QUESTION: I have been taking herbal medicine for my prostate and have been feeling so much better. Then suddenly, for the last few days, I started feeling bad again. Now this morning I’m feeling much better. What’s going on?
ANSWER: Chances are excellent that you were having a healing crisis, also called a healing cleanse, which sounds less melodramatic. A healing cleanse often occurs just when we’re feeling much better. When you start taking herbal medicine, more nutrients reach the cells. When that happens, the cells will respond by functioning better. They are able to get rid of waste through the normal detoxification processes that all healthy cells perform. That waste includes normal metabolic waste, acids (from the food we eat, the beverages we choose, and the stress we experience), and chemicals that our bodies have absorbed.
So why does this healing cleanse happen to some, but not others? Sometimes waste gets stirred up faster than our bodies can take care of it. Some people take larger doses of herbal medicine than their bodies can handle. And others take an appropriate amount of herbs, but their normal processes of elimination get overwhelmed. The bowels may not be working two to three times a day. Our kidneys may not be filtering out enough impurities. Our lungs may not be eliminating effectively. And the skin may not be expelling enough waste through perspiration.
So how do you prevent a healing crisis? Start out with a small amount of herbal medicine, vitamins and minerals and build up to the appropriate amount. After all, when you start out on an exercise program, you don’t race walk 10 miles the first day. Your cells will dump more acids in the bloodstream than your body can handle and your muscles and joints will wish you had taken a gradual approach. Drinking enough water to flush out these impurities makes a real difference in kidney health and allows the bowels to work. Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables also keeps the bowels working like they should and provides lots of nutrients to strengthen your overall health.
And what do you do if a healing cleanse knocks on your front door?
- Keep taking your supplements to build and cleanse the body.
- Skin brush or exfoliate to allow the skin to eliminate waste, and get blood and lymphatic fluid on the move to help move that junk out of there.
- Drink the appropriate amount of water. Sip all day. To avoid stress on the kidneys and to avoid beating a path to the nearest bathroom, no chugging!
- Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Practice deep breathing for lung health.
Hot Tip: Take your weight in pounds and divide that in half. That number is the amount of ounces of water, juice or herbal tea you need in a day. Adjust that figure upward if you drink diuretics (like coffee or tea) or perspire a lot. It’s best to work up to this amount gradually.
Marty Kernion, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. She has a doctorate in naturopathy. Naturopathy uses natural, gentle ways to bring our bodies back into balance so that they have the God-given ability to heal themselves. She is a retired professor of herbal medicine and nutrition and has written 39 college level courses in natural approaches to health. She has published two books on natural health. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling a class or consultation, or for sending in your questions for this column.