Have you ever wondered why you’re making great changes in your life (whether it’s through diet, supplementation, or increased water intake) – yet your skin is getting worse, instead of getting better?
There are several reasons for this. One of them can be explained by the “healing crisis.”
A lot of research has been done on the healing crisis, but firstly, it is important to know that the healing crisis is an absolutely normal process that several people will encounter on any purgative diet. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the many side effects of reducing the inflammation and cleansing your body.
“Herxeimer Reaction” is the medical term used to refer to the healing crisis.
Herxheimer Reaction normally occurs when cells in your body emit toxins into body system but the elimination organs such as the liver and skin are not able to eliminate them speedily enough.
This then leads to these toxins remaining in system until the body is able to handle them appropriately.
The pathways of toxin elimination
To give you a quick background – your body is constantly working to eliminate toxins through these channels on a daily basis. There are 5 pathways of elimination:
- Lungs (breathing – which is why deep breathing is very useful)
- Lymph and blood
However, in people with eczema, these elimination pathways tend to be blocked or congested, which is why toxins can show up on the skin as eczema or rashes.
My personal experience
The healing crisis is very unique and different to each individual.
For myself, once I cleaned up my diet, added supplements, and did other things to clean my body, I experienced the healing crisis like crazy. My body was eliminating toxins like mad (literally), and it was the scariest moment I had ever gone through.
I remember being so scared that I wasn’t sure if I would survive. Every day was a dreadful day for me. I kept asking my husband (who was my boyfriend then) if I was on the right path, because it just seemed like everything I was doing was wrong, if this reaction was occurring.
He kept comforting me and reminding me that my practitioners all said it would get worse before it got better. He told me to keep hanging on, and I did. It was the worst (and most traumatic experience for me to go through), but after that, my skin began healing like crazy as well.
My healing crisis lasted approximately 2 months because the eczema was so severe, but for some people, it may be shorter or longer. I’ve had clients where the healing crisis has lasted for over 3 months. If you’re going through topical steroid withdrawal, the healing crisis can last even longer.
However, after the release of the toxins, you will feel more energetic and see natural healing progress. During the time your body gets rid of the toxins in in the system, you are likely to experience setbacks. This can come in several different of ways, but mostly individuals will experience “comebacks” of their preceding disease. Basically, this is because the toxins in the system originate from that specific sickness.
Another common cause of the healing crisis also has to do with the dying off of certain pathogenic organisms in the body. These organisms can include Candida yeast infections, viruses and bacteria. In fact, any natural health program may cause a “die-off” in these organisms. These die-off organisms can release endotoxins that circulate and interfere with your body’s regular function.
In short, a good rule of thumb is that the more pathogens there are in the body, the more endotoxins that will be released into the bloodstream.
For instance, if you had parasites or Candida overgrowth in your body and you start to remove sugar (or anything that turns into sugar) in your diet, individuals may experience symptoms as these foods used to feed these organisms, but it’s now creating a “die off” in them instead. This is why changing your diet or even incorporating more fermented foods in your diet may affect the organisms (and change the gut culture) in your body, leading to a healing crisis.
For eczema sufferers, the most common symptoms associated with the healing crisis are eczema flare ups. But in addition to this, some people may also experience nausea, diarrhea, headaches, night sweats, swollen feet, high blood pressure, fatigue and rashes, and joint pains.
People who have more severe eczema will suffer from more extreme reactions.
And because this reaction in most instances occurs when the person is starting to get better, it’s usually referred to as the healing crisis.
But how is the healing crisis associated with eczema?
For you to begin healing your eczema, it is vital that you start by reducing the inflammation in your body. Nonetheless, when your body begins to reduce the inflammation, it also emits other toxins into the body system that it needs to eliminate. This in turn causes the healing crisis. Additionally, it is important to note that the detoxification process normally takes place in three stages:
- Removal of toxins
- Breakdown and removal of affected cells
- Reconstruction of affected body tissues.
Whilst you won’t necessarily experience it suddenly, these toxins in your system can later affect the body as they try to exit. When you have eczema, you may first go through flare ups in your skin. This is because your skin is the body’s largest excreting organ, and it’s actually one of the easiest ways to get rid of the toxins in your body (especially if your liver or bowel movements are already congested). It’s also because of the fact that the initial circulating toxins are as a result of eczema triggers.
During this time, even if you’re on a good eczema diet, you may get rashes in places you may never have had before. If you’re going through topical steroid withdrawal (TSW), you may also find that you may get eczema flare ups in the places that you used to put steroids on the most.
Remember that the healing crisis is absolutely normal, since your body is only cleansing past eczema toxins that have been persistent in your system.
Healing crisis is natural and very normal. Why?
Most individuals tend to get discouraged or even feel like they are doing something completely wrong when experiencing setbacks in the healing crisis of eczema. Nonetheless, this could not be further from the truth! What the healing crisis does is that it eliminates toxins in your body, which is exactly what you want to happen.
For those experiencing the healing crisis when on an eczema diet, this is actually a good sign. It means that your body is at last healthy enough to start eliminating all the hazardous little toxins that have been in circulating in your system. If you suffer from eczema, you should actually anticipate the healing crisis because it is enough proof that you are on the right path to healing your eczema.
How to Speed up the Healing Crisis
This is a natural process, and it is difficult to avoid it. Typically, once the toxins are removed from your body system, it will begin to go away by itself.
The length of your healing crisis depends on how severe your eczema is and the level of toxins in your body.
What you can do best during the healing crisis is just to wait it out knowing that it is temporary. However, if you really want to make sure that it passes quickly, there are certain things that you can do to speed up the healing process:
Strictly follow to your program – Most people tend to base actual health on the “feeling of health,” and this is when they begin to develop negative thought and start giving up. No doubt that this is a big problem for people with eczema. When going through the healing crisis, it is important to stick to your diet program to allow your body to get rid of the toxins naturally. Don’t forget that this is a temporary process.
Drink lots of liquids on daily basis – These include herbal teas and filtered/spring water. They will greatly assist your body in removing the toxins. Drinking coffee during this time can dehydrate you even more and also overburden your adrenal glands (which help you regulate and recover from stress – especially if it’s stress from an eczema flare up).
Rest a lot – During the healing crisis, you may feel tired as your body eliminates the toxins circulating in your body. The first stage of detoxification requires lots of rest so your body can use all its energy and power to work on reconstructing the injured sites. Ensure that you’re getting enough rest and sleeping throughout the night.
Avoid adding extra toxins in your body – use clean products free of harsh chemicals (whether it’s through makeup, skin care products, laundry detergents, soaps, etc.)
Increase your fiber intake – so that you’re excreting toxins through your bowels instead of through your skin.
Increase lymphatic circulation – since your lymphatic system helps carry toxins out of your body, doing regular lymph drainage massages, light exercises, dry brushing, or rebounding can be helpful.
Epsom salt baths – these help reduce inflammation, redness, and helps the detoxification process
Bentonite clay – can help draw toxins out of your body
Meditation, prayer or breathing exercises – these help to reduce stress, and if you’re deep breathing, it will help expel toxins out of your lungs.
Steam or saunas – these help speed up the elimination of toxins from your body due to increased sweating (but a big word of caution: not everyone can handle these, especially if you’re going through a flare up. It may cause itchiness or dryness if the steam or sauna irritates your skin).
Hot/cold contrast showers – taking a shower and changing the temperature between hot and cold (i.e. hot/cold contrast showers) will boost your immune system and it acts as a pump to facilitate detoxification.
I hope that all these things will help make the healing crisis easier on you, and don’t worry – things do get better, eventually! Don’t give up hope.
Have a healing story to share? Email me or share it in the comments below.
- Healing Eczema: Why Dieting Is Not Enough
- The Power of Thoughts: How Mindset Shifts Can Help Eliminate Eczema
- My Detailed Eczema Healing Treatment Plan
Abby is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients achieve optimal health. She is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. She hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube for more updates!
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.