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Fevers: Fact and Fiction

Picture this common scenario:

It’s 2 am and you wake to a crying child.  You touch their forehead and are alarmed at the heat radiating from them.  You rush to grab the thermometer and your fear escalates when you see 100…or 101…or 102. You grab the Tylenol or Ibuprofen to medicate your child at the same time you grab the phone to call the doctor.

Okay, now hit the rewind and imagine the scene played out like this:

It’s 2 am and you wake to a crying child.  You touch their forehead and are alarmed at the heat radiating from them. You climb from your bed and head to the kitchen to get your child a cup of warm herbal tea.  When the tea is gone, you take a deep breath and lay your child in bed with you.  You give a silent prayer of thanks that whatever may be ailing your child, at least their immune system is functioning enough to build that fever!

Which reaction is the right one?  Under normal circumstances, the second scenario is the correct answer.  Really.

Yes, I know your doctor told you to alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen every few hours to relieve pain and get their fever down.  Your doctor really shouldn’t have told you that, though.  Here is why:

Fevers are awesome!  Fevers are the bodies way of killing off all the bad little germs that try to attack you.  If you stop the fever, you stop the healing process.  If your body doesn’t get hot enough to cook those germs to death, they multiply.  Before you know it, your body is overtaken by an army of germs.

Did you know that, unless there is a condition present that affects the hypothalamus (which is exceptionally rare), the fever will not exceed 105 degrees?  Seriously.

Yes, I know that you’ve heard how a high fever will cause seizures and brain damage and other awful things.  In reality, that is unlikely to ever happen unless you fail to keep the body hydrated.  That is why it is crucial to keep the liquid intake high while suffering through a fever.  Your body needs moist heat to do its job, but a fever eats up that moisture fast.  You must replenish it often to protect the body and the brain.

Of course, water is the first choice – unless it is city water that has been treated with chemicals. Distilled water or well water is the best choice when you are sick. Fresh juice is the other option.  Notice I specified fresh?  It is almost impossible to find juice in the grocery store that doesn’t contain sugar, corn by-products or artificial sweeteners, all of which will make the germs spread a little quicker and make the body have to work a little harder to get well. Fresh juice has the added benefits of things like Vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and nutrients the body needs to heal. And, no, Gatorade shouldn’t be an option, either.  Water and fresh juice.  That’s it.

And, let us not forget that acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both known to cause health issues, including liver and kidney damage.

So, let’s go back to the second scenario.  What kind of herbal tea do you give your feverish child?  My first choice is an equal mix of peppermint and catnip.  Both of these herbs are fantastic for helping to relieve general pain, especially pain caused by an imbalance in the system like infection.  They promote sweating, which helps the body to rid itself of toxins and germs.  They help sooth and invigorate the system.  Catnip is also a mild sedative that is safe for all ages, so it will help bring on restful sleep, which will allow the body time to heal itself.

What else can you do to deal with a fever, be it your’s or your child’s?  Warm baths with a couple scoops of epsom salt will help draw toxins out of the system.

Cool wash cloths or cold packs on the forehead and back of the neck will help provide relief from the heat without actually lowering the internal temperature of the body.

Fresh air and sunshine.  This one is really important.  When illness strikes, our first instinct is to crawl into bed, tuck the covers around us and hide from the outside world.  Don’t do it!  Take 10 minutes to step outside and soak up a few rays of sun.  The sun gives your body much of what it needs to heal. Fresh air provides a clean source of much-needed oxygen, without all the nasty sick germs mixed in.

Finally, help your body out.  Garlic, onions, ginseng, astragalus, cayenne, honey, raw fruits and veggies…all of these will boost your immune system and give it some extra ‘oomph’ to kick out whatever is ailing it!

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