An Unsung Hero: One who does great deeds but receives little or no recognition for them.
This is the last thing I would have thought of while being awakened at 1am by a fussing baby that felt as if he were on fire. I remember walking over to him and even before I got to the crib I could feel the heat radiating off of his chubby little body. At this point I was frantic; my baby was burning up. I rushed to the bathroom to start a bath and dosed him with acetaminophen because that is what the commercials and health professional say to do. After that I sat on the rocker with him, on the phone with the ER, wondering what to do next.
The fever has been engrained in the parent’s brain to be a harmful symptom of an illness. And we as parents struggle to see our kids with a fever; we want them to feel better. The commercials try to convince us that the way to fight a fever is to give them this magical syrup and they will be well. Because of this there is a lack of education about fevers and parents are not at fault. We have been led to believe that doctors know best and drug companies make safe, effective products to make us well. Right?
Here is the scoop…. Fevers are good – not only good but needed for the healing process. While educating myself on fevers, I came across a book called Holistic Anatomy by Pip Walker. In the chapter ‘The Army and the Cleaners-The Immune System’, Walker clearly explains the important function of the fever. He states, “The fever is an important part of the immune response. Initially the hypothalamus is reset on purpose to a higher temperature. This is the first stage of a fever, when you begin to feel cold and shiver, you may also look pale because your blood vessels constrict to keep heat inside. As the body temperature rises you now begin to feel hot.” The extra heat the body produces makes it uncomfortable for any invading pathogens to live.
At this point, instead of reaching for the acetaminophen to suppress the body from doing its job and letting pathogens in to hide and fester, we can assist the body in heating up it’s core temp with herbs. These herbs are best used as teas, but for children we have to get creative so foot soaks and baths work along with tinctures.
Rosalee de la Forȇt’s blog is a must read for fevers and gives some great suggestion for herbs during specific stages of fever.
Below is a list of suggested herbs and supplements to aid the body during a fever:
This spicy herb is an effective stimulating diaphoretic. Use fresh or dried ginger root (actually rhizome). For children, shave fresh ginger (2-4 Tbls) into a warm bath. I do not suggest using the dried root. It can burn sensitive parts.
Yarrow is famous for it’s ability to aid a person during a fever. Take a dropper full of the tincture in a quarter cup of warm/hot water.
Bee Balm has an amazing ability to pull the heat out. It is awesome internally as a tea or tincture. For little kids, soak a cloth in the tea and apply it to the forehead or soak in a bath with it.
This is a combination of Yarrow, Peppermint, Elderflower, Red Clover and I add in Bee Balm for extra yum.
Probiotics are important and help the body by protecting and healing from pathogens. If your child is not able to take them orally, rectally is another option and may be best during a high fever.
Next, when the fever breaks and sweating starts this is to lower the body temperature and also serves the purpose of washing away any pathogens or other toxins that the body want to get rid of quickly. Keep in mind that the heating and cooling process can happen many times during an illness.
The most important thing to remember during a fever is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can happen very quickly and is extremely dangerous for adults and especially for children.
In conclusion, we need to remember fevers are designed to help. Master Herbalist, Jim McDonald also has a fantastic article on fevers that can further educate you on the myths and truth surrounding fevers.
Author: Angela McElroy is a former practitioner at Continuum Healing. You can find her now doing equine-assisted therapy at Dorr to Eden. To schedule an appointment for you kiddo, please connect with one of our naturopaths, Sarah or Kara.