Dawn Combs
April 2, 2014

Here in Ohio, the mumps virus is in the news right now, so everyone is in crisis mode. It seems that when we hear about one of the old childhood diseases, like mumps, measles or whooping cough, we worry that a catastrophe is brewing. We’ve bought into the medical mythology that these diseases no longer exist because we have vaccinated them out of existence. The truth is that these diseases are very much still with us. Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike are prone to getting them.

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Mumps is a virus characterized by swollen salivary glands. Because it’s a virus, your family doctor (who you should always consult) cannot treat it with antibiotics and typically advises bed rest, plenty of fluids and symptom management. The issue of vaccination is very controversial and not a conversation I aim to get into in this space. Regardless of personal choices, I fear that there are those on both sides of the debate that are sorely unprepared should a family member contract mumps.

I was raised to always be prepared. We planned ahead and my mother always taught me that it was “better to have it and not need it than to want it and not have it.” When I started my own family, this training led me to prepare for what I would do if anyone managed to get one of the dreaded childhood diseases. I don’t live in fear of them, but I also don’t assume that they are never going to darken my doorway. So when I hear all the uproar because there is an “outbreak” of mumps, I tend to shrug my shoulders. I’m prepared; why isn’t everyone else?

Mumps Outbreak? Plan Ahead with Herbal Treatments - Photo by Dawn Combs (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Dawn Combs

Treat the Symptoms
As with most illnesses, the basic symptoms of mumps must be addressed. Mumps often includes a high fever, headache and sore throat. The illness will pass with relatively little intervention, but it’s important to monitor a person’s intake of water and ensure that the fever is manageable. There are, of course anti-viral herbs and immune supporting herbs that would be helpful in this case. I will explore them in more detail next week, but right now let’s first discuss how to address the symptoms.

I always let a fever run its course unless it is too high or too prolonged. I keep a tincture around for the fever that is out of control. It can be made with peppermint (Mentha piperita), catnip (Nepeta cataria) and elder (Sambucus canadensis). These herbs are classified as diaphoretics, meaning they bring about sweating, which will break a fever in an appropriate manner.

For a sore throat, my favorite remedy is a simple sage (Salvia officinalis) tea with a spoon full of honey. Add a bit of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) for anti-inflammatory and pain relief, and you’ve got yourself a delicious sipping tea that will keep your loved one hydrated and comfortable. The best part is that all these plants are easy to grow in the garden or in pots wherever you live.

With any serious illness, it is always important to work with a family physician. It’s simply not necessary to panic, especially if you have a plan for what you will do when your family gets sick. Many of the diseases for which we have the most cultural fear just have to run their course. Because mumps doesn’t really have a “treatment” is all the more reason to have a plan for home care. There is no need for your loved one to suffer when you have a supply of herbs to make them comfortable as they recover.

Try these other herbal remedies:

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