by Minette Tonoli, mom to 2 gorgeous girls (4 + 9mnths), passionate homeschooler and herb lover. Owner of herbs on line
I’m inherently an earth mother, a lover of all things natural and unprocessed and this is quite evident in everything I do – from not wearing any make-up to growing veggies and herbs in my back yard. It also shines through in how I raise my children. This doesn’t mean that I’m a barefoot, hemp-wearing, vegetarian hippie– nor that I don’t celebrate the advances made in medicine plus the immense benefits that modern healthcare brings. It just means that I don’t buy into all medicines, all the time. I do think over-diagnosing and over-prescribing is a far too regular occurrence nowadays. I prefer a more naturopathic way to keep and stay healthy and I try to follow my gut-instincts, but it’s not always easy.
When my otherwise very healthy 4-year old recently had an inexplicable high fever without any other symptoms to indicate an illness, a battle started to rage within me – do I keep her temperature down by giving her pain and fever medication, or do I let her fever ride out a bit, thinking that surely there must be a good reason why your body elevates its own temperature? Do I rush off to the doctor on day one of a raised temperature or do I wait to see where it is going?
As my daughter’s temperature rose, so did my inclination to give her some Calpol to bring it back down to a more stable level and calm my own worry. Yet every time after the medicine had “worked out”, her temperature would start to spike immediately. On day two of this we went to see the paediatrician who described it as “a viral infection of unknown manifestation”
Later that day, with no drop in temperature in sight I started giving her the prescribed Lotem, but like the Calpol, it only gave little respite. So I set out to explore a more natural way to deal with the fever. The more I learnt about fever management for children, and in particular, the naturopathic way to support fevers, the less inclined I felt to continue with the paracetamol-ibuprofen mix.
I decided to follow my instincts and let her fever run its course while I monitored her closely. I made her a herbal tea to hydrate her, induce sweating and help maintain the fever without letting it rise too high. Although her fever reached 40.5°C at one point, it mostly hovered around 38°C and 39°C and I simply pampered my daughter as much as I could to make her comfortable. Only a day and a bit of this and her temperature started dropping until it was back to normal and she was her happy, healthy self again.
I learnt many things while investigating fevers – what they are, how we measure them and why we tend to get them. Most importantly, I learnt that fevers are not an illness in themselves, in fact they are a good indicator that our children’s immune systems are hard and actively at work trying to best an unwelcome germ; and that by always treating a fever and lowering a temperature we could in fact be counter-productive, weakening immune response and prolonging the illness.
Click here for more detailed information on the naturopathic way to handle children’s fevers and for a list of herbs useful to use during fevers.