Fight the illness, not the fever


feverIn natural medicine, we try to understand how and why the body is reacting to an illness or condition. Most of the time there is ‘wisdom’ behind the body’s activities when we are sick. Once we understand these actions, we have a better idea of how to support the body in its efforts to heal.

Often our body’s efforts to fight an illness or bring itself into balance from other insults can be uncomfortable. For instance, if we vomit after eating contaminated food, it is because our body is trying to get rid of the offending food. And while vomiting is no fun, it might help us avoid worse suffering later. Some of the discomfort we feel during a cold or flu is the result of our body’s attempt to fight off the pathogens. Yes, it doesn’t feel good, but our bodies react that way for a reason.

These ideas are true for fevers as well. Why do we get fevers? The body raises our temperature to make a less favorable environment for the pathogens: but more importantly our immune system is designed to be more active at that higher body temperature. The fever also helps the body speed up other metabolic functions to make the sure the immune system has the energy it needs to wage war against the bacteria or virus. In natural medicine, a fever during an illness is often considered to be a sign of a healthy immune system.

So, if we fight a fever by taking a fever reducer, we might be slowing down the body’s natural healing process. Of course, there are times when we want to reduce a fever, usually because we are feeling too miserable. But there are not many risks associated with an untreated fever. Usually a fever will not get too high on its own because the body has mechanisms to keep the temperature within a specific range.

Of course, there could be specific circumstances or additional symptoms that can make it necessary to seek aggressive treatment for a febrile (having or showing the symptoms of a fever) condition. Since this blog isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide to fevers, check out our friends at the National Institute for Health who can help with further guidance.

But remember, for common illnesses that might have an associated fever, the fever is our friend. Follow the body’s lead and help it out with that process. Rest, take plenty of fluids, and consider a product like Ionic Colloidal Silver that helps supports your body’s immune system, rather than focusing on the fever.




Dr. Laurell Matthews, ND has a bachelor’s in biochemistry and received her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University.