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How to reduce fever naturally

Season ailments - body's immune defences

The unexpected usefulness of fever: understand fever to deal with it

Fever is nothing other than a rise in body temperature above the levels deemed "normal" (that is, with slight variations, between 36 and 36.5°C). By itself, fever is not a disease but a symptom; it is in fact, a body’s response to external aggression, aimed at eliminating the destabilising agent.

Typically, high fever can be associated with other symptoms, such as for example:

  • headache;
  • weakness;
  • lack of appetite;
  • nausea.

Fever can occur on several occasions, for example when the patient is infected or any alteration of the body's parameters. The causes of fever may be different, as a trivial air blow, a flu virus etc. To understand when to intervene and how to lower the fever you need to identify the root causes to avoid performing unnecessary and sometimes harmful actions.

For example, taking antibiotics is ineffective in case of fever due to influenza. These drugs, in fact, are only useful against bacteria, as explained in a brochure issued by the Italian Ministry of Health and inappropriate use may be counter-productive, encouraging drug resistance.

Drug resistance (the increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics) is dangerous because the antibiotic taken when not required may not work well when we will need it, exposing us to also very serious consequences. So better not to improvise or change prescriptions.

Therefore, the best way to deal with a fever is to understand the causes, consulting your trusted doctor.  After excluding serious diseases or the need to use antibiotics, we can resort to “tricks” and natural substances that help us to lower fever.

How to lower fever with natural remedies: plants and rules

As mentioned before, fever has its usefulness and is a fundamental defence mechanism. Sometimes, therefore, it is unwise to try and reduce it at the onset. However, temperatures above 40 degrees, if persistent, may prove to be harmful. This is especially true for individuals “at risk” as small children and elderly people.

However, to mitigate high temperatures you can also to make use of natural aids. So let’s figure out how to lower fever naturally when it is too high and persistent.

4 useful plants for fever

There are some plants that, by adjusting the process of sweating, can help our body to disperse heat more quickly.

In fact, the evaporation of sweat from the skin, or better the water contained in its interior, is able to induce a lowering of the body temperature.

There are plants, however, that can promote healing by supporting the immune system.

Let's have a look at them.

1) Elderberry

The plant elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is very common in Italy especially in the woods or along water courses. The extract of the flowers of the plant is used in herbal medicine for the formulation of specific supplements to combat the diseases of the cold season. The extract of elderberry in fact has properties useful for the wellbeing of the upper respiratory tract; its intake can also adjust the natural process of sweating and, accordingly, promote the thermal regulation of the body. Several studies have confirmed these effects of the plant; in particular, the "flowers are considered diaphoretic (i.e. promote sweating) […] and are used […] when colds accompanied by fever are in place" (E. Campanini, Dizionario di fitoterapia e piante medicinali, Milano 2012) .

2) Quina

From the dried bark of the plant Cinchona Calisaya, you get the yellow quina, very rich in alkaloids.

It has been used since the sixteenth century as febrifugal. Today it is largely used for the extraction of quinine. Its extract can help mitigate fever and the localised stiffness connected with it; as a matter of fact, the salts of quinine (in particular sulfate) have been used for a long time together with other antipyretics in the treatment of a cold-derived fever. The main therapeutic effect is due to [...] an increased radiation of heat through the skin caused by peripheral vasodilation and increased sweating "(E. Lazzarini e A. R. Lonardoni, Manuale pratico di fitoterapia, II, Roma 1985).

For this reason, the cinchona extract is often used in the formulation of specific natural supplements, in synergy with the elder or with plants that support the immune system (skullcap, chiretta, astragalus etc.).

3) Willow

The willow (Salix alba and purpurea) is a majestic tree native to Central and Southern Europe, which typically grows in damp places. The part of the plant used in herbal medicine is bark, whose virtues were already known in antiquity; indeed, in the writings of Hippocrates and Pliny, the willow is mentioned for its pyretic virtues.

To figure out how to lower fever with the willow, one should remember its mechanism of action.  The extract of bark improves normal sweating as an essential process and it fights localised stiffness. The willow bark is rich in salicylic glycosides and, in particular, salicin; for this reason, its extract has been credited with analgesic and antipyretic properties" (F. Perugini Billi, Manuale di fitoterapia, Azzano San Paolo 2008).

It may be taken alone, in the form of liquid extract, or in synergy with other plants (such as quina) and nutrients.

 4) Echinacea or Coneflower

The plant of echinacea is one of the best known and exploited plants in herbal medicine. In nature, there are different species of echinacea, but in the formulation of natural supplements mainly three are used: Echiacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida.

The extracts of the roots of these plants support the efficiency of the immune system and promote a healthy respiratory tract. Therefore, echinacea extract, while not acting on the thermoregulatory process, may help the body defend itself from external agents and quickly restore its balance. Several studies have confirmed that "the plant is able to strengthen the body's defences against colds" (E. Campanini, ibid).

The Elderberry... good even in the kitchen!

As seen, the elder tree has phytotherapic properties quite useful in the presence of fever; however, there is also a pleasant culinary use of Elderberry. In fact, when flowering occurs, in June and July, its large corymbs can be collected to make excellent sweet and fragrant pancakes.

The fruits ripen from August to September and are used to make jams and syrups, with laxative and bechic properties, widely used in northern Italy and central Europe" (AA. VV., Sant’Oreste e il suo territorio, Soveria Mannelli 2003).

Jam made from elderberries has, of course, none of the prhytotherapic effects of the plant flowers. However, it could be a sweet tonic to help recover faster after a fever.

Benefits and contraindications of natural remedies for a fever

As we have seen, the feature that almost all natural remedies have in common in counteracting a fever is that they act on the sweating process. Indeed, sweat generates an immediate heat dissipation and helps our body to lower temperature.

On the market there are natural supplements that contain the plants listed above. The most complete ones are enriched with vitamin C, to support the immune system, and other plants also useful for the wellness of the nose and throat; in this way, you get a synergistic effect and greater effectiveness in getting over.

It is good to take these products in the doses indicated at the first signs of fever and continue for a few days, as long as temperature is not corrected.  Plants such as willow, elderberry, quina or echinacea have no side effects and are safe if taken according to the correct procedures and dosages.

As a caution, the people who are following a treatment with specific drugs, or suffering from specific diseases, should also hear the opinion of their doctor before taking any supplements. The same also applies to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, although undoubtedly a natural remedy has fewer contraindications than many synthetic drugs that you generally take in case of fever.

 How to lower fever in children ... 5 rules valid also for adults

If fever is always a cause of distress in adults, it is even more so in children, especially if it reaches very high temperatures. A high temperature in children often creates alarm among parents who immediately wonder how to lower a fever and handle the situation. In the presence of high fever (above 39 degrees) that lasts more than 2-3 days, it is always good to consult a pediatrician and avoid any kind of self prescription.

5 rules to deal with fever in children

When temperature does not rise excessively, however, you can help the child to recover even by following a few rules. These simple measures are also valid and can also give benefit to feverish adults.

1) Do not force the child to eat

Even adults, when they are debilitated, are lacking appetite; so it's normal to be so even for a child. It is better not to insist too much if the child does not want to eat because of the fever. If you really cannot stand the idea of a "fasting child", propose them small snacks or light meals.

2) Beware of dehydration

High temperature may easily cause dehydration. It is therefore necessary to make the child drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Preferably at room temperature and not cold!

Particularly if fever is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhoea: in these cases it is good to take liquids in small sips a bit at a time.

3) Do not overdress your child

Although the instinct probably suggests us to overdress our baby when they have high fever, pediatricians instead recommend avoiding heavy clothing; they should only be used when the baby has the "chills."

Actually to help the body to disperse heat, it is good to have the child wear clothes of lightweight and breathable fabric, and move blankets off them.

4) No ice pack on the forehead

Despite popular beliefs, a cold ice pack on the forehead is counter-productive especially with a high fever.

Extreme cold can indeed "fool" only temporarily the body heat regulation mechanism; so, fever can lower before rising again intensely.

5) Give a sponge or a lukewarm bath

To mitigate high fever giving tepid water sponge baths or a normal warm bath can prove useful. Avoid cold baths and cold sponging, which not only make the situation worse, but they would cause more chills.

 

Fever in children: Conclusions

In summary, we can say that the fever in children does not have to generate excessive alarms.

Before you give your child any medication it is always better to hear the opinion of the doctor.

Recall that in the first months of life, fever should be measured often to monitor temperature. If there is fever, immediate pediatric assessment is needed; the same goes for babies aged between 1 and 3 months if the temperature rises above 38 degrees C.

In each age group, you should always monitor if with the temperature there are also other symptoms: neck stiffness, abdominal pain or shortness of breath. Combined with a persistent fever, these are signs that require the doctor’s advice.

If fever does not go up too much, it is usually enough to follow the rules listed above and to use some natural help.

To help the body of the smallest ones to regulate their heat, natural aids are OK;  the ideal is a concentrated extract liquid, easy to take, of plants such as elderberry  and lapacho.

CAN YOU MEASURE A FEVER  WITHOUT THERMOMETER?

At times, you may feel sick when you are away from home. When you have some fever symptoms (chills, headache, muscle pain) but you do not have a thermometer at hand, you can still make an approximate estimate of the temperature.

The heart rate and respiratory rate vary with the increase of the temperature, as fever increases them both. By measuring the heartbeats (keeping your fingertip on the pulse) it is therefore possible to have a rough estimate of body temperature.

Taking into account that the pulses of a healthy adult at rest are between 60 and 80 per minute, if at least extra 10 pulses are detected we may be in the presence of a low-grade fever.

 

 


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