Philip F. Incao, MD
All of the common illnesses of childhood are inflammations. "Infection" is the wrong word for them because it suggests that we get sick because germs invade us. This is misleading.
All of the common illnesses of childhood are inflammations. "Infection" is the wrong word for them because it suggests that we get sick because germs invade us. This is misleading. We are always exposed to and often harbour germs, yet we only occasionally get sick.
Childhood is a time of most rapid growth and dramatic change. A child will remodel and renew his body many times as he grows. Every remodeling job requires some demolition a breaking down of part of the inherited body structure in order to rebuild it better. This breaking down of old cells and tissues results in debris, which must be cleaned up before the body rebuilds itself.
It's the immune system which does the breaking down by creating fever and inflammation to destroy and digest foreign or outworn bodily material. And it's the immune system which cleans up the digested material and debris by pushing it out of the body. That is why children so often have skin rashes and discharge of mucus or pus, because their immune systems are actively working. Debris that remains in the body may act like a poison, or may cause allergies or repeated inflammations later on. Germs do not "attack" us, but they often multiply wherever the body's living substance is dying, breaking down and being discharged. Germs don't cause illnesses they feed on them. Every childhood inflammation, every cold, sore throat, earache, fever and rash is a healing crisis and cleansing process. It's the body's way of "cleaning house."
Homeopathic remedies help and promote this cleansing process and help the illness to work its way out of the body in order for healing to occur. Antibiotics, aspirin, tylenol and other anti-inflammatory drugs cool down and suppress the "fire" of the immune system so that the symptoms subside before the illness has fully worked its way out of the body. When an inflammation is suppressed in this way and prevented from fully discharging its toxins, then either the inflammation comes back, or else the tendency to allergies and asthma is increased. Recent research has confirmed that antibiotics and vaccinations are a cause of increased allergies and asthma.
Cleansing and Detox
The first and best thing you should always do at the onset of any inflammation, fever, cold or "infection" is to cleanse the body as follows:
Give infants a glycerin rectal suppository. For adults and children over one year of age, give a Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) suppository. If you prefer, an enema may be used instead of a suppository (of course, do not use any of these if diarrhea is present). It's important to keep the cleansing going until the illness is all better by giving a dose of milk of magnesia, once daily for three to five days:
After the first three to five days and until fever and pain are gone, stewed prunes will help to keep bowels loose. For infants under one year: fennel tea and diluted juices from stewed organic apricots and prunes will help to loosen the stools.
Drink lots of warm herb teas, especially horsetail (equisetum) which cleanses the kidneys.
Body Warmth and Fever
Children should always be warmly dressed for the weather. This will increase the body's ability to handle inflammations. The normal body temperature in a healthy child or adult should be 98.6°F (36.9°C) or slightly higher, but preferably not lower. A sub-normal temperature indicates that not enough warmth is being produced by the body. Viruses and bacteria grow faster when the body temperature is lower and they are destroyed faster by the body's immune system when the body temperature is higher.
In susceptible children, fever convulsions are caused by a very rapid rise in temperature, often before one is even aware of the fever. They occur from six months to six years of age and they do not cause permanent damage. A fever convulsion is less likely to occur if these recommendations for cleansing, diet and quiet are followed.
Toxicity from certain diseases and certain immunizations may rarely cause brain damage or convulsions in children or adults, regardless of whether the fever is high or low. But fever itself, even at 104°F (39.9°C) or over, will not cause brain damage (in certain cancer treatments, patients are heated to a body temperature of 108°F (42.1°C) for two hours with no brain damage whatsoever). Therefore, when a child has a fever, dress him even more warmly than usual with several layers of cotton or wool.
The body, in its wisdom, wants and needs to be hot in order to burn out the illness. When the fever is rising, we feel chilled and want to get warm under blankets. When the fever breaks and then starts to come down, only then do we feel hot, sweaty and throw off the blankets. This is the natural way the immune system burns out the illness and discharges its toxins.
If a child or adult with a high fever is very uncomfortable and restless, this is a sign of toxicity and the previously mentioned cleansing measures are needed. You may also rub the arms, legs and head with a washcloth moistened with tepid water and arnica essence (from the neck to the knees the child should not be undressed). Rub vigorously to make the skin red. This will help to dissipate excess body heat through the skin.
Sometimes an illness may be prolonged because the immune system is not producing enough fever to accomplish its purpose. Therefore, when an illness is lingering and the fever hardly gets much above 99°F (37.1°C) or 100°F (37.7°C), then do a very hot bath for about 20 minutes in the evening, followed by sweating in bed under lots of blankets, then going to sleep without getting up again. This can be repeated every evening until the illness is burned out. Keep adding more hot water once the patient is in the bath, until his temperature by mouth reaches 101 F (38.2°C) or he can't tolerate the heat anymore.
Never leave your patient alone in such a bath and be sure to assist him in getting out of the bath because he may feel faint or dizzy. Such baths are only recommended for young healthy people with strong hearts, not for young children or the elderly.
Most of us have experienced a craving for peace and quiet during illness. We can be disturbed by sounds, which usually don't bother us when we are well. Children have this same craving, though they will rarely express it. Instead, out of boredom they will ask to listen to the radio, tapes or watch TV. These kinds of stimulation are best avoided, especially for younger children. They should be replaced by just being there for your child in a peaceful and reassuring way.
When your body is trying to "digest" and eliminate toxic substances it will help if you don't have to digest much food at the same time. Avoid protein during the acute illness. The sick person should have a mainly liquid diet of vegetable broth, herb teas and fruit juices, but no juices colder than room temperature.
Fruit, cooked vegetables, grains and light crackers are also suitable. Eating less is better than eating more. If the patient is not hungry then she is better off not eating. The return of appetite is a sign of getting over the illness, but those first meals after the fever is gone should be light ones. Don't be too eager to have your child regain the lost weight. After the illness, reintroduce the restricted foods gradually and carefully.