My first encounter with Dr Catherine Knight was on one of the many natural health group’s I belong to. A question of managing Fevers naturally had come up and she had answered so eloquently, that it inspired me to try this with my son. It was the first time I had tried an all natural approach and I felt empowered to do so. It was the last time we used medication to treat a fever again. If you know my story with VitaSoul then you know why dealing with healing naturally is so important. This month’s blog is written by Dr Catherine Knight and we are sure she will inspire and empower you with her knowledge too.
The most important thing to understand when you choose to use Natural Medicine is that you are choosing to work with Mother Nature. You need to get to know her, how she works, make friends with her many gifts as there is a whole new world out there waiting to be benefited from.
I grew up knowing that I was a doctor, a healer. As I begun to understand the world of Nature and how it works in seasons and cycles, with logic and reason and understanding that we too are Nature, I gravitated to the most logical choice, a Doctor of Natural Medicine. I initially found Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture which provided me with the understanding of the holistic nature of our bodies, how illness plays out and the almost miraculous way in which this healing art works grabbed my interest. However, I began with studying Homeopathy and fell in love with the philosophy and gentle approach and the course gave me the base of biological medicine that I required and craved.
In 2002 I qualified as a Homeopath after having had my first 2 kids as rightful guinea pigs to my new skills and from 2005 I included Acupuncture. I initially joined a multidisciplinary practice focused on the natural approach to Fertility and Reproductive Health, which remains a large focus of my personal practice today. I also continue to school in the Functional Medicine realm, which I believe is not a separate avenue of medicine but a systems biology approach to understanding holistic healing and I also have an interest in Emergency medicine.
Working with a Homeopath
It is important to ensure our patient’s optimal healing journey, so as a Homeopath I am able to diagnose and refer as needed for critical or specialist issues and much care is taken in the consultation and testing requested to make sure of a medical diagnosis. So, rest assured that when you visit a Homeopath, you are being appropriately medically assessed as you would be at a mainstream doctor.
Because we are one body with many systems working in cohesion, each affecting and being affected by another, finding out which parts are imbalanced, which depleted, which overrun or stagnating with excess is imperative in correcting imbalances and bringing the body back to balance.
The modalities I use are really just arrows in my quiver as there are so many ways to heal and for this reason, my dream was always to work with a team of like-minded healers that can offer other modalities that I cannot. In 2013 I opened Health Haven in Durban, which is an amazing team of women healers who assist each other in bringing about full circle healing for our patients. My team includes a Chiropractor, Biological Dentist, Integrative GP, Counseling Psychologist, Diabetes & Women’s Health Nurse Specialist, Physiotherapist, a Reflexologist, Douala, Massage therapist and a Natural Beautician and there’s room for more!
But the most practical advice I can share today is how to deal with an acute illness in your home. Every mom (or dad) is their child’s first doctor and I love educating on how to do this at home. You shouldn’t need us for most day-to-day illnesses and you really don’t!
How we heal
Firstly, understanding HOW WE HEAL is the first part in managing the SYMPTOMS of HEALING that we see and feel and that leave us feeling miserable and ‘sick’. It is important to realise that we do not self-destruct but are self-healing beings. Our body’s response is always healing in its attempt, healing being the return to normal structure and function. To get out what shouldn’t be in, fight, kill and eliminate what has invaded and repair broken pieces…this is the process of healing that we guide and support. Nature can be ruthless yes, but using Natural Medicines helps to make it a shorter and more efficient process thus ending it all as quickly as possible with the least reaction (symptoms) needed.
Let’s start with a simple example of food poisoning. Soon after the bacteria-laden food has been detected in the gut our body begins to respond…the stomach does a few flips and we know something’s up. Soon after the body begins to get rid of it, vomiting is the quickest exit and soon the rest of the bowel flushes whatever is left. Now as miserable as that makes us all feel, it is a very necessary and Natural Process required to efficiently rid the body of toxins and re-establish order. An excellent help at this stage is Activated Charcoal which can help mop up toxins faster and eliminate the infection quicker.
Product featured: Biosil Activated Charcoal
Let’s talk fevers… suffice it to say that this is your BEST FRIEND when fighting infectious disease. Spending some time understanding a fever is important as it is the fastest way of neutralising an infection, and if you know what’s happening and why, you can rise above the fear generated around this topic and use it to its best advantage.
In a nutshell, the heat is killing the bugs. Just like you sterilised your baby’s bottles and dummies with steam and heat, so does our body sterilise itself. When the infection gets to a certain point the body’s central system becomes involved. Kids are still developing the ability of their immune cells to produce antibodies as they build their army with each infection they face, so early on they quickly respond with a fever as this is the best way to keep the infection in check whilst the antibody driven responses are carried out on the ground, so it may surprise you out of the blue.
When a fever is triggered, the body is very clever at knowing the optimal temperature that will kill the specific bacteria or virus and the brain stem sets that as the new set point. So initially we feel cold because we are. We are cold at 36.5°C relative to what our thermostat says we should be eg: 39.5°C. The immediate response of the body when cold is to generate heat by shivering (friction) and retaining that heat internally by trapping a layer of insulating air (goose flesh) and shrinking blood vessels deep into the skin to reduce radiation loss, making us look pale and wan while we shiver.
This begins to raise our core body temperature and if you keep checking it every 5 minutes, yes, you’re going to see it rising. This isn’t because things are getting worse, but only because it is climbing to the required and optimal temperature. Once that level is reached, we begin to feel more comfortable, the cold phase passes and we feel hot to touch. We may also have a headache and feel generally uncomfortable as this also induces a level of overall body inflammation as the white blood cell army gets to work faster and more efficiently than when there is no infection. The entire body is involved in this process that requires a lot of energy so not much is wasted on things like walking around and digesting food, hence fatigue, lethargy and a lack of appetite. It’s all normal.
This is when most of the killing gets done. In this heat phase, the pathogens (bugs) are dying as their proteins denature in the heat and the mopping up process begins. Lymph nodes often begin to swell as they are the satellite army bases that are draining the fluid spaces and clearing infection from the tissues. They are filled with white blood cell soldiers and are vital in the clearing of the infection. So neck glands and tonsils may often swell up.
Sometimes the fever can get high, yes. This doesn’t mean it’s getting worse or the infection is complicating. It’s just that this bug, usually a virus at higher temperatures, needs that level before it can be neutralised. It can induce some vomiting at high levels, yes. This is so the body can clear itself of any other contents that it may have to deal with but it shouldn’t last unless it’s a tummy bug per se.
Convulsions? Yes, they can happen but usually occur in the earlier phase of the fever as the temperature is climbing and not at high levels. It is the brain stem that is sending out reflex messages to the skeletal muscles to keep contracting in the shivering motion to generate the heat required. And as it is an electric circuit, the rapid firing of signals can sometimes trigger a misfire and the muscles get repeated contractile messages which trigger a convulsion in the body.
It is not the same as an epileptic seizure, which is triggered by misfiring of brain waves in the white matter which can affect neurological function. But febrile (fever) seizures are triggered by the brain stem and thus bypass the hemispheres and generally do not affect neurological function. They are usually short-lived in a few minutes and the temperature does not need to get high for one to occur. As much as they are scary to experience, they are usually not dangerous. But obviously, care must be taken and a medical assessment is essential.
Once the fever has done its job, the thermostat reverts to the normal 36.5°C and the body must rid itself of the excess heat. This now triggers a very hot phase as the blood rushes to the skin surface reddening it and radiating the heat out. So when you walk in the room and you can feel the heat coming off your child, it’s coming off, out, exiting the body, which means the temperature is coming down. This is often a very uncomfortable phase and is usually when sweating ensues as another cooling mechanism. It isn’t too long until the temperature drops and we begin to feel more normal again.
The body then moves into a clean-up phase and usually begins to make the mucus required to chuck out what’s left after the fight is over eg; coughing, sneezing or a rash and generally the illness resolves.
So what to do?
At first sign of any infection – sneezing, snotty, a fever, a headache, sore throat, any sign of a fight beginning I suggest immediately supporting the body with Immune-boosting herbs and vitamins.
My go-to herb is Olive Leaf . There are many brilliant herbs, like Echinacea and Golden seal,but Olive Leaf seems to assist on all levels of immune response and in most infections, no matter the type. Taking 1-2 doses prophylactically per day when exposed to illness goes a long way in preventing it and is an early treatment if infected, lessening the duration of illness dramatically. Increasing its dose to every few hours when actively fighting an infection or even hourly if very acute, is the best way to use the herb and get the most healing benefit. It doesn’t help to take one dose of an herb and expect it to work like a drug. We need to match the intensity of the symptoms with the frequency of the dose, this is how to get the magic from it.
Product featured: Moonshine Olive Leaf
My next suggestion is a Homeopathic remedy. There are some great OTC cold and flu, fevers, sore throat and cough remedies in store, get yourself some for your home kit to work with. Start as early as symptoms begin and follow those symptoms and change remedies as they change. Once the sore throat is over and it has moved to a wet cough, then change the formula you are using. If you don’t seem to be benefiting from your home remedies then don’t hesitate to consult a professional Homeopath for a more specific prescription for your case and you get a medical assessment of your illness at the same time.
Product featured: Little Gems Homeopathic Remedies
You can also look at adding some very important vitamins for immune boosting and infection fighting, which would serve you well to keep on hand.
Vitamin C has to be the most underrated vitamin as it is a powerful antioxidant and necessary agent in our bodies but is depleted quickly, so a steady ongoing supply is needed as well as a major increase in dosing when used to fight an active infection.
Product featured: Oshun Citrus C
Overall Vitamin D3 levels are essential to a healthy functioning immune system. It activates white blood cells to be able to fight pathogens and calms down the immune response when needed and helps to resolve inflammation, a very important part of the immune response is to switch off. A high dose of Vitamin D3 during an infection can significantly benefit the response and help it resolve quicker.
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Zinc is an essential nutrient that helps cells prevent the replication of viruses and overall white blood cell response. Ongoing daily supplementation is not really needed unless boosting during exposure but is very helpful while fighting an acute infection.
Product featured: Mineralife Zinc
And this is all just the start…
Nature has so much to offer and for that, I thank Her.
Yours in health,
Dr Catherine Knight (Homeopath)
Disclaimer: Each person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual condition is unique. The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your doctor for matters pertaining to your specific health and diet. The author of this article is not held responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use or misuse of any information, suggestions or procedures described herein. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.