Fever in children accounts for roughly one-third of all visits to a pediatrician or other health care provider. The fever, of course, is not the issue itself but a symptom that the immune system is fighting something off and the fever is an aid for these functions. Generally in children the fever will abate in time as their body deals with the underlying issues. In short, there is often far less to worry about, but as parents we just can’t help ourselves.
Regardless of “fever phobia” and other related clinical ideas regarding the excessive use of antipyretics, there is a time and place where medical options are viable and necessary. The other issues regarding over treatment can take up a full article and much of that from a pediatricians perspective is covered in this journal article.
Generally the western mode of care when treatment to lower fever is needed is to use antipyretics (anti = “against”, pyretos = “fire”). OTC options are acetaminophen (tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (advil) or naproxen (aleve). But some children cannot tolerate the use of western antipyretics due to hypersensitivity (possibly nausea, rashes, fatigue, etc.). It is with this population that researchers from Singapore and Israel publishing in the “Asia Pacific Allergy” journal conducted a pilot study evaluating one of the most common Chinese Herbal Medicine formulas for colds and flus, Yin Qiao Wan.
In this study, researchers recruited twenty one children (mean age 10.7) all of whom had been diagnosed previously with paracetamol and ibuprofen hypersensitivity. The researchers found quick temperature reduction in the children with generally no side effects (one 16 year old child with allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis as well as recurrent angioedema failed the oral challenge test but required no other medications to resolve). They concluded that yin qiao “is generally well tolerated in patients with paracetamol and ibuprofen hypersensitivity.”
What of course this study is lacking (which is fine, studies look at specific details most often) is a far more likely broader effect of yin qiao wan on the underlying symptoms. These effects are perhaps more important than just being a safer medicinal replacement for more common antipyretics to drop fever. The formula itself has been used clinically for hundreds of years to help resolve a broad range of immune issues – generally, but not limited to, the cold and flu family. A detailed article I wrote on the subject a few years ago is “Chinese Herbal Medicine and Self-Help Acupressure for Colds and Flus” gets into some of the technical details of colds and flus and how to treat them with Chinese Medicine.
Clinically yin qiao works best at the very early onsets of colds and flus particularly when there are heat signs (i.e. fever). Taken early on it is used clinically to stop the progression of these issues and shorten both the severity and duration of colds. The two major herbal ingredients in yin qiao are honeysuckle and forsythia.
- Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower)
Comes from the “Herbs that Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity” grouping. In general it is a common ingredient in formulas to do just that, “clear heat”.
Used to expel what we call “wind-heat” in Chinese Medicine – it will aid in clearing fevers, sore throats, headaches. It has other functions as well that are lower in the body including intestinal and bladder issues.
- Lin Qiao (Forsythia Fruit)
Comes from the “Herbs that Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity” grouping as well. It is also a common ingredient in formulas that “clear heat” from a TCM herbal perspective.
This herb is generally used for expelling “wind-heat” in the forms of fever, sore throat, headache. It is also used clinically to remove nodules in the neck and elsewhere.
Used with proper diagnoses and in proper dosages, Chinese herbal medicine is generally very well tolerated and often provides broader, arguably more “healing”, functions than the western medicine counterparts. There are many places where the strength of western medicine is very welcomed and put to great use, but in Children with basic symptoms, that might be a better place for things that work well with the body, not that force it. Either way if your child has sensitivity to western medicine for reducing fevers, yin qiao may prove to be a very helpful and likely symptom free option. That said, there are other formulas for clearing fevers and for cold and flu symptoms so, as always, visiting your acupuncturist first to obtain a proper diagnosis and recommendation is important for successful treatment.