you can easily feel your pulse with your fingers: wrists, sides of the neck, and behind the knee.
Cautions: Label spray bottle “EXTERNAL USE ONLY”. Avoid spraying into eyes and mouth. Use sparingly on children under 4 years of age (due to the content of the alcohol).
What have you found successful in treating a mild fever?