Fever is a condition in which body temperature is above the normal range.
The upper limit for normal body temperature is approximately 38.3 degree Celsius.
Fever is generally an indication of the immune system’s response to an infection. However, there could be other causes.
Body temperature is controlled by a section of the brain named as the hypothalamus.
Substances that cause fever- pyrogens cause the immune system to signal the hypothalamus to increase body temperature.
This further leads to shivering as an effort to produce more heat and to conserve it so as to reach the new setpoint.
When body temperature returns to normal the individual feels hot and begins to sweat.
Various reasons can cause fever as a symptom:
- Infection: Bacterial, viral or parasitic infections such as malaria, typhoid, urinary tract infections, common cold etc.
- Immunological diseases: Inflammatory bowel disease, sarcoidosis
- Inflammation or tissue destruction: surgery, muscle strain
- Skin infections
- Metabolic diseases: Hyperthyroidism
- Drug-induced fever
Fever is generally treated with antipyretics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
However, in case of prolonged illness and constant episodes of fever, the underlying cause should be treated.
Fever can also be controlled and rectified by herbal remedies which would be less harmful to the system in comparison to over the counter available drugs.
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Mode of Action of Turmeric Against Fever
Turmeric is one of the most adored spices in the culinary industry. However, it is more than just a spice.
It has various therapeutic properties which makes it the ‘Golden Goddess’ of Ayurveda.
Turmeric has a bitter peppery flavor with a warm yellowish gold hue. It is native to India and Asia where it consumed daily as a part of the diet.
Curcuminoids is a class of compounds found in turmeric powder that impart the yellow color. They are natural antioxidants.
Curcumin is the active agent of curcuminoids that displays the most potent pharmacological properties.
One of the Sanskrit names for turmeric is jawarantika – one which cures fever. How turmeric can help control fever is reflected in the following studies and research articles.
Benefits of Turmeric in Fever
Curcumin helps in reducing fever through its anti-inflammatory property and reduces damage by reactive oxygen species through its antioxidant property. It helps in boosting immunity and also in preventing viral infections.
1. It works as an anti-inflammatory agent
Fever is an inflammatory response to the infection by the immune system.
The article published in the Journal – Advances in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of curcuminoids, turmerones, and aqueous extract of Curcuma longa.
The rat model with induced inflammation is used for the experiment. The curcuminoids and oil-free aqueous extract of C.longa showed significant inhibition in inflammation and also reduced edema in the animal model.
Tao Zhu et al. reported the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin in asthmatic airway inflammation and mucus hypersecretion.
What does this mean?
Turmeric and curcumin are well known for anti-inflammatory action. Increased temperature is the result of inflammation, and curcumin helps in reducing the inflammation, which leads to a reduction in body temperature.
2. It can boost immunity
Curcumin serves as an immunomodulatory agent – it can alter immune responses.
Curcumin is a dietary polyphenol, and it influences different immune cells such as T lymphocytes, B cells, Macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.
Curcumin enhances antibody responses in low dosage consumption.
Curcumin mediated pathways which help in restoring the immune cell population and also inhibiting the death of immune cells. It also shows immune activity against cancer.
Curcumin maintains a low level of inflammatory cytokines, which in turn helps in reducing fever.
What does this mean?
Turmeric and curcumin can be used as an immune boost component because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-infective, and protective effect. It helps in preventing infection by increasing the immunity against pathogens.
Yali Lv et al. reported the protective effect of curcumin against human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in Balb/c mice. HCMV infected mice were treated with curcumin and it reduced the IgM level and HCMV DNA load.
Curcumin protected Balb/c mice against HCMV infection by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This finding can help in developing novel agents for the treatment of HCMV infection.
The Journal Archives of Virology published an article demonstrating the inhibitory effects of curcumin on dengue virus type 2-infected cells in vitro. The MTT assay showed that the cytotoxicity of curcumin was low.
Curcumin treatment reduced the number of plaques formations and caused an accumulation of viral proteins.
Curcumin interferes with the infection process and affects viral particle production by influencing various molecular pathways.
What does it mean?
Curcumin shows a protective effect against viral infection, and it also reduces the damage caused by the infection process. Curcumin also proves to have very low toxicity to healthy body cells.
The journal called Antiviral Research published an article demonstrating the effect of curcumin in inhibiting Zika and chikungunya virus infection.
Both viruses responded to the treatment of cells with up to 5 micromolar of curcumin.
The direct curcumin treatment over the virus reduced its infectivity in a dose-dependent manner. Curcumin derivatives also showed antiviral activity against enveloped viruses.
The mechanism is through inhibition of virus binding to the cells.
Aarthi Narayanan et al. reported the inhibitory effect of curcumin in rift valley fever virus replication in human cells. Rift valley fever virus affects both humans and livestock.
The study concluded that curcumin administration reduced the level of extracellular infectious virus in both in vitro and in vivo models.
Kallol Dutta et al. reported the protective effect of curcumin on neuronal cells from Japanese encephalitis virus-mediated cell death. It also proved the inhibitory effect of curcumin in viral particle formation.
Japanese encephalitis virus-infected Neuro2a cell line was treated with curcumin.
The results showed that curcumin provides neuroprotection by decreasing reactive oxygen species levels and maintaining cellular levels of stress-related protein.
What does it mean?
Curcumin helps in controlling viral growth and infection inside the infected person by inhibiting molecular pathways required for viral growth. Curcumin also protects cells from the damage caused by virus and viral proteins.
How to Use Turmeric for Fever
Every Indian household has made use of turmeric to treat some disorder the most common one being a fever. Here are a few ways turmeric can be consumed to cure fever.
- Drinking hot milk at night with ½ teaspoon turmeric powder added to it can control fever.
- Turmeric milk can be made more appetizing by adding a few more spices. Heat 1 cup of milk with ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 2-3 black peppercorns, 2-3 cardamom pods and ½ inch chopped ginger. Add sweetener for taste and relish this hot brew while it combats the fever.
- Ginger can complement turmeric in warding off symptoms associated with cold and fever. Boil 1 cup of water and to it add ¼ teaspoon of raw grated turmeric, ¼ teaspoon of grated ginger, ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder. Strain the mixture and let it cool. Add honey to taste.
- A simple remedy incorporating turmeric is turmeric tea. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder to boiling water, let steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or sugar to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The best way to take turmeric is The Golden Paste. It contains black pepper and oil which increases the absorption of curcumin in the body. 1-2 teaspoons of The Golden Paste once or twice a day can help.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided in case of pregnancy and lactation.
Since it has a blood-thinning property, turmeric supplements should be discontinued 2 weeks prior to surgical procedures and also in case of diabetes if one is already consuming blood-thinning medications.
Turmeric is a simple natural remedy that you can use to reduce fever. It can also boost immunity and also aid in fighting infections or other root causes behind fever.