Feb 10, 2022
4 mins read
A common complaint that many complementary and holistic therapists get from their clients after a treatment is that they actually start experiencing a worsening of their symptoms or even manifest symptoms that did not exist before. While counter-intuitive to what we would normally associate with healing, this type of reaction is very common with holistic traditional and complementary therapies.
In Chinese medicine, there is an adage that is goes 小病不断 大病不患 (xiǎo bìng bù duàn dàbìng bù huàn). This can be translated as “Bear the small illnesses to prevent the major illnesses”. This is kinda like the medical version of “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. So what does this actually mean?
A healing crisis, or healing reaction, is a temporary worsening of symptoms that occurs when the body is going through the process of healing itself through the elimination of toxins.
Since most people base their health on how good they feel, they may think the natural health program they are using is hurting them when a healing crisis takes place. But nothing could be further from the truth. It occurs when the body “retraces” old injuries, wounds, infections or other imbalances from its past.
This crisis has many different names. Some of these include: healing reactions, flare-ups, retracing reactions, detox reactions, Herxheimer reactions, Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions, die-off reactions, the reversal process, Lucio’s Phenomena, purification reactions or a crisis.
A Welcome Part of Healing
A healing crisis is an important aspect of an effective natural, deep healing process. Even though the crisis is uncomfortable and sometimes alarming in nature, it is a good sign that the body is working to heal itself. If a particular therapy does not produce a healing crisis, an alternate therapy may be required to accomplish the detoxification necessary to overcome illness and disease.
Symptoms of A Healing Crisis
The symptoms that accompany a healing crisis may include: headache, flushing, skin eruptions and/or boils, fever, nausea, joint pains, feelings of being spaced out, unusual fatigue, insomnia, sleepiness, congestion, strong emotions, depression, irritability, muscle cramps, aches and pains, constipation, diarrhea, hot/cold flashes, night sweats and many other symptoms which are often cold and/or flu-like.
A healing crisis will often bring up past issues, “retracing”, that have been dormant in your body for a long time … past illnesses and disease may re-manifest as the body eliminates the toxins that have been stored from those disease processes. Symptoms can be quite intense when the healing crisis is dealing with serious past illnesses and disease such as an old case of hepatitis, shingles, viral infections or pneumonia.
The symptoms and pain of the healing crisis are often more intense than the disease or illness that is being treated. Remember, it is only temporary. And it is the path to renewed health.
A healing crisis usually lasts two to three days, but can extend for much longer periods of time, even weeks. More than one healing crisis may be necessary for a complete cure to take place. When dealing with a more serious illness or disease, such as cancer, you may have to go through many healing crises before full health can be restored.
What Causes A Healing Crisis
The stage is set for a healing crisis when the body is overloaded with toxins that have been trapped within its tissues for a long period of time – sometimes for many decades. As a general rule, the more toxic the body is, the more intense the healing crisis will be. As healing begins, many systems in the body work together to eliminate waste products and toxins and can become overwhelmed by the process. Remember, these symptoms are temporary, and once they pass, the body is healthier and stronger.
A healing crisis is generally initiated by some type of cleanse or detox process, such as a dietary change (cultured foods high in probiotics, coconut products), supplements (B12, probiotics, herbs), a detoxifying treatment or therapy (reiki, acupuncture, bio-electric therapy et al) or a period of fasting. It occurs when the cells within the body release toxins and impurities faster than the body’s elimination systems (skin, liver, bladder, kidneys and lungs) are able to process them.
A healing crisis can also be produced by a treatment or therapy that causes yeast, viruses, bacteria, cancer, etc. to have massive die-offs. The dead cells can overwhelm the elimination processes as they are expelled from the body.
If the symptoms become extreme, a wise course of action could entail slowing down the detoxification process allowing the body time to catch up.
There are also ways to assist the body during a healing reaction. These can include: drinking plenty of fluids especially water to help carry off the toxins and getting plenty of rest – mentally, physically and emotionally.
In summary, healing crises are good even though they make you feel bad. They are an sign that the healing process chosen is working by eliminating the body of toxins, impurities and imbalances in the body.
The healing crisis lets you know that you are on the right path to renewed health and vigor. “No pain, no gain” is truly applicable when talking about a healing crisis.
First published on 7 January 2019 at Reiki Refuge's Jots & Thots