“Value of a Fever”

Continuing on this series on Naturopathic Theories, this post will cover the “Value of a Fever”.

This theory challenges the conventional paradigm or common thinking that a fever is bad.

What is a fever?

A fever is simply a systemic response from the body that results in elevated core temperatures. [1]

The normal temperature of an adult is about 37°C and a fever is defined as 38.3°C or higher. [1]

Why is a fever ‘valuable’?

In the past, traditional medicine and physicians of old believed in the healing power of fevers because they saw it as a response by the body working to kill offending pathogens and heal.

And modern science now affirms this to be true.

  • An elevated temperature inhibits reproduction of infectious pathogens – many of which replicate optimally at temperatures below 37°C [2]
  • Higher temperatures also increase the susceptibility of bacteria to antimicrobial agents [3]
  • A rise in body temperature also increases the immune system’s ability to defend against invading pathogens [4]

So yes, a fever is valuable in cases of pathogenic infection.

However … not all fevers are caused by infection.

This is where modern science augments traditional wisdom.

A fever can also be caused by cancer, autoimmune diseases, some pharmaceutical drugs, brain injury and thyroid dysfunction [1].

In these cases, the fever is a sign of something wrong in the system. Some form of dysregulation of the normal processes in the body that regulates temperature.

When is a fever not valuable?

Simply put, whenever there is no need for one or when the benefits from the fever do not outweigh the costs. For example:

  • There is no invading pathogen
  • The cause of it is abnormal such as an autoimmune disorder, autoinflammatory disorder, after a brain injury or from endocrine dysfunction (hyperthyoridism), etc [1]

When the body’s core temperature rises above 40°C, organ and cellular function will start to decline and this is associated with higher risks of death. [5]

Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine can support a fever by the use of appropriate therapies such as:

  • Herbal medicine such as diaphoretic / antiviral / antimicrobial / anti-inflammatory herbs
  • Hydrotherapy like applying cold compresses on specific spots on the body
  • Nutritional advice such as liquid fasts or eating easily digestible foods
  • Nutraceuticals or supplements

In summary

A thorough understanding of the cause of a fever is instrumental to determining what to do next.

This Naturopathic theory proposes that sometimes it is best to support this natural process of the body, not to suppress it because of discomfort.

However, if the cause is abnormal and/or there is a risk of harm from the fever, that is when the fever loses its ‘value’ and should be suppressed.

Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine can support a fever by the use of appropriate therapies such as hydrotherapy, nutrition, supplementation or herbal medicine.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

The next post in this series will be an interesting one on the Naturopathic theory of the “Therapeutic Order”.

Until then, stay well.
Jahn


Posts in this series:

  1. Naturopathic Theories
  2. Naturopathic Cures

References

  1. Walter, E. J., Hanna-Jumma, S., Carraretto, M., & Forni, L. (2016). The pathophysiological basis and consequences of feverCritical care (London, England)20(1), 200. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13054-016-1375-5
  2. Small, P. M., Täuber, M. G., Hackbarth, C. J., & Sande, M. A. (1986). Influence of body temperature on bacterial growth rates in experimental pneumococcal meningitis in rabbits. Infection and immunity52(2), 484–487. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.52.2.484-487.1986
  3. Mackowiak, P. A., Marling-Cason, M., & Cohen, R. L. (1982). Effects of temperature on antimicrobial susceptibility of bacteriaThe Journal of infectious diseases145(4), 550–553. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/145.4.550
  4. Rice, P., Martin, E., He, J. R., Frank, M., DeTolla, L., Hester, L., O’Neill, T., Manka, C., Benjamin, I., Nagarsekar, A., Singh, I., & Hasday, J. D. (2005). Febrile-range hyperthermia augments neutrophil accumulation and enhances lung injury in experimental gram-negative bacterial pneumonia. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)174(6), 3676–3685. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.174.6.3676
  5. Lee, B. H., Inui, D., Suh, G. Y., Kim, J. Y., Kwon, J. Y., Park, J., Tada, K., Tanaka, K., Ietsugu, K., Uehara, K., Dote, K., Tajimi, K., Morita, K., Matsuo, K., Hoshino, K., Hosokawa, K., Lee, K. H., Lee, K. M., Takatori, M., Nishimura, M., … Fever and Antipyretic in Critically ill patients Evaluation (FACE) Study Group (2012). Association of body temperature and antipyretic treatments with mortality of critically ill patients with and without sepsis: multi-centered prospective observational studyCritical care (London, England)16(1), R33. https://doi.org/10.1186/cc11211

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