What is a Healing Crisis?

Laura M. Sands

A healing crisis is the term used to describe toxins that surface or exit the body as the direct result of a particular healing process. This reaction to healing is sometimes misunderstood as an increase in symptoms. What actually occurs during a healing crisis, however, is best defined as a cleansing process. The toxic symptoms that occur during this time are actually necessary to cleanse the body of harmful substances and make room for better health.

A person may experience a headache during a healing crisis.
A person may experience a headache during a healing crisis.

While experiencing a healing crisis, a person may appear to contract a skin rash and diarrhea and experience a headache. Flu-like symptoms, mood changes, fatigue and a general feeling of weakness are also common during a healing crisis. These symptoms can be quite uncomfortable and may be misunderstood as the onset of a new illness or the worsening of an existing one. What is actually occurring, however, is that the body is eliminating toxins that have been stored in the body, particularly within organ tissue, to make room for the storage of healthy nutrients and healthy skin cells that are replacing undesirable ones.

A healing crisis can result in flu-like symptoms and fatigue.
A healing crisis can result in flu-like symptoms and fatigue.

Another term used to describe a healing crisis is herxheimer reaction or Jarisch-Herxheimer. Often witnessed in the recovery process of syphilis patients, a herxheimer reaction is when symptoms are temporarily amplified just after treatment has begun. The illness appears to be worsening when, in fact, antibiotics are working as expected. Symptoms often experienced during this type of healing crisis include fever, chills, skin rash, pain in the muscles and joints, headache and low blood pressure.

Prayer may be requested when someone is facing a healing crisis.
Prayer may be requested when someone is facing a healing crisis.

Individuals may experience a healing crisis while taking prescription drugs to treat a particular illness or may experience this phenomenon when making a drastic change to a healthier diet. When unhealthy food choices are suddenly and completely replaced with healthier ones, the result is often a temporary experience of sickly symptoms. This is because the body must evict toxic substances previously stored to create space for better quality nutrients. Symptoms generally last less than two weeks, but individuals with serious health issues may experience symptoms for a longer period of time. Experts recommend that individuals continue taking medications and continue with healthy dietary choices despite symptoms that make them feel bad since symptoms are only temporary and are a necessary phase of the overall healing process.

Symptoms of the Herxheimer reaction may include fever and chills.
Symptoms of the Herxheimer reaction may include fever and chills.
Eliminating unhealthy dietary options may temporarily cause sickly symptoms.
Eliminating unhealthy dietary options may temporarily cause sickly symptoms.

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