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For some, a healing crisis – or Herxheimer Reaction – may occur as the body heals itself. This often happens when one seeks holistic healing. In contrast, in the use of modern medicine, the symptoms of pain are often suppressed by the presence of painkillers.
The healing crisis manifests as symptoms of getting worse instead of better. So you start to think that holistic healing is not working. Many give up trying to get well the natural way when faced with a healing crisis. That’s when we need to remember that in holistic healing, it may get worse before it can get better.
Why is this happening
As the body starts to heal, the bacteria that are making you sick start to die off, releasing endotoxins into the blood and tissue faster than the body can deal with. This cascade of toxins provokes an inflammatory response. This is not cause for alarm as it is normal for the body to generate an immune response when challenged. Those with effective detoxification and elimination systems may not experience any significant changes. It is important to understand that the aggravation is due to immune system response and not a progression of the disease.
What is happening
To heal the body, a medicine needs to do two things: kill bacteria and viruses, and remove toxins from the body. A healing crisis occurs when one or more of the following takes place as a result of holistic intervention:
- When bacteria and viruses are killed, they disintegrate and release toxins en masse into the blood stream to be flushed away. This overloads the blood system and causes sensors to go wild, making you feel ill.
- As the body detoxes itself, metabolic byproducts (toxins) that were previously held in storage are now released into the blood stream to be carried to the liver for processing and discharge, adding to the overload.
- When the body regains health, this new healthy state will be registered on our sensory systems, but the body needs time to adjust to the new balance.
- If you have switched to holistic treatment after a long period of being on prescription drugs and painkillers, the nervous system will reboot, and without the numbing from painkillers, the sensations that you can now feel can be initially overwhelming.
- Contraindications between holistic treatment and modern medication during the easing off period may cause some reactions.
THE KNOWN SYMPTOMS INCLUDE (NOT EXHAUSTIVE)
- Stomach distress and runs as the body tries to quickly get rid of unwanted stuff.
- Nausea and vomiting for the same reason.
- Dirty and odorous urine.
- Smelly stools.
- Boils and itchy skin as toxins not expelled fast enough through the urine are pushed out through the sweat glands.
- Sore throat and dry skin.
- Tiredness, as the body “forces” you to rest so that it can heal.
- A spike or drop in blood pressure as the heart and kidney adjust to new body parameters.
- Spikes in sugar readings as the body gets rid of excessive forced sugar storage due to diabetes medication.
- Fever, as the immune system is strong enough to start killing viruses and one of the methods it employs is fever (heat)
- Pain, usually at the site of old injuries – when health returns, the immune system can now turn its attention to healing the less critical old injuries.
- Bleeding, in those with nose or diabetic wounds, as blood flow is increased to those areas due to improved blood circulation and immune system. The bleeding stops when the body adjusts to the new state of wellbeing.
- Propensity to bleed more, especially if you are on blood thinner medication, as the body heals and returns blood to a healthy state – your blood becomes too “thin”.
- Expelling of body tissues/residues like skin flakes and mucus that are deemed undesirable to the body. For instance, you may find yourself coughing as it helps clear the lungs.
- Expulsion of grafted organs as a result of stronger immune system. (Those with grafted organs are NORMALLY advised against taking supplements to improve health for this reason. It is very important that you check with your doctor before starting holistic therapy.)
- Abortion. For the same reason, pregnant women should not go on health supplements as the foetus has a different genetic makeup – upsetting the mother’s own check and balances could cause the body to reject the foetus.
- Painful and loosened teeth. Those with infected tooth fillings or root canals may experience a similar rejection of the affected tooth.
MITIGATING HEALING CRISIS
- Drink PLENTY OF WATER if you face a healing crisis. This will ensure the body has enough fluids to expel toxins.
- Reduce the load on your liver during treatment by cutting down on smoking and alcohol and meat consumption. This allows the liver to divert all its resources to processing toxins for excretion.
- Exercise to induce sweat and toxin removal through the skin, and improve blood circulation.
- Get enough rest.
- Reduce stress in other areas of your life.
- Adjusting the herbal dosage is the most effective treatment for herx symtoms. Decreasing the dosage slows down the treatment, and gives the body time to cope with the healing crisis – if you have been taking 2 capsules a day, reduce to 1; if you have been taking 1 capsule a day, reduce to alternate days, etc. Instead of taking it first thing in the morning, you can take it after meal.
- To reduce itch or boils, wash skin frequently.
- Consult your dentist if there is tooth pain or infection, or if you feel a loosening of teeth.
- In case of severe cough, pain or itch, stop the treatment, and wait for a while before resuming gradually.
- Monitor your blood pressure if you are on hypertension medication and seek medical advice if unsure. Stop the holistic treatment if you experience extreme fluctuations in blood pressure readings as it can have severe health implications. Resume holistic treatment gradually under supervision of a competent healthcare professional.
- With your healthcare professional for any contraindications to the drugs you are taking.
- Similarly, consult your doctor before starting any herbal supplementation if you have a tissue/organ graft or if you are on any immune suppressant medication. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, do not take herbal supplements without a competent doctor’s advice. Make sure the doctor comprehends what you are taking and what it can do to your immune system. Seek a second opinion if needed.