A healing crisis is when we experience symptoms from diseases and toxins that are released during a detoxification process. An intentional detoxification process usually involves a more cleansing diet, some herbal supplementation, and sometimes fasting. An un-intentional detoxification process is when we become ill, or our health is compromised in ways that force us to consider change. Although we generally speak of health as a connected state of being, the truth is most of us live from different levels of our health. By this, I mean we pull on our strengths, often overriding our weaknesses for long periods of time before those weaknesses surface—we compartmentalize until we are too ill or in pain to ignore it any longer.
Disease is stored in layers in our bodies. What causes this layering? As our bodies store fat, the chemistry of the fat reflects the internal body conditions at the time the fat was stored. Each year, the illnesses that we caught left a small residue of the virus or bacteria in our fatty deposits. The toxins we ingested (alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs, excess sugar, heavy foods and meats―even stress responses) left their marks on us. Deposits throughout our bodies have kept a trace of the history of what we have been through. Any cleansing we undergo digs into each layer, peeling them away one at a time. As we cleanse and detoxify our bodies, we release the toxins, bacteria, and viruses that built up in our fatty deposits. As they are released, we may experience symptoms that we initially experienced with that particular malady or event―albeit in a milder form. We may get a runny nose, feel tired, develop body aches or even develop a fever, as our bodies work their way through years of toxins and disease. This process usually unveils these layers from the most recent first, all the way back to early childhood illnesses. This is called a healing crisis.
You may experience a healing crisis when you are detoxifying the elimination organs, such as the liver, when a large amount of toxins are released into the blood. Although our kidneys try to filter these toxins out and expel them through your urinary system, you may feel sick during the process. Generally, the symptoms surrounding this resemble a hangover―headache, upset stomach, and listlessness. Additionally, our liver and gall bladder will release fatty deposits that will make their way into our colon. This may cause allergy or flu like symptoms, or cause acne, or even aches and pains as our bodies tries to eliminate these toxins. Avoid overeating during a healing crisis, eating only light meals that are easy to digest. Drinking plenty of water helps your body flush out these toxins through your colon and kidneys.
The best use of Chinese medicine in whole body―whole lifetime health, is to follow health and illness in a perpetual, vigilant dance of balance. Prevention is the true goal and in order to do that one must peel off the layers of disease while supporting health over time. If I have seen you as a patient in the office, you may recall that I must treat an acute illness as a priority and that you usually get relief from the most recent discomfort before making more significant progress on the most painful or long-term conditions. For example, if a patient comes to the office for treatment of an infectious disease, the acute illness has to be dealt with as the first order of business. The next step should be to go in with supportive therapies to rebuild the damage caused and to address any chronic weaknesses in other systems that might contribute to the contraction of an infectious disease. These can include conditions such as allergies, asthma, digestive disturbances of all kinds, chronic fatigue, insomnia and chronic pain, to name a few.
Let’s face it. The best thing about a healing crisis is when the crisis, or breakdown phase, ends. Now one can begin with a cleaner slate. It’s easier to implement positive habits and re-examine one’s diet, nutrition, exercise; even one’s living and work environments, and last but not least, relationships. Usually one will feel lighter; even somewhat purified in body, mind and spirit. It’s a great place from which to re-evaluate one’s life on all levels, move forward on those changes and stay with them long enough to achieve desired results. Whether it is on a physical, mental or emotional level, it is often necessary to challenge and break down old habits and patterns in order to make way for the new.
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 17+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.