“Feed a Fever, Starve the Cold”: What it means

Today I was reminded that many people are confused with the saying “Feed a Fever, Starve the Cold”, and some even say “Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold”, or “Feed a Fever, Feed a Cold”. To say the least, this is one of the most confusing things for many people to remember from folk medicine practices, partially because they are likely trying to remember it while they have a fever or cold.

How I remember what it means
So, this is one of the ways how I remember it: “Feed and Fever both start with ‘Fe’ and cold does not.” Though, that is only a superficial way of remembering it. For me to really remember it, I go into my Ayurveda teachings. Simply, the immune system is a type of Agni. Agni is an aspect of “Fire”. So, the fever is some fire from the immune system. Why is it so hot? We know through western medicine that a fever generally indicates some type of infection that the immune system is trying to fight off, which generally is a good thing as long as the fever isn’t so hot that it boils your brain (brain damage happens at over 107.6°F/42°C). We know from camping that in order to have a fire, you must have kindling and wood… things that feed the fire so it is able to do its job… give off heat so we are warm, fight off predators (you think of an infection as a predator), and transform food into something more usable for our body.

Next, let’s look at “Cold”. Colds generally are thought of as being mucusy, filled with congestion, gooey. We feel heavy, drained, and often experience body chills. We often literally feel “Cold” when this is going on. Now, we all know “starving” is not a good thing… but what if you could starve just an aspect? This is what this part of the saying is hinting to… “Starve the Cold.” We also know from Ayurveda that opposites heal. What’s the opposite of cold? It is warmth and heat. For a cold, you want to starve the cold by ingesting things that are not going to feed the cold, instead, you need to provide the opposite so it doesn’t have what it needs to sustain itself. The opposite of heavy, congestion, and mucus is light, clear, and hot.

How to utilize this information
So, it is, “Feed a Fever, Starve the Cold”. For fevers (as long as they are not too high), hotter and spicier foods, and warmer baths are a welcome treat to help the immune system fight off what it is battling. For colds, avoid literal cold foods, dairy (mucus increasing), or wheat (gooey), or most sugars (also generally gooey), and other things that will make you colder, and instead focus on those foods that are light, clear, and hot… like broth with some spices that will break up the congestion and provide some warmth like garlic, onion, thyme, red chili flakes, turmeric, and ginger, or Hot Apple Cider with ginger, cinnamon, and clove, or maybe a Ginger Lemon Hot Tea with some cinnamon and sweetened with Raw Unheated Honey.

Alwауѕ rеmеmbеr: Yоu ARE literally whаt уоu digеѕt. Whаt уоu digеѕt are thе bаѕiс building blocks tо уоur entire рhуѕiсаl mаkеuр. If your body does nоt have thе building blосkѕ to make ѕоmеthing, it еithеr cannot be mаdе, оr it uses sub-standard mаtеriаlѕ tо сrеаtе ѕоmеthing.

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