A Contrarian View : Fever, Fluids and Food During Acute Infections

Here is a fascinating discussion between our stalwart Dr John Campbell and the delightfully laconic Stephen A Hoption Cann PhD who is the Clinical Professor in the School of Population & Public Health Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

After studying the way all the other members of the mammal family behave when they have acute infections e.g. like Colds, Flu and Covid-19 he realised that they all had very similar ways of coping. Of course they have to rely purely on nature for healing, they have no NHS! What he discovered was that:

  • they let fevers run their course, they don’t try to reduce their temperature (by taking paracetemol or similar drugs). This is contrary to our sometimes quite extreme attempts to cool the bodies of people with infections
  • they stop taking in fluids. They use the fluids already in the body to concentrate their resources in fighting the infection. On the contrary we tend to encourage drinking and in extreme cases use saline drips to push water into the body. Studies have shown that this goes into cells and makes the less able to fight the infection and also often goes into the lungs, reducing the efficiency of oxygen intake.
    Not a good plan unless diarrhoea is involved, then electrolytes need to be replenished, dissolved in water to counter dehydration.
  • they reduce or stop eating. Digesting food takes huge amounts of energy, animals innately know to fast and use all their available energy to fight the infection. On the contrary we tend to encourage eating – “feed a cold”

So for the full arguements, elaborated in the Socratean manner of question and answer, watch this detailed video. Then wonder why we are the only mammals behaving irrationally when we have a serious infection. We have much to learn from nature and simpler approaches to coping with acute infections.

Prof Stephen A Hoption-Cann and Dr John Campbell

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