Ugh. The joys of a fever. Yes, even in our clean-eating, crunchy-granola household people get sick. And by people, I usually mean me. So, when I woke up this morning with a fever of 102, I started my usual routine in dealing with feeling totally gross in a house where I seriously do not have the time or the energy to be feeling totally gross. I figured this would be the prime time for me to share a few of our little tricks with you, in hopes of saving you the trouble of googling remedies for whatever ails you.
As one of my experienced midwives used to say to me, “fevers are friends.” It’s the truth. Our family doctor has told us a zillion times- “the fever is your body working against whatever is in there- don’t try to fight it! Let it work!” He’s also a big believer in the micro biome (follow this link to an awesome TedTalks about it), so unless what you’ve got is a confirmed bacterial infection, don’t expect any antibiotics. That’s one of the hardest parts for me. I’d so much rather take some Cipro and a Tylenol and be rid of the chills and cold sweats that come with fevers (at least for me). But I’ve found that he’s right- my illnesses are significantly shorter when I let the fever be. In my case, the exact same illness gets me every time: bronchitis. I have asthma, and a family history of respiratory problems. And after almost losing my mama to pneumonia, I don’t play around with respiratory stuff. So when the season changes, and the congestions hits, and my cough settles into my chest, I know I need to bring out the heavy hitters. Here’s what those look like for me:
- Lots of greens. No super-processed, sodium-laden chicken soup for me. Instead, I opt for super nutrient-dense foods, like spinach and mushrooms, and since I hate cooking, I opt for the Spinach and Tomato flatbread at Panera, and have them add red onions and mushrooms for me. It’s delicious and that extra dose of vitamins from the veggies gives my immune system a power-boost. The onions also help open up my sinuses, which feels amazing.
- Essential oils. Okay, I know it’s cliche. And I’m not an expert on these. But I do prefer, when I can’t breathe and I’m desperate for cough relief to have something rubbed on my chest, and my favorite is doTerra OnGuard and Breathe blends, mixed with organic coconut oil. I keep a little jar in my medicine cabinet and break it out when the kids or I develop a cough. It’s soothing and absolutely helps to break up congestion and calm a bad cough.
- Jungle Juice. Essentially, a hot toddy. My mother-in-law, who is an absolute saint, makes these for me when I’m too sick to handle anything. My asthma has gotten the better of me a few times, and she’s always come through to keep the kids and enforce rest for this mama, and she comes bearing the best gift ever. Super hot chamomile tea, lemon juice, 2 T local organic honey, and 2 shots of Crown Royal. (I like Crown Royal black in mine, and I add a tablespoon of cinnamon to burn out whatever else is lingering in there.) If you’re taking cold medicine, you shouldn’t go for this particular remedy. Decisions, decisions.
- Probiotics. The micro biome is a real thing, and my doctor has always recommended probiotics to help restore that delicate bacterial balance. I don’t go for anything fancy here- just the Target Up&Up brand- but it works like a charm.
- Keeping the essentials close. For me, that’s my inhaler. And when I need it, I literally cannot run upstairs or downstairs to get it, so I keep one practically everywhere for safety’s sake. My insurance lets me refill this every 30 days, and even though I don’t use it that often, I’ve had it refilled in order to have enough for emergencies. I keep one in my car, my husband’s car, my kitchen, my basement, my bedroom, my purse, and even the diaper bag.
- Know the experts on your “regular issues.” Knowing my family history, when we moved here, I found a pulmonologist, and scheduled a consultation. I filled out all the new patient forms, asked him what his recommendations were for prevention, knowing I was prone to respiratory infections and struggled with seasonal allergies, and asked about when I should call him in the event I got sick. This came in handy when I came down with pneumonia while I was pregnant, since I already had a relationship with a good doctor and he already knew how I felt about certain interventions. I highly recommend finding a doctor you can trust while you’re well, so you’re not stressing over it when you’re sick.
Last but not least, when it comes time to break the fever- if you’ve had it for 2-3 days and you’ve done all you can (and your doctor reassures you that your bug has just got to “run its course”), there is a great way to get past it. Sometimes we just need a little boost. Here’s the trick I use, recommended to me by my midwife and approved by my awesome general practitioner:
Draw a bath two to three degrees hotter than your current body temperature. Soak in the tub for 30 minutes to an hour, with a cool cloth on your forehead (because otherwise you will get a serious headache). Dry off immediately and go straight to bed- no stopping.
That trick works like a charm for me every time. With the insanity that is my little troop, I cannot begin to tell you the trauma it is to haul all of them into a doctor’s office when I am shaking with fever chills and coughing like I have the plague. I’d so much rather stay home and drink a hot toddy and wait for someone to bring me Panera takeout, and thankfully I have an amazing healthcare team that gets me and helps me achieve just that. We’re all different, and maybe the doctor’s office thing is a better fit for you. But now you know how I do it- and tomorrow I’ll show you a list of home remedies that I use for the majority of routine ailments that hit our family, all approved by our family doctor and consistently shown to work for us. I hope this will show you that holistic medicine isn’t really visiting a shaman and sleeping with crystals under your pillow (or that Seinfeld episode where Kramer hooks George up with a “healer”), and that holistic healthcare providers are actually educated medical practitioners, who simply offer non-pharmaceutical or non-interventional options for patients who may not need them or are not interested in them.