How Getting Sick Can Be a Sign of Health,
Is Fever Friend or Foe?
This may sound odd – but I’m always excited when a patient reports having a fever and getting sick because I know a secret that your doctor and the media probably is not telling you. I’m going to let you in on it today!
Before I explain my health secret about fevers and illness, I want to define health. Quoted from my book “Ketogenic Cure; Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Life”
“We’ve been conditioned to see health as the absence of disease, defect, or pain. I say instead that health is the “presence” of something: Lasting energy, clear thinking, good memory, healthy digestion, detoxification and excretion, muscle strength and flexibility, emotional stability, joy and deep peace. This is the optimally healthy state of well-being.”
Now, let’s define fever:
The College of Family Physicians of Canada states that a fever is: an oral temperature above 37.5°C (99.5°F) or a rectal temperature above 38.0°C (100.4°F) or an axillary (under the arm) temperature above 37.2°C (99°F) (ear temperatures are not accurate in children under 6 months of age and are often not recommended in children less than 1 to 2 years of age). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. While the average normal body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C), a normal temperature range is between 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Most pediatricians consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of a fever. When studying fevers, Western science has coined the term, Febrile Range, and is known as 38-40°C.
I’m referring to fevers in young children, adolescents and adults, not newborns. Young babies, younger than 3 months, a fever maybe a sign of something more serious.
Warning: Be aware that a prolonged fever, dry mucus membranes, a temperature higher than 40.5C (105F), a mottled rash, stiff neck, or unusual weakness, drowsiness and lethargy, may indicate something more serious than a simple fever. If at all concerned about the severity or cause of the fever, or if your child is under 2 months of age, please consult your health care professional.
There is a current concept and practice in Western medicine that fevers are harmful, and the practice is to quell them. One argument you may have heard, is that a fever can cause brain damage or seizures. This is a scary thought isn’t it? If that was all I heard or knew, then I’d be doing everything I could to lower any fever quickly with antipyretics like acetaminophen. Indeed, this is what many parents and doctors are doing, and it’s causing harm. The American Academy of Pediatrics writes “There is no evidence that children with fever, as opposed to hyperthermia, are at increased risk of adverse outcomes such as brain damage.”*1
Many people, parents, and doctors have what has been coined, fever phobia. It’s an exaggerated fear of fevers in either themselves, their children, and/or patients. Most people and parents have little to no information about a fever’s beneficial role in the disease process and over-all health of your immune system, so I’m going to clear this up now and Bust the Fever Myth!
Fevers are often viewed as the illness itself rather than a symptom of your immune system’s defense mechanism. Symptoms are a language of the body and mind. It’s my professional and personal opinion that they deserve to be listened to and understood. Your body and/or your child’s body are speaking to you through a language of symptoms and I’d like to teach you how to listen to it and address it in a functional, holistic, balanced and practical way.
Even the American Academy of Paediatrics clinical report says, “It should be emphasized that fever is not an illness but is, in fact, a physiologic mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection.” *2 Unfortunately, most doctors still encourage and provide acetaminophen to children and adults for low fevers and this is a problem, I’ll explain why below.
A little history on Acetaminophen:
Acetaminophen was marketed in 1953 as a prescription analgesic. In the spring of 1955, Robert Lincoln McNeil Jr, a chemist and pharmaceutical industry executive, introduced TYLENOL Elixir for Children, the company’s first single ingredient acetaminophen product. This is where they got the name from: “Tylenol” (N-acetyl-p-aminophenol). Johnson and Johnson purchased McNeil’s family pharmaceutical company in 1960 for 30 million dollars. Remember, when we speak about drugs, we also need to follow the money.
Did you know that antipyretics like Tylenol, do not normalize body temperature, nor prevent recurrences of fever? The child may feel better because these medications do reduce pain and discomfort but at what cost? According to some research, they are likely suppressing the immune response. Keep reading to find out how.
Antipyretics have increased in use over the past two decades from 67% to between 91-95%. I’d say they are doing a good job at advertising.
Tylenol is big business. Americans take about 8 billion pills each year. Acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol and is in more than 200 medications.
Antipyretics are known to cause adverse reactions and some fatalities. In the UK, paracetamol aka acetaminophen, has been one of the most popular choices for suicide attempts in adolescents and adults, causing 100-150 deaths annually. As a parent I would not want to give my child a drug that is being in suicide.
In the USA, paracetamol-associated overdoses account for 56,000 emergency visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, with approximately 450 deaths each year. About 100 of these deaths are unintentional. *3. What do you think would happen if I prescribed an herb or a homeopathic that had a statistic like that, do you think it would remain on the market? In case you’re wondering, that would be a Hell No!
I feel strongly about NOT using a medication that is commonly used for suicide attempts, as a fever lowering strategy.
But does Acetaminophen work?
Nope, and here is proof.
In human volunteers infected with rhinovirus, the use of antipyretics was associated with suppression of serum antibody response, increased symptoms and signs and a trend towards longer duration of viral shedding. *4 In a study of children with chickenpox, half of whom received paracetamol four times a day, and half received a placebo, the time to total scabbing was slightly shorter in the placebo group (5.6 d) than in the paracetamol group (6.7 d) *5 Basically, taking Acetaminophen during an illness has been shown to increase the duration of the illness because it suppresses important aspects of your immune system.
Why does a fever happen and how is it beneficial?
Pyrogens are substances that induce a fever. They are either produced by bacteria, viruses, molds, and yeast, or they are produced by your body, like white blood cells called macrophages. They act on a structure in your brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature, to induce a fever. Bad guys like bacteria and viruses are sensitive to heat, the body creates a fever to kill them off. The increase in body temperature also stimulates the immune system to make and activate white blood cells, T-helper cells, T-cells, B-cells and so much more. as well as increase the production of antibodies.
A fever helps your body naturally detoxify. It is also a powerful anti-cancer tool. When your body temperature is about 4 degrees above normal, your white blood cells are 10-fold! This is very important to kill off the bad guys. A fever response to a virus or bacteria is a sign of a strong and healthy immune system. In my practice, the sickest people are the ones who claimed to never get sick. Most people with chronic and degenerative diseases, autoimmune issues, and even cancer, often claim they were never sick before. Their immune systems were dysregulated and unable to get sick in a healthy way. The consequence of this is often a more serious illness.
There are many studies proving the importance of fevers.
- It is a physiological fact that fevers stimulate a healthy immune response.
- They increase white blood cell count and functioning.
- They increase phagocytosis, when the white blood cells go and eat up the bad guys.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Fever retards the growth and reproduction of bacteria and viruses, enhances neutrophil production and T-lymphocyte proliferation, and aids in the body’s acute-phase reaction”
Busting the Fever Myth:
- Fevers are generally self-limiting and rarely serious provided we know the cause and we replace lost fluids.
- The body is self-regulating, and body temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus.
- Fevers help shorten the length of time you and your child will be sick.
- Your immune system is like a muscle and it needs a healthy workout. A fever is like a work out for your immune system and it leaves the immune system and body stronger than before.
I know it may sound funny, but we also need to address our quick fix mentality. We don’t like to suffer, even if it’s good for us. It’s difficult to see our kids in pain, and it’s important to educate them about their bodies. It’s important to remember for ourselves and to teach our children that a fever is a good sign of strength and we will be even stronger after our body wins this battle. We can empower them to make healthy choices that I will describe shortly. Reminding ourselves and our children that “suffering” with a fever, although uncomfortable, is actually often beneficial for overall health and well-being. Let’s re-educate our next generation to stop reaching for quick-fix pills and begin honoring their body in a new way.
6 Secrets to Making Fevers Your Friends
My First Secret is Homeopathy
Homeopathy is both safe and effective. I invite you to visit my website and read about it here: http://kristinmcgary.com/therapies/homeopathy/
You will also find a free download of my favorite Homeopathic Fever Remedies on that page.
My Second Secret Fever Friend Support is Asian Medicine:
Gua sha- Brushing or scraping certain points with a ceramic soup spoon or credit card can lower fever. Points such as LI4, Li11, and the Korean Immune point. These points can be found on google search. You will scrape away from the center of the body, down the hand or arm. You can also use a credit card to scrape the points. They may get slightly red, this is normal. Scrape points 20-50 times on each side, left and right, up to 6x day as needed.
It may sound strange, but this works for high fevers only. Prick the apex of the ear and get out drops of blood, as many of 10-20 drops. Use a lancet, that diabetics use to test their blood sugar. Or, prick the middle finger and get out drops of blood. This can bring down an acute fever quickly. I would not use this technique for a low-grade fever.
Herbs, Yin Xioa is a formula that comes in a chewable tablet or pills. I like Plum Flower Brand. Follow the dosing on the bottle.
My Third Secret Fever Friend Support are Food Based Supplements
These impact immune function.
- Liposomal Vit C, I like Quicksilver Scientific. Powdered Vit C can cause tummy upset, but liposomal wont. And The Vit C by QS is food sourced, not synthetic.
- Vit D3, I like emulsified in a healthy oil like MCT or olive oil, never soy or corn.
- Rose hip tea
- Chamomile tea
- Mint tea (not to be taken with homeopathies)
My Fourth Secret Fever Friend Support is Food
Avoid sugar, it suppresses immune function.
- Avoid junk food, full of chemicals and preservatives known to suppress immune function.
- Bone broth, mashed veggies,
- For sore throats and high fevers: ice chips, or home made pop sickles from blended fruit and spring water,
- Keep well hydrated with spring water
My Fifth Secret Fever Friend Support is Lifestyle
- Get outside a little, sunlight and fresh air, trees, nature
- Don’t over do
- Limit screen time, don’t over stimulate the nervous system with video games and high action movies.
- Reading, drawing, listening to calming music
- Listen to an audio book
- Cool damp wash cloth on forehead, inner crease of forearm
My Sixth Secret Fever Friend Support is Commitment
- Commitment to listen to yours and your child’s body.
- Commitment to do your best.
- Commitment to being an active participant in your healthcare.
- Commitment to learn something new.
- Commitment to remain courageous in the face of a sick child.
- Commitment to reach beyond conventional, limited, and often dangerous standards of Western medical care in order to offer you family vibrant health and well-being long into the future.
Fever Phobia is not based on science.
- Western medicine only offers a potentially dangerous drug that doesn’t actually alter body temperature.
- There are serious health risks associated with taking acetaminophen.
- Fevers are a sign that the body is doing a great job fighting an infection and suppressing that in any way is not healthy.
- A fever is a healthy workout and detoxification for your body.
- There are practical and affordable alternatives to working with a fever.
I’d like to share a little story with you. My friend and patient Kristen, in Arizona, reached out to me a few weeks ago while I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina because her son had a high fever. She was so shocked by this rapid result that she wrote me this: “It’s like I can control his temperature to the perfect degree with these little pellets (homeopathics). I am in awe. He is drinking green juice now, head up off the pillow! Incredible! Thank you so much for your support and guidance. I love you.”
I hope this helps you feel more empowered and confident when you or your family is sick.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
*1 Pediatrics March 2011, VOLUME 127 / ISSUE 3 From the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report: Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children by Janice E. Sullivan, Henry C. Farrar, the Section on Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Committee on Drugs
*2 Pediatrics March 2011, VOLUME 127 / ISSUE 3 From the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report: Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children by Janice E. Sullivan, Henry C. Farrar, the Section on Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Committee on Drugs
*3 (Nourjah P, Ahmad SR, Karwoski C, Willy M. Estimates of acetaminophen (Paracetomal)-associated overdoses in the United States. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2006;15:398–405 )
*4 (Graham NM, Burrell CJ, Douglas RM, Debelle P, Davies L. Adverse effects of aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen on immune function, viral shedding, and clinical status in rhinovirus-infected volunteers. J Infect Dis. 1990;162:1277–1282. [PubMed] )
*5 (Doran TF, De Angelis C, Baumgardner RA, Mellits ED. Acetaminophen: more harm than good for chickenpox. J Pediatr. 1989;114:1045–1048. [PubMed] )
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Kristin Grayce McGary weaves 20 years of experience, education, and wisdom with profound compassion to provide you with individualized, empowered, and holistic opportunities to heal on all levels. She is a passionate and dynamic teacher who truly embodies her work. She artfully blends healing modalities to guide you on a transformative path to optimal health