Written by John Mackie – Therapist
What is a healing crisis? It is a term used in the world of complementary therapy to describe a reaction by the body to some kind of therapeutic intervention or treatment. Things get worse before they get better. The medical world views this concept as “illness” that is defined by the presence of symptoms, and treats the symptoms. For example, a cold. I recently experienced the worst cold I have had in years, which lasted nearly a month, but I would say I had a healing crisis, or an “acute”, which is a naturopathic term that says the body is using it’s energy to make something happen in order to make us well. If you need to have the cold, then welcome it. It’s just nature doing it’s thing.
It felt like I was clearing out old stuff, and I had a fever which I have not had for years. I could have treated it with paracetamol or other such medications to stop me feeling the way I was, but I view that as suppression and stopping the body from doing what it knows what to do ie. heal. We have an immune system to take care of us and if the immune system is repeatedly suppressed, that is the pathway to the body manifesting some other “dis-ease”. When you produce mucus during a cold, you are getting rid of toxins in the body that have accumulated over time, through stress, poor diet, environmental factors etc. Stress incidentally weakens the immune system & digestion system (80% of our immune system is in our digestive system). Traditional Chinese Medicine calls this dampness which can manifest as joint pain, fatigue both mental and physical. If this continues to deepen, it hinders out body’s ability to heal and weakens our immune system. We just get more tired, and less healthy and more “toxic”. That then may give rise to a different & more severe illness/healing crisis further down the line. Think of it as the body getting rid of all the rubbish. You don’t want that lying around festering in your system.
In Massage Therapy clients may experience sensations of pain or tenderness during the massage session, which if left undisturbed, can give rise to longer-term chronic tension, fatigue, pain or mobility issues. These sensations are just indications of the build up of stress so there may be some kind of healing crisis response after the treatment, like the feeling you get when you use muscles that have not been used for a long time. This usually passes after a couple of days, leaving the body feeling a sense of renewal and lightness, because the body’s innate healing ability has been activated. Rather than opting for a painkiller.
So we can choose to experience the symptoms of cold (runny nose, coughs, feeling pretty rough) or in massage, the feeling of therapeutic release of pain and tension. Rather than make it go away. Because it does not go away. It just hides and resides in the body. Our culture these days does not seem to allow time off to be “unwell”. But our bodies need to have time off from time to time in order to allow and actually FEEL what is going on, and to be able to notice what in our life may be causing us to be unwell. That is another story.
This is healing and preventative medicine, that is necessary in order to maintain and enhance our health & well-being. And it is my practice. Perhaps it can become your practice too. I am here to help. Go to www.johnmackie.co.uk to contact me.
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