People who experience a true healing crisis will notice a worsening of the symptoms they initially presented with or may experience other side effects such as:
- Actually sleeping better OR difficulty going to sleep
- Pain – it may even feel different to what it initially was
- Feeling overly emotional
- Digestive related symptoms – nausea / diarrhea
- Skin Eruptions such as pimples
- Cold / flu like symptoms (in today’s current climate do not take these lightly and monitor for worsening symptoms)
This effect including new symptoms as mentioned above should be transient and can last 24 – 72 hours. Generally after a day or two you should start feeling better. If you are worse you must contact your practitioner immediately and consult with your general practitioner.
A healing crisis does sound disconcerting but it is important to note that is it different to adverse effect to the treatment. An adverse effect is not desirable and while highly unlikely is something practitioners need to be aware of. The first intention of any health care treatment is to do no harm and even though CAM is not considered conventional medicine, practitioners need to ensure the safety of their clients are put above all else. A CAM practitioner must be competent in their chosen field and work only within the scope of their training. In addition to this CAM practitioner should be registered with an appropriate association and keep well abreast of current research in their chosen field.
When treating a client, CAM practitioners need to be willing to discuss the possible effects of a healing crisis and advise clients of what they can expect from their treatment. Information regarding healing crisis is largely based on anecdotal evidence but it does appear that come CAM have higher rates of a healing crisis occurring than others. And even in those therapies the rates are quite low and ranges from slight to intense.
The take home message is that a healing crisis does not last and the client should feel some improvement throughout the treatment plan. I tend to work on a 3-treatment plan rule where if the client has not experienced an improvement in the original condition, they consulted me for, I will recommend another therapist that they may wish to work with and whom I believe will be able to support a more effective healing for their condition.
It is recommended that if you do experience a healing crisis after one treatment, the client should return for a second treatment. In such cases that a healing crisis has occurred I will suggest a revisit within 10 days. The rationale is that the body is undergoing its healing process and another treatment within the 7 - 10-day window will facilitate substantial release along with promoting a quicker return to balance. In saying that I am also a big believer in my clients listening to their own body and responding as they believe they need it. Shiatsu is about reconnecting and rebalancing. The client is facilitating the healing and therefore needs to take responsibility for that. On the odd occasion I do make suggestions on return rate and consideration of the healing crisis is taken into account based on how the client feels immediately after the treatment.
Some practitioners will explain a healing crisis as being “toxins” leaving the body. However I prefer to avoid using this terminology to explain a healing crisis. This is mostly due to my training and reluctance to under simplify the complex cascade of events that is potentially occurring in the body following a treatment – energetically and physically. Even I admit to not understanding and simply not being able to explain somethings. Sometimes it is more important for the client to experience what is happening. Within reason of course and I cannot stress this enough. If you experience a healing crisis and it does not improve or gets worse over a 24 – 72-hour period always get back in contact with your practitioner and / or consult with your GP.
There are some ways that the client can facilitate reducing the affects of a healing crisis and ensuring they get the most out of a treatment. These can commence before you even turn up for your treatment and should most definitely continue after.
Here is a few of my suggestions on how to get the most out of your treatment:
- Drink plenty of water (before and after)
- Rest – this might mean you need to actually go for a slow, mindful stroll in nature or take yourself to bed and sleep it off
- Have a shower or bath (follow your practitioners directions here because for some treatments like Gua Sha there are specific recommendations on showering after a treatment)
- Eat healthy meals and snacks in the days that follow
- Avoid anything that might upset your digestive system if you know you are sensitive in the tummy following a treatment
- Do the exercises prescribed
- Practice grounding exercises particularly if you experience a healing crisis
- And rebook for your next treatment
Next time you book for your CAM treatment keep in mind preparation and follow up form important parts of your session. And will support you to get the most out of your healing journey. A healing crisis may occur but it is a natural part of the treatment. In fact the word ‘crisis’ is not necessarily the truest of words to describe the effect you may experience. Perhaps a better description should be ‘healing transition’ or ‘healing process’ since it really should be a temporary effect you feel on the road to returning your body and health back to its optimal peak using CAM like Shiatsu and Oriental Remedial Therapies.
If you want to learn more about Shiatsu and Oriental Remedial Therapies and how it can help you on your journey to healing specific conditions or symptoms you may be living with feel free to reach out. I am only too happy to have a chat.