Cooling a fever

I had lunch with a friend this week, and was admiring the lovely bank of catnip (Nepeta cataria), in full late bloom and humming with insects. It’s a beautiful thing, though if you have cats it will be loved to pieces before it gets the chance to flower. And it does have its uses for humans too.
Strangely enough, although insects – particularly bees – are attracted to the living plant, if you rub some on your skin it will act as a temporary insect repellant. But its main traditional use is to bring down a fever, particularly in young children. It’s one of those herbs which boosts peripheral circulation, and by moving blood to your arms and legs, it helps to cool down your core. It doesn’t taste as sweet as calpol, and the tea is green rather than lurid pink, but it will help.
There are other herbs that are more popular nowadays for fever reduction, perhaps because the musty taste of catnip might be hard for a child to swallow. Elderflowers would do the job, and so would yarrow, but in an emergency it would be well worth a try. There’s always more than one option where herbs are concerned.

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