Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: Natural remedies for glandular fever

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Because glandular fever is a virus, antibiotics are of no use. This is where traditional plant medicine can help. Photo / iStock
Because glandular fever is a virus, antibiotics are of no use. This is where traditional plant medicine can help. Photo / iStock

My daughter was recently diagnosed with glandular fever. She is missing quite a bit of school and the thought of getting behind is making her anxious. Is there anything natural you can recommend that will help her?

Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear your daughter is unwell. Glandular fever can be a terrible thing to try and shake and can really affect those suffering from it.

Glandular fever is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, and unfortunately people can have glandular fever and not know about it for 4-8 weeks when the symptoms start to emerge.

Once the virus sets in people can get very sick and very tired. The fatigue, fever, headaches, chills, swollen lymph glands and other symptoms can last for several months and often leave the person feeling very depleted and exhausted, making the smallest tasks incredibly difficult.

Traditional plant medicine can be very helpful for those that are suffering from glandular fever as there is no specific conventional medical treatment that can be prescribed to help or treat the virus.

As glandular fever is a virus, antibiotics are of no use. This is where traditional plant medicine excels, as it works incredibly well by supporting the body to fight the virus, and also help with recuperation.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. All of these actions are very important when you are fighting a virus. Thyme is one of plant medicines 'big hitters'; it helps prime the body to fight the virus and also helps lower fevers that can occur with this condition.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is another great option to help fight the virus, as it is anti-viral. Antiviral plant medicines help to provoke a direct immune response against viruses such as glandular fever. The active constituent within St John's wort that helps with glandular fever is called hypericin. Hypericin helps fight envelope viruses (like glandular fever) as it helps to interfere with the steps in the viruses' replication cycle.

St John's Wort also helps with nerve pain as it acts as a nerve insulator, so if people are finding they are getting aches and pains from the virus topical St John's wort can help alleviate this discomfort.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a plant that works on the lymphatic system, which is very important with glandular fever, as often the swollen lymph nodes and glands can be painful. It also helps to facilitate better lymphatic circulation and aid with removal of toxins and waste products from the body.

Alongside making sure she gets a lot of rest, make sure she gets enough fluids. Medicinal teas are a great way to tick both of these boxes as you're helping to keep up hydration levels as well as giving a therapeutic dose of plant medicine.

• If you find her symptoms do not improve or worsen, please contact your leading healthcare provider.

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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