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A Little Touch of Fever May be Good for You

August 20, 2010
When bacteria or viruses invade the bloodstream, white blood cells rally to the defense. They release a substance called endogenous pyrogen into the bloodstream; it immediately adjusts the thermostat in the hypothalamus so that the body temperature rises. The higher temperature in turn stimulates the production of move white blood cells, which try to identify and destroy the cause of the illness.

clipped from healthmad.com

For more than 2,000 years physicians believed that a fever was nature’s way of burning out the poisons that made people ill. But in the 20th century doctors have taken a different view, using drugs such as aspirin to reduce the temperature of feverish patients. Today, however research suggests that the ancient doctors were right after all: fever is an important part of the body’s process of healing itself.

The research was begun in 1975 by Matthew J. Kluger decided to use reptiles, in which body heat is determined by the surrounding temperature, rather than humans, whose body heat remains constant. For his experiments Kluger chose the desert iguana, a small American iguana.

Fevered Lizard: The desert iguana may seem an unlikely animal to use to study fever in humans. But because it is a reptile, its body heat is determined by the environment and is easily controllable in experiments.

Fever Pitch

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