When cold and flu season arrives, herbs can help to support the body in a number of ways. One way herbs offer support is through strengthening the immune system so it can better defend the body against viruses. Another way they can offer support to the body as it deals with common symptoms is to help in building and strengthening the body, which will ultimately assist the body in recovery and convalescence after an infection.
Speaking of infections and common symptoms, when an infection develops in the body, a common symptom that may accompany it is a fever. One is considered to have a fever when the body’s temperature increases to 100.4 degrees.
While fevers are a natural, healthy immune response, they can often incite fear or anxiety, especially when they occur in small children, the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system, or when they get uncomfortably high.
Thankfully, when a fever is present, we can trust the body’s innate ability, knowing that it is working on our behalf to make itself an uncomfortable environment for pathogens. In other words, pathogens can’t survive if the temperature is too high! We can also reach for herbal allies that support the immune system as it works hard to help us recover. Some of these herbal allies can even help to cool uncomfortably hot bodies when they are overheated.
In this article, we’ll look at four herbs that are useful in cooling the body when a fever is present. We’ll even share a DIY fever-cooling tea blend with you that you can keep on hand in your herbal toolkit as well. You never know when the next time you or a loved one will have a fever, and you will want to be prepared.
Herbs To Cool The Body During A Fever
While there are many herbs that can be used to cool the body, our favorite combination is catnip (Nepeta cataria) aerial parts, elder (Sambucus nigra) flower, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) flower, and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) leaf.
Each of these herbs share a common action: they are all diaphoretic herbs. Diaphoretic herbs stimulate the cardiovascular system, increasing peripheral blood flow towards the surface of the body, thus, opening the pores in the skin and allowing heat to escape through the act of sweating. This action is most noticeable when herbs are taken in a hot infusion and sipped on consistently when a fever is present.
However, the diaphoretic action of these herbs isn’t their only appeal when it comes to infections and fevers. Catnip and elder flowers both have sedative and relaxing nervine properties which help to ease and soothe the mind and body when a fever is present, and yarrow and peppermint both have antimicrobial actions that can assist the immune system during an active infection.
Now that you know which herbs are our favorites for cooling a hot body, let’s look at this recipe for a DIY fever-cooling tea.
When a fever is uncomfortably high, herbs can help the body cool down in a gentle, natural way. This fever-cooling tea recipe is filled with antimicrobial herbs that also stimulate the circulatory system and encourage the body to sweat by moving heat from the center of the body outwards.
Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health (2001).
2 tsp catnip (Nepeta cataria) aerial parts
2 tsp elder (Sambucus nigra or S. canadensis) flower
1 tsp yarrow (Achillea millefolium) aerial parts
1 tsp peppermint (Mentha x piperita) leaf
2 cups water
- Combine herbs in a glass quart jar (4-cup capacity).
- Pour 2 cups of just-off-the-boil water over the mixture and steep for 1 hour.
- Strain herbs by pouring the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth over a bowl with a spout. Press the plant material (marc) to squeeze out every last drop of infusion.
- Compost the strained herbs and place the infusion in a labeled wide-mouth glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before making a fresh batch.
To use, heat and drink a small amount (approximately ¼ cup) of infusion every 30 minutes.