One of the things people often forget to mention when going into a detoxification—the process of ridding your body of the toxins that build up over time—is that there are different detox phases. You won’t feel on top of the world the minute you start your cleanse. Instead, the body has to kick into self-healing mode and process the toxins effectively. When you transition to a plant-based diet, the toxins that have amassed in your body will begin to move and enter the bloodstream, causing mildly uncomfortable symptoms. This is called the healing crisis or the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction. But the process is well worth it, especially if you’re prepared before going in!
What is the Healing Crisis?
At its core, the healing crisis is what happens when you feel worse before you feel better. Also known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, the phenomenon was named after two European dermatologists performing research during the late 1800s. The doctors found that, after treating skin lesions with mercurial compounds, patients experienced exacerbations of symptoms before eventual improvement. The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction also occurs often in skin care—it’s why some products make you break out before they clear up blemishes.
Think about the things that you aim to get rid of within your body: chemicals, toxic agents and all the gross stuff that builds up due to consuming a processed diet and absorbing different environmental toxins. During a detox, these components are disturbed and release compounds into the body known as endotoxins, which get flushed into the bloodstream. Endotoxins are essentially the outer membranes of bacteria that are released only when the cells are disrupted. They include lactic acid, urea and other waste products that form bacteria (microbes) in the gut. Along with environmental factors like pollutants and pesticides (known as exotoxins), these are the things we want to flush for improved health!
Symptoms of a Healing Crisis
Your healing crisis period can last from a day to a few days, depending on how your body responds and how severe the toxin buildup. Most people feel a healing crisis for about three days. You may experience the following symptoms shortly after you begin your cleanse and the body kicks into detox mode:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Low-grade fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- Depression, anxiety and mood swings
- Rashes and pimples
- Food sensitivities
- Bad breath
- Tongue swelling
- Pain, soreness or achiness
- Stuffy nose and congestion
- Low blood pressure
Tips for Handling the Healing Crisis
While reactions are generally relatively mild and you’ll likely be able to go about your day-to-day life as normal while you’re detoxing, it does help if you’re armed with some coping tips so that you know how to push through a particularly difficult cleanse.
- Know that It’s Worth It—The thing is that, once a healing crisis passes, you’re left feeling better than you did before you started a cleanse. If you’re struggling, remind yourself that it’s just temporary and that it will be worth it when it’s over. The right full-body detox should leave you feeling energized, renewed and ready to start a healthy life!
- Practice Self-Care—By detoxifying, you’re performing the ultimate self-care tactic. But while you’re in the throes, it may feel unpleasant, so use the time as an excuse to indulge a bit in healthy comforts, like taking a bath, getting a massage or taking an afternoon off work to read, write or mediate. Consider it “me time.”
- Buddy Up—Many followers of Hallelujah Diet start their journey to better health by cleansing together, either with their spouse, a friend or even a co-worker. When you’re on a journey alongside someone else, you’ll have extra support to push through and make the most out of your detox period.
- Know Your Limits—Remember that you are in charge of your detox! If your symptoms worsen or become too uncomfortable, you can cut back on the detox supplements—with Hallelujah Diet, we recommend cutting back on concentrated juices and BarleyMax if needed—to ease your symptoms. You may add a little bit of extra cooked food back into your diet and drink a lot of pure water as well.
Focusing on the End Goal
Depending on how much medication and other toxins have accumulated in your body, the healing crisis may be a difficult one. The important thing to know is that it’s totally normal and it means your detox is doing its job. As long as you have the right tools for success and maintain a positive, determined attitude, you’ll surely succeed on your path to better living through occasional detoxing!