Detox can be challenging.

Omitting everyday, addictive substances, denying your usual comfort foods and being excluded from “normal” society can be hard enough. But to add icing to your detox cake, there are the physical and mental reactions that can accompany a detox.

The tradition of naturopathy describes a “healing crisis” which can follow a period of intense cleansing and nourishing of the body.

The naturopathic pioneer Dr Henry Lindlahr describes it in his classic 1913 text ‘Nature cure’:

“A healing crisis is an acute reaction, resulting from the ascendancy of Nature’s healing forces over disease conditions.”

A healing crisis can manifest in many different ways; from a fever, aches and pains, a body rash, or as symptoms of a disease from the individuals past disease experiences. There are many cases recorded by nature doctors of years gone of people who had a sudden recurrence of illnesses they experienced as children. As a general rule, these illnesses had been suppressed by medications or in other ways were never fully healed.

A healing crisis only occurs at a time when the bodymind is robust, nourished and vital enough to finally deal with the old malady once and for all.

For us folk of the 21st century, there’s quite a long road to walk before we can experience a true “healing crisis”.

Things have changed a lot since Dr Lindlahr was practicing and writing. We have had more than 125,000 synthetic chemicals introduced into our environment and lives, which we have not had sufficient time to evolve enzymes or mechanisms to fully detoxify and eliminate. There are many individual differences that impact on a person’s experience of detoxification. Their constitution, their toxin exposure and the functional capcity of the detoxification organs, all need to be considered when it comes to how a person progresses through a detox.

The discomfort many of us experience during short periods of detox may more likely be a “withdrawal crisis”, an “endotoxin crisis” or a “detox crisis” rather than a true “healing crisis”. Despite the dramatic names, these can be supported through various preparation and crisis management practices, thus reducing the suffering.

Withdrawal from addictive substances occurs when you start to cleanse.

Your body has been accustomed to a particular metabolic stimulus or deterrent, and will need time to regain its balance when the substance is no longer coming into the system.  There are various ways in which to reduce the discomfort of this. Providing particular nutritional supplements will support the body’s homeostasis, as will hydration and reducing acid forming foods from your diet. Possibly the best way to avoid a dramatic withdrawal process is to gradually reduce your intake of the substance and substitute it with a health giving substance that acts in a similar way.

This is why you want to follow Sparkle Detox course to ensure you don’t have to go through these crises!

An “endotoxin crisis” is due to pathogenic or ‘bad’ micro-organisms dying off in large numbers and releasing endotoxins from cell membranes as they die. These toxins can enter the bloodstream and can provoke a sudden exaggeration of the inflammatory response, resulting in many uncomfortable symptoms. Herxheimer reaction is the orthodox name for the immune system reaction to the dead pathogens and toxins. By providing additional support for immune function with herbal tonics and foods, this crisis can also be averted.

When the body rests, when the intake of toxic substances has ceased and when there is optimal nourishment to the entire body-mind, stored toxins will begin to be released from different tissues of the body. These toxins enter the blood stream, need to be chelated or neutralized by antioxidants or detoxification enzymes and excreted from the body. If the supports for these functions aren’t available, then a “detox crisis” maybe experienced.

A healing crisis can be contextualised by using Dr Herring’s Law of Cure.

“All cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared.”

This means a skin rash or an ailment in the lower part of the body is actually a sign of healing. A “healing crisis” occurs at a far lesser intensity than the original disease and resolves faster.

Dr Jensen writes that when a client says, “I’ve never felt better in my life” then one should expect a healing crisis to occur. The body-mind is at a level to deal with the resurfacing of the old illnesses and cure it fully. Generally a healing crisis requires rest, a good mind space and lots of nourishing fluids, and will pass within a day or two, and certainly within a week. Leaving the individual feeling vital and more alive than at the beginning of the process.

Although it’s hard to believe while you are experiencing it, moving through a little suffering is the down-payment for a richer, longer, healthier, easeful, more inspired and vital life.


This is one element of Sparkle Detox Course – a step-by-step, effective and safe, body tissue cleansing process designed by Naturopath Sally Mathrick. If you haven’t already, join Sparkle Detox. You’ll have life-time access to wholistic, doable, ‘delicious-with-benefits’ practices to keep your precious body-mind healthy, fresh and vital. JOIN NOW

Copyright Sally Mathrick – please cite if using this information
Written Feb 2011 and previously published in Wellbeing Australia issue #133