Are You Experiencing a Healing Crisis

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Are You Experiencing a Healing Crisis

Are you experiencing a healing crisis? It is not uncommon for individuals to suffer from detoxification reactions when they begin a program of natural healing.  This is classically referred to as a healing crisis and occurs when the body is expelling toxins into the different systems of the body.  The healing crisis is a normal process that toxic individuals will often encounter on their path to getting well.

The medical term for healing crisis is the “Herxheimer Reaction.”  This occurs when the cells release toxins into circulation but the elimination organs (skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, bladder & GI tract) are not able to eliminate them quickly enough.  The toxins remain in circulation and can effect the brain stem region leading to nausea, poor coordination, headaches, fatigue, malaise, fever, etc (1, 2).

healing crisis

Microbial Die-Off and the Healing Crisis:

Another common cause of the healing crisis has to do with the dying off of certain pathogenic organisms in the body.  These organisms can be candida yeast infections, viruses and bacteria.  Any sort of natural health program can cause a massive die off of these organisms (3, 4).

This die-off releases stored endotoxins (within the microbes themselves) that circulate and again interfere with normalized function.   The more pathogens in the body the more endotoxins that will be released into the bloodstream (5, 6).

healing crisis

The Healing Crisis is Natural & Healthy

The healing crisis is very natural and unique for each individual.  The vast majority experience very mild symptoms while others experience severe issues.  The individual should understand that these symptoms are temporary and will subside as the body gets healthier and able to eliminate toxins more effectively.  Symptoms usually reduce/eliminate within 2-3 days but on rare occasions can last a few weeks.

Most people base their health on how they are feeling and think that the natural health program is hurting them when they go thru a healing crisis.  This could not be further from the truth.  The longer toxins or pathogenic organisms remain in the body the worse their health will be and the faster they will develop disease.

People who are already suffering from major illnesses or are quickly building disease processes may suffer from more extreme reactions.  This may explain why someone would have a brief flare-up in their condition.  On occasion the crisis will come after the individual feels at their very best.

The most common symptoms associated with a healing crisis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, night sweats, hot/cold flashes, increased blood pressure, headaches, joint pain, & fatigue.

healing crisis

Fasting to Cleanse the Body:

Fasting is a common strategy used to cleanse the body and often is associated with many of these detox symptoms.  Fasting removes energy from the digestive tract where it can now be utilized for healing and detoxification.

This is an important strategy for everyone to use periodically to improve and maintain cellular purity.  Many choose to do 3-10 day liquid cleanses every quarter while others choose to do a weekly 24 hour fasting cleanse.

To minimize healing crisis symptoms during a fast it is best to incorporate fermented drinks that are rich in electrolytes and enzymes to facilitate cleansing.  Some of the best functional beverages to include in a fasting cleanse include fermented whey, coconut water kefir, apple cider vinegar, & kombucha.

Fermented Foods and the Healing Crisis:

Healing crisis will also occur when individuals begin to incorporate naturally fermented foods into their diet.  These foods destroy pathogenic organisms and create die-off effects.  Healing crisis are also very common in individuals with major blood sugar signaling problems.

When they remove sugar and anything that turns into sugar they often have symptoms.  Until there body gets comfortable using fat as a preferred fuel they will often run on metabolic acidosis and experience healing crisis symptoms.

healing crisis

Tips For Handling a Healing Crisis:

1.  Super Hydrate Your Body:  Water is the best medium for removing toxins from the body.  Be sure to drink as much as you can!  I recommend 2-4 oz every 15 waking minutes to super saturate your body and flush out endotoxin and inflammatory debris.  Be sure to use high quality, filtered water.

2.  Use Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar:  Lemon and ACV help the body to flush endotoxin waste, enhance detoxification pathways and neutralize free radicals and inflammatory damage.  Put a quarter to a half of a lemon or 1-2 tbsps of ACV for every 8 ounces of water.

3.  Use Essential Oils:  Many essential oils such as peppermint, frankincense and/or lavender have relaxing properties.  These powerful plan oils are fantastic to use to reduce the symptoms of a healing crisis.  My wife and I love to diffuse these in our house and I would recommend both diffusing and using them topically to help you out of a healing crisis.

essential oils, How To Use Essential Oils like a Pro

4.  Get As Much Sleep As Possible:  Sleep is super critical to the healing and detoxification pathways.  I recommend sleeping 10-12 hours during the healing crisis processes.  Check out this article for my best tips to sleep better.

5.  Load up on Probiotics:  Healthy microorganisms help to neutralize endotoxins and improve gut motility and other detoxification pathways.  It is good to double or triple up during the healing crisis to help the body get over it faster.  Here is a great probiotic I use clinically.

6.  Use Bone Broth:  This healing elixer helps to improve the immune system and reduce inflammation.  You can get organic chicken, beef or vegetable broth and drink throughout the day or make a great stew.  You can buy it pre-made or make it yourself.  Here is a bone broth recipe to try.


7.  Bitter Herbs:  In the natural health world, the term “bitter is good for your liver,” is commonly used.  Bitter herbs like parsley, cilantro, dandelion, ginger and milk thistle have powerful liver detoxification enhancing properties.

8.  Use Garlic and Onions:  These anti-microbials are loaded with sulfur compounds and the flavonoid quercetin, which work together to reduce endotoxin mediated inflammation.  Put these in your bone broth with the bitter herbs and consume throughout the day.

9.  See Your Chiropractor:  The inflammation caused by excessive endotoxin release puts tremendous stress on the body.  It is important to enhance the function of your spine and nervous system in order to detoxify at the most efficient level.  Have your chiropractor check you everyday and perhaps twice a day while going through a healing crisis.

10.  Use Activated Charcoal:  Charcoal has a remarkable ability to bind and remove an incredible toxin load.  You can read about activated charcoal’s detoxifying ability here.  My favorite form of activated charcoal is Activated Coconut charcoal that comes from organic coconut husk.

Sources For This Article Include:

1. The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. Lancet. 1977 Feb 12;1(8007):340-1. PMID: 64863
3. Davis LE, Oyer R, Beckham JD, Tyler KL. Elevated CSF cytokines in the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction of general paresis. JAMA Neurol. 2013 Aug;70(8):1060-4. PMID: 23732875
4. Meislin HW, Bremer JC.Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. Case report. JACEP. 1976 Oct;5(10):779-81. PMID: 1018353
5. Gelfand JA, Elin RJ, Berry FW Jr, Frank MM. Endotoxemia associated with the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. N Engl J Med. 1976 Jul 22;295(4):211-3. PMID: 775337
6. Pasternak NI, Toporovskiĭ LM. [Clinico-pathophysiologic analysis of the pathogenesis of fever in the Jarisch-Herxheimer-Lukashevich syndrome]. Vestn Dermatol Venerol. 1986;(4):21-6. Russian. PMID: 3521129

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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  1. Great article Dr. Jockers! I guide patients on nutritional cleansing and no matter how many times you tell them they can get symptoms of detoxing they never listen. I’ll be sure to share this article with them.

  2. Herxheimer’ve a name for everything!
    Thanks for explaining..i guess it feels a lot worse for old ppl like me: extreme suffering!

      1. Hey, Dr. J…your opinion pls. I don’t know if called a healing crisis. Since I increased the methyl B’s to 2/day, I feel unwell again. Excessive gas, nausea, and diarrhea. When I took one cap/day, I felt much better. Q: should I continue 2/day or go back to one daily?
        Thanks for reply:-)

          1. Thanks, Dr.J…I was hoping you’d say to stay on 2/day, and that symptoms will subside because 1/day doesn’t do much methylation. Thanx again!

  3. I started doing more juicing in the last 2 weeks like celery juicing in the morning and cucumber juicing in the evening and lemon water 2x a day and now I am discouraged and frustrated since I have shingles! Could this detox juicing have activated the virus?

    1. Hi Gisele, I am so sorry to hear! Alkalizing juice fights inflammation. Juicing foods rich in vitamin C boost immunity and provide healing benefits. I would recommend that you find a functional health practitioner to customize a specific plan and get to the root cause of what may have triggered the the reactivation of the virus. Here is a helpful article: This article has a list of top vitamin C sources that can help:

  4. I have numbness in both legs for about two years now. I have used drugs prescribed by doctors at the general hospital without improvement. Please how can I cure it?

    1. I have numbness in both legs for about two years now. I have used drugs prescribed by doctors at the general hospital without improvement. Please how can I cure it?

      1. James: I also have numbness and stiffness of the feet, which in my case is related to diminished circulation due to adrenal fatigue. What helps me is a daily foot bath with epsom salt…hope that works for you.

  5. A one size fits all approach always concerns me. Some of the advice in this article will be dangerous for some. Anyone with histamine intolerance or MAST cell disease will get far worse following some if these recommendations. Use with extreme caution if you are fairly ill.

    1. Hey Leslie, You are correct. Every individual has unique needs. The tips in this article can help individuals with histamine intolerance, those with an infection or developing disease in the body. Anyone with specific health concerns should consult with a physician.

  6. Hello, Dr. J!
    My ND told me that due to my age, 73, it will take ca 5 yrs to detox…is this true?

    I feel sick and nauseous periodically, not all the time…and it’s miserable. No fun at my age.

    Thanx for reply!


      1. Hi Robyn, I am sorry for not responding right away. I do my best and try to answer all inquiries as soon as I can. It is wise to go low and slow and create a lifestyle around cleansing the body. For many people it can take years to eliminate a lot of toxins, but overtime they will feel better and better as they move into different phases.

  7. Hello Dr. Jockers,

    Love your article regarding healing crisis.
    Can I copy paste on my personal website with your Name and website/article link attached?


  8. Hi! I am 45 yrs old and was given ionic colloidal silver water 10 ml 2x last Saturday. A friend of mine gave to me and suggested it because I keep having an issue with my tonsil flaring up. On Sunday night I became very nauseous. Since then I have been having ALL the healing crisis symptoms. Extremely sore muscle weakness headache nausea brain fog exhaustion and bad night sweats (with odor). I even went to the ER because I felt so ill. They said all my tests were fine. Today is 7 days like this….is this normal to be going on this long???? I am hydrating like crazy and nothing seems to work . Please help !

    1. Sorry to hear this! I would recommend adding in activated charcoal and Bioactive carbons. Also, be sure to get salt and electrolytes in.

      Take the coconut charcoal – 1-2 grams – 3x daily away from meals and that should help reduce the symptoms.

      I would also recommend getting the Bioactive Carbon Biotox and taking 2 caps – 3x daily with meals to cleanse deep within your cells

      1. Ty for responding so quickly…so it’s not something I should be too alarmed about being it’s been 7 days now. I have never done any type of a detox or cleanse. Sorry…I was just worried.

  9. There’s so much going on when there’s a health crisis, and it’s so easy to be lost in a list of common symptoms. Is it low electrolytes? Low blood sugar? Adrenal fatigue? Gluten sensitivity?

    So much going on.

    Fortunately, as you point out, there are many things we can do to turn things around that are nearly free, and what we should do for our health anyway.

    Thanks for this article.

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