THE HEALING POWER OF FEVER
Your Body’s Natural Defence Against Disease
By Christopher Vasey
Recent studies suggest that over 90% of parents believe that fever in a child may cause harmful side-effects and that almost as many turn to fever reducing pharmaceuticals (antipyretics) such as ibuprofen once temperatures go over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.8 degrees Celsius).
Such a reaction from a caring and attentive parent is very understandable. I’ve done it many times myself, albeit in the distant past. Indeed, for a parent not to react in such a way would either indicate nerves of steel or, to an outsider, perhaps neglect. That is, unless you are in the small minority who know that fever, far from being a threat to life and limb, is in actual fact… your friend.
If this is news to you, then look no further than Christopher Vasey’s latest literary contribution to natural health care. It’s called The Healing Power of Fever with the subtitle ‘Your Body’s Natural Defence Against Disease’. As is customary for Vasey, it’s a pearler of a book and well worth obtaining.
Bearing in mind that fever is still one of the prime reasons that parents call doctors out in the middle of the night, it might sound almost counter-intuitive to talk about fever as a ‘natural defence’. Yet, it was Western medicine’s founding father Hippocrates – whose Oath every doctor pledges when qualifying – who said ‘Give me a fever and I will cure all disease’.
We could be forgiven for not going along with this view given the fact that the retail pharmaceutical market is awash with a whole raft of cold and flu medicines, most of which portray the fever component of said diseases as the arch enemy that needs to be subdued before all else. Yet, even scientific evidence is apparently flying in the face of such dangerous conventional wisdom, as overwhelming evidence supports the notion that fever is one of nature’s greatest and most common healing responses and should, except in rare cases, be allowed to develop and run its full course.
There are, of course, instances which are usually extreme, when taking urgent evasive action to subdue a fever is sometimes called for. Fever episodes that involve the very young (three months or younger), the aged or anyone with seriously debilitating pre-fever infirmities, should always be dealt with under the appropriate watchful eye of a qualified health practitioner. Other than that, for the most part, it would be as well to acknowledge the largely beneficial effects of fever, of which there are many, for these benefits make it such an effective and efficient healer.
When a pathogen, or any unwanted organism, enters the body a substance called pyrogen is released that triggers the hypothalamus in the brain to raise body temperature. It achieves this by such means as inducing shivering, raising the metabolic rate, and goose pimples in order to minimise heat loss. This in turn launches the fever itself, which for its part, increases anti-bodies, helps produce more protective white blood cells, stops the spread of viruses to healthy cells by producing more interferon (which is incidentally also an anti-cancer substance), closes down bacterial access to a primary source of sustenance (iron), directly killing both bacteria and viruses by raising the temperature above that which they most thrive on. This was not a full list of actions, but I’m sure you get the picture.
When the fever is interrupted, however, as it is with an anti-pyretic, all these benefits and support processes go begging. Even though a fever or the prospect of one can be scary, the reality is that in the vast majority of cases any intervention that leads to the suppression of a fever will hurt the patient more that it helps them.
Going back to a more general point about Vasey’s books, I always think of them as some kind of ‘fools guide’ manual. They are kind of short sharp lessons in what to look for, what to do and how to do it, and The Healing Power of Fever is no exception.
From reading it you will gain a very complete yet profound understanding of:
- The role of temperature in the human body and why it is so necessary for life
- Why maintaining body temperature between very precise limits is so crucial
- What fever is and how to identify it
- How to manage, monitor and assess a fever
- The best way to support the body through the three stages of a fever (the onset, full manifestation and its end phase)
- The best methods of fever control utilising hydrotherapy, herbal medicine and diet
- How to recognise the genuine danger signs and what to do about them.
There is even a rather surprising chapter on how to create and manage an artificial fever. Perhaps not such an outrageous concept after all, given the many benefits conferred upon an already ill patient.
To quickly summarise, The Healing Power of Fever should be in the hands of all hypochondriacs (such as myself) and every parent. In the right hands, this tiny book could eliminate a lot of stress and grief. Its essential message – fever is a friend not a foe. Let it run its natural course, and finally, DO NOT STOP the process (unless you absolutely have to).
– Reviewed by Huw Griffiths in New Dawn 133