Subscribe to the Newsletter
If you are interested in understanding how Traditional Chinese Medicine can improve your life sign up to my newsletter for the latest updates.
There’s a lot to read here, so settle down with some green tea to sip (you’ll see why shortly) and make yourself comfortable!
Cope with Fever! Yes, Fever is your body’s first response to invaders like bacteria and viruses, including influenza, common colds, coronavirus (Covid 19) and so on. (For scientific support for this, see New Scientist 11 April 2020 article by Kinda Geddes ‘The fever paradox’. Also, the book by Daniel Davis ‘The Beautiful Cure: Harnessing your body’s natural defences.’)
These, in Chinese medicine, are ‘warm diseases‘.
But fever a blunt instrument! Ideally, it may speed up deployment of antibodies to the invader, but in any case, boiling the bug alive has worked well for quite a few million years or so. Fever has definitely been tried and tested!
Of course, it doesn’t actually need to reach boiling point – 100C! Just a few degrees higher than normal does the trick. Just over 40 will do, though your body may not need to reach this to kill the invader.
That’s because when the invader arrives, your temperature (oral ie under the tongue) is probably ‘normal’, and the invader lives, indeed thrives happily at that temperature.
This ‘normal’ temperature, shared with most other people, is 37.4C or 99.3F. (Even that’s not quite right because the normal under-the-tongue or oral level is a bit lower normally at 36.8C as compared with the ‘normal’ rectal or vaginal temperature which is about 37.0C.)
So the 37.4C (99.3F) is your internal body temperature.
Anything more than 0.5C above ‘normal’ may be considered a fever. This means, if taking your oral (in-mouth) temperature, anything from about 38C (100F) or higher.
But when your body raises its temperature to 40C or so, life becomes very unpleasant for the invader and it tends to die. When it realises the invader is dead, your body does a bit of clearing up and then brings itself down to ‘normal’ again.
Easy! You coped with fever! Job done!
Well, job done maybe, but at a price!
You and your body are quite intimately connected and you’ll have been involved in every second of the action.
If you haven’t allowed yourself to have a fever for a while, you won’t know what it brings. Nowadays we have powerful medicines that force our bodies to reduce their fever, reduce inflammation and make life a bit more pleasant.
In effect they suppress your body’s natural fever response. (Read about at least six ways we suppress our bodies’ fever responses, ways that don’t necessarily enhance long-term health).
That’s because fever is not pleasant. However, as explained, unless your body produces antibodies to the invader, either by discovering and manufacturing new ones or by remembering how it coped before, both of which are plan B, it’s forced back to plan A, which is FEVER.
And if you stop or suppress the fever, it can’t do the job. So the invader lives to fight another day, possibly in someone else, because every time you cough or sneeze you’ll be spraying the invader out into your environment where some innocent will inhale it.
Just to repeat that … if your body can NEITHER find or create the necessary antibodies, NOR achieve the fever it needs to kill the invader, the virus/bacteria/bug lives to fight another day in someone else, and potentially in YOU again!
If we had an effective vaccine, theoretically we would neither catch the disease nor spread it. However, I have my doubts because viruses can exist for long periods in people who have no symptoms but can still spread it.
Besides, being vaccinated doesn’t enable you to cope with fever from a different ‘flu bug!
Anyway, against coronavirus there is as yet (May 2020) no publicly available and approved vaccine so again, we’re back to the body’s plan A: FEVER.
Also, there is doubt whether vaccinations against ‘flu-like bugs are as effective as claimed. That means, especially for babies under 2 and the elderly, the ‘flu vaccine is relatively ineffective.
And taking antibiotics for ‘flu or similar viruses may be dangerous!
Read our page on influenza, SARS and coronavirus for ideas on how best to avoid infection, though some of that information is also here, and a lot of it you’ll have heard from public sources.
This page is about how to cope with fever.
Usually babies and children have fevers as they learn the ropes about life. By the time they grow up they’ve fortunately forgotten how unpleasant fever was.
Because it is unpleasant. But to kill the bug, you need a good one.
So what happens in a fever, how can you prepare for it, and how do you recover from it?
And what are the dangers both during and afterwards?
If you are wondering whether I’ve had the coronavirus (C0vid 19), no I haven’t.
In some ways I hope I don’t get it, but actually, over the next year or so, I think we’ll all get it. In which case, the sooner I get it and recover from it, the more I’ll know about it AND I’ll be able to treat other people before they get it, with it and after it.
Unless they’ve got ordinary old-fashioned ‘flu, in which I’ll be in ordinary old-fashioned ‘flu danger again!
I’ve only treated it and its aftermath online, via telephone, Skype and Zoom. So I have no direct experience of it.
However, I’ve read reports of Chinese medicine being used to treat it in China, and I know what they’ve done. Assuming I recover safely from Covid 19 I may be able to treat people here just as the Chinese have in China. They’ve had considerable success, apparently.
But I personally have had fevers, good ones, the last such being over 20 years ago when I caught something from one of my children. I took my own advice (for a change) and had a most unpleasant night of it. When I awoke the next morning, I was drenched and my temperature had returned to normal.
And I felt really well!
Because, make no mistake, if you are lucky enough to have a successful fever, one that doesn’t endanger your life, the process of boiling the bug alive also naturally burns up a whole lot of other debris in your body. After it, you often feel great!
Chinese medicine has been in recorded use for well over 2500 years, and one of its seminal works was written ~500BC. Then, around 700 years later ~200AD appeared another important work that dealt with what are called ‘Cold’ diseases.
Cold diseases were observed to go through up to Six stages.
1500 years later in the mid-18th Century, a brilliant Chinese doctor wrote about what are called invasion by ‘Warm’ diseases. This theory is that of the Four Levels.
Influenza and similar diseases are nearly always ‘warm’ diseases so the way to recognise and treat influenza, corona-viruses (eg Covid 19) and the like is as described in this Four Levels theory.
This page discusses how best to prepare for then cope with fevers as they appear mainly in the second of the four levels, called the ‘Qi’ level.
As you read on, you’ll see I introduce concepts in Chinese medicine. In many cases I use analogies to explain things. That means there is simplification which can mean that more subtle ideas are lost.
Usually, text in italics indicates something to do with or being explained by Chinese medicine theory.
In nearly every case of influenza and the like, the diagnosis in Chinese medicine is ‘Damp-Heat’. It’s a way of saying that bugs like influenza, corona virus, Covid 19, SARS and the like, produce a warm damp environment in your body.
Of course, the bug doesn’t produce that environment! It’s your body that produces that environment to fight the bug. (Yes! Fever!)
This Covid 19 bug HATES HEAT. It gets killed by heat.
What it likes are steady temperatures that we like for ourselves. About 98.4F or 37C.
To understand what are called ‘warm diseases’ and how Chinese medicine regards them, read:
In all these places, the virus will survive for longer. Chemicals added to water in swimming pools may be enough to kill it.
But don’t forget your pockets. If there’s a virus on something you put in a pocket, your pocket being probably nice and warm, it will happily spread to anything else you put in there, like your hand, cash, handkerchief, wallet, keys …
Anything physical you give or receive or share may be covered in the virus. For instance –
Thorough washing your hands, regularly, in warm soapy water (ordinary soap is best! Not fancy stuff!) This should kill and clear the virus.
Cut nails short so the virus cannot lurk there.
But even that’s of little use if you habitually put hands to face, mouth, eyes or nose in between washing.
The only really good reason for wearing a mask is to remind you NOT to touch your face!
Fever can be dangerous.
When it goes too high, you may get convulsions.
Young children are susceptible to this: they have small bodies (not much yin to balance yang) and huge yang potential (when well, they move lots, are usually noisy and demanding, and often warmer than adults).
When their bodies encounter an invader, their temperature can soar rapidly – within minutes. Soaring yang energy blocks the downward flow of Blood from the head, leading to convulsions – seizures.
Even if you are not a baby but you already have inflammation, this may worsen. Inflammatory-type diseases include:
Many diseases have a level of inflammation even if not classified as inflammatory-type, and include
For these you may be taking anti-inflammation medication, such as
Fever is heating and drying (yang qualities). That drains your reserves. In Chinese medicine these are your Yin reserves, so you become (Yin) deficient of fluids and energy, including immune energy.
With diminished reserves you are more susceptible to other bugs. These might include:
Since your lungs are (in Chinese medicine) in charge of your immune system, they often get the most battering, making them more susceptible to other diseases, of which the most common is pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, unless it’s the viral form. If viral, your doctor may deploy medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) though there are problems with these too.
Another possible disease is TB which is rife in many countries and now re-appearing in so-called developed countries. TB is increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
This is a really useful bit of advice, though I’ve read criticism of it: but still think it has merit.
The virus enters usually via droplets into your throat and behind your nose. Your body has ways to keep it there, including tiny little hairs in your nose and natural mucus in your nose and throat.
Being at 37C, it settles in and multiplies.
However, on your side you have the natural ‘biome’ of your gastro-intestinal tract. These are the goodies which I mention in more detail below.
But you also have two other things on your side.
The first is your stomach acid. If you can get the bug down there, the acid will usually kill it.
And you have something you can do.
Remember, your body’s natural response is fever. Fever, obviously, heats. Heat dries. So your throat will feel different. Not its normal moist state, but a little scratchy, or dry.
Make sure, if you understand this, (and this advice applies to just about any invasion of your body by a similar disease, whether it’s the common cold, or another ‘flu) to SIP Warm liquids regularly enough that your throat never feels dry.
Sipping means no more than one mouthful, indeed rather less than one mouthful. The hotter the liquid, the better because the bug hates heat. (But no need to scald yourself! It’s just that warm liquid is better than cold liquid.)
And don’t take cold or iced liquid. The bug can live with cold: it’s HEAT it HATES! Also, too much cold liquid retards production of a fever.
Also, warm liquid is easier for your Stomach to digest.
Meanwhile your body is stoking up its fire to boil the bug alive.
With luck, you’ll delay the moment when the bug develops enough strength to enter your lungs.
That could be important, depending on how healthy you are, because there’s really only one way in and one way out of your lungs, whereas your throat has more options. (Swallow, spit out, vomit up, and blow from your nose.)
If your body has had enough time, when the bug arrives in your lungs, they’ll be like a furnace – as far as the bug is concerned. In other words, no place for a predatory bug!
So it will die before it can do damage. What kind of damage?
The damage normally comes because your body produces phlegm to drown and wash it away. Unfortunately, that phlegm can block your breathing and lead for example to pneumonia.
So keep it in your throat for a while by dousing it in hot water and washing into your stomach, both of which weaken it before it can progress further in.
(Do I hear you ask what tea I’d recommend? I’d suggest green tea because it has benefits for your healthy biome.)
So … SIP HOT WATER or Green TEA!
What if you can’t achieve a good fever?
An effective fever might, in a healthy child, last only a few hours, and not be very high. The same applies to healthy adults.
An adult might achieve a higher fever and for it to be effective need to maintain it for a day or more. (Effective? That means effective in the sense that the fever kills the invader so it cannot transmit to anyone else, or you – again.)
What about people who do not have the energy to achieve an effective fever? Or, because necessary medication to control other symptoms also stops their bodies achieving enough fever to kill the invader?
Logically, if their bodies have the ‘flu or coronavirus and they don’t have antibodies to it, they will continue to be able to transfer it to others. Their ‘cope with fever’ response won’t work.
They may therefore continue to be infectious to the rest of us.
Also, the additional source of inflammation from the virus will need to be controlled, indefinitely. It will remain, at least until and if their bodies achieve antibody production, as ongoing low level fever, depleting their resources, controlled by medication.
As usual with yin and yang, if you deplete or dissipate yang you end up with more yin ie ongoing low-level problems. It is better to have a short sharp yang response which does the job effectively.
In a drought, surface crops quickly dry out. Trees may live longer because their roots go deeper to harness moisture even low in the water table.
That ‘hidden’ water table is the yin we’re interested in here. In your lungs, it’s not the moisture on their surface that matters, its their ability to maintain a cooling and moisturising action.
During a fever, your body heats up, a yang action. Too much yang quickly dries things, like the hot sun in a hot country. You need the Lung Yin energy to counter that yang.
Some of the following advice is to accustom your body to what it must do to preserve that Lung Yin energy.
This site tries to explain Chinese medicine in English. What follows uses some of the concepts of Chinese medicine. Usually you’ll find a link to a page explaining the concept.
I’ve mentioned one concept already: yin. This makes no sense unless you have yang to compare it with. Like left and right, each is dependent on the other. But don’t stop reading here because they can be applied to anything in life to help you make sense of it.
Introduce yourself to yin and yang by clicking here.
To Cope with Fever requires reserves. To boil a kettle you need a kettle, water and a supply of energy. These are your reserves. If you have an electric kettle it’s easy: plug it in, turn on, and wait a couple of minutes.
If you don’t, find dry firewood, find tinder, arrange the firewood correctly, light the fire, get it going, place water-filled pot over fire and wait. Unlike gas or electricity, it takes time and you may need more fuel.
In fact it’s surprising how much fuel you need and how long you must wait.
Now think of your body, which is the kettle and its water. Firstly you are much bigger than the kettle. You have 8 pints or 4.5 kilograms of liquid in you and it’s arranged in various ways, not all easily accessible by the pump, your heart.
Your cells contain mitochondria which are the mini-furnaces you need. They use fuel in the cells and in your blood.
So all your reserves come from your body: the liquid, the fuel and the furnaces.
For effective fever, you need good fuel, healthy furnaces and a resilient body. That means it helps to be fit.
By ‘fit’ I don’t mean you can run a mile in 4 minutes, or lift 100kgs in one arm. Those come with training and self-discipline but they won’t help you cope with fever on their own.
What about flexibility? Well, a flexible body is usually a young body or a well-schooled older body and both youth and yoga may help you stay fit. Certainly you’ll probably have less inflammation in your joints to worry about. Your system may be running more efficiently too, and an efficient system is what you need to cope with fever.
If you are interested in yoga you are probably interested in which foods are best for health, so you may also be someone who eats sensibly and doesn’t suffer the inflammations that come from a poor diet containing a lot of processed or sweetened food. You probably don’t smoke, smoke being another source of inflammation.
Probably the nearest I can get to what I mean is when someone can do intensive exercise for a few minutes, raising blood-pressure, breathing rate, heart-beat and probably temperature. Then, after stopping, his breathing, blood pressure, temperature and heart-rate return quickly to normal. That shows his body can speed up and relax down fast, like a well-tuned car engine.
This is the equivalent of raising a fever then cooling down. Raise the fever to kill the bug, then cool off quick!
Stay in Touch!
No spam, only notifications about new articles and updates.
Book a Video consultation if you want to know more about your symptoms
In Chinese medicine, your reserves are explained or classified in various ways. For more you’ll need to click on the links, but here’s a start:
Fortunately, to understand the rest of this page you don’t need to have looked up all those links! They just give you sources to consult if you want to know more about the reasoning behind the suggestions.
Again … to cope with the fever you need good reserves. I wrote a book on ‘yin deficiency‘ several years ago.
However, the difference there was that the yin deficiency arose after a draining event, possibly a high fever, but also from overwork and other causes.
Here you want to accumulate reserves before your body enters battle! What can you do to help yourself survive the fever and quell the invader?
Your Mind is the source of your biggest inflammations. Resentment, envy, frustration, anger, grief, fear, worry. We all get these from time to time, but the longer they persist, the more likely they are to be sources of illness, including inflammation. If you can, talk these things through with yourself or your partner. Prolonged fever will drain you and make you less able to resolve difficult issues later. If so, they’ll become chronic.
I wrote a whole book on how this form of stress affects you. See Qi Stagnation. I include in this continued feelings of aggrievement, victimisation, revenge, discrimination, no matter how justified: the fact you maintain them in your thinking will incline your body towards heat. Stress is implicated in many forms of ill-health, and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Fever is, obviously, heating. Don’t make yourself more susceptible by over-heating yourself even before the invader arrives! If you don’t already know the foods that make you hot or worsen your inflammation, see what Chinese medicine lists as ‘hot-foods‘. Some may apply to you.
Eating these foods regularly means your body is constantly trying to cool down and moisturise itself, potentially depleting yin reserves. And of course this diet over-heats you so at night you don’t sleep well.
Atmospheric toxins are potentially inflammatory. We know how car fumes increase asthma. Even if you don’t have asthma you may be breathing air that contains smoke! And what if you smoke or vape? The act of smoking slightly stimulates your lungs, which has the effect of calming you. (Your Lungs descend energy, hence the benefits of taking ten deep breaths when cross before taking any action.)
Trouble is, smoke puts carbon and carbon dioxide in your lungs. If you don’t know about the dangers of these, what with global warming, you haven’t been paying attention.
Many skin treatments are yin in nature, being moisturisers, emollients, anti-inflammatory, fillers, hydrogenating. That you need them, if not just for anti-ageing, suggests that the air you breathe and live in is drying and/or inflammatory. Do you perhaps just need more exercise in fresh air? It’s free.
There’s research showing that viruses like the common cold, ‘flu and coronavirus all dislike heat.
If, like me, your body temperature is usually lower than normal, it means that your kidney yang energy is low.
Or, if you prefer, your cells – mitochondria – don’t produce enough heat to keep you warm.
So you probably get cold easily or before others. Cold is a major cause of disease, recognised in Chinese medicine since antiquity.
These viruses commonly lodge temporarily in your sinuses and upper throat, gathering strength before assaulting you at a deeper level. So they may be there for some days.
If you’ve sneezed a few times when there’s a virus around, but otherwise feel fine, treat yourself to a sauna or succession of warm baths, trying to raise you temperature to at least one degree C above normal: about 38.5 to 39C may be enough.
For this to work, you’ll have to stay in the sauna or hot bath for a good 15 minutes. (And please, if in doubt as to whether you can safely take it, check with your doctor first!)
When you emerge, wrap up warmly for the rest of the day. The aim is to raise your body’s temperature but also to make the inside of your nose and sinuses too hot for virus welfare.
How to take a hot bath? Get in when it’s warm enough to bear but not to scald. Get in slowly, legs first before fully – and carefully! – immersing your torso. Then once comfortable, add hot water gradually until it’s uncomfortable. Stay there until you start perspiring on your forehead. Stay a bit longer, then get out, dry off and wrap up.
So you may find yourself sweating. In fact, after a while, you should definitely feel uncomfortable, just as if you had a fever which, in a way, you will have: artificial fever.
But real or artificial, if it kills the bug, it’s done the job. Cope with Fever!
However, because the invader is unfortunately quite sturdy, you may need to do this for several days running, You’ll most certainly need to do this if, perhaps from going for a walk in the cold or from physical exertion which has tired you, your energy is depleted and you got chilled.
Before you take your hot bath or sauna, check your temperature. Then do it afterwards again.
(Starting from 35.5 (=96F) I’ve often got mine up to 38.5C (=101.5F) this way.)
Believe me, if you are suffering from something (eg a chest cold) that just needs heat to move it, this can make a huge difference.
Afterwards, DO NOT have a cold shower!
COLD SHOWER to help you cope with fever? NO!
I wrote a very popular page on how to take a cold shower! It’s read by thousands of people.
But the advice there is for healthy, well people. It’s not for ill people.
When you’re ill, different rules apply.
So DO NOT take a cold shower after a warm bath or sauna if you’re trying to clear a cold, ‘flu or the like.
Taking a cold shower will not help you cope with fever the way you want!
After your hot bath or sauna, dry off fast and wrap up well. A cold shower might undo what you’re aiming for. Cold showers have their place, but this is not their place!
And for the rest of the day, make absolutely sure you eat or drink nothing cold. Take only warm food and liquids! (Why? Because cold foods and drinks pass down through your chest cavity on their way to your stomach, cooling everything on the way. You’ve just taken a hot bath to heat this area up, so don’t take something that immediately cools it down again!)
By the way, too many fevers (real of artificial), eventually drain your kidney yin reserves. You don’t want that either. So I suggest you take this hot bath/sauna for only three days in a row, then have a day or two off before the next lot.
One more thing: I doubt if a hot shower will do the job. Hot baths, saunas and steam-rooms have much more concentrated steam and heat than a shower.
That means sugar and all things sweet. Why?
Your gut is partly ruled by your Lungs. Simply put:
Further down this page are suggestions for how to increase the health of your gut, and therefore your lungs. This part of the page is how to reduce the likelihood of inflammation in your gut.
Your gut contains, they say, up to 90% of your immune reserves. These are the ‘good’ bugs that help both to prevent disease and then to aid recovery. They help give you resilience.
It also houses plenty of the opposition. Probably, if you are healthy, the good bugs are always on top of the bad ones. But you can shift the balance the other way by feeding the bad ones what they crave and which will make them multiply and become stronger.
Sugar and pretty well all things sweet or that quickly turn into sugar when eaten. Also, I’m sorry to tell you, many prescribed medications.
When feeding on sugar your baddies produce:
By the way, even artificial sweeteners are out, according to an article in Nature (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25231862).
It seems they may also kill you! (https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/09/18/artificially-sweetened-drinks.aspx)
By the way, Alcohol, especially excess alcohol, is warming, so inflammatory. It upsets the lining of your bowels reducing the quantity of probiotics living there.
Let’s assume that, despite every precaution, you expect to catch the corona virus, or some other form of influenza. Also, that once you’ve caught it, you will get a fever. Also, that it may last some days when your body will be dependent on its own resources.
What can you do to increase your body’s resilience? How can you prepare to cope with fever?
But, before proceeding, please read my disclaimer.
This comes down to doing your best to strengthen your yin energies. In this context, yin reserves include:
Prebiotics will, by the way, also improve your sleep patterns!(https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/03/16/prebiotic-foods-improve-sleep.aspx)
Vegetarians and vegans will be delighted that these foods exclude foods from animal sources.
Apart from reducing heating foods, mentioned above, also reduce Damp-forming foods. If the virus enters your Lungs, your lungs will produce a picture described as Lung Heat and/or Damp-Heat. These can lead to pneumonia. That damp can be made worse by certain foods and by poor eating habits.
The main damp-producing foods and habits are:
Supplements are concentrated foods, sometimes very concentrated.
For some they may be hard to absorb. In effect you swallow an oval pill and eject a round one!
For others they may be unnecessary, in which case they can have unintended consequences, often not noticed, or at least not attributed to the supplements for some time.
For example, please do read my story of the man with migraine on my page on nutrition!
Having said that, the absence of some substances in your blood has been shown to make you more susceptible to infection. And some substances seem to increase your ability to fight or ward off a disease.
Some of these are used regularly in Chinese herbal prescriptions. (If so, the Chinese name is in italics.)
If you already enjoy the benefits of regular treatment such as massage, or you find acupuncture or similar keeps you well, make sure you get regular sessions throughout the ‘flu season. They won’t guarantee freedom from infection but they may help you to cope with fever better and emerge faster afterwards.
I choose these two therapies because massage is soothing and steadying (yin in nature) and acupuncture is balancing (of yin and yang).
If the massage, or other treatment you receive makes you feel very sore for several days afterwards, it is probably stirring up underlying inflammatory responses and, for the purposes of THIS page, may be non-conducive.
As you cope with fever what might you experience? Here’s a list of the kinds of symptoms people often get as they cope with fever. Let’s hope you don’t get them all!
If you have ever suffered from heat-stroke, you may remember how impossible it was to cool down: you feel burning. Or suppose you sit in a very hot bath for too long; it becomes intolerable. In bed, if you are too hot, you get restless, toss about searching for a cool area, or stick your legs out.
But with a fever of the kind your body needs to cope with its invader, it may need to maintain the fever for some hours. Let’s hope it doesn’t need it for days! Usually a few hours is enough.
Yang is hot and restless. Small children are usually yang, They move a lot, they make a lot of noise, they are demanding and they have hot little bodies. In a fever, you become a bit like that.
Heat comes out as redness, dryness, thirst, restlessness and complaints. Also, reduced attention span. (All yang. Who might this remind you of?)
Yang in excess makes thoughts rush, and can produce vivid dreams and even delusions.
You become angry, complaining, desperate for relief. You remember why medications to quell fever and reduce discomfort are so attractive. Ideally, if you want your fever to be fast and effective, avoid such medication.
Your head is at the most yang end of your body. It gets hot, headachey and dry. Out of it come complaints.
You may get this all or some of the time. It can accompany nausea.
Lungs feel dry and hot. Air doesn’t feel cool enough. It may become sore to breathe or cough. (Beware onset of pneumonia with sore chest on coughing or breathing, and fever.) Mucus may be coloured, yellow or green, and thick: even blood-stained. Although this kind of mucus, Lung Phlegm Heat is a recognised syndrome in Chinese medicine and has been so treated for millennia, you may wish to discuss your options with a doctor. If it is of bacterial origin, he may have antibiotics for it.
Breathing may be an effort – difficult to breathe. You may feel short of breath even when not moving. Climbing stairs may take time and frequent rests. For more, read Lung Heat.
Normally when you swallow, food descends. But during fever, yang pushes things upwards so you may be nauseous and unable to stomach, let alone swallow food or water. It may help to breathe deeply a few times before you try to swallow.
You’ll want food and fluid to be cool. However, though you may crave it, keep off ice-cream: it’s too cold – and sweet! – so disastrous for your gut’s microbiome.).
Lots of lukewarm green tea is often best.
NOT COFFEE! (Too yang! – can drain your yin reserves. Read coffee!)
To help your Lungs clear Damp and Phlegm, there are many mild spices that can be taken in other foods or in teas: cumin, cardamom, coriander, fennel, ginger. Herbs include rosemary and marjoram. Foods include millet, bean sprouts, grain of paradise, scallions, leeks and fermented foods like sauerkraut.
But just as important, maybe more important, is to avoid chilling your digestion and lungs with cold food.
Excess yang energy can work here in two ways.
The heat can cause dryness and a rash around the anus. (Teething babies know all about this.)
By the way! Don’t be too ungrateful for how your body uses diarrhoea to unburden itself. Indeed, cathartics force your bowels to move and are often given to clear heat, in Chinese medicine.
Cool – tepid – flannels on forehead, upper back, neck, underarms and behind your knees are the best places, but of course, if they reduce your discomfort they may also be reducing your fever, the point of which was to kill the invader. So, maybe try to resist too much cooling.
If you have skin already tending to dryness and heat, the fever will probably worsen it. For those who have dryness because of inefficient circulation, the fever may help!
If you are normally a cold person, meaning you usually have cold hands and feet, this fever may change that in the future, because in a way it burns away old deposits in the ‘pipes’, your veins and arteries.
All this yang energy can strain your heart. To keep your blood moving round your heart beat increases. Up to a point that is good, like revving a car engine: you want it to be able to rev freely. But unfit or old hearts may suffer: for them there is potential danger. Such people would ideally have been on a good diet beforehand, including foods containing omega-3 oils, vitamins K2 and D3, enough Magnesium and so on. These or prior treatment for Blood stasis may help to avert danger.
I’ve read an argument in the Chinese medicine press that suggests the reason ventilators don’t help as much as hoped is that the problem is not just getting the lungs to exchange oxygen with carbon dioxide, but to move blood through the lungs to carry the gases to and from the lung tissues. In other words, the problem is due to Blood stasis.
If correct, patients should be on drugs or herbs to ‘move blood’ probably before trying ventilators.
It is possible to reduce fever using appropriate medication. But in that case your body won’t achieve its objective, possibly allowing the invader or its friends to re-group and attack again. If you suppress it too often, you may end up with chronic symptoms, of tiredness, catarrh, depression and stiffness. You may also develop post-viral fatigue.
As so often with yin and yang: yin actions are slow, yang are fast. You need both for health. If you suppress yang, you end up with more yin or with diminished yang going on for longer.
Overall, to cope with fever you need resilience. That’s what this page is about.
That resilience will serve you well in other aspects of life after you’ve had the opportunity to cope with fever!
During treatment, if the disease is classified as being due to Wind-Heat at the Wei or Defensive level …
The treatment principle is to release the Exterior, expel Wind/Heat and restore the descending and diffusing energy of the Lungs.
There are both acupuncture and herbal formulae for this.
Note on the treatment principle. The rest of this page talks about having a ‘good’ or effective fever, so that your body kills the invader and, one hopes, develops antibodies to it. That is different to the treatment principle in TCM theory set out above.
I do not know if this is exactly what Chinese doctors of traditional Chinese medicine are currently doing in China, but it will be something along these lines.
The problem is that, in the West,
Also, I doubt whether we could obtain sufficient supplies of the herbs for the kind of herbal formulae needed. Also, acupuncturists may have difficulty running their clinics if clinics are seen as places where ‘flu like diseases are spread.
Notice! … nowhere in the above treatment principle does it mention antibodies or an invader, concepts not developed until much later. If your understanding of disease centres purely around virus and antibodies it cannot easily encompass a completely different way of looking at disease, one based on how your body deploys its energy.
So, on this page, I am not giving herbal formulae or acupuncture prescriptions as most people could not make use of them.
For some people, a fever is very healthy. But not all. If the following occur, you may need medical attention or advice. They suggest that your body is not able to cope with fever as well as you’d like.
NB Bear in mind that health providers put themselves on the front line and may be the first to succumb. They may be in no position to help you.
Help may come from the brave who have not succumbed and from those who have recovered. These may not be medically qualified or capable. Survivors may also be exhausted!
Producing and maintaining a fever takes energy: your energy!
After a good fever, you’ll be tired: well, exhausted.
You must rest. In fact, that is probably all you can do.
Partly you will have used up some of your jing-essence. Often an indication of this is backache, worse standing or walking slowly, but there are other symptoms, see either Kidney yang deficiency or more likely Kidney yin deficiency. Try not to stand for long. Avoid walking slowly. (So don’t go shopping in IKEA! I’m convinced people are seeded into the shop through the day and paid to go slow. Work out for yourself who gets paid most!)
But you’ll need food. I suggest my dish Clogstoun Congee to begin with, to increase your energy and fluid levels. It is gluten free and fairly simple to make and nearly everyone can absorb it safely.
Later move on to stews and cooked foods. Suggestions here. Be sure to chew well.
Now is the time when you may start enjoying again some of the weaker ‘hot foods’, including ginger and mild spices. You’ll know if you go too far because your stools will become urgent, smelly and loose: ‘the runs’.
Whereas if your stools are difficult to retain, odourless and runny, you are probably eating too much ‘cold food’. For example, too much fleshy, juicy fruit might produce this.
Are there other ways you can improve yourself? Almost certainly your Lungs will have become somewhat yin deficient.
There are some foods and herbs that may help this Lung Yin deficiency, but please don’t eat JUST these foods. For health, you need balance, and with a balanced diet every food contributes something to the whole. The Mediterranean diet is good in many ways.
(… and by the way, if you’ve read this far, well done! – and there is no reason why you shouldn’t eat these foods before you catch the ‘flu or corona-virus, so long as you realise that, as mentioned, they are COLD in nature, which means, if you take too much, they’ll reduce your energy – not what you need just before a disease!)
So, if you think you may have Lung Yin deficiency, you may want, cautiously, to try some of the following, unless you already know they don’t suit you. Bear in mind that these foods or herbs are for yin deficiency: yin is generally cold and moistening. That means these food have a cold energy.
Although you have just suffered a fever, you have also burned a lot of fuel and are tired, so your warming energy is depleted. Too many cold-type foods can extinguish what warmth you have remaining, so although these foods have a yin quality, too many of them may be harmful. Be sure to take warm foods too! First please read my disclaimer!
Of course, this list doesn’t cover all Lung yin tonics. And many of the items listed help other organ energies too.
In addition there are Chinese herbal prescriptions, but it is easy to get these wrong if self-prescribing, or to continue to take them even though they aren’t really helping, making them an expensive waste of time.
Also, too much yin food/herbs, being moistening and cooling, eventually gives you diarrhoea of the sloppy, cold variety: this is the kind that just passes through you without saying even ‘Hullo’ to your blood, so you gain nothing from having taken it!
Don’t overeat, as you recover. A little and often is better!
Don’t eat it! Especially don’t eat it if you’ve had the ‘flu jab, because fast foods dissipate its effect!
For more and as to which fast foods they mean, see https://www.wddty.com/news/2019/04/fast-foods-make-flu-jab-even-less-effective.html
OK! You’ve learned to cope with fever, but now, with reduced reserves, you may feel cold. Wear lots. Stay warm in bed if you can, but not so you lose strength in your back and abdomen. You need to move around a bit, even if just moving from room to room.
If you go outside, be very sure to wrap up well round your head and neck. While you are still weak, invasion by wind-cold is a real possibility.
This is when you may want to turn up your central heating again.
Also, there is a simple set of movements which flex your spine and can help get you moving. You need no equipment except your body and a space to do them indoors. They increase your heartbeat only a little and may help your breathing. For most people they are very safe, if done at first with caution. They are mildly warming.
I’ll put up a video of me doing them. Soon. Before doing them, please read my disclaimer!
If you had to suppress it, and never let it rip through and burn out the invader, or it never happened, you may be susceptible to a repeat performance as the bug regroups and returns to the attack … or one of its close friends or successors gets ideas …
If that happens soon after the invasion you will have less reserves to repel it. And beware getting cold and tired when outside, because that makes you more susceptible to wind-cold invasion, mentioned above.
Get some treatment! What would your acupuncturist do to help your recover?
First, he’d want to make sure you didn’t have any remaining Lung Heat. After all, there’s no point putting the furniture back if the house is still on fire! He’s worried about your susceptibility to eg pneumonia!
He’d check your pulse. If it’s still ‘rapid’ or ‘floating’ he might suspect that, even if your fever has long gone, you still have some burning embers left behind.
Then he’d check your tongue. If still red or if it still has a yellow coating, these also suggest Heat.
There are acupuncture treatments to deal with this continuing Heat – also Chinese herbal prescriptions.
If, to prevent a dangerous reaction to the disease, you took anti-inflammatory medicines (including antibiotics – perhaps to forestall pneumonia) – he might be worried about something called a remaining pathogenic factor. There may be things he can do for that, too.
Then he’ll be interested in any continuing symptoms, such as a cough. As you’ll have found out, a persistent cough not only drives everyone mad but can disturb your sleep, which you desperately need to help you recover.
Acupuncture for cough is nearly always successful, though you may need several treatments. (I once gave my wife treatment at 4am for a deep, racking cough she’d had for several days. She went straight to sleep, and so did I. However, in case you wonder, few acupuncturists are available to give treatment at 4am. If available, they are probably a bit peculiar.)
But, having cleared any remaining Lung Heat, your acupuncturist will want to deal with any Lung Yin deficiency. These are your deep water table of reserves, needed for ongoing strength, immune defences and equanimity.
Of course there are acupuncture treatments for this, though you’ll need several of them. Here also is where his knowledge of diet and Chinese nutritional medicine comes in. Some of that information is listed above but he may be more specific. Herbs too.
And talking of herbs, this is where sage tea (made from the Western herb Salvia officinalis) may be useful, as it is both a Qi tonic and replenishes deficiency of your Lungs. However, before you take any such action I refer you to my disclaimer!
That’s why it’s best to get treatment from someone professional, knowledgeable of YOUR particular needs!
So gradually you improve until … having learned how to cope with fever …
you go out more, you meet friends, you eat normally …
Turmeric/curcumin and ginger can change your health for good or ill! Make sure it’s for good!
Subscribe to the Newsletter
If you are interested in understanding how Traditional Chinese Medicine can improve your life sign up to my newsletter for the latest updates.
Subscribe to the Newsletter
If you are interested in understanding how Traditional Chinese Medicine can improve your life sign up to my newsletter for the latest updates.