Could fever be nature's oldest antibiotic?

fever curve feature

Our instructors are one of the core ingredients of our professional training program, providing the in-depth knowledge and facilitating the direct apprenticeship-style learning experience.

One great example is the author of this practical post: Ryan Chamberlin, one of our Western Science instructors for both the Amma Therapy and the Wholistic Nutrition program. We’re excited for our Wholistic Nutrition students to learn from him this year – the 2015 program starts February 7 & 8.

Could fever be nature’s oldest antibiotic?

Reaching for Tylenol at the first sign of fever is a knee-jerk reaction for most parents with sick children. In this post we’ll discuss why you might want to think twice about treating fever, and when it is too high and must be dealt with. Fever it seems, is natures oldest and most effective antibiotic. So treating it might cause more harm than you’d think.

Our immune system has its own intranet. It’s a way to call for help using chemical messengers: cytokines.


For instance, when an immune system cell is out on patrol and runs into an invading bacteria or virus, it can release a series of chemical messengers called cytokines and chemokines to call for help. Receiving the message, helpful cells in distant sites of the body rush to the infection and release chemical warfare on the unsuspecting invader. Known by names like “Interleukin” (IL-#) and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), these cytokines not only recruit help, but also directly attach the pathogen.

Some induce fever as well. This is critically important, because the higher the body temperature, the more robust the recruitment and attack process. In fact, at higher temperatures, nearly every enzyme involved in the process becomes more active and effective.  But only to a point.

Notice How the Curve Flattens at 104 F or 40 C

fever curve

Some people think that fever is any elevation in body temperature above 98.6 F, or 37 C. But in the medical world the definition is strict, and 100.4 is the magic number. The immune system functions most efficiently between 100.4 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Above 104 F, fever is counterproductive and should be treated.

Similarly, if body temperature drops below normal, the immune system functions way below peak performance:


In a doctor’s office it’s nearly impossible to convince a mother she should not aggressively treat fever in her sick child. At the first sign of feeling warm, children everywhere are relentlessly dosed with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. And while the child may get relief from some of their symptoms with this approach, it renders the immune system far less effective than it normally would be.

Take Home Message: Try not to treat a fever with Tylenol, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen unless you have to.

The body naturally wants to warm itself when fighting an infection.  Increasing core temperature aids the immune system in killing the invading bacteria. Nowadays, many doctors don’t treat fevers unless they’re causing discomfort.

This general rule holds true until the person’s temperatures reaches 104 or more.  Then they’ll treat.  But for a run of the mill infection, like the common cold, don’t treat the fever if you can help it.  It’s Nature’s built-in antibiotic, and she’s had phenomenal success with it in the past – despite our “common sense” view to the contrary.

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