3 Signs You Are Healing (even though you feel lousy)

3 Signs You Are Healing (even though you feel lousy)

Healing reactions can cause mass frustration.

When you aren’t properly educated on what these reactions mean or why they occur, it’s a never-ending cycle of questions, false starts, and unnecessary misery.

Is this working?

Why do I feel worse?

Should I stop?

Instead of masking symptoms, natural healing allows them to surface while the body mends itself.

As a rule of thumb, most reactions should begin to resolve within a week of manifesting. If your symptoms continue to worsen, then there may be a missing piece that your body needs – a ‘co-factor’ – or some adjustments need to be made.

There is no one path to healing.

In addition to my previous article ‘Why Healing Diet Can Make You Feel Worse’, the following reactions are the most common ones that my clients experience during deep healing.

The 3 Main Types of Healing Reactions

1. Digestive Reactions

These are categorized by an increase in symptoms of digestive distress. In the series on healing digestion, we discuss how optimal digestion works.

Once you start healing the northernmost points of digestion, the entire system is affected and takes some time to normalize.

    • You may have only had small bouts of heartburn on occasion but are now dealing with bloating or gas as you begin to kill of the pathogenic microbes in your gut.
    • Your spouse now has alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation as the GI tract cleans itself out.
    • Food used to run right through you but now you’ve been stopped up for days.

These are all normal reactions as the toxic load is reduced and the body begins to work again.

If there is blood in your stool or prolonged elimination changes, you may be moving too fast or the changes you’re making are not right for you at this time. Please contact a qualified holistic health practitioner with any health concerns.

2. Allergic Reactions

When you immune system is overstimulated and hyper sensitive, allergies develop.

Unless you are dealing with true anaphylactic allergies, this can be reversed when the gut environment is sealed and the bloodstream is no longer bombarded with foreign bodies.

[Side note: when non-IgE allergies do not subside there is usually an energy or psychological component to them.]

If you are dealing with non-threatening allergic reactions, slow down until it’s at a pace you can deal with.

I prefer to focus on gut healing and avoiding reactive foods and supplements until there is no longer a strong reaction to it before consuming on a regular basis.

3. Healing Reactions

Healing reactions often look like what you are trying to heal.

    • If you are working on healing the digestive system, it can mimic the symptoms you are trying to heal.
    • If you are focused on the immune system, it may manifest as flu-like symptoms or a viral flare.
    • A small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause external yeast infections as the pathogenic yeasts are pushed outside of the body when they are excreted.

a. Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions (‘herxing’) are what is commonly called die off or detoxing.

It’s the release of a large amount of toxins as pathogens die within the body. The toxins overwhelm the body’s detox pathways and cause symptoms as they build up – nausea, fatigue, brain fog, shakiness, sleeplessness, etc.

b. Retracing is a reemergence of symptoms after they’ve been gone for some time. The body is cleaning house and taking out the trash.

Eczema flares, acne, painful joints, yeast infections, tics, stuttering, and any symptom that you have experienced in the past is fair game.

3 Signs You Are Healing (even though you feel lousy)

Real joy will come.

Once you move past these symptoms (and what can feel like endless work at times), there is true joy at the end of the long road. I am still healing myself, but it feels amazing to wake up refreshed and ready to greet the day.

Keep your chin up, dear readers. Health is worth it.



33 thoughts on “3 Signs You Are Healing (even though you feel lousy)”

  • This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I have been feeling very frustrated lately as it seems that my problems have gotten worse rather than better. Since I was feeling so defeated I fell off the wagon for a couple of weeks and boy did it kick my butt! I’m now getting back on, cleaning my eating back up and enjoying my chicken broth and liver pills. πŸ™‚ My head is clearer, and now with your article, I feel like I was really making improvements even though I had some healing issues.

    • Those are clear signs of healing! When your reactions are much stronger after removing a substance and then reintroducing it, it means your immune system is strong enough to react when it couldn’t before.

  • Thanks for sharing this. It is encouraging! I have been trying to strengthen my immune system, and still feeling lousy, sort of sore, tired etc. I hope that is a sign that I am healing and growing stronger! Yay!

  • Great article!

    I think the retracing thing is cool. When I did GAPS intro, I had lots of symptoms that I had when I was a kid. I’d forgotten about those stomach aches.

  • Great article. I’ve been doing autoimmune protocol and initially started with just paleo. My main goal was to see if I could cure my food allergies, mainly fruits like apples, pears, peaches, cherries and hazelnuts. I am still eating clean and avoiding all the irritating foods but my fruit allergies have gone away! It’s absolutely incredible. I haven’t tested the nuts yet but I’m not really worried about those. I missed fruit so much so it’s amazing to have that back. And it supports my clean diet and fixes the few cravings I might get. My worst symptom was the carb flu but it went away in about a week. Plus I make sure I even out my carb intake with squash and things that are good for my healing.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I’ll keep an eye on my symptoms in case something else comes up and this way I’ll know what caused it.

  • great to see this, thanks! I’m lucky to have a friend and sister doing GAPS about same time as me and my daughter, so we can talk when we are discouraged, confused and want to give up. So we’ve figured this out (and keep figuring it out over again as it keeps cycling for each of us) but it’s still so helpful to see it summarized like this in one place.
    We also keep talking about the ‘point of no return [back to whatever tolerable state of equilibrium you may have had]’ with this healing through food. You start it because of one symptom or two that finally has become too much to handle and then you realize how many more things were/are in fact wrong and needed this healing in your system, and what a fundamental change this is. It’s exhilarating on good days and beyond frustrating on bad ones. This post will help on bad days πŸ™‚ Thanks again!

  • Great information! What kind of time frame are we looking at? I had testing done 6 months ago, and have been eating clean since then (of course the occasional indulgence!). But I am surprised about the stomach problems I have had, and the eczema and acne flare ups that have occurred. I knew this would happen initially, but after 6 months I thought a lot of this would be gone.

    Thanks!

    • Many, if not, all of them should be gone by 6 months. Because we are generationally nutrient-deficient, it’s more about what we put back in than what we take out. Focusing on replacing those long-depleted nutrients is the key to healing.

      • Jennifer,

        Love your posts on this topic & this came at a very timely time for me, as well. Your comment on nutrient replacement and what overwhelms me right now is trying to incorporate so much, as I have so much going on. Another big issue for me has been that I’ve just not been hungry, nothing really tempted me, live alone & it was too much effort to cook…..so always looking for advice on how to try and encompass it all.

        • I always suggest starting with digestive support and focusing on getting adequate amounts of good protein and fats when you’re going it alone. Once you are digesting and absorbing those all important amino acids, fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins, it’s easier to work on replacing the foods that are compromising your health.

  • “A small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause external yeast infections as the pathogenic yeasts are pushed outside of the body when they are excreted.”

    More on this?? Im assuming this means the SIBO is normalizing rather than getting worse?? I have experienced this more while undergoing SIBO treatment, as well as afterwards.

    • Hey Lauren! If you are working on replacing the pathogenic yeast in your gut, then they are looking for a new home and a warm, dark, moist area is the perfect place to breed. Yay for us.

      You can add probiotic powder to any affected areas to help crowd out the pathogenic yeast the same way you have been doing with your gut and be sure not to take alkaline detox baths with salts. Vinegar baths are usually best (1 cup ACV with a full tub of water).

      If you continue to experience it even after SIBO treatment (longer than a few weeks), then your gut microbes are not yet balanced. The external bacterial environment reflects the internal. You may need to readjust your probiotic routine and type.

  • Thanks for this article!

    I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant and am doing full GAPS (did not do any intro due to the pregnancy). Whenever I eat broth (chicken or beef) I get a small amount of heartburn – just a slight burning in my throat. Could this mean healing? Or not? Or could it just mean that I am pregnant? πŸ™‚

    As a bit of history, I went fully Paleo for about 6 months after discovering that I was gluten intolerant and has issues with hypothyroid, then transitioned to Primal (added dairy) for another 6, then began adding rice and potatoes. This all totaled about 18 months. When I got pregnant, I started eating some gluten free “treats” (cereal, bagels) during the first trimester, and am wondering if that messed up my healing process, and if that is the cause of my heartburn.

    • Congratulations mama! There are many possible reasons for the reaction but it is not likely healing. At 35 weeks, my first instinct is too much liquid in a teeny, tiny space. πŸ™‚ With the length of time that you have been trying to heal and the extra demands that pregnancy and nursing put on the body, you may want to look into nutritional therapy or nutritional balancing to help correct those deficiencies that are not allowing your body to heal properly. It would be very beneficial to both you and your munchkin.

  • I was just going to look this up. Back in the middle of May I discovered corn and gluten allergies and in July, an egg allergy. It was a relief to feel better, but I still have stretches of misery that make wonder me “what’s wrong?”. It is no fun to re-experience the misery, but I keep telling myself that it’s just my body cleaning up and praying that that’s true.
    How long does it generally take for a body to fully heal? I’m guessing the answer will be it depends on the person, but I’ll ask anyways πŸ™‚

    • When working with a holistic practitioner, most people should see significant results within 3-6 months. Full healing can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years on average.

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  • Thank you once again Jennifer – well timed! I’ve come a long way in 13 mo after a very rocky start on GAPS intro (with no professional guidance save for what I get from your blog!). However, as well as I’m doing, in the New Year I’m commit to finding a holistic or nutritional therapy practitioner… I’m interested to learn more about the “energy or psychological component” you mention.

    • You have come a long way! I’m not sure how many holistic practitioners do energy work or work with emotional issues though, so you would have to interview each one to see. NTPs aren’t trained in it unless they get outside training. I have a background in psychology and have been working with those 2 components outside of my training. I know I’m not the only one though.

  • I’ve just come to this site today, wow. I’ve been asking is there any way to reverse IBS symptoms? and maybe there is, but I hadn’t found the answer yet. I just started getting the IBS in April, 2016. All of a sudden! I’ve been very depressed ever since. I’ve had to, basically, cut out food. I’m still on medicines for my arthritis, so I have to eat. drat!!. lol. anyway, thanks for the tips

    • Absolutely Sheila! All of my clients come to me with digestive dysfunction and almost 100% of my blog’s followers has it too. I wrote a series on digestion to help with the basics of getting started. You can access it here.

      Best of luck! If you ever need personalized help, feel free to click on the ‘Work With Me’ menu tab and we can set up a consultation.

  • Have had severe bloating and heat/humidity intolerance since perimenopause (2003). Also have had multiple chemical sensitivities since the 1980s. First did naet, now bioset. I detox all the time. It is very hard. Notice that I can tolerate for a short time fragrance, can eat many more foods now (and have eaten 99 percent organic since the 1980s) but stilll have digestive symptoms. Bioset practitioner is working on small intestine and large intestne and the digestive symptoms are much worse. I am frustrated because I am unable to take digestive enzymes due to a high amylase/lipase blood work going back to around 2003. It is improving but gasttro dr. said never take anything with amylase in it. So I feel stuck with all these digestive problems. I really cannot take much oral things or any to detox due to horrid reactions or detox. I am able to take supplements since doing bioset. I now wake up with bloating daily (not now just from eating during the day as it had been) since doing the above treatments. I don’t know where to turn at this point.

  • I forgot to say that my father had massive digestive problems his whole life. I am very underweight (always have been) and have chronic anxiety which really flared up at perimenopause. I do take hydrochrloric acid (though was lowered recently after muscle testing). I get nausea after bowel movements (standard process cholacol II helped that immensely but they are unable to find it without the bentonite being radiated.-so they are not selling it at this time. I am on a rotation diet, probiotics, was on l glutamine until two years ago – a test by holistic practitioner showed I had too much of l glutamine in my system, take scd compliant probiotic etc. etc. I am depressed and a mess and want to improve and feel better!!

    • Anna, I’m so sorry to hear of such a long road struggling with chronic illness. It’s exhausting, depleting, and can be downright demoralizing. When you are working with practitioners who have success with energy healing over conventional means, it leads me to believe that much of it is soul/energy related. In addition to at least 50% of your protocols being stress relief remedies – like alternate nostril breathing -, I would suggest working with someone highly skilled in God-centered energy work and work through a few different methods like cranialsacral therapy, reiki, and prayer. Constant flares and illness for that long is not detox.

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