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General characteristics

General characteristics

Mumps (also known as parotitis) is caused by a virus belonging to the Paramyxoviridae family and humans are its only known host. It is spread by saliva in the form of coughing, sneezing, kissing and contact with recently contaminated surfaces. It is now a notifiable disease, mainly to monitor the 'effectiveness' of the recent vaccination programme.

The virus generally targets the salivary glands and the parotid glands (in the neck, cheeks, just below the ears and along the jaw line) and is more common in children but can also affect adults. Symptoms include painful swelling along the jaw line, the cheeks ('hamster cheeks'), under the tongue, fever, rash, fatigue and feeling unwell generally, headache, going off food, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and less commonly swollen testicles (usually in boys aged 15 or over and adult males). Generally the disease runs its course within a few weeks and is resolved without medical intervention. It is common to be exposed to the mumps virus and not develop any symptoms or illness (about 3 in every 10 cases). Occasionally, complications occur which include hearing loss or impairment, forms of meningitis and inflammation of other organs such as the pancreas, testicles or ovaries. Interestingly, ovarian cancer is much less common in women who have caught mumps as children.

Healing objectives are to allow the infection to run its course, unhindered, and avoid suppressing symptoms with fever reducing medications or anti-inflammatories (unless very serious of course). Plenty of rest, water, fresh air and comfort are needed, as well as natural remedies to ease any discomfort from pain, swelling and other symptoms.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

As swallowing can be very painful during mumps it is a good idea to make fresh vegetable and fruit juices such as carrot and apple or homemade watery soups to sip through a straw throughout the day.

Avoid all processed foods, fatty and fried foods, sugary foods, junk foods and refined carbohydrates as these will delay healing and further burden the lymphatic and other eliminatory systems.

Include the juices of fruits that are high in vitamin C  and anti-oxidants such as berries.

Include garlic and onions in your soups for their anti-viral and mucous thinning properties.

Add a tiny pinch of either ginger, black pepper or chilli powder to soups or herbal teas for their blood moving abilities which will help to reduce swelling and speed up healing.

Drink plenty of water.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Lemon balm tea is tasty and contains substances that are anti-viral. It also soothes the nerves, lifts the spirits and helps to reduce pain. Use a teaspoon of dried herb to each cup and give 3 cups daily (for children over 7), Use half a teaspoon in under 7's. Add the same quantity of elderberries for their strong anti-viral and fever lowering qualities.

Violet leaves are almost tailor made for mumps due to their decongesting and dispersing action on hard lumps in the glands.

Give drops of echinacea tincture in water or juice to boost the bodies immune activity. 10-20 drops in water three times daily for under 7's, 20-40 drops in over 7's. 40-60 drops 4 or 5 times daily for adults.

Add a pinch of chilli/cayenne powder to herbal teas or tincture doses to speed up resolution.

Herbs that will relieve swelling in the glands and lymphatic system include mullein leaves, cleavers, marigold flowers, raspberry leaf, yarrow and nettle. Use equal parts of the dried herbs and take as a tea three times daily.

Fenugreek seeds are very efficient cleansers of toxic mucous accumulations and a pinch of the powder can be added to any herb teas, juices or water to help aid recovery.

If the testicles are swollen try pasque flower, chamomile and angelica root or see also 'orchitis'. See the entries for each herb in the 'plants' section of this site for specific doses.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Take up to a teaspoon of good quality honey in warm water daily for its anti-viral and throat soothing properties.

Warm compresses of mullein leaf tea or castor oil can be applied to the swollen areas to help relieve pain and reduce swelling.

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