Fever is a normal part of a healthy immune response that is often met by over-reaction. Fever is produced when we come into contact with toxins, E. coli bacterium, for example, that introduce pyrogens into the bloodstream. Pyrogens are toxins that infect the body and stimulate a fever-response. The immune system identifies pyrogens as threats, alerting the hypothalamus to signal the body to generate and retain heat in the form of a fever.
Medication designed to suppress a therapeutic fever can do more harm than good. According to Harvard Medical School, an adult has a fever when his or her temperature exceeds 100.4℉. A fever is not considered medically urgent until it exceeds 104℉, at which point measures should be taken to cool the body and seek immediate medical attention.
Pyrogens signal the immune system when a dangerous toxin has entered the bloodstream. But what about microtoxins that we are exposed to everyday? Persistent organic pollutants such as chemical fertilizers from agro-runoff are in the soil, air, and water of most places in America. Heavy metals loosed from the Earth by industrial operations become airborne and seep into soil and water tables. Plasticizers like phthalates are found in umbilical cord tissue and breast milk, and in the fat cells of most Americans. Most of us don’t get a fever every time we walk outside, but we should not mistake this apparent lack of bodily reaction for a lack of bodily harm.
“The dose makes the poison,” is more than just a colloquialism; it is a chemical reality that has allowed for questionable standards for public drinking water, mass-produced foods, and air quality in the United States. Until recently, medical science had essentially discounted the dangers of low-dose toxins. Difficulty with accurate testing methods, as well as the inability to affect rapid policy and procedural change, are among the reasons why scientists had left this question largely unexplored. Thankfully, this has changed in the last decade, and not a moment too soon: recent studies show that low-dose toxins can be among the most dangerous of all chemical exposures.
In a landmark study released at the end of 2017, scientists found that “widely disseminated chemicals and pollutants…are proportionately more toxic at the lowest levels of exposure,” and “we will need to achieve near-zero exposures to protect public health.” Other recent studies have shown that microdoses can and do impact health, including increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, hormonal disturbances, and increased risk of cancers. Since we can’t snap our fingers and make environmental toxins go away, a diligent approach to disease prevention includes enhancing our immune system and efficiently dumping toxins on a regular basis.
Thankfully, we don’t need to become sick with fever to reap the disease-fighting advantages of a body temperature boost. There are natural ways to hack our body heat that also speed detox—and are often downright enjoyable! Whether you patronize a health club or implement a DIY solution, here are three healthful therapies that will help you turn up the heat.
Break a Sweat
Your body has a powerful, natural system for detoxifying that doesn’t require you to suffer the discomforts of being under-the-weather. All you have to do is pick your favorite exercise and break a sweat! Sweating is one of mankind’s primary mechanisms for eliminating toxins and purifying the body. Sweating naturally raises body temperature, dumps wastes, and stimulates biochemical activity, including increased circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid.
A 2011 study published in the Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology, observed that dangerous metals and petrochemicals were detected in the sweat of study participants that were not seen, or were seen in differing levels, in urinalysis and blood serum tests conducted on the same patients. This finding prompted researchers to call for “sweat analysis to be considered as an additional method for monitoring bioaccumulation of toxic elements in humans.”
You can induce a sweat with intense exercise or take a more leisurely approach through sunbathing. Sunbathing raises body temperature when photons penetrate the skin, stimulating production of Vitamin D and energizing the water in our cells. UV and radiant heat make H2O’s charge, polarity, and conductivity stronger, while blood, lymph, and other body fluids become thinner. This speeds circulation, moving oxygen-rich blood in, and waste products, out. Getting a deep, purifying sweat several times per week can greatly enhance the efficiency at which our bodies remove these everyday toxins.