Updated: Jul 28, 2021
The Healing Crisis, or as it is also known, The Herxheimer Reaction, is characterized by a temporary increase in discomfort during the body’s process of detoxification. It occurs when internal toxins and wastes are being released faster than the body can eliminate them.
Whether you’ve chosen to start a cleanse or a new healing program, it is possible that you will experience one or more of the discomforts that are commonly referred to as a healing crisis, cleansing reaction, die-off, or herxing.
The body is designed to naturally cleanse and detox itself on a daily basis. Our human design is programmed to eliminate the internal wastes and the toxins that have accumulated. Yet, due to the incredibly high level of toxins that we are exposed to through environmental pollution, toxic additives in foods, cleaning products, and medicines, as well as exposure to radiation and heavy metals, our body's are unable to properly eliminate this high burden of toxins on their own. An overwhelm of toxic accumulation can occur and is often a contributing factor to the development of disease and chronic illness. This is why holistic detoxification therapies are so important for our ability to survive, heal, and thrive in these modern times.
Often, when starting a cleansing program or are working to heal a health issue, you may experience a "cleansing reaction," aka "healing crisis," as the body purges itself. The severity and duration of the reactions depend upon how much waste you have to remove, how congested or impaired your elimination pathways are, and what you do to assist the process.
CLEANSING REACTIONS - WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
The Herxheimer Reaction is an indication that the process of cleansing and detoxification is working and that your body is cleaning itself of impurities and toxins. The duration of the cleansing reaction is not easy to determine, yet it is important to note that the reactions are temporary, yet depending on the levels of toxicity they may be mild or severe, and they can last a few hours to a few weeks. It is important to note that not every person who embarks on a cleanse or healing protocol experiences cleansing reactions.
Some common experiences for those who do have cleansing reactions can include flu-like symptoms during the first few days of the cleanse because your body is dumping toxins into the bloodstream for elimination. The symptoms typically pass within 1-3 days. On rare occasions, they may last several weeks. Another crisis may manifest after you begin feeling your very best. There may be several healing crises that occur before the final crisis is experienced.
The healing crisis may bring about experiences of past conditions. This may sound daunting, yet it is actually all good. The body must remove and repair all that interferes with achieving optimal health for true healing and renewal to take hold. Once the detoxification process is underway, the severity and duration of the healing crisis is a direct indication of the volume of toxins and wastes that are being released from inside your body.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF A HEALING CRISIS
The manifestation and presentation of cleansing reactions can vary greatly from person to person. They may range from none to severe with some or many symptoms. The following is a list of the most common symptoms or complaints.
Stomach upset (nausea, cramping, indigestion, etc.)
Increased joint or muscle pain
Diarrhea or loose stools
Strange or increased body odor
Metallic taste in the mouth
Fever (usually low grade)
Change in blood pressure
Changes in menstrual cycles
Skin eruptions, including boils, hives, and rashes
Cold or flu-like symptoms
Strong emotions: anger, despair, sadness, fear
HOW TO MANAGE AND DECREASE CLEANSING REACTIONS
Stay hydrated! Be sure to drink plenty of pure water to flush the body of toxins. Drink 3 to 4 liters per day.
Eat a clean, all-natural, whole foods diet that is high in fiber and plant-based foods.
Avoid dairy, gluten, white rice, refined sugar, refined oils, processed and refined grains, and starches, fried foods, soy, artificial ingredients, red meat, pork, factory-farmed meat and eggs, farmed fish, processed meats, genetically modified ingredients, and alcohol.
Take time to rest. If you are feeling low energy or fatigue it means that your body is telling you to rest.
Keep the bowels moving. Congested or constipated bowels can create discomfort and make cleansing reactions worse. If you tend towards constipation or sluggish elimination, consider taking psyllium, mimosa pudica, or slippery elm daily. Mag07 is another excellent bowel mover and colon cleansing supplement. Warm water enemas and colonics can also be used to help clean the colon and move the bowels.
Coffee enemas can be used to help gently detoxify the liver, reduce pain in the body, reduce headaches, and relieve extreme fatigue.
Detox Baths are great for helping support detoxification, as well as reducing pain and inflammation in the body.
Modified Citrus Pectin, Chlorella, and Serrapeptase are all wonderful products that help eliminate toxins such as microbes and heavy metals from the body. These products can help to reduce discomfort associated with cleansing reactions when taken on an empty stomach 2 hours away from your last meal.
Fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and spending time in nature are all wonderful natural healers that support the body in healing.
Bodywork therapies such as massage, shiatsu, acupuncture, chiropractic, reflexology, craniosacral, and fire cupping can all be very helpful for reducing cleansing reactions and supporting the healing process.
HEALING IS A JOURNEY
Reversing disease and achieving optimal health typically do not happen overnight. Healing is a journey. It can take time to undo the damage and guide the body into a state of vitality and balance.
I am a firm believer in and supporter of cleansing and holistic detoxification. As a holistic health practitioner, I have seen time and time again how healing can take place and disease can be eliminated when the toxic load is reduced from the body. By removing the waste and impurities that can accumulate, the body is more capable of repair and regeneration. Without a toxic burden, the mitochondria, metabolic system, and immune system can function closer to optimal and this means there is little chance for physical degradation or disease. I have been a holistic detox specialist for many years, and I am grateful for this knowledge as detoxification was one of my greatest tools for helping heal my body of a number of serious health issues, including cancer. There were plenty of rough patches and cleansing reactions along the way, yet all of it was worth experiencing because it resulted in the manifestation of better health and vitality.
Experiencing discomfort and cleansing reactions can be disappointing and definitely is not enjoyable, yet it can also be an indicator that you are making progress. All the toxic yuck and gunk that the body accumulated must come back out and be eliminated for you to achieve true lasting health. It takes courage and commitment, yet you are always worth it!