How is it already back to school season? I have absolutely loved seeing my friends kids in their first day of school outfits on Facebook – their smiles are so big with excitement for the new year. There is one downfall to the new school year that most parents loathe – the dreaded cold season.
A combination of air-conditioning (which depresses the immune system), being crammed into a classroom, and not enough fresh air, healthy food, or water, all play a role in a child coming down with a cold. That being said, a good cold – like a really, really good cold and one that develops a fever once or twice a year is a good thing to keep the immune system active, strong, and dialed in. To go years without a cold or, on the opposite end, to spend all of winter perpetually sick isn’t good, it’s a sign that the immune system does not know how to properly respond to pathogens.
What can you do if your child DOES come down with a fever? I know that when I was growing up, Children’s Tylenol was my parent’s go-to. The doctor even suggested it! Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and other name and generic brands, has been implicated in liver damage, liver failure, and death, when used incorrectly (and depending on your medical presentation, there is no determining amount it seems). Families with MTHFR genetic mutations should use caution – those with MTHFR already have impaired detoxification. Acetaminophen has also been linked to reduced testosterone in in-utero baby boys and a link between its use and autism when given after the MMR vaccine.
So, what can you do to support your child? As a nutritionist, I’m a fan of a well-balanced diet with lots of green leafy veggies (don’t blame the messenger), bone broth, organ meats (you can mix one pound of grass-fed ground beef in with 1/4 pound of pureed organic chicken livers), limited sugar, NO processed food, and healthy fats. I know, I know. “But my kid will flip out if I try to get them to eat that way, it’s just not reasonable.” My only advice – remember, you’re the parent, stick to your guns. Our children deserve the right to be healthy and grow up into thriving adults.
Before I list my favorite ways to monitor a fever, fevers are actually healthy! For years, I was unable to develop a fever – a sign that my body’s immune system was challenged in coming online when I needed it. I remember a few years back, I had a strong wintertime bug. And I had a fever. I probably checked my temp every 5 minutes. And cried tears of joy. Why? Because it was a sign that my body was healing. A fever means that your body can elicit a strong immune response against an invading pathogen. So, riding a fever out can actually be a good thing (again, monitoring it so it doesn’t get dangerously high).
Here’s a little nice tip: These remedies are GREAT for adults, too!
My Favorite Methods to Support a Fever:
- Cold Sock Therapy
I love this method. It’s simply miserable but it works well. Get a pair of 100% cotton socks wet and throw them in the freezer until they’re good and cold. Peel two cloves of garlic. Once the socks are good and cold (not frozen… but very, very cold), place a clove of garlic in the foot and put the socks on. Over those cold, wet cotton socks, place a pair of thick wool socks. Do this nightly, starting with the first signs of a cold, for three nights in a row.
This one is a given. Let your child rest when they need to rest. Take away the blue screens – they signal the brain to stay awake. I know. Being sick is no fun.
- Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Selenium
Vitamin A is depleted in the urine during acute infections. Cod liver oil is a a wonderful balance of Vitamins A and D and is in a usable form. Most supplements out on the market for Vitamin A are synthetic. I’ll do a post on the dangers of synthetic form of Vitamin A later on but for now, take my word for it. Vitamin A and D need each other. Like Bert and Ernie. So, taking it in the form of cod liver oil (I like Nordic Naturals for children), is a good way to go. Vitamin C – it’s an antioxidant. We’ve all heard about the wonders of it. A bit of organic rose hips, steeped in hot water for about 10 minutes. Add some local raw honey to the tea prior to giving it to them and make sure it is a luke-warm temperature. Selenium is very important in fever moderation. A study from 2015 found an association between hemorrhagic fever and its occurrence in selenium-deficient populations. Sardines and Brazil Nuts are particularly high in selenium. Making a sardine salad (much like you would make a tuna fish salad) is a great way to hide those little fishes. (I prefer Wild Planet Sardines.) Supplementation can also be used. An aqueous selenium can be easily administered to a small child, who cannot swallow small pills.
- Lots of fluids
Yea, yea, yea. We’ve heard this one before. But, how many of us have given fluids that are actually diuretic? Giving a child hydrating fluids is very important. Filtered water, bone broth, a bit of filtered water with a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt for minerals, and 4 oz of lemon water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice (can further dilute if needed) are all going to help nourish their little body. Soda, ginger ale, Sprite, 7-Up, Gatorade, Powerade, juice, Pedialyte, etc., further deplete the body of necessary nutrients to help them bounce back.
- Fire Cider
Mix 1/2 tbsp (for small children) and 1 tbsp (for larger children) with a bit of local, raw honey to taste and filtered water. This stuff will literally kill anything on site… or so I am convinced. Find my recipe here.
- Yarrow Tincture
If you’ve never seen yarrow, it’s the cover photo of this article. Yarrow tincture is a wonderful supplement to keep on hand at all times. You can harvest yarrow from the mountains, where you know there has been no spraying or, you may order it from a reputable herb shop.To make the tincture, put the flower heads in a mason jar. Cover with 80 (or 100) proof alcohol — I use a lower-shelf vodka. Seal with a lid. Allow to steep for 4 weeks in a cool, dark area, shaking the jar daily. Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Preserve the now yellow liquid in a dark colored glass jar in a cool, dry place, away from light.During a fever, mix warm filtered water with 1 teaspoon in 1/2 a glass of water (small children should use 1/2 teaspoon) and drink up to 3 times a day. The warm water will help to increase the flushing action of the herb. This tricks your body into acting as if the fever has broken and speeds your immune system to finish the healing.
And, above all – make sure to smother your child with love and affection and attention. Nothing beats the nurturing a loving parent can provide.