Healing Crisis: The Road to Better Health
I routinely recommend to my patients to adopt a high-quality, low-allergy diet right on their first visit. When they come back two or three weeks later, they often say that they feel much better now but a week ago they had a cold. When I ask about the symptoms they turn out to be mainly a profuse mucus discharge, sometimes also diarrhea, but rarely are there signs of a real infection. In fact, these patients just experienced their first healing crisis on their long path to better health.
This concept of a healing crisis clearly shows the opposite perceptions that drug medicine and holistic medicine have of health and the healing process. In drug medicine it is assumed that a patient who is free of disease symptoms is more or less healthy and the aim of drugs is to achieve this condition by removing any disagreeable symptoms. Frequently alternative or complementary medicine is used in the same way, instead of more or less toxic drugs just more benign remedies are being used. This is what most patients want and according to their beliefs they either use drugs or natural remedies for this purpose.
However, holistic medicine, following in the footsteps of the old nature cure movement, aims much higher. Here, health is regarded not just as a temporary absence of disease symptoms, but as a state of profound physical, emotional and mental well-being so that we simply cannot develop or catch a disease. Animals living in an unspoiled natural habitat in the wild commonly display this kind of health. If we want to come close to such outstanding health, we have to work for it by consciously minimizing the multitude of negative influences on our health and maximize positive factors instead.
However, experience shows that we do not follow a straight line of either health improvement or health deterioration. Similar to periods of illness interspersing times of relative well-being on the common road to chronic degenerative diseases and death, so we have also ups and downs on the road to superior health. The main difference is that the road to deteriorating health on average is sloping downhill while the other road on average goes up in health. Traveling downhill is easy, we do not need to do anything about it, but improving our health requires consistent effort.
Contrary to the often-lengthy periods of ill health on the downhill road, the dips on the uphill road are usually short and sharp. They are called ‘healing crisis’ although I prefer the less dramatic name healing reaction’, also ‘cleansing reaction’ or simply ‘reaction’. After each reaction we advance to a higher level of health than before the reaction. Holistic therapists realize that the road to better health follows a definite pattern. The old school of nature cure called it the:
HERING’S LAW OF CURE:
“All cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared.”
Dr John Whitman Ray has developed a method specifically designed to help us travel the long road to superior health. He called it Body Electronics, using nutrition as well as press point therapy to facilitate emotional release and expansion of consciousness. Out of this work Dr Ray found it necessary to modify Hering’s Law to the following:
LAW OF HEALING CRISIS:
A healing crisis will occur only when an individual is ready both physiologically and psychologically.
The basic foundation for all healing is nutritional preparedness. A healing crisis will begin from within out, in reverse order chronologically as to how the symptoms have appeared, tempered by the intensity of the trauma. The individual will have the opportunity to re-experience each trauma, both physiological and psychological, beginning with the trauma of least severity. It must be recognized that traumas involving emotions, which include all traumas, will be released in order, beginning with unconsciousness, then apathy, grief, fear, anger, pain and eventually enthusiasm (love), in conjunction with the appropriate word patterns for each emotion and thought pattern (sensory memory) which are accessible at each level.
Unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness are the keys to apply and transmute any resistance at any level, once these resistances are brought to view through the application of the laws of love, light and perfection. With this definition Dr. Ray emphasizes the importance of the emotional side of our health problems. Each disease, accident or surgical intervention contains a strong emotional component which needs to be re-experienced during a reaction, otherwise the healing will remain incomplete and the problem will present itself again at a later time for healing at a deeper level.
This also means that the body selects the kind of healing crisis that is most appropriate at the time, taking into consideration its needs and abilities to have a certain area healed or improved. We can consciously influence this choice by working on a particular problem. I also noticed that the body self tries to select a timing, which does not disable us during important events coming up. I have no doubt that we are guided on our healing path by our inner intelligence, which has our best interest at heart. In the beginning our healing reactions will be mainly on the physical or biological level, but more and more we will experience the release of emotional blocks and changes in consciousness, preparing us for greater activity on the spiritual level.
PATTERNS OF HEALING
In every real healing, the sequence of our health deterioration will automatically be retraced. This means that old, long-forgotten disease symptoms may suddenly flare up again in the form of a healing crisis. The reason for this is based on the very nature of disease. At first, when the body is still vital, it will react forcefully against invaders; the resulting battle causes fever and inflammation. If the body is not strong enough to win completely, the acute battle symptoms will eventually subside, with the remaining invaders leading a somewhat subdued existence in a weakened gland or organ. Repeated attacks will result in the degeneration of this body part, causing chronic disease.
At some stage on the road towards health, the body will feel strong enough to start the fight again for healing the diseased organ, and inflammation will result. Such healing reactions are usually short lived, but can be rather violent. If one supports the body during this period with rest, cleansing diets and so forth, then the organ will eventually acquire a much better health than before the flare-up. If, however, drugs are used to suppress the healing symptoms, then the inflamed organ will return to its subacute, chronic condition and wait for another opportunity to heal itself. The healing pattern of other health problems that are not related to immunological processes and infections follows a similar line to that outlined above.
Healing takes place on many different levels: at the biochemical level within the cells, in the blood circulation, the nervous system and especially in the flow of bio-energies. Healing activity will be increased on all of these levels. At the bio-energetic level, the increased energy flow may cause congestion at various places, in the weak body part itself as well as in related acupuncture points and zone reflex areas. Excess energy in such places may be noticed as pain, heat or tension: the common symptoms of inflammation. In time, the body itself will clear the obstruction in the energy flow. One may support this process with specific healing methods or just by healthy living in general. However, trying to suppress any inflammation may leave the body part permanently weak Inflammation in itself is a healing energy release and it may be best overcome by removing the blockage in the energy flow.
Another common form of healing reaction is the development of a rash or other skin problem, especially over a weak body part, for instance at a hip or shoulder. This skin reaction signifies that the energy that had been bound internally in this area in the form of muscle armoring, stiffness and accumulated metabolic wastes, is now surfacing and dissipating. Thus the affected joint or limb will become much freer and stronger. However, if the skin reaction is interfered with and made to go prematurely, then the suppressed energy and metabolic waste will remain in that body part, keeping it in a state of pain or weakness. Thus there usually is no need to interfere directly with skin diseases or other healing symptoms.
On the contrary, that may only drive the problem ‘underground’ to affect internal organs and body structures. Natural healers have noticed that by artificially producing a rash over an arthritic joint, the joint greatly improved, but when a rash over a joint was artificially suppressed, then arthritic symptoms may appear in that joint. You may actually learn much about yourself, your body, your health problems and your emotional reactions by patiently observing the healing process instead of rushing in to do something about it. What you should do, however, is live healthily in general, cleansing the body, helping the suppressed energy to come out and dissipate and to be optimistic about it all.
Frequently, boils and increased mucus discharge (colds) may appear during the initial stages of the healing process, sometimes starting already one or two weeks after improving the diet and beginning to take supplements. This indicates that the organs of elimination are congested. During Such times take little food, but generous amounts of herb teas, fresh vegetable juices and water. Preferably go on a cleansing diet. You may notice an advance warning of an approaching healing crisis in the iris, when a formerly gray or brown reflex area becomes whitish. At the same time, the reflex points underneath the feet and on the hands, as well as pressure points related to the activated organ, become more tender and should be pressed. Such healing crises may appear from time to time separated by weeks, months or even years bringing us ever closer to our distant goal of superior health.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Some further problems may develop during health improvement. Formerly, the body responses may have been dulled – it did not react to harmful foods or drugs – but now the reaction is often immediate and forceful. Foods that you may have eaten habitually before going on a cleansing diet may suddenly cause a gastrointestinal upset, making you feel sick and miserable for days. However, such reactions do not need to happen if you take proper precautions: find out to which foods you are allergic and try to avoid these as well as foods that may be a problem for you. If you eat out and do not know what to expect, take plenty of digestive enzymes and lecithin during the meal, and try to eat foods in correct combination; if allergy symptoms appear, use alkalizers together with calcium ascorbate.
Basically, one may say that your body now trusts that you will not hurt it any more in the old ways. But if you do, your body is very offended and lets you (your mind) know about it in no uncertain terms. This is the most effective language that your body has. However, if you learn to listen, your body will first try to tell you about its requirements in a more subtle way – an intestinal rumbling, an itch, a slight muscle weakness or a passing pain. There are numerous ways a body expresses its needs and each one has its own language of symptoms. Furthermore, if you are honest and persistent in your desire to become a friend of your body, it will eventually let you know its needs by intuition, by its likes and dislikes, you will rediscover your lost body instincts.
This is what we really should aim for: to become independent of outside expert advice and just do what our body tells us is right for us to do, not only in the field of nutrition, but in everyday living and with important decisions as well. While one can usually gain relatively quick relief from distressing disease symptoms, rebuilding a strong and healthy body is a slow process and takes a long time. It requires a great deal of experimenting in order to find our individual conditions for healing, and it also needs solid determination to carry through with a program for many years. Generally, recently acquired chronic weaknesses are the first to flare up and become healed, while our oldest and most persistent health problems are the last to yield.
Thus there appears to be an orderly sequence in our health improvement. Healing proceeds in a wave pattern with an upward slope. On the peak of a wave we feel much improved, while in a trough we experience cleansing activity or a healing reaction and feel down. The overall movement, however, is towards greater well-being. Just looking at the symptoms of a reaction, you will not be able to distinguish a healing crisis from a disease crisis -a flare-up on the downhill road to degenerative disease. In fact, the symptoms are the same because the underlying process is the same. The body always tries to heal itself and an acute inflammation is an important tool for this purpose. An inflammation makes the walls of the blood vessels porous to allow an increased flow of lymph fluid to move in immune cells and remove accumulated toxins.
At this stage it is just an acute inflammation and we can choose to turn it into a healing crisis by supporting the body mentally and nutritionally or we can choose to suppress the acute condition and return to a chronic degenerative condition. Therefore, anything that suppresses an acute inflammation prevents healing of the affected area. This includes not only anti-inflammatory drugs and remedies, but also strong alkalizers that reduce the release of histamine. The pain and heat in the inflamed area is the price we have to pay for it being healed. However, anti-inflammatory agents and alkalizers have their place to ease the discomfort of a chronic inflammation until the body has been nutritionally and mentally prepared for a healing reaction.
Furthermore, the symptoms during a reaction may either be too severe or come at an inopportune time. Then you can lessen or temporarily stop them by adding cooked food to a raw food cleansing diet or by alkalizing the body and using anti-inflammatory remedies. Usually we can select a suitable time for a healing crisis by starting a strict cleanse on raw food only, especially fresh vegetable juices or fruit, possibly also vegetable salads. A fruit cleanse is more suitable for insensitive individuals and vegetables are much better with an over-acid and sensitive body. One of the main factors reducing the severity of any symptoms is a clean bowel, regardless whether the reaction was triggered deliberately or involuntarily. The easiest way to do this is by taking a tablespoon of Epsom salts (more or less according to bowel reaction) in water at bedtime or on rising.
If no solid food is used then take a teaspoon of psyllium hulls several times daily in a glass of unchlorinated water. Too little water can cause constipation. Another way to ease or shorten a reaction is press-point therapy: strongly press into tender points on the feet and body related to problem areas until the points lose their tenderness. This may take hours or days with some key points. You can further support your body with light, enjoyable outdoors activity. Also prayer and meditation or guided imagery are recommended. As you can see, there is no simple path to completely avoid health-related suffering. We can only choose in which way we want to suffer. We can either deliberately and cheerfully endure the unpleasantness of repeated healing crises with the promise of better health to follow, or we can expect to suffer involuntarily and in an uncontrolled way from chronic-degenerative diseases as we get older. The choice is ours.