Monday, August 9, 2010

Herbs for fever

Most of the mums who bring their children to see me for the first time have been indoctrinated with the concept of suppressing a fever. Apart from giving medicine I see my job as one of helping people understand their bodies and how they work. Understanding fever is very important, because suppressing it is working against the body's defence mechanism. Fever is there to help kill the bugs that have invaded the body. I'm often asked why the child has a fever. Quite simply any pathogen which enters the body can cause a fever, and it's often difficult to diagnose. The main thing is to work with the body and not against it.

I encourage my patients to phone me if their child has a fever and I'll help them through it. We allow the fever to rise as much as possible (this would depend on how healthy the child is and how well I know him or her) and then give certain herbs to "break" the fever which induces sweating. Keeping the child warm is part of this process. The herbs help the body to eliminate the problem by encouraging kidney and liver action and promoting perspiration.

Herbs that I commonly use are Melissa (lemon balm) which is soothing as well as a good herb for fever, Elder flower, and Yarrow. I like to add some Echinacea, Chamomile and Peppermint. I might use all or some of the herbs mixed in a tea, and encourage as much tea drinking as possible!

A child with a fever will commonly have no appetite! Again many mothers ignore this and try to get the child to eat. This is also going against natural instincts, and will slow down the healing process. Fluids are most important at this time. Once the child starts to improve, the appetite will return ( a sign that the child is recovering.)

A child's immune system needs help to develop in a healthy way, and modern medicine mostly suppresses the body's natural responses.

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