What is a Healing Crisis? (healing event)

What Is a Healing Crisis?


By Tarilee Cornish, CNP


I prefer to characterize  a "healing crisis" as an "intense healing event" more than as a crisis in order to frame the experience as positive and productive. During healing, your body sets to work cleansing and regenerating. It is the sensation of this cleansing and healing that has come to be known as a healing crisis.


"An intense healing event is a normal part of an accelerated healing process. It occurs when the body gathers enough strength to deal with the cleansing and regeneration needed to achieve an improved condition of health." - David Saterlee


On the road to health, we may encounter bumps that add interest and sometimes confusion to our journey. The experience of a healing event shortly after feeling excellent will likely be familiar to many of you.



A few weeks into your resolve to take charge of your health program, your dedication and hard work may well yield a strong feeling of well being.  journey to health.


Unfortunately, it is common for this kind of initial progress to be followed by a healing event, which is not usually pleasant and often triggers worry.



The body naturally moves through a process of rebalancing, regenerating and cleansing during healing. This can create uncomfortable sensations and bodily responses Understanding the process is crucial so that you abandon your program just before you start to feel better.


In order to help you identify this phenomenon accurately, it is important that you have the support of a qualified Naturopathic Physician or other primary care complementary health care practitioner. You will want to be sure that you do not ignore  a serious health condition by mistaking it for a healing event.



Throughout our lives, we build up toxins in our body tissues through exposure to air, water and food pollution, food additives, medications, stress hormones and even through normal daily metabolic activity.


Accumulations of these waste materials stress the body in many ways: by contributing to overall immune weakness, reducing energy and vitality and sometimes by causing an imbalance in our emotional health.


In a severe toxicity-related health picture, long-term toxicity can eventually contribute to serious degenerative illness such as arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, viral illness, depression, anxiety, diabetes, etc.


Even if you are living a pure, natural, healthy and active lifestyle, as you age, the levels of toxins in your body will rise.


A holistic approach to preventative health care includes the premise that any degree of toxicity increases vulnerability to disease while accelerating aging.


Your holistic healing process requires toxins to be flushed out of the body, thus lifting their suppressive effect from the body's normal functions.




Destruction and Regeneration

As the body is cleaned up, healing mechanisms can be spontaneously reactivated. Tissues can be regenerated at a faster than normal rate. During regeneration, the body destroys defective tissues and cells in order to reconstruct them.


This can be experienced as pain or inflammation or even just unusual aches, pains and fever. The immune system will also work at killing off pathogens like viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.


Destroying these can result in the release of by-products released by the pathogenic organisms as they are killed. These must also be flushed out of the body during cleansing. GOOD IN, BAD OUT

. As the body receives clean foods and other supporting nutrients, they help act like a catalyst for the wastes. It begins to clean itself, i releasing stored toxins from deep within the tissues. Theseare then moved through the blood and lymph and eliminative organs (liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin) on their way out of the body.


As these toxins and metabolic debris make their way out they can temporarily congest our eliminative organs, lymph and blood; causing the various symptoms associated with a healing event. They are much more concentrated in your blood on the way out than they were on the way in and their effect on you can be temporarily quite acute, thus healing events have sometimes been known as healing 'crises'.


Symptoms of a healing event can include: severe fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, boils, chills, aches and pains, skin eruptions, flatulence, irritability or depression, headache, nausea, chest or head cold, shooting pains, disorientation, mental fogginess, dizziness, coughing, build up of mucous, etc.


Transitional restlessness, night sweats, unusual dreams and a change in sleep patterns or an increase in sleep requirements are also common. If you are healing from a chronic illness, your symptoms of illness can become more pronounced for a short time.


The more severe your condition, the more pronounced your healing events are likely to be. If you become very uncomfortable, you may be tempted to turn to over the counter medications for relief. Pain killers, for example, may be seen as welcome relief, but they can actually suppress the healing process.


Properly prescribed herbal and homeopathic remedies can be a more desirable option as they can reduce the discomforts such as pain, swelling or gastrointestinal distress while supporting the healing process). They will customize and guide you through a program that supports the drainage of toxins while bolstering your weakest organ systems to make your healing program more comfortable and efficient.



Pain does NOT equal gain

The severity ofyour reactions to this process will depend upon how resilient your health is, how long standing andserious your illness is and how quickly you are pushing your body to cleanse itself.


You can't speed the healing but you may be tempted to rush the detoxification part of the process. Rushing can actually create a strain on the eliminative organs by overwhelming them with toxins thus hindering healing.

Detoxification is more effective if done slowly, paying attention to the body's signals about how quickly to proceed. You can regulate your cleansing rate by increasing or decreasing the catalysts you are using  (i.e. detoxifying, antifungal or antibiotic herbs).


If your symptoms become too uncomfortable, this is an indication that it is time to slow down on the catalysts.At this point you need only abstain from 'treatment' with the catalysts (strong liver cleansing herbs, anti-fungals and so on), until the intensity of the symptoms subside and then you can gradually build back up to a higher dose (but more gently).


You can also support your detoxification process by eating small meals of simple organic vegetables (raw and cooked and juiced). Daily Detox Teas provide a gentle support and you can control the strength of them as well.


In addition drinking lots of water and using blood cleansing and lymph cleansing herbs can ease reactions, as can healthy supports like green drinks, sea salt and herbal baths, skin brushing, yoga, etc.




Holistic healers have been familiar with the phenomenon of healing events for over two thousand years. Constantine Hering (1800-1880) was an MD who is known as the father of homeopathy. He observed several characteristics of a healing event and his observations became so well known and respected that they are still taught today. The principles of the Hering Law of Cure follow:


  1. The human body seeks to externalize disease from deep internal organs to more superficial levels like the skin. It will also heal from the inside out. Healing will usually occur on the inside of the body before the outside and the curative process will work its way out of the body from there. For example, someone with asthma may develop a skin rash as his or her body attempts to resolve the asthma. Unfortunately, in modern medical protocol this rash would most likely be treated with cortisone cream. This type of suppression of the body's natural healing process could result in the condition going back inside again to re-affect the lungs.
  2. Healing events tend to proceed from the head downward. By this he meant that the body typically exerts healing energy to resolve ailments at the top of the body (near the head) before it will tend to ailments at the bottom of the body (near the feet).
  3. The healing of illnesses in the body will occur in the reverse order to development. The most recent health challenges will be resolved first and the old illnesses will be healed last. For example, the body would work on healing lung tissue from a recent bout with pneumonia before it would work on healing kidney tissue from a childhood kidney disease. This experience of healing through our past health challenges has been called "retracing".
  4. The healing will occur in a cycle. We will endure a healing event followed by feeling wonderful and then we'll just "coast along" for a while until our body has gathered up enough strength to tackle another healing task. Just as we will consciously ensure that we are well rested before taking on a big job like cleaning out the garage for example, our body will only address big issues when it has the strength to do so. In between these healing events we can experience periods of glorious wellness as we begin to know what it feels like to be 'in balance'.


An emotional issue, associated with a particular layer of healing, may arise during the physical healing. It may emerge alone or in combination with a healing episode that is physical in nature. This can be seen as an opportunity to achieve healing on more than one level. You can interpret the emergence of a specific emotional issue as a gentle signal from your psyche that it may be time  time to deal with it.


part but not the other, the healing may be incomplete.

How can I identify a healing event?


How do you distinguish a healing event from an actual worsening of illness? This will require close observation of your emotions and body and a true sensitivity to your inner wisdom. It may also, as stated above, require the support of a qualified practitioner.  


There are a few common characteristics to a healing event.

  1. You will likely be feeling quite fabulous or at least better than usual just before the onset of a healing event. It seems that the body is more likely to delve into deeper healing projects once it has built up some strength.them. During a healing event, you'll usually feel a sense of well-being and congruency about symptoms. Despite feeling ill, you will not likely resist or identify with the experience as you might normally. For example, you may be nauseous and even perhaps even vomiting), yet maintain a sense of peace with these sensations. (new paragraph) You may be vaguely aware of an inner knowing that you are experiencing a healing event. soon as you get into your nice warm home.
  2. The timing of the onset of symptoms may be logically related to an increase in your healing or detoxification efforts. For example, you may have just started a new emotional therapy or a new type of massage treatment. Perhaps you increased an anti-viral or anti-fungal herbal remedy. You may even have made a significant step in your emotional development by, for example, quitting a job that was "toxic" to you. It's common to have a healing event in response to significant life changes.
  3. A true healing event will usually be quite short lived. Several hours to several days duration is the norm. In situations of long standing toxicity or extreme candida or other pathogenic infestations, it may last longer.If you feel seriously ill and are not confident that your symptoms are harmless and temporary, consult with your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor.



"Just as in Nature, decay must occur in order to nourish new growth, our bodies must tear down old tissue and detoxify in order to regenerate." Expect that you will have ongoing cycles of wellness interspersed with cycles of discomfort until you have reached a state of stable, resilient health.




During these events, it is important to tune in to what you need and to offer yourself what you need to get through it. Your body is infinitely intelligent. With adequate resources: healing, rest, clean water, fresh air, exercise, sleep, a healthy emotional peace and an individualized healthy diet, it can work miracles in healing.



The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose, prescribe or in any way replace supervision by a qualified physician. Please see your physician with any serious health concerns.


Tarilee Cornish is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner with a special interest in immune and digestive recovery including general detoxification and recovery from food allergies and candida overgrowth. She is especially passionate about pure healing food choices that have a democratic, ecological and compassionate production and distribution chain. Tarilee is a moderator on the WholeApproach Support Forum.


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