Cleansing Reactions and Healing Crises
What Are They?
by Jameth Sheridan, N.D.
©1998, 1999, 2000
A "cleansing reaction" or "healing crisis" is a natural, significant body initiated process that can occur when accumulated toxins are being eliminated from the body. These toxins come from unhealthful foods (primarily), impure air, tap water, electromagnetic radiation, negative thoughts, etc. This internal body cleansing is absolutely essential to maintain or regain health.
Cleansing reactions can occur for two somewhat opposite reasons:
1.) Ingestion of toxins. The body has accumulated/is still accumulating toxins at a faster rate than it can eliminate them by normal means. It reaches a point of "enough is enough" (toxic overload). In this scenario, the body will create a cleansing reaction when you are eating or living unhealthfully.
2.) Increased vitality. When cleansing foods/practices are undertaken, such as eating more raw, whole, vegan, health-promoting foods and many superfood supplements, the body's vitality increases, as does its ability to throw off toxins. In this situation, the body will create a temporary cleansing reaction because you are eating healthfully. The elimination of old toxins is commonly mistaken as "this health food made me sick."
Symptoms of a cleansing reaction can include lethargy; temporary all-over muscle aching; mucous or other discharge; a coated, pasty tongue; light-headedness upon standing and in general; headaches; and flu-like symptoms in general. A cleansing reaction/healing crisis may take the form of old symptoms that have been previously suppressed. You may think you are sick. However, this cleansing process is absolutely essential to achieve health and should not be suppressed with drugs. The mainstream medical establishment has completely closed its collective mind to cleansing and assumes that any symptoms displayed by the body are caused by a microbe, so antibiotics are usually prescribed even if they think the causative agent is a virus. Medical antibiotics have no effect on viruses, other than weakening the immune system so viruses can replicate more. Antibiotics and other drugs suppress cleansing and the immune system as well.
Suppressing cleansing reactions/healing crises leads to lethargy, sickness, and eventually, to life threatening degenerative diseases.
Since healthy, raw, vegan (no animal flesh, dairy or eggs) foods are relatively non-toxic and contain nutrients which help to detoxify your cells (as do superfoods), they can initiate, and allow the body to initiate, beneficial cleansing reactions. This is a very good thing.
If a cleansing reaction does occur, I recommend consuming lots of healthy fluids such as raw vegetable juices, raw fruit juices (diluted 50/50 with purified water), fresh watery fruits, and purified water; along with superfoods such as wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, certain herbs such as Ginkgo Biloba, plant source enzymes such as Digestion Enhancement Enzymes™, HealthForce Vitamineral™ Green (a superfood complex), etc., to assist in the cleansing and apprehending of toxins. In addition, certain homeopathic remedies can assist the cleansing process and make it more comfortable without suppressing it. Consult with a Homeopathic practitioner, or the many books on homeopathy, and/or a local health food store for more information on homeopathic remedies. If possible, avoid homeopathics that are in a base of lactose. I do not recommend water fasting, meaning that nothing is consumed but water. I feel strongly that a mostly liquid diet of fresh juices combined with bio-compatible nutritional supplements™ (including those listed above), and either enemas or a mild herbal laxative, is superior to pure water fasting. I feel this type of cleanse allows for deeper, more effective cleansing and greater ease on the eliminative organs (more cleansing with less severe, more comfortable and effective cleansing reactions.)
Having a clean colon can also greatly assist the cleansing process and is essential for true health. I have had great success with proper colon cleanses. Contact HealthForce Nutritionals for more information on highly effecive colon cleanses. There are less intense (and somewhat less effective) alternative programs that I highly recommend doing if not doing a colon cleanse that HealthForce offers. These other programs can usually be found at health food stores.
The cleansing process may be slowed down or stopped by eating heavy food (cooked or raw) such as tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds (especially unsoaked or roasted); or worse, bread, white flour and sugar, processed foods in general, animal flesh, or dairy products (which I don't recommend). Prescription or over-the-counter drugs are often taken to stop the symptoms of a cleansing process. However, in addition to halting this beneficial cleansing process, the body now has to deal with the added toxicity of the drugs. Suppressing cleansing reactions/healing crises leads to lethargy, sickness, and eventually, to life threatening degenerative diseases, even if suppressing the cleansing makes you feel better in the short term. Obviously, assisting the cleansing process is preferred and the only way to achieve actual health. Without knowing the preceding information, many people have mistakenly concluded that healthy raw foods and/or superfoods made them sick, and unhealthful foods or drugs made them well. If you do experience outwardly noticeable cleansing symptoms, remember that they don't last forever, and once through them, people often feel better than they have in years.
Some individuals (that are aware of the validity of cleansing reactions) hold the firm position that microbes have nothing to do with being sick, and that all sicknesses are actually cleansing reactions. Based on my extensive research (including actual lab work with microbes), I have concluded that both beneficial cleansing reactions and microbial illnesses do exist. To ignore either one these, is, in my view, a very bad and dangerous idea.
** Cleansing and microbial infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic) have similar symptoms. However, having symptoms of cleansing does not, by itself, mean that you are having a beneficial cleansing reaction. You might be in cleansing because you ate something or were subjected to something that was toxic, and caused you to go into cleansing (see point #1 above). Do not dismiss the role of microbes in disease. There are natural alternatives to antibiotics and other toxic drugs, (such as olive leaf extract, stabilized oxygen - Oxygen Supreme™, grapefruit seed extract, echinacea, garlic, oregano oil, other essential oils, elderberry extract, etc.) and the previous suggestions on what to do to support a cleansing reaction will also nutritionally assist the body in overcoming microbial invasions (and boost the immune system in general).*
I am not generally in favor of pharmaceutical antiobiotics and they are widely over-prescribed, misused and abused. They are often prescribed for viral conditions, for which they essentially have no positive effect. However, I have seen irrefutable cases where pharmaceutical antiobiotics have clearly and dramatically improved health in both companion animals and humans, and quite literally saved lives. I would not have been caught dead saying this many years ago, when I was fully entrenched in traditional raw food theories. Pharmaceutical antibiotics are considered the "anti-christ" by many, the embodiment of pure evil. Many would die before taking them and many have. I am aware of people who have died due to their refusal to take antiobiotics, even herbal ones, or simply waiting much too long. If pharmaceutical antiobiotics become necessary, I strongly urge you to consume protiobics (friendly bacteria) such as acidophilus and bifidus, and to take liver protective and regenerative herbs or foods such as dandelion greens, beets, and Milk Thistle extract (as found in Liver Rescue™ III+). Also, please investigate the effective herbal alternatives to antibioitics before resorting to antiobiotics (IF you have access to them). Also consider looking at your life practices (food, exercise, etc.) to see where you may improve so as to have a stronger imune system in the future.
I suggest you seek out a health conscious, open-minded, nutritionally aware health care professional (who understands the difference between genuine sickness and genuine cleansing, and is aware of non-toxic alternatives to antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-parasitic drugs), and/or educating yourself.
* These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat cure, or mitigate any disease. They have not been evaluated by the F.D.A. Discuss any change in your diet or supplement program with your physician.
Jameth Sheridan, N.D.
Dr. Jameth is available for lectures and interviews (including phone interviews).
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