What is a healing crisis?

healing copyA “healing crisis” is something that happens when the body starts a detoxification process which is really a program of natural healing. This is a common occurrence among some individuals who start consuming cultured foods. When you start consuming cultured foods, your body is flooded with good bacteria. Then there is a dying off of certain pathogenic organisms in the body. These organisms can be Candida, yeast infections, viruses, and bad bacteria. The medical term for a healing crisis is the “Herxheimer Reaction.”  The cells release toxins into circulation and the body is not able to eliminate them quickly enough. There are huge amounts of good bacteria in cultured foods and it is like sending an army to clean house inside of you. This is such a good thing, although it can be uncomfortable and a bit scary if you don’t understand what is happening.

You want this healing crisis

You want this healing crisis because it truly is the road to recovery. You will gain a much-needed understanding of how your body works. The vast majority of people experience very mild symptoms, while others experience severe symptoms. Some of these symptoms are temporary and will subside as the body gets healthier and is able to eliminate toxins more effectively. Symptoms usually lessen, or are eliminated, within two to three days; but in some individuals they can last a few weeks.

army brothersAs bacteria and yeasts overwhelm the body with multiple new strains from the cultured foods, it can cease to function optimally. Inside your gut are 100,000,000,000,000 (that’s 100 trillion!) microbes. There are about 2000 known species, and I suspect there could be more. Most of these are good, there are also smaller amounts of bacteria that are not so helpful; but you need these too, you just want the good guys to keep them under control. Bacteria like numbers; and when a certain strain begins to dominate, they crowd out the weaker ones. It’s crowded in your gut and they fight for occupancy. They shoot at each other with a liquid substance to kill each other – you can liken it to chemical warfare going on in your gut! So when you suddenly flood your body with a bunch of new species in the form of cultured foods, it causes a ruckus depending on how well your gut is established with helpful bacteria.

My own experience

My own experience with a healing crisis happened briefly, in the very beginning of my experience with consuming cultured foods. I experienced a slight fever, which lasted an hour and then left. I also experienced increased urination and fatigue. These symptoms only lasted a few days and then I felt a renewed state of being that I had not known prior.

Give your body what it needs.When you are starting to consume cultured foods, here are some of the things that can occur as they begin to work on making you well:

  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Constipation
  • Hot/cold flashes
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Body odor
  • Stools that are discolored
  • Digestive upset
  • Increased urination
  • Sinus stuffiness or drainage
  • Sore throat
  • Gas and bloating

As the body begins to heal itself, two conflicting symptoms can be diarrhea or constipation. Constipation can occur as the liver becomes congested with an overload of toxins. Diarrhea can be the body’s way of removing built-up toxins. You might experience one of these as your body tries to adjust to the new occupants. If you experience either one of these symptoms, make sure you drink lots of fluids to support your body in this healing crisis.

Two methods

So, what to do if any of these symptoms occur? The degree of discomfort is all going to depend upon how healthy your gut as you begin. I often recommend people go slowly, but I have taken another approach that has worked very well for me. I call this “the nuclear blast off.” I flood my body with all manner of cultured foods and prebiotics (found in fruits, vegetables, and supplements) and allow the good bacteria to take over quickly and dominate. This is not for the faint of heart and can be uncomfortable, but it reestablishes the gut rather well.  You really need all types of bacteria, even the ones people think of as harmful. You keep them under control with the stronger good bacteria, since you only want them in small amounts as they serve a purpose in preventing disease as well. (More about this will be coming out in my new book November, 6 -15)

Slow and Easy Method

kombucha green smoothie

If you’re uncomfortable, I would consume cultured foods more slowly or even have them every other day.

For instance: only consume one cultured food a day.  If the symptoms are uncomfortable, consume them every other day. Here is the dosage I would recommend of each. Remember to pick only one cultured food, and as you get better you can consume more.

1/2 to 1/4 cup of kefir  daily.

2-4 ounces of kombucha daily.

1-2 tablespoons of cultured vegetables daily.

cultured squashBlast Off Method!

I did the blast off method and consumed all three kefir, kombucha and cultured veggies everyday in these amounts.

1 – 2 cups of kefir daily

16 ounces of kombucha daily

1/2 to 1 cup of cultured veggies daily

Eat lots of prebiotic foods that will make the good bacteria grow, such as garlic, leeks, berries, onions, jicama, broccoli, asparagus, apples, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and carrots. You can also use prebiotic supplements like Ecobloom. No junk food!

Many people do not have symptoms and do just fine. Do not be discouraged or think that this healing crisis is permanent. It is a small journey where you should begin to listen to your body as it talks to you through symptoms. Then the healing can begin. You will learn so much, and before you know it, your body will teach you all kinds of things: What it needs, wants to be fed, and how you can shine from the inside out. I know this because it happened to me.

” I know you’re tired but come. This is the way.”Rumi