Why eating a more wholesome diet can trigger a healing crisis or a worsening of symptoms and why this should not discourage or short circuit efforts at living a healthier lifestyle.
More people than ever are working to improve their diet and lifestyle. This is great news!
Unfortunately, early on in the process of making important changes, some may experience what’s called a “healing crisis”.
The risk of this happening is particularly high if lifestyle modifications are drastic.
For example, suddenly eliminating all sugar from the diet cold turkey if consumption was quite high previously can really throw the body for a loop.
The critical retracing or “die-off” may be so severe that the person may be tempted to abandon efforts to improve diet altogether!
Natural Healing Can Trigger a Temporary “Crisis”
In my 20+ years of natural health coaching, I’ve seen this process occur more times than I can count.
The truth is that natural healing first and foremost requires the body to rid itself of toxic substances. This must occur before life-improving rebuilding and health improvements gain traction.
This can translate into a temporary period of worsening symptoms. How long?
This depends on a variety of factors such as age, metabolism, severity of toxic build-up, and prior dietary quality.
Sometimes, the detoxification process can be so severe, that a person quite literally can’t leave the house for a while.
In other cases, a person in the midst of a healing crisis may mistake symptoms for actual infection or illness.
For example, just last week, a reader urgently reached out with symptoms of lightheadedness. She had just consumed some 24-hour kefir she made at home with raw, grassfed milk.
Kefir, in particular, is highly cleansing. It is the most powerful fermented food, with dozens of beneficial bacterial and yeast strains that aggressively reverse pathogenic colonization in the gut.
Using it for the first time can definitely bring on rapid detoxification as the body goes into overdrive cleansing the gut of pathogens.
Another example is a friend of mine who noticed that when she started drinking kefir, she experienced an eczema flare-up. To solve the problem, she reduced how much she was drinking each day and worked up slowly.
This strategy allowed time to adjust and didn’t overwhelm the body’s excretion mechanisms of which the skin is the largest organ!
Sure enough, her eczema went away and did not reappear even consuming a quart a day! In addition, her overall health improved considerably from the introduction of raw 24-hour kefir (her diet was otherwise excellent).
Kombucha and Candida
Even a milder detoxifier such as kombucha can trigger yeast die-off.
While there are ways to mitigate detox symptoms (going slow is the most important one), it’s important to realize that it is normal for them to occur.
In other words, don’t panic!
A healing crisis can also involve skin ulcers.
One person in my wellness community experienced small, but painful, pus-filled ulcer breakouts. These clusters occurred around the elbows, knees, and hips during the first six months of the GAPS diet.
Wisely, he realized that these ulcers were a skin-based healing crisis and did not necessitate a trip to the dermatologist, who would have likely only made things worse with toxic creams or oral pharmaceuticals.
Toxins often accumulate around the joints. It’s the body’s way of pushing them as far away from the vital organs as possible.
With patience and perseverance, these painful clusters gradually reduced in number, and then stopped completely. They never returned once sufficient detoxification occurred.
Rest and Keep Going! Don’t Throw in the Towel!
While a healing crisis can be inconvenient and even a bit alarming, it should not in any way serve as a source of discouragement. Inevitable progress is almost certainly right down the road!
As the body heals through diet, non-toxic therapies, and lifestyle, symptoms gradually improve and eventually fade away over time.
This may be days, weeks, or even months into the process.
Instead of being hard on yourself or abandoning positive changes, it is important to realize that a “healing crisis” is telling you that things are working.
To maximize the body’s directional energy to the organs and tissues where the most valuable healing is most likely occurring, it is important to rest as much as possible during this time.
Just like fighting an infection, releasing the body’s toxic burden can be fatiguing.
If you need to back off a bit in order to make symptoms manageable so they don’t affect work, school, or relationships, then do so.
But, by all means, be patient and stay the course!
Temporary worsening of symptoms you are working to resolve will almost certainly break through to feeling better than you ever did before!