This week I’m continuing on with my natural remedies series. If you missed out on my earlier posts you can read all about natural remedies for ear infections, constipation, eczema, leaky gut and candida. Next up…FEVER!
Caring for a sick child is a tough job. As parents we want to do what is best for our children and we strive to ease any and all discomfort they might be feeling. When our little one comes down with a fever it can be scary for both the parent and the child. We may find ourselves reaching for an over-the-counter medication to make things more comfortable. But is bringing down a fever with medication the best choice?
What is a Fever?
Body temperature is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. When the body is fighting a bacteria, virus, infection or allergy the internal temperature is raised and blood moves from the skin to the center of the body. A fever is defined as an internal body temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. (source)
What Causes a Fever?
Fever is the body’s way of fighting an infection. Germs (a loose term to describe the bacteria or virus your child is facing) replicate in the body and a fever is the body’s way of slowing down this process. A fever is a good sign that the immune system is functioning. The “ideal” range for a fever (the range that the body is working the most effectively to fight infection) is between 102-103 degrees (source, source). Fevers are a normal and healthy response by the body. Contrary to popular belief, fevers are not a bad sign!
What are the Conventional Treatments for Fever?
Conventional treatment for children usually includes the use of fever reducers like acetaminophen or NSAIDS. These medications provide symptom relief, but they actually make it hard for the immune system to do its job and allow the germ or virus to spread more rapidly. This increases a child’s chances of getting a secondary infection (like a respiratory infection) that will likely send you to a doctor’s office for a prescription! (source) Additionally, frequent use of Tylenol in children has been linked to an increased risk of asthma, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. (source)
Natural Remedies for Fever
Holistic nutrition: During a fever the body is working hard so a child should only eat if hungry. Light, easily digestible foods like soups made with mineral-rich bone broth are best. If a child has a very high fever you may only be able to give a few teaspoons of bone broth at a time. As a child’s appetite increases with recovery, incorporate foods such as eggs or smoothies with coconut milk. Food can actually bring down a fever by a degree or two if the child will take it. Don’t force food if a child isn’t interested in food. Usually a few bites of egg or bone broth soup will do the trick. While food probably won’t bring a fever down all the way, it can bring it down to the 102-103 degree “ideal” range for more efficient healing.
Skin-to-skin contact: When a child is sick with a fever, being held is a wonderful natural remedy if you are able to be home with your child. Keep your child in the minimum clothing required to keep them from getting chilled. Light layers are best. (source)
Hydration: Fevers cause the metabolism to increase and the potential for dehydration exists with a high fever. Let children sip on diluted fruit juices or bone broth to stay hydrated.
Garlic Feet: An old folk remedy includes crushing a few cloves of garlic and rubbing them on the soles of the feet. Then wrap feet in some plastic wrap and put socks on. This remedy can bring a fever down by a few degrees. (source) Also rubbing homemade goot on the bottom of the feet is another way to achieve the same outcome.
Wet Sock Treatment: Wet sock treatment may help to stimulate the immune system and increase blood circulation. This treatment is an old, effective natural remedy and can be used as a replacement for fever reducing medications. It is best to use wet sock treatment on the first day of the illness and to do it for a few nights in a row for maximum effectiveness. Many families swear by this age old wisdom!
Supplies You Will Need:
1 pair of very thin cotton socks
1 pair of wool socks
1 bowl of ice water
1 warm bath or 1 bowl of very warm water (large enough to soak feet)
1. Soak the pair of thin socks in the bowl of ice water.
2. While socks are getting cold, draw a very warm foot bath for your feet. Warming the feet first is very important for the effectiveness of the treatment. Wet sock treatment can be harmful if your feet are not warmed. Make the water temperature as warm as possible without burning your child, of course. Once the feet have been warmed for 10 minutes do the next step.
3. Dry off feet with a dry towel.
4. Remove ice cold socks from the water and wring them out thoroughly.Place ice-cold socks on feet. Then cover the wet socks with the thick (dry) wool socks. Put on pajamas and go directly to bed. Make sure your child gets under the covers and avoids getting chilled.
5. Wear the socks overnight. During the night, your child might wake up with wet pajamas from sweating. If so, have your child change into dry pajamas, but leave on the socks. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning. I use this remedy myself for fever, sore throats, sinus congestion, cough and it works wonderfully for all!
Herbs and Supplements
Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Fevers use up Vitamin A stores in the body so if your child will take it, give them ½ teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil if tolerated. Combine with food or smoothie.
Probiotics: Probiotics will help to support immune function. Make sure you choose a high quality supplement that has a high adherence rate. You can also get probiotics through fermented foods and beverages.
If your child’s fever does not respond to any of these methods and is very high (over 104 degrees) take your child to the emergency room. As with anything I publish on this website, please refer to my medical disclaimer (also listed below).
What natural remedies do you use at home to bring down a fever?