The most important treatment for heat exhaustion is replacing lost fluids by drinking water or a sports drink. Some herbs may help, but if you have symptoms of heat exhaustion you should talk to your health care provider before taking anything. Although no studies have examined using herbs to treat heat exhaustion specifically, the following herbs may reduce fever or lower body temperature:
- Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) — used in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce temperature by dilating blood vessels near the surface of the skin, which helps the body get rid of heat. Do not use Chinese skullcap if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Elder flower (Sambucusnigra) – used to treat fever, sometimes combined with peppermint leaf (Mentha x piperita). Do not use Elder flower if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Willow bark (Salix spp.) – used to treat fever. Do not take willow bark if you are allergic to aspirin, and do not give it to children under 16 because of the risk of developing Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Do not use Willow bark if you are pregnant or nursing. Use caution if you have an illness that is sometimes aggravated by aspirin, as it may also be aggravated by willow bark. Such conditions include asthma, stomach ulcers, diabetes, gout, hemophilia, hypoprothrombinemia, kidney and liver disease. Like aspirin, Willow bark can have a blood thinning effect and should not be taken with other blood thinning medications and should be discontinued well in advance of any surgery.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) — used to treat fever. Do not take Yarrow if you are pregnant or nursing. Yarrow can have blood thinning effects and should not be taken with other blood thinning medications, such as coumadin (warfarin), and should be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to any surgery. Yarrow can interact with lithium and other sedative medications.
- Cayenne pepper (Capsicum spp.) – contains capsaicin, which may lower body temperature by stimulating sweat glands. Talk to your doctor if you are taking blood thinning medications, as cayenne pepper can have blood thinning effects.