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Detox Reaction vs Bad Reaction?

Detox reaction vs bad reaction- how to tell?


This is a question that gets asked a lot but there is no easy answer for it. Ultimately, this is where tuning into your own body is key. You have to learn to listen to your body! There is no getting around this, and no one else can tell you what you are feeling or thinking.


The biggest things to ask yourself to determine if you are having detox or a reaction:

  • Is this a new symptom? (then it’s likely a bad reaction)
  • Is this a flare up? (likely detox- we go through the same symptoms to heal something that we go through when we’re sick)
  • Am I going to the bathroom more? (likely detox as this is a main way that we get rid of toxins?)
  • What do I feel to be true? (this is important! Don’t immediately jump to the worst conclusion)
  • Did I do something new, or too much of something? (likely detox)
  • Did I push too much? (then the reaction is likely detox because you are working with less energy)
  • How did I sleep last night? (same as above- if you slept poorly then detox is going to feel more rough)
  • Am I eating/drinking enough to help me through this? (again- low energy = harder time detoxing)

After talking with hundreds-thousands of people, I have been able to see that a LOT of reactions are in fact detox. We are just so accustomed to not wanting to feel any discomfort that we immediately think something is wrong. In order for our bodies to heal, we have to rebuild ourselves internally. Many of us have been sick for years, decades, generations- this is a LOT of gunk that is stored up. We’re essentially building the body from scratch.

It is not always easy or quick. But it does mean that you have to truly listen to your body! You have to learn your cues and what is normal/not normal for YOU. This is the best way to reduce fear and panic while healing.

Healing Reactions: What they are and how to get through them!

Healing reactions go by many names: detox, copper dumping, healing crisis, Herxheimer reaction. They all essential have the same concept: when you embark on a natural healing path, your body starts to clean up the layers of filth and toxins that have been building up for years (even for generations!). This can create some unpleasant symptoms that can be scary. Ideally, you would think that changing your diet and lifestyle will automatically make you feel better- for many people it does! But for those that are truly way past their toxic load, healing can be a rough road with many ups and downs.

Our bodies have more healing potential than anyone has ever led you to believe! We are meant to heal. We just need the right tools.

I started my natural healing journey in 2012. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but even then there were not many resources about natural healing so I went through a lot of it on my own. I somehow learned to trust my body’s instincts and I just went with the flow. Now, we are lucky to have many groups and forums filled with people on similar journeys that can help each other through the healing process.

With healing, it is very helpful to be in tune with your body and notice how you react to certain things. This way, you will be able to correctly identify a healing reaction and then know how to follow it to completion.

So why do we experience healing reactions?

Our bodies tend to accumulate lots of junk.  Pesticides, certain chemicals from plastics and beauty products, and heavy metals are the huge offenders. We are bombarded with these things on a daily basis! Couple that issue with the Standard American Diet and then it becomes apparent why autoimmune, neurological, and endocrine disorders are on the rise. Our bodies need certain nutrients to function correctly. So the average American is not only eating “food” that is lacking in these nutrients, but they are poisoning themselves from every angle with perfume, makeup, and plastic bottles!

The liver seems to be one of the first things affected with this lifestyle. When the liver gets overloaded, it cannot filter toxins so it stores them in fat. So we literally can be full of toxins!  This is why when we embark on a natural healing path, we can experience these healing reactions- these toxins can finally get filtered out. They cause an increase in symptoms as they get released. This is why liver and gut health are CRUCIAL to the healing process. They work in tandem to eliminate these toxins in a timely manner. Read my liver healing and gut health posts to learn more about keeping them up and running.

Symptoms of Healing Reactions:

Basically any flare-up of symptoms you have ever experienced is common. Healing tends to have an order- the body heals the issue that is the newest, and then works backwards. For example, if you had strep throat last month, your first healing reaction could be a sore throat again but it wouldn’t feel the same- it would be milder and last only a day or 2 instead of a week. It is VERY important to not use any over-the-counter drugs or pharmaceuticals to counter-effect a healing reaction! This will just make the healing process longer because these suppress healing.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased mucus secretion
  • Increased bathroom trips
  • Blurry eyes
  • Overwhelming emotions (emotions can actually get stored in our organs– when we start healing, these emotions come flooding out)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Cold/flu like symptoms
  • Changes in urine/stool including frequency, color changes, and smell
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Rashes
  • Any symptom that you have been dealing with can flare up for a time as the body heals

Copper dumping seems to have its own set of symptoms: Anxiety, rashes, liver pain or a feeling of it being swollen, insomnia, depression, paranoia, panic attacks, loose stool or an increase in frequency (many claim it is a copper color), changes in appetite, anger, crying, hopelessness,feeling wired and tired, joint pain, and any exaggeration of current symptoms     Just remember that healing reactions are temporary and they are a great sign that your body is trying to heal finally. 

It takes years, decades, even generations before some people reach their “toxic load”. So healing fully can take time for some people.  The general rule is one month of healing for every year you have been sick- may not be true for everyone but it is a good guideline.   The best way to ensure that you succeed on the healing path (and this is what I didn’t know 3 years ago) is that proper testing can take a LOT of the guesswork out for you. 

An HTMA can show you so many of your deficiencies and imbalances, as well as show your adrenal strength- our adrenals are a huge factor in our vitality so if they are not functioning, then healing will be difficult.    We work on detox support for all of our clients in a safe and manageable way so we can reduce healing reactions.

How to Get Through a Detox Reaction

  • stay hydrated! Coconut water, nettle infusions, or just regular water can help with making sure you’re getting rid of whatever is floating around.
  • Use binders like activated charcoal (helps in acute situations but not good long term) or Biotoxin Binder (best for long term issues as it won’t interact with nutrient absorption)
  • use apple cider vinegar (1-2 tablespoons diluted in water)
  • use dandelion tea or decoctions Anything that will help increase bile flow can really help too as bile is needed for removal of copper, most heavy metals, parasites, and yeast. Check out on my post on bile boosting here!
  • Fiber like this powder from GOL is also great for ushering stuff out quickly.
  • Rest more! About 80% of our energy goes into detoxing. If we’re pushing ourselves to go, go, go then we don’t have much energy left for healing.
  • Also, legs-on-the-wall yoga pose, Buteyko breathing, meditation, and EFT are great ways to calm down and help release both toxins and emotions that may come up with a healing reaction.
  • Going for a walk or grounding can also help!  
  • try a salt flush if you are VERY backed up- I would not make this a first option but if you are incredibly uncomfortable and nothing else is working this can be helpful
  • If you know what caused the reaction, stop it for a few days and give your body a chance to catch up. You can go back at a smaller amount when you are ready. This is why I prefer food, liquids, and tinctures for healing because it is so much easier to go slowly and gauge reactions.

These days, healing reactions are lasting longer than they used to. Since we are often dealing with multiple issues at once our bodies are trying their best to get as much healing in as they can. Please be patient and don’t push yourself.

Ready to learn more about detoxing? Sign up for my Holistic Detox Support ecourse here:

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