Fevers are often a sign that your body is working well. A fever is usually the symptom of underlying infection and shows that the body is fighting it. The best way to use herbs for fevers is to make herbal infusions or teas. I’m sure most herbalists have got their own take on the most well-known herbal brew in the world. Find my signature cold and flu fever buster down below.
There are many herbs for fevers, some more common than others. Today I will go through the long list of herbs that can be used to reduce the symptoms associated with fevers.
I’ll explain why each herb is effective for treating fevers and also give you some safe, simple herbal tea recipes that you can make yourself.
Let’s get started!
Herbs and Fevers: What is a fever and what are the symptoms associated with fevers?
A fever is a sign indicating that there’s an underlying issue somewhere in the body. Usually, we get fevers when there is infection. The infection could be viral, bacterial, and even fungal. So even though fever is a symptom it has its own set of symptoms. We can use these as clues to get to the root cause.
So we need to find herbs that will relieve the symptoms of the fever. But it’s important to remember that relieving symptoms are short term solutions. Ultimately it comes down to feeding our bodies the right types of food to support and boost the immune system.
A fever is often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- An elevated temperature
- Profuse sweating
- Chattering teeth
- A headache
- A sore throat
- A cough
- A sore chest
- Stiff muscles and joints
- Loss of appetite
The body has a built-in system (your immune system) designed to attack and destroy harmful pathogens. It also neutralizes free radicals that can cause cell damage. The same system is also designed to heal the body when it gets injured or infected.
When our immune systems are working well, the rest of the body’s system also works well. But when there is a problem signals get sent to the relevant systems. And the immune system gets into gear to deal with the problem.
Often the presence of a fever is the first sign that this process is working efficiently. Our body sends itself signs and signals. And we get these signals too. Then we can decide what to do to help our bodies heal, without resorting to doctors and hospital visits.
When we get a fever we should harness the power of the healing herbs we have at our disposal.
Ways to treat fevers with herbs
Dehydration is a serious worry for people who get fevers. Often sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea are present. All these symptoms can lead to dehydration. Herbal tea remedies not only provide healing benefits in the form of phytonutrients, but they also provide liquid and electrolytes. These are essential for keeping the body’s fluids balanced. Electrolytes aid the immune system in reducing fever, pain, and inflammation.
Many herbs contain electrolytes in the form of potassium, chloride, sodium, bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphates. Iron is also present in many herbs, in trace amounts. Even in these minute quantities, these minerals have benefits.
Decoctions: Teas, Tisanes, Herbal Infusions – Internal use
Using herbal teas is the most common way to relieve minor ailments. These include fevers, stomach disorders, allergies, constipation, nausea, and many more.
- Make a 2l pot of tea and take it in 125ml quantities 3 – 5 times a day.
- Reheat as needed. This increases the efficacy of most infusions.
- Use 1-3 teaspoons of each herb. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 teaspoon of dry herb per 250ml. So for a 2l pot, you’d need at least 4-8 teaspoons. When I make rooibos tea I add 6 bags to 1 liter. (Recipes and method below)
If using fresh herb you can double, or even triple, the amount you will use.
Tinctures are herbal infusions that get steeped in pure alcohol. The process takes 2-3 weeks to complete. The solution is strained and transferred to small brown glass bottles.
To use: 20-30 drops get diluted with water. A dash of lemon juice is optional. Take 3 x daily.
Both decoctions and tinctures can be used
- as a gargle or mouthwash.
- as a tea, to be taken orally.
- in compresses, poultices, washes, rubs, and douches (externally).
Compress, Poultices, Wash, Rub, or Douche – External use
You can use a decoction, or dilute a tincture, and apply it externally. Treat minor ailments like bruising, sprains, burns, cuts, wounds, bites, and stings this way.
For topical application, you can make ointments using several different bases. You can use aqueous cream, honey, coconut oil, shea butter, or petroleum jelly. You can also soak a cloth or bandage is a water-based decoction, wring it out and apply as a compress.
Green juices are excellent for adding fresh herbs to your daily diet. When you have fresh herbs (and fever), make green juices using herbs for fevers.
Herbs: How they can help treat fevers
You may have a fever but do you know why? Maybe you have picked up a stomach “bug” or caught the latest flu virus going around. Maybe the graze on your knee wasn’t cleaned properly and is infected. Or a wound has become septic.
Any infection, anywhere, can cause a fever. By recognizing why the fever has developed and what other symptoms are presenting, you’ll be able to know which herbs to use. Most herbs have multiple properties that make them useful. They are crammed with bioactive phytocompounds in the form of:
- Antioxidants (anthocyanins)
- Phenolic compounds (flavonoids, stilbenes, tannins)
- Adaptogens (plant sterols)
- Flavanoids (curcumin, resveratrol)
- Alkaloids (nicotine, caffeine)
- Glyconutrients (saccharides)
- Terpenes (found in lemon balm, ginseng, valerian)
- And more.
An interesting fact is that dried herbs are sometimes more effective in medicinal applications than fresh herbs are. But in some cases, it works the other way around.
Herbs are versatile, sometimes they will be prepared in a certain way, using certain parts, to treat a specific condition. The same herb can treat something completely different just by altering the preparation, and the parts used.
Inflammation and Fever: The two most common symptoms
Fevers are often accompanied by headaches, and wherever there is an infection there will always be inflammation. Even a headache is the result of inflammation.
Inflammation is another symptom indicating that not all is well. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection. It’s a sign that the body is busy healing the wound. When the immune system is compromised inflammation goes from being a help to a hindrance. Inflammation can become a precursor to far more serious health issues, like cancer.
Herbs that are considered
- and antiviral,
are the types of herbs that get used to treat fevers and the accompanying symptoms.
Treating the symptoms that occur with fevers
The list above shows symptoms that present when fever is evident. We will go through that list now. For each symptom, I will give you the names of herbs to treat that specific symptom. And there will be some information on the symptoms too.
It is good to reduce the fever, not to suppress it. You do this by treating symptoms.
As your understanding deepens you’ll be able to join the dots. Everything is interrelated and interconnected. Your confidence in knowing which herbs to use will grow in time. And you will learn the correct herbs for the proper situations.
List of symptoms associated with Fever and the Herbs to Use
1. Elevated temperature:
A raised temperature shows a fever is on its way. A fever should not be suppressed. Reducing the fever will alleviate a lot of the other symptoms that result from a fever.
Herbs that bring fevers down:
- Catnip, chamomile, feverfew, ginger, elderflower, buchu, lemon grass, lemon balm, yarrow
When you have a fever it is often accompanied by profuse sweating, followed by chills. Sometimes so bad your teeth may chatter, even though your forehead is burning up!
Herbs for chills:
- echinacea, ginger, lucerne
Fever is a painful condition. Often fever brings aching muscles and joints, headaches, sore chest, and a sore throat. Pain from fever means inflammation is present. Herbs that are anti-inflammatory will help for pain. As inflammation decreases so will the pain. For example, if you have a headache without a fever it must be treated differently. It may be a tension headache or a headache with a neurological root cause.
1. If your fever is associated with flu, your symptoms, and pain, may be a sore throat and tight chest.
2. If your fever is associated with flu, your symptoms, and pain, may be stiff muscles and joints. This means the pain is from the inflammation.
3. If your pain is from an infection like
- urinary tract infection,
- thrush or candida or some other fungal infection,
- bronchitis or pneumonia
then you will need to take herbal teas to treat those specific ailments, and the pain and fever will be reduced. At no time do these herbs try to suppress or “kill” the infection (or fever). All they are doing is feeding the cells the right phytochemicals. These compounds send signals and activate neural pathways. This allows the immune system to be supported. The boost gives the body strength and “back-up” to heal itself. This information is backed up by various studies. (1) (2) (3) (4)
Herbs for pain associated with fever:
- general pain – chamomile, cloves, oat straw, St John’s wort,
- headaches – ginger, catnip, violet
- sore throat – elderflower, fennel, lemon, lemon thyme, maidenhair fern, pineapple sage, sage, nasturtium
- stiff muscles – comfrey, turmeric, cayenne pepper
- sore joints – turmeric, comfrey, cayenne pepper
- sore chest – anise, bergamot, lemon thyme
4. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Do you have a fever from a stomach “bug”? Or are you experiencing fever with nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting? These herbs for fevers can bring relief:
- stomach upsets – Caraway, catnip, melissa (lemon balm), buchu, fennel, ginger
- nausea – anise, bergamot, buchu, catnip, ginger, mint, nutmeg, turmeric
- vomiting – bergamot, mint, lemon
- diarrhea – goldenrod, nutmeg, rosehip, chamomile, nettle, catnip, sage, thyme, yarrow
Fever from allergies can be treated with:
- echinacea, chamomile, stinging nettle
When you have a cough that makes your chest hurt it is not enough just to treat for the sore chest. You should also try to ease the coughing. The following herbs for fevers are good to take for coughs:
- anise, bergamot, borage, buchu, clover, elderflower, ginger, lemon thyme, maidenhair fern, marjoram, mullein, rosehip, rosella, violet, blue gum (eucalyptus), fennel, horseradish, mints, oats, wildeals (elecampane)
List of Herbs for Fevers from Infections
Infections and fevers go hand in hand. This next list is of common infections and the herbs that can relieve these conditions:
1. Chest or lung infections:
- comfrey, echinacea, lemon thyme, lucerne, mullein, violet
2. Fungal infections:
- comfrey, echinacea, turmeric
3. Urinary tract infections:
- basil, celery, cinnamon, fennel, goldenrod, parsley, rosehip
4. Mouth infections:
Herbs for fevers to treat mouth infections can be used as a gargle. Prepare as you would a herbal tea. Allow to cool and strain into a glass bottle. Take 75ml, 3x daily. Add 75 ml of warm water and a dash of lemon (for antiseptic properties). Gargle and spit out.
If you have made a tincture you can dilute 20-30 drops in 50ml of warm water. Gargle and spit.
These herbs work well:
- sage, blue gum, chamomile, garlic, gokum, mallow, mint, thyme
The Best 20 Herbs for Fevers (and their properties)
When we talk about herbs for fevers we must not forget that certain spices and fruits are also considered medicinal. And they fall under herbal remedies. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and lemon, are all potent healers, with beneficial properties. Honey is also an excellent healer as it contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Honey eases sore throats, and aids stomach issues.
- Catnip – safe for children, astringent, carminative, antispasmodic, sedative, febrifuge (reduces fever), diaphoretic (promotes sweating – to break fever), antiseptic.
- Chamomile – relaxant, carminative, antispasmodic, disinfectant, digestive, tissue healer, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anticatarrhal, sedative, astringent, vulnerary (promotes wound healing – regenerative), anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic (prevents vomiting).
- Mint – antispasmodic, digestive, tonic, stimulant, antiseptic, anesthetic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-pruritic (anti-itching), choleretic, cleansing, relaxant.
- Ginger root – carminative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiseptic.
- Buchu – anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, carminative, for kidney, bladder, and urinary tract infections, antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, antibiotic.
- Melissa (lemon balm) – relaxant, sedative, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, tonic, digestive, antiviral, antidepressant, adaptogenic.
- Echinacea – anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiallergenic, detoxifier, wound healer (vulnerary), immunomodulator.
- Comfrey – anti-inflammatory, regenerative, antifungal, anti-itching, vulnerary, demulcent, antihemorrhagic, astringent.
- Sage – carminative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, digestive, astringent, antibiotic.
- Thyme – anti-spasmodic, carminative, antitussive, diuretic, fungicidal, expectorant, antiseptic, antibacterial, disinfectant.
- Marjoram – antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, tonic, rubefacient, febrifuge (herb for fever), antibacterial, antifungal.
- Cinnamon – digestive, tonic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, uterine stimulant (not suitable for pregnant women).
- Elderflower – Warning: leaves and branches are poisonous. Use only flowers. Antiviral, anti-inflammatory, reduces fever, clears infections, induces sweating.
- Fennel – digestive, promotes circulation, anti-inflammatory, galactagogue, expectorant, diuretic, promotes weight loss, antispasmodic, uterine stimulant (not safe during pregnancy).
- Borage – anti-depressant, diuretic, demulcent, emollient, febrifuge, cleanser, regenerative.
- Bergamot – antiseptic, anti-bronchial, anti-nausea (anti-emetic), anti-inflammatory, decongestant, mucolytic, inhalent.
- Parsley – Do not use seeds. Digestive, rich in minerals, diuretic, flushes bladder and kidneys, anti-inflammatory.
- Turmeric – anticoagulant, anti-itching, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, supports liver, anti-emetic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibacterial. Always take with black pepper for better efficacy.
- Yarrow – antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, carminative, tonic.
- Stinging Nettle – rich in minerals, diuretic, cleanser, detoxifier, anti-allergenic, galactagogue, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, anti-anemic, anti-hemorrhagic.
Herbs for fever in babies, children, and pregnant moms
- For very young babies, the best way to treat fever is to apply cold compresses. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to further reduce heat. Apply to the forehead.
- Do not plunge them into cold baths.
- Keep them hydrated.
- If the child does not want to drink water, caffeine-free herbal teas with a dash of honey are wonderful.
- Chamomile, rooibos, catnip, and peppermint are all safe to give to babies and toddlers older than 6 months. This means they are also safe for pregnant and lactating mothers.
- Mother’s milk is the best thing to give babies under 6 months.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of warm milk and get them to drink that. honey can be added to improve the taste.
How to prepare an herbal tea for fever
- Choose your herb or herbs.
- Add 1 tsp per 125ml – so for a 2l pot, you’ll need 8 teaspoons of dry herbs. This can be a combination of herbs or just one type. If using fresh you can double or triple this amount.
- Boil the kettle, pour into the pot. Add herbs and stir. Place lid on pot and allow to cool, or “steep”.
- When ready to take, heat the infusion but don’t allow it to boil. Allow to cool and heat for a third time. Do not let it boil.
- Pour through a strainer into a 125ml glass or mug. Alternatively, you can transfer the whole pot into a 2l container and reheat the individual dose each time. Or you can leave it in the pot and reheat each time you want to take a dose. It will get stronger with each reheating.
- Add honey and freshly squeezed lemon, if you prefer.
Herbalfoo’s Herbal Tea For Fevers
This recipe will make 3l. You can bottle and refrigerate or leave it in the pot and reheat before each serving. Drink throughout the day until fever reduces. And continue afterward if you feel you need to.
- Handful chopped ginger root, or 2tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 6 cloves crushed garlic
- 6 – 12 tea bags of rooibos tea
- 4 tsp buchu (dried)
- 4 tsp chamomile (dried)
- Bring 3l of water to the boil.
- Switch heat off.
- Allow water to go off the boil.
- Add all the ingredients.
- Place lid on pot, let it cool completely.
- Reheat, but do not allow to boil.
- The brew is ready to be used.
- If bottling, transfer to bottle, fill to overflowing, close it, and refrigerate.
How to take:
Generally, herbal teas should be taken in 125ml portions. When using herbs for fevers, it is best to drink the tea hot. But you can also drink it without heating. Take 125ml at least three times a day.
Green Juice Recipe for Flushing Toxins, Clearing Infections and Cleansing the Liver and Kidneys
Green juices are our modern panacea of cure-all remedies. There is nothing a green juice a day can’t solve! (within reason, of course!)
There are many recipes for cleansing juices and detox formulas. I like this one for fevers:
- Parsley, celery, horseradish, dandelion, carrot juice or apple juice
- Add 1 part of each herb to 4 parts juice. Drink every morning for 2 weeks.
- Continue even after fever has subsided.
- If you get bored with this combo alternate with 1/3 beetroot, 1/3 pineapple, 1/3 cucumber juice.
These are the herbs that will bring down a temperature, break a fever, boost the immune system, help the body expel toxins, and regenerate cells. These herbs are by no means the only herbs that can treat fever but they are the most readily available.
Organic fresh herbs are always wonderful to have on hand. And to grow your own is a wonderful experience. But when it comes to herbal teas, using dried herbs is often the better choice. These herbs are available online and at your local health store or herbalist. Dried herbs for culinary use may not be of the same quality as herbs dried for teas. Find a good supplier and then stick with that brand. Especially if the herbs are dried in a way that locks in the active compounds. See our article on How To Dry Herbs here.
I hope you found this article informative. We’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments, questions, and your own herbal hacks in the comment section below. With love from Kim, at Herbalfoo.
- Margaret Roberts, Herbal Teas for Healthy Living, Spearhead Press, 2000
- Joan Lawrence-Symons, An Illustrated Gardener’s Handbook, Printed by Newset, 1994
- Yvette van Wijk, First Aid With Herbs, Blackwoods Herbs, 1990
- Plants and secondary metabolites: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042794/
- (1) http://www.hoajonline.com/biochemcomp/2052-9341/5/2
- (2) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2019.1699014?needAccess=true&journalCode=bfsn20
- (3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7080987/
- (4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7150268/