Have the health you want—understanding healing reactions

Today I don’t feel good.

Doc, I’ve been working my program. All of the sudden I started feeling bad last night and today I’ve been in-and-out of the bathroom. There’s something going around at (work, school, all the kids have ‘it’…)

I hear this sometimes. Clinically, these healing reactions are very meaningful and we always make room on our schedule for you so please call us. Right away

Cell renewal rates. Source: http://book.bionumbers.org/how-quickly-do-different-cells-in-the-body-replace-themselves/

Cell renewal rates. Source: http://book.bionumbers.org/how-quickly-do-different-cells-in-the-body-replace-themselves/

The first thing to know about any true healing program is that nothing improves in a straight line. (For that matter, health doesn’t decline in a straight line either.) There will be good days and bad days. As you heal, there will be fewer bad days and less severe symptoms but they will still be there—after all, it takes time and enough genuine building blocks to grow new, healthy cells. Depending on the priority and severity for your unique mix of healing, some parts take longer than others.

Nutrients, water, oxygen, and nerve impulse all coordinate to produce new healthy cells, organs and systems. The reality is: you’re getting better, perhaps slowly, but you’re getting better.

If you can implement good psychology on your down days, you will be able to control emotional cheating days, quiet the voice in your head telling you it’s pointless, ignore the temptations presented about every 30 seconds, and alleviate the constant drive to use Google to diagnose your latest ailment.

Use good psychology to beat setbacks

The good days are great and the bad days happen. It’s too easy to ride those highs but then let any lows drown you. Trust me, I know.

For too many of us, as soon as you start to get that inkling that something is going wrong the voice in your head starts to gets loud.  Something like:

I don’t feel well – I wonder what it could have been?”

Maybe it’s that bug going around.”

No, no that can’t be it. I wonder if it was the raw broccoli I ate last night?”

No it can’t be that.”

Dang, this sucks, I’ll just try vitamin X/herb Y/essential oil Z and eliminate even more things from my diet.”

I wonder what Google has to say about this?”


ConfusedOnce you start Googling, it’s all over—you’ve fallen off the deep end and are going to do nothing but make yourself worse. In under 2 seconds (reading the search returns), you’ll be chasing a new diagnosis like “defective syndrome disorder” or something, and soon enough you will be ordering a super secret herb that you can’t pronounce from some place that will now email you twice every day about all the rest of their super secret proprietary “breakthrough” remedies that are sure to cure you. Or, worse, you go to a traditional doctor who prescribes a medication to block the symptom; but this also blocks true healing.

Get through the healing

Step 1: Take the view that considering it “a setback” is largely in your head. OK, you don’t feel well and just want that feeling to go away—call us and make an appointment. We’ll find out what has shifted in your body and what resources, whether nutritional, structural, or therapeutic massage can help restore balance fastest.

Please understand how we heal: First is inflammation whereby the body/brain mobilize their forces to fight off and overcome the injury, toxin, invader, or even the emotional situation—this includes the biggest symptoms. Then, we move into a quieter but longer period when the body and brain send nutrients and nerve impulse to the area to rebuild, restore and regenerate tissue.  We also heal any emotional aspect; we rebalance and restore ourselves to equilibrium where we know we are loved and all is well. At the end of the healing phase, one is fully restored, and ready to face the world once again.

Water is so basic and vital to help the body keep functioning, yet I don’t drink enough every day. Your talk inspired me to do better. I really appreciate your simple and easy-to-understand terminology… with all the conflicting “healthy stuff” out there… you guys ROCK and really do it RIGHT! Thank you. —SO

But most people do not handle traumas, infections, injuries or emotional insults to the body and brain correctly.  Instead of moving through healing properly until injuries or illnesses are fully handled and released, most people become stuck at some point in the process.  This leaves a trace, a blemish, a toxicity, a scar or an unhealed area in the body and/or brain.

Complete healing involves bringing the old trauma, infection, imbalance… into waking consciousness for review, providing nutritional and emotional support to complete the healing from the point where it got stuck. When that happens, you may re-experience the event to some degree—feel the old pain, fatigue, past symptom or infection that never fully resolved—these are called healing reactions. The body never starts a healing reaction that it cannot heal through—your job is to give the body the tools it needs.

I wish these symptoms—these healing reactions—did not occur.  However much their discomfort, they are almost always benign and signal a need to update any nutritional or holistic healing program to address your new needs and get you through it. Again, this involves giving the body whatever tools it now needs to heal the condition: nutritional and/or eliminate toxics, structural, and/or emotional.

Step 2: Stop panicking. Logically open up your food journal and review it. If nothing is obvious like “I ate out two days ago” (Why, oh why, do most restaurants have to use sugar and corn starch in nearly everything?) or “I really have very few items in the greens category,” (your body cannot heal without these nutrient dense foods) or “I didn’t really drink enough water” or “I only slept 5 hours” (the big ticket items). If you are doing your part and going through healing reactions, then your body needs specialized help. If you did slide off any of the big ticket items, learn from it. You simply crossed a line with your body and we can get you through these healing reactions as well.

Just know that your body never starts a healing reaction it cannot fully move through.

Step 3: Take a step back. Look over your journey from the beginning. How were you feeling 30 days ago? 90 days ago? A year ago? Puts things in perspective. It’s important to review this because it helps with the big realization of “I am getting better slowly over time.” There are going to be ups and downs—don’t let that derail you.

Don’t give into emotional decisions you’ll regret (grabbing the bread, chocolate, or ice-cream, or…). It’s so easy to fall into the trap of, “I ‘gave up’ so much, today I feel horrible, may as well eat a whole batch of ‘legal chocolate muffins‘.”

trigger point and myofascial releaseStep 4: Embrace any emotional components. Your healing reactions can absolutely include emotional components. Do something to support that emotional component, whether going out for a hike and looking at things, another hobby, or calling a friend or relative you haven’t spoken with in a while, or… embrace your mental state by giving yourself emotional nourishment.

It can be quite upsetting to suddenly begin thinking or dreaming about past, old emotional situations: fear of an activity where you got injured, divorce, death of a loved one years ago, or some other issue.  Deep healing of the body and mind requires contact with and healing of emotional traumas also. Be open to it.

Toxic chemicals and old lasting memory traces on a cell can hold unpleasant emotions in place.

As these are released or the cells finally heal, you may feel extra tired or these memories may return to the surface. As chemicals and metals are released, so are the emotions they’ve held in place—commonly fear and anger. As you move through healing, you will feel a better sense of wholeness and well-being. Often this is so subtle you can’t put your finger on it; you just perceive the change.

The way out is the way through. While it is natural to resist change, please don’t resist it as these only reappear when the body is ready to finally move through it completely.

From surviving to thriving

Remember that sometimes it really isn’t about the food—yes, our body needs those genuine building blocks and will not heal if some are missing. But there are also other building blocks and so many extraneous things that can affect healing and health.

I thought I was improving quite well after my accident. This summer I was improving extremely slow. I am now improving at a faster rate. —MN

Even with a good diet in place, every once in a while you’re going to have healing reactions that you can’t explain. The key is to do everything possible to nourish all aspects of healing:

  • Maintain balance: The trillions of cells in our bodies do not function independently of each other. They all work together to maintain homeostasis. For example: your heart has to contract at a rate that delivers enough blood to meet oxygen demands, your adrenal glands, thyroid, and nervous system can stimulate or inhibit. Western medicine would say “your heart is inadequate” while holistic healing and functional medicine restore balance to the entire system (organs, nerves, and genuine building blocks).
  • Think differently: Looking over the incredible list of our patients who have succeeded, who are living at the top of their health and enjoying to the fullest, they each did two things:
    1. make sure every little piece is done right;
    2. follow through and work at it.

Our office uses Designed Clinical Nutrition along with chiropractic adjustments and therapeutic massage to restore all the genuine building blocks: Food and nutrients, water, oxygen, and nervous system function.

Let’s see what is needed to get you through any healing reactions and back onto the road to full vitality.


Marie Sternquist

Marie Sternquist, MS CHHC is a graduate of the University of Colorado, with 30 years of health-related clinical research published peer-reviewed medical journals, Marie's interests lie in how chemical and metal toxicities affect our health, hormones and immune function—and how to heal these problems with whole foods. In 2014, Marie completed the Health Coach program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied 100’s of dietary theories with an emphasis on developing step-by-step nutritional programs and is currently working on her Nutritionist certification through the Masters in Functional Nutrition program and the University of Western States. Marie’s signature nutrition programs have helped thousands of people just like you regain health and quality of life. In 2016, Marie Sternquist completed her Advanced Level in Nutrition Response Testing®, joining her husband Dr. Greg Sternquist as an advanced clinician. Marie is also a wilderness explorer, skier, photographer and mom. Visit her at www.SuccessHealthCoach.com and www.OurNutritionKitchen.com

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