Raised temperature is the body's response to infection, and all systems of natural medicine see fever as an important healing process. Fever increases most of the body processes, pulse rate and metabolism, and this increased activity helps to strengthen the natural defences against infection. In addition, some invading organisms, particularly viruses, do not thrive in a temperature higher than that of a healthy body. The temperature may rise and stay very high until the fever is resolved by profuse sweating, after which the patient will often sleep deeply for some time, and the temperature will begin to drop towards normal. This is often described as the 'healing crisis'. Allopathic medicine aims to reduce the temperature artificially, which may bring temporary comfort to the patient, but delays or even suppresses the healing process.

There are two ways in which essential oils can be used in a fever. One is to use those oils which promote sweating (sudorifics) to encourage the resolution of the fever, and the other is to select those oils which will actually help to reduce the temperature. This latter course is wise when the temperature is rising to a dangerous level (say, over 104F), especially in a young child. Babies and young children may suffer convulsions if their temperature rises and remains very high.

Basil, Camomile, Cypress, Juniper, Lavender, Rosemary and Tea Tree will all induce sweating if the body needs to sweat. (It is interesting to note that none of these will make you sweat excessively when the body is in a normal state.) If the sick person feels strong enough to get into a bath, put up to 8 drops of one of these oils, or a blend, into a bath which is not too hot, and help the patient into it. Otherwise, give a little gentle massage, perhaps just to the back.

Cooling oils include Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Peppermint. As you can see, these last two feature in both lists, this is because their action is mainly normalising. These oils should be used in a fairly low concentration, just a few drops in a bowl of cool water (not cold, as the difference between the water and the body temperature could be too great). Sponge the body with the mixture as often as possible to keep the temperature below a dangerous level.

For details of essential oils and treatment specific to various feverish illnesses, such as Chickenpox, Measles, Scarlet Fever, etc., please also read the entries under these headings.

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