Retracing, Healing Reactions and Flare-ups

Excerpts from: Article Source.

Bee’s Notes:

  • Even though this article is related to sauna treatments, many of the same principles apply to any type of natural healing, including Emotional Healing Reactions.
  • However, I caution you to not do the treatments recommended in this article, and to only follow my program (diet plus only the supplements recommended). That is because your body is smart enough to balance out all of its nutrients if given only the “proper nutrients” on Bee’s program. Also some of the treatments in this article are not helpful, and others are inappropriate for unhealthy people, however the overall discussion is very good.

What Are Healing Reactions?

Healing reactions are symptoms related to eliminating toxic substances, healing chronic infections, or other metabolic changes. They are an essential feature of all true healing methods. Other texts may refer to them as flare-ups, crises, retracing reactions, the reversal process, aggravations or exacerbations (worsening).

At times, healing reactions are unpleasant and even frightening. However, they are welcome signs that healing is taking place. If they did not occur, one would know that sauna therapy [or diet and other alternative medicine] did not produce healing at deep levels.

Healing reactions are little understood in allopathic (see definition below) medical practice, so most people are unfamiliar with them. Yet one who undertakes sauna therapy [and other alternative or homepathic medicine] and especially one who will guide others, needs to understand what they are, how to distinguish them from worsening of a disease condition and how to discuss and handle them safely.

One can read about healing reactions in texts on homeopathy, chiropractic, orthomolecular medicine, and many others where they may be referred to as the catharsis (see definition below). Max Gerson, MD, in A Cancer Therapy – Results of 50 Cases, devoted an entire chapter to them.

William Frederich Koch, MD mentions them often in his excellent book, The Survival Factor in Neoplastic and Viral Diseases. Bernard Jensen, DC, ND wrote about them in The Doctor-Patient Handbook.

Most healing reactions are mild and pass quickly. Symptoms may include diarrhea, constipation, aches, pains, muscle cramps, mucus, discharges, odors, rashes, headaches, irritability and fatigue.

Emotional reactions include feelings of anxiety, depression, fear or anger. Reassurance and helping the person understand the healing process is usually all that is required.

If reactions are intense, speaking with a practitioner familiar with them is most helpful. Otherwise, one can stop a sauna program, believing it does not work or that one is becoming worse, when rarely is this the case.

Healing Reactions Versus Disease Reactions

At times, reactions are not due to healing and indicate a worsening of a health condition. This usually occurs when one is not following the diet, lifestyle and other aspects of a complete healing regimen.

In the chronically ill, reactions resolve slower as less energy is available for healing. The healing power of the body is great, however, only when properly nourished and supported.

It is important to know "if" reactions are due to healing or a worsening of a condition. Answering four questions can help one to know.

  1. Was one following the entire health program including diet, rest, supplements, etc.? Healing reactions occur most often when the body is given all that it needs. If the complete program is not followed strictly, the reaction is less likely due to healing. And remember that “more is not better” so doing too many treatments, taking more supplements, herbs, etc. overwhelms the body so healing may actually stop.
  2. Was one feeling better before the reaction occurred? Healing reactions require energy. One’s energy level often increases until it is sufficient to initiate a reaction. Often a reaction occurs just when one is feeling stronger.
  3. Had the symptom(s) occurred in the past? Often, old symptoms or conditions recur during the healing process, called “retracing.” If one has experienced the symptom in even the distant past, it is due to healing. However new symptoms can also occur.
  4. Are the symptoms unusual? Healing reactions often produce odd symptoms and symptoms a person has not experienced in the past. For example, one might develop a sore throat or flu without fatigue or other related symptoms. This occurs when one is really not ill, though one may develop some features of an illness which involve natural healing processes.

Emotional Healing Reactions

One can change emotionally as well as physically during sauna therapy [and other therapies]. Anyone undergoing a sauna healing program needs to be prepared for these emotional shifts as body chemistry improves. Causes of these changes are elimination of toxins that affect the brain.

Other mechanisms involve returning to earlier states of body chemistry that are associated with specific emotional states or traumas, or elimination of what may be called emotional toxins.

Emotional toxins are feelings or beliefs that block healing. Examples are feeling unworthy, unloved, incompetent, stupid, ugly, unfit or unlovable. Others are fears, worries, anger, resentment, guilt and others. These can be every bit as toxic as pesticides or heavy metals. Following is more detail regarding some of the mechanisms of emotional healing reactions.

Physically–linked Reactions: Some emotional toxins are linked to physical toxins and impaired body chemistry. An unhealthy body sends negative messages to the brain. These may be experienced as feelings of fear, anxiety or unworthiness.

Toxic metals can directly affect neurotransmitters and parts of the brain associated with anger, fear and other emotions. Iron, for example, is known to settle in the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with anger.

As physical toxins are eliminated, emotional states will change. As health improves, the body sends positive messages to the brain. An emotional crisis may occur as it becomes more difficult to hold on to negative feelings and beliefs.

Energy–related Reactions: Though often not taught, energy is required to feel feelings, even to feel a depression. Many times, a mineral analysis has revealed a pattern associated with depression. The client, however, denied the feeling. After weeks or months on a healing program, the client called and may blame me or the healing program for causing feelings of depression.

In fact, the healing program merely enhanced the client’s energy and awareness. The client began to feel what had previously been inaccessible or suppressed. Once the feelings surface, they usually resolve quickly on their own. The brain, like the body, is self–healing provided it functions correctly.

For a psychological view of this phenomenon, I recommend Arthur Janov’s The Primal Scream and The Primal Revolution. Enhanced energy due to natural therapies causes the brain to function better. Clarity of thinking, memory and awareness often improve.

This assists one to question beliefs about oneself and about the world. More capable of understanding oneself, one lets go of false beliefs and destructive behaviors.

Completion Reactions: Incompletely healed traumas leave emotional residues. Small children often cry hard when they fall down. They work through the trauma in ten minutes and soon are laughing as if nothing happened. This is the proper way to handle a trauma.

If energy is low or if healing is interrupted for some other reason, a residue of the experience remains and one develops fears or other mental problems and emotions. As energy and clarity in thinking improves, one often spontaneously heals residues of unhealed traumas.

Decompensation Reactions: Certain attitudes and behaviors are compensations for ill health or low energy. As health improves, these are no longer needed and may disappear suddenly. A surprising shift may occur, often accompanied by an insight about oneself or about the world.

Sometimes an emotional toxin is a major stumbling block that stops the healing process until the person is willing to address it. Body work and other therapies can also be excellent to work with emotional wounds that retard healing.

Handling Physical Healing Reactions

In general, the body will not undertake a healing reaction unless it can see it through. Therefore it is most important to support the body, allowing it to proceed with minimal interference.

At times, one may speed up a reaction so it will end sooner. Other times, one may slow down a reaction to lessen the severity of symptoms. Basic support for healing reactions includes:

  1. Vary the sauna sessions. Continuing sauna sessions can intensify a healing reaction. If the liver is being overloaded with toxins, this may not be desirable. It may be best to cease using a sauna or reduce the frequency and duration of sessions until the reaction passes. On the other hand, for clearing an infection, healing a wound or injury or certain other conditions, continuing or even increasing sauna sessions may get it over with faster.
    In general, during a healing reaction, 10-15 minute sessions eight times per day are better than long sessions. These are less debilitating in the midst of a healing reaction. When reactions occur, it helps greatly to call and speak with someone familiar with sauna therapy and healing reactions.
  2. Rest lying down as much as possible. Reduce stress and strain. Conserve energy for healing. Reduce mental as well as physical activity. Breathing deeply and slowly is very calming for the nervous system.
  3. Eat lightly or a liquid diet. Digestion is an extra stress during healing reactions. If one is very uncomfortable, it may be best to skip a meal. However one may notice that symptoms subside after eating a meal.
    Energy must be diverted from healing to digest the meal, so symptoms temporarily diminish while one digests. While drinking adequate water is important during healing reactions, guzzling extra water is usually not helpful.
  4. Detoxification procedures are often helpful. Besides more short sauna sessions, other procedures include coffee enemas, colonic irrigation, massage, chiropractic, energy balancing and acupressure. Enemas are excellent and perhaps essential if one feels constipated and toxic. Chiropractic and energy balancing may also be most helpful.
  5. One can call someone familiar with healing reactions if one is unsure how to handle them. Several patients went to emergency rooms instead of calling me when they experienced healing reactions. They wasted hundreds of dollars and received no benefit. Those that stayed in touch passed through healing reactions, some very vigorously, without needing medical treatment.
  6. Use care in discussing healing reactions with physicians and others unfamiliar with them. Healing symptoms can easily be misinterpreted as illness. This is a common problem. Unless the doctor, friend or family member understands, costly tests and toxic medication may be recommended. Medication can complicate reactions and is rarely effective. Reactions will usually proceed in spite of it.

Supportive Measures

For Toxic Reactions in General: As toxins are mobilized and eliminated, one may experience headaches, rashes, pain, dizziness, abdominal discomfort and other symptoms.

If a symptom persists, ox bile, dehydrocholic acid and silymarin can enhance liver detoxification. Coffee enemas or colonic irrigation enhance elimination through the colon. One may induce vomiting if extreme nausea is present.

Drink salt water first, so the stomach is not empty. Lying down and remaining quiet for half an hour or more is often very beneficial.

For Flare-ups of Infections: Common sites of chronic infections are the sinuses, ears, eyes, throat, bronchial tubes, lungs, intestines, kidneys and bladder. Infections may flare up as they are healed.

Sauna use is excellent to help heal chronic infections. Symptom flare-up is desirable and if mild requires no special attention other than extra rest. Symptoms will pass in a few hours to a few weeks for very chronic infections.

If using an infrared electric light sauna, expose the infected area to more infrared as this can speed healing. Eat lightly and take bee propolis, preferably in liquid form, 100 drops three times daily of a standardized extract.

Rest lying down as much as possible. Other supplements that may be helpful include zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, echinacea and astralagus.

For Pain in the Liver or Kidney Area: For pain in the area of the liver, take extra ox bile, pancreatin and dehydrocholic acid (GB-3 by Endomet Labs) and silymarin up to 50 drops three times a day or up to 3 capsules three times per day of a standardized product. Coffee enemas may also be helpful for discomfort in the area of the liver.

For pain in the kidneys or ureters, drink extra water, up to one quart extra per day. Nettles may be helpful, up to 20 drops three times/day of a standardized extract.

For Diarrhea: Elimination of antibiotics, metals or toxic chemicals may cause diarrhea. Rest plenty and eat lightly. Eat lightly of non-fibrous, non-irritating foods such as rice, other grains, chicken and vegetable soup until diarrhea passes. Severe diarrhea that persists requires intervention. Otherwise one may lose vital electrolytes and become dehydrated.

For Emotional Reactions: Emotional traumas deeply held need to be brought to consciousness to be released. When emotions or negative thoughts arise, allow oneself to feel them without suppressing or wallowing in the feelings.

Observe feelings from as neutral a viewpoint as possible. It is very helpful to talk with someone supportive to gain added perspective. Feelings will generally pass, washing over oneself like ocean waves.

Vigorous exercise can slow emotional reactions. Extra rest and sleep will help them pass more quickly.

Many people learned well to suppress their feelings and have great difficulty expressing them. One may become afraid of one’s own buried feelings. These people benefit from allowing themselves to cry, scream or otherwise express that which they feel.

If this seems embarrassing, one can close the bedroom door or go sit in a car. For several years I would cry for no apparent reason, often in crowded places. At times I believed I was ill, but eventually the symptom passed and I found myself much happier.

For Nervousness And Anxiety: Elimination of stored caffeine, drugs, anesthetics, diet pills or other stimulant substances can cause temporary feelings of anxiety as they are released. These will pass without requiring supportive therapy. Extreme fatigue or copper elimination can also cause feelings of anxiety.

If a feeling is very intense or persistent, nutritional supplements of calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and others can have a calming effect. Liquid supplements will act faster.

Resting, deep, slow breathing, calming herbs, homeopathic remedies, massage, foot reflexology and other natural therapies may be helpful as well.

For Weight Loss or Gain: During sauna therapy, weight will often fluctuate. Weight gain may occur if the body retains water to buffer toxins that are being eliminated. Weight loss may occur even in a thin person as damaged tissue is broken down.

One often will go through periods of greater tissue breakdown followed by periods of rebuilding. Shifts in glandular activity may temporarily cause weight gain or loss.

Most shifts in weight are not a cause for concern. Usually the therapy program needs to take its course and weight will normalize after several months to several years, depending on the toxicity of the body.

To Slow Healing Reactions: Choline, 100 mg 3 times per day, will help slow the elimination of toxic metals and chemicals. Taking aspirin, Tylenol, tranquilizers or other over the-counter remedies is not recommended.

Spiritual Healing Reactions

Medical intuitive Carolyn Myss and many other authors discuss spiritual healing crises, spiritual depression, even "spiritual madness". Anything that raises the body’s energy level or alters chemistry, including a nutritional balancing program, can precipitate such as crisis.

Such a crisis may involve taking a leap of faith, letting go of old attachments, increasing self–awareness, or a major shift in perspective. Many people are ill because they are secretly full of fear, guilt, self–hatred or self–loathing.

A healing crisis may bring this to the surface. Such reactions often involve a phase of turmoil and confusion. After passing through such a crisis, physical healing usually proceeds rapidly.

Discussing Healing Reactions

Forewarned, most people handle healing reactions well. One should look forward to reactions as they are evidence of deep healing.

Those who stay in touch fare best on sauna therapy programs. Otherwise one will stop the program prematurely.

These guidelines are sufficient to handle most healing reactions. I have worked with over 15,000 clients. Healing reactions can be vigorous, but rarely dangerous. Always use common sense, however. Occasionally medical intervention is needed, especially with very severe illness.


allopathic – literally, "different suffering"; refers to medicine which focuses on drugs to actively kill cells or smother [suppress] symptoms. Allopathic medicine also focuses on surgery to cut portions of the body in an attempt to heal dysfunction and disease. Allopathic medicine is what is practiced by conventional medicine today.

catharsis is a Greek word meaning "purification" or "cleansing" derived from the ancient Greek word "gerund," which means to "purify, purge," and the Greek adjective "katharos" "pure or clean".