I would like to take the time to address the issue of the healing process within the body as this is often misunderstood and I feel needs some clarity.
The process is broken down into herxheimer or healing reactions which are actually signs that your body is getting rid of toxins, pathogens within it and beginning to heal itself.
The severity or number of healing reactions one has to go through can vary depending on how long you have been exposed to the toxins and/or have been traumatized in the past.
In this article, I will give you an overview of the healing process, what to expect as the body deals with the cycles and how to lessen the effect.
An overview of the healing process
When you start an improved diet or maybe even begin a detox program you might feel worse off in the beginning. This is natural and doesn’t mean that the program isn’t working so don’t give up even though you may feel like it.
Basically, because of the clean diet that you are eating you are expelling toxins faster than normal and your liver can’t process them quick enough so some of the toxins remain circulating in the blood. The mobility of these toxins often cause negative reactions and may impact the body.
So just hang in there and continue with the program knowing that these symptoms will pass in time and you will eventually see an improvement in your health.
Keep in mind that a reaction means you are succeeding in ridding your body of the toxins, chemicals, bad bacteria, viruses, parasites and that a much-needed healing is taking place.
The severity of these reactions will also depend on what toxins and how many need to be expelled, but not to worry as this does not happen all at once.
Your body has a way of knowing how much you can handle at one time and therefore it breaks the healing process up into multiple reactions.
When you experience a healing reaction a process called retracing begins to happen. This can be related to cleaning and rebuilding a house one room at a time.
First, you have to get rid of the junk in the room, create a clean environment in which to build and then slowly start to rebuild it.
After finishing the first room you would then begin the process all over again by cleaning the next room and then rebuilding and so on and so on.
The goal is to rebuild the old dilapidated house so that it looks the same as when you bought it many moons ago.
The same goes for your body! – it goes through the same cycles of cleaning, eliminating waste and rebuilding.
As your body breaks down the toxins and releases them through the proper removal systems so they can be discarded, you will experience some unwanted symptoms.
In my experience, these reactions can last anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks, but if you are true to the improved diet or detox program these symptoms will eventually subside and disappear.
This is when the rebuilding of tissue, lean muscle and internal organs take place. Because of the superior supply of nutrients, these tissues are not only built faster but are more durable and will not break down as easily.
While the rebuilding process is in progress you will feel as if a weight has been lifted and that the detox/diet is worth it. The next time you go through a cycle the symptoms should be less and the rewards might be greater.
Depending on what has to be rebuilt and how many toxins still have to be released you will go through numerous healing reactions and each time feeling a little better than the last.
So what your body is actually doing by going through these cycles is restoring your health to where it once was before hence the word retracing that was mentioned earlier.
Reactions or Symptoms
The symptoms can be very broad and vary from one person to the next, but I will mention some of the more common ones below.
If you used to get skin rashes in the past the chances are that the body will eliminate the toxins and poisons through the skin.
If you know you are eating right or following a detox program, please don’t try and self-medicate or go to the doctor as he/she will probably be unaware of your nutritional influx and diagnose you with a skin allergy. So hang in there and give it a while.
This is a biggie and happens to most of us.
It takes a lot of energy to break down and remove these toxins. Most of the toxins are processed in the liver and then go into you bile for removal through the digestive tract.
This is very taxing on the body because during a detox or healing process you are expelling a great deal more toxins than you normally would.
Flu like symptoms
Headaches, a runny nose, aching muscles, and joints are very common symptoms experienced during healing reactions. These symptoms can result because of a build up of toxins in the blood which the liver cannot process fast enough.
If your liver is compromised or is inundated with too much work then these toxins will remain in circulation in the blood. The longer they remain in the blood the longer your symptoms will last.
One of the causes that could be attributed to anxiety is the imbalance between the neurotransmitters noradrenaline which is secreted in response to stress or danger and serotonin which has the opposite calming effect.
The toxin build up could temporarily interfere with the balance of these two neurotransmitters and inhibit the secretion of serotonin and secrete more noradrenaline thus causing anxiety.
Brain fog could also be another cause of toxic interference where the three hormones dopamine, serotonin and cortisol are involved.
Cortisol is said to be the main stress hormone while serotonin and dopamine have a more calming effect and are related to focus.
The toxins can cause inflammation in the brain which blocks the secretion of one or two of these hormones and result in an imbalance and thus cause brain fog.
A liver-related toxic overload can put stress on many organs and could trigger or put pressure on certain receptors which can result in nausea or a nauseating feeling.
Personally, I have never experienced this symptom and believe it to be quite rare, but I have listed it here just in case.
Many of our toxins are processed in the liver then passed onto the bile and disposed of via the digestive tract.
As these toxins are fighting their way out of your system they will cause unwanted bowel responses and in some cases cause diarrhea.
How to minimize or lessen the effects
My advise here is to start slowly and don’t change to the new diet cold turkey. Rather easy into it by changing the bad foods for the good little by little and aim to introduce the new diet over the course of about two to three weeks.
This will not only minimize the effects of the healing reactions but also give your taste buds a chance to deal with the change of new foods.
I find meditation a helpful and healing experience.
When breathing deeply from you abdomen imagine inhaling positive healing energy filling every cell of your body and upon exhaling releasing toxic negative and hurtful energy.
I only do this for about half an hour in the mornings, but it helps me face the day.
Try to drink at least two to two and a half liters of water throughout the day. I squeeze fresh lemon in mine to give it more flavor and a nice refreshing taste.
Lemon is also very alkalizing and good for you in many other ways, but we will leave that topic for another day.
Epsom salt baths:
Adding 2 to 3 cups in a hot bath can do wonders to help with the detoxing process. It is also a natural source of magnesium, helps to relieve joint pain and can be very relaxing.
Eat whole foods as opposed to just juicing because you are going to need fiber to get rid of those toxins.
The fiber latch’s on to the toxins and helps to move them through the digestive tract. Having no fiber in your diet will result in the toxins being reabsorbed.
Get plenty of sleep:
The body uses up huge amounts of energy during a detox and for some people, this might not leave enough left over to perform their daily tasks.
Therefore it is imperative to get as much rest as possible so aim for about 8 to 10 hours sleep per night.
For us, diet is a way of life and a gluten attack is always possible at any time through cross contamination. Therefore these herxheimer or healing reactions will be an ongoing thing as every time we are “glutened” we will thereafter go through a healing process.
These reactions do get mild and milder as the years pass and eventually you might not feel that the diet is working anymore.
So what I suggest is that you take a video of how you were in the beginning so you can always refer back to it and see how far you have come. In this way, it should inspire you to continue and succeed.
I know this has been quite a lengthy article, but I hope it has been informative and you have got some value out of it.
If you have any questions about this topic or have any experiences from healing reactions please drop me a Comment below as I would love to hear them.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading your responses.