David. R Tener, DC
The Goldberg Clinic
One of the more common mistakes made by parents and Physicians is the “treatment” or suppression of fever. This typically arises out of a misunderstanding of what fever is along with a fear of possible damage should the fever “go on for too long or get too high.” This concern is not warranted except only in rare circumstances.
What is Fever?
Fever is an elevation above normal body temperature produced in response to irritation, viral or bacterial infection. It is a body-instituted action representing the mobilization of vital forces as part of a natural, healing response. As body temperature is raised, immune responses are enhanced and foreign organisms are neutralized. Most bacteria can only tolerate certain temperature ranges and once outside of it, do not survive.
What is a High Fever and What are the Dangers?
A person is generally not considered to have a fever unless their oral temperature has risen above 100 degrees F. The Hypothalamus in the brain is the body’s primary temperature regulating control center and releases specific fever producing chemicals that initiate fever. Body temperature is tightly controlled and in general will not rise to a level that will cause the body to harm itself.
Fever that results in brain damage is a common fear for most people/parents. For this to occur, pre-existing damage or injury to the body’s thermoregulatory system from a brain infection (meningitis or encephalitis), prior injury e.g. heat stroke, or poisoning would be a necessary pre-requisite. It would be very rare for a fever to go above 105 F unless there has been pre-existing damage to the brain.
The “Treatment” of Fevers
Treating/suppressing a fever is generally a mistake if the fever is not very high (104 or greater). A low to moderately high fever rarely lasts longer than 2-4 days if the proper supportive steps are taken. To suppress a fever by drug or other treatment is to attempt to “cure” the body’s cure. This is counterproductive and will typically lengthen recovery time. Treating a fever with aspirin in children is not recommended due to the risk of developing Reye’s Syndrome, a serious condition that causes confusion, swelling of the brain, liver damage and in some cases death.
The suppression of fever does not make illness go away, but rather prolongs it. Even worse, the repeated “treatment” of acute illness and fever often serves as the match that then lights the fire of chronic disease.
Steps to Support Recovery
The primary need for the febrile patient is rest. Long hours of sleep in a peaceful environment devoid of excessive noise and stimulation are paramount. Careful attention should be given to ensure proper hydration through the regular application of fluids including purified water and/or homemade broth. Fresh air should be taken if the weather is not too hot or cold. If the fever is very high (104+), a cool compress or tepid bath can be given.
During periods of acute illness, the body’s resources are diverted away from the organs of digestion, appetite is suppressed and the digestive processes are temporarily suspended. It has long been the recommendation of Naturalists to fast or take a liquid diet during periods of acute illness and fever. Vital energy is thereby conserved and utilized to fuel the healing response. To eat despite the body’s signal to abstain from food is to prolong illness. As the patient recovers and appetite returns, nourishment should gradually be taken.
The Role of Fever in Chronic Illness
At the Goldberg Clinic, we are dedicated to assisting patients in recovering from a variety of chronic health issues. In most cases, it has taken years for the patient to evolve into chronic disease. As we carefully dissect out a patient’s health history and the factors responsible for their current condition, what we often uncover is the repeated suppression of acute symptoms including fever with drugs and other treatments. Repeatedly interfering with the body’s vital forces and mechanisms of recovery transforms acute illness into chronic illness that then often leads to the application of more symptom suppressing drugs.
The focus of the Goldberg Clinic is not to treat disease or suppress symptoms but rather to begin setting the right conditions to allow the body the opportunity to once again mobilize its own healing forces. If the right conditions are set according to the individual patient’s needs, a gradual evolution back into good health and proper function is possible as The Goldberg Clinic has witnessed and documented with patients over the past 40 years.
Many of our patients after having started a program with us will develop a fever to the satisfaction of Dr. Goldberg and myself as this generally represents the body beginning to “kick in” and initiate the healing process. If fever is not suppressed and the body is supported in the proper fashion, a breakthrough is often seen. In cases involving long-term chronic illness, a “healing crisis” of this type may occur once or more before health is fully restored.
David R. Tener, DC
The Goldberg Clinic
The Reality of Acute Illness: Take Charge of the Cold and Flu by Dr. Paul Goldberg