Don’t Fight the Healing Process
In the course of following a nutritional program for allergies or other problems, many people experience uncomfortable symptoms. This is known as a healing reaction. The most common symptom my clients report is a temporary reduction in energy. They may find themselves sleeping longer, perhaps as much as 12 hours a night. Some people also report aches and pains in various parts of the body, digestive system disturbances such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea, or other miscellaneous complaints.
These symptoms occur because the body is ridding itself of the substances that have been making it toxic – not only the materials that have accumulated in the colon, but also the antibodies and other substances that have built up in the individual cells, interfering with their normal functioning. As these substances are ejected out of the tissues, they are dumped into the system, making the body temporarily more toxic until they can be excreted. This is partly what produces the symptoms of the healing reaction.
This effect is accentuated by the body’s process of tearing apart defective tissue, repairing damaged cells, destroying parasites or infective agents, and otherwise producing debris from the re-construction. I find that the more severe the individual’s condition (the more toxic his or her body is), the stronger will be the healing reaction. Because the healing reaction is caused by the flushing of toxins Out of the cells, the strength of the reaction also depends on how carefully the individual is following the recommended nutritional program. The more correctly the program is followed, the stronger will be the healing reaction.
Why Old Symptoms Come Back
Often in the course of the healing process old symptoms temporarily reappear. Why should people have to go back through these old problems in the course of getting better? I believe that the specific symptoms that a person experiences at any given time depend on the balance among the various biochemical substances in the body. For example, when a person is perfectly healthy there is a certain ratio between Substance A and Substance B in the tissues. When this ratio gets out of balance to a certain degree, the person may feel fatigue; when the imbalance is greater, a headache may occur; when it is greater still, the person may develop insomnia, and so on.
One reason people must re-experience symptoms as they get healthier is that in order to progress from, say, a 100:1 imbalance to a 1:1 balance, they have to go back through 99:1, 98:1, and so forth, and as they go through each phase they experience the symptoms associated with that particular level of imbalance. Biochemist John Eck has pursued a similar line of thought in his research on mineral nutrients. Using hair analysis Eck has suggested the optimal levels for some of the principal minerals in the body. On the basis of the ratios among these minerals, Eck is able to estimate how efficiently the thyroid and adrenal glands are functioning, and hence to predict an individual’s metabolic energy level.
Of course in actuality a person’s symptoms would not depend on the ratio between just two substances, but among hundreds of different things. If a person gets stuck at some level he will get stuck in the symptoms for that level. This helps to explain the basis of the chronic illnesses from which so many people suffer. I like to picture the healing process as going up a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs, the energy is balanced, all the nutrients are present in their proper ratios, and the body is functioning properly. When someone’s health begins to deteriorate, he moves down the stairs, and at each step along the way he experiences a specific kind of symptom -perhaps less energy at one step, headaches a little further down, an ulcer still further, and so on.
As the body begins to heal itself once again, the person begins to move back up the stairs, and re-experiences the symptoms associated with these various levels of health. The experience of one of my clients illustrates how difficult the healing process can be. When Mona first came to my office, she hobbled along on a cane, moving with difficulty and in constant pain. Her arthritis had developed rapidly, and she looked ten years older than she was. In spite of the hopeless prognosis she had received from numerous health professionals, Mona was a fighter and was determined to overcome her affliction. Her high motivation helped her to follow closely the program we worked out for her. Now, only a year later, Mona is almost over her arthritis. She threw away her cane months ago.
This transformation was not an easy process, however. In the course of healing her body, Mona experienced a lengthy series of symptoms, which most people, unaware of the healing process, would have interpreted as getting sicker. Mona had very low energy for a long time. At times she had severely swollen ankles, feet, and legs. She hobbled even more, for a while, than originally! She had an assortment of aches and pains which would drive most people to their physician for pain killers and tranquilizers. She had been warned, however, that she would re-experience many symptoms from years before, and soon she discovered that as these symptoms abated the affected body part became as good as new.
Drugs that Block Pain may also Block Healing
Experiencing such healing reactions can be very distressing for many people, because we are taught in our society that symptoms are somehow bad. Although it is tempting to take pain killers, antihistamines, or other drugs when uncomfortable symptoms occur in the course of healing, it is very important to follow the prescribed program correctly and to do nothing to interfere with the healing process. If in the past an individual went through a period of pain, as he heals he may go back through a period of pain. Taking pain killers or other drugs at this point to relieve the symptoms actually prolongs the discomfort.
You see, aspirin and antihistamines work by blocking the prostaglandins – chemical substances found throughout the body which regulate many bodily functions and metabolic processes. Generally the prostaglandins work in opposing pairs. One, for example, may produce inflammation and swelling in response to a specific stimulus, while another undoes these reactions. When a person takes aspirin or an antihistamine to stop an uncomfortable reaction, he may not experience the pain or inflammation, but he also does not get the healing process that undoes the reason for the pain and inflammation. He has achieved a stalemate rather than a cure.
One of my clients, Alice, has had many years’ history of pain, and is now going through a lot of healing reactions, including “spasms” in her digestive system. Although I have explained to Alice that she must go back through her painful symptoms in order to be cured, she insists that something must be wrong. When she has pain, she stops taking her supplements and uses medication to reduce her spasm. It is a real dilemma for her because she really is in pain and she believes that it is not good to experience pain. Unfortunately, by blocking the pain with an inappropriate medication she is keeping herself from getting healed. And so she is going back and forth, keeping herself at precisely the level where she is bound to have the pain.
Some Natural Ways to Ease Healing Reactions
When healing reactions are very troublesome, we can usually do something to help. Some herbal remedies relieve symptoms without interfering with the healing process. For example, white willow bark contains a different chemical form of salicylic acid than aspirin, so that it blocks only the inflammation chain of the prostaglandins and not the healing chain. This illustrates why natural substances are preferable to synthetic drugs in the long run. The dosage of certain supplements can also be adjusted to slow down the rate at which the healing process takes place. When my clients have uncomfortably strong healing reactions, I cut down on the dosage of some of their tissue extracts.
This slows down the healing process. The uncomfortable symptoms are less intense, but the healing process is also more prolonged. As the person’s body becomes detoxified, we can once again increase the tissue extract dosage until it is being taken at optimal dosage. I have also found that certain energy techniques, related to the methods of Applied Kinesiology, can help to balance the body’s energy quickly, so that the individual can go through the healing process with a minimum of discomfort. These energy techniques are part of a system I have developed called Symbiotic Energy Transformation (SET), which I am teaching in workshops to my fellow health professionals.
When a person is experiencing a healing reaction, he may be worried that he is getting worse, rather than getting better. By observing the timing and sequence of the symptoms, and by using energy testing techniques, I am able to determine what is going on. If the person is undergoing a healing reaction, he should be reassured with the explanation that the uncomfortable symptoms are a sign that he is moving up to a higher level of health. The skillful practitioner will be able to determine that healing is taking place rather than some “disease” process.