When I work with clients, I usually will get an email, text, or a phone call to explain that they are experiencing side effects from the supplement or food plan that I have them on. All of the time, they are actually experiencing healing reactions and not side effects.
It is very important to understand the mechanism behind a healing reaction or a side effect so that we can act appropriately and understand how our body works.
A side effect, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary is: "an often harmful and unwanted effect of a drug or chemical that occurs along with the desire effect" or "a result of an action that is not expected or intended."
What is important to understand is when someone introduces a pharmaceutical drug, the goal tends to be to subdue the symptoms. If someone has been diagnosed with depression, they want to subdue the effects of having low serotonin and take anti-depressants like Zoloft.
Here are some potential side effects of Zoloft:
- Fast, irregular heartbeat
- Feeling faint
- Suicidal thoughts or mood changes
- Bleeding or bruising
- Change in appetite
- Change in sex drive
- Increased sweating
Summary of Black Box Warnings of Zoloft
Suicidal Thoughts or Actions in Children and Adults
- Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide.
- Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications. This risk may persist until significant remission occurs.
- In short-term studies, antidepressants increased the risk of suicidality in children, adolescents, and young adults when compared to placebo. Shortterm studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24. Adults age 65 and older taking antidepressants have a decreased risk of suicidality.
- Patients, their families, and caregivers should be alert to the emergence of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, aggressiveness and insomnia. If these symptoms emerge, they should be reported to the patient’s prescriber or healthcare professional.
- All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should watch for and notify their healthcare provider for worsening symptoms, suicidality and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the first few months of treatment.
A couple things concern me about this list. First of all, most people who are on pharmaceutical drugs are unaware of all the potential side effects. Second of all, a side effect of Zoloft is suicidal thoughts. More and more young people are being prescribed Zoloft and other anti-depressants and some with a very sad ending of a planned suicide. The parents point to the drug that is causing this. Is it worth it to risk a life by taking an anti-depressant?
I don't know if it is worth it. Each person needs to have the knowledge, the risks, and the options in front of them. The problem is that most people don't know that there are more than one option. Is the pharmaceutical drug the only known solution or are there other solutions to depression?
There are some situations where a pharmaceutical drug is needed and warranted for intervention. However, the biggest problem the I have with pharmaceutical drugs is that there is usually never a plan to help someone ween off the drugs and resolve the underlying issues. The "plan" is to keep someone on a particular drug for the rest of their lives.
Further, the potential side effects come from the synthetic, chemical compounds in the pharmaceutical drug that our liver has to process as a toxin and causes unwanted or undesired effects on our body. The higher our toxic burden load, the more work that our liver has to do and the more likely that we will feel sicker and sicker and sicker. Many times, one intervention leads to the next intervention which leads to the next intervention. When will it stop?
A healing reaction, on the other hand, is far different than a side effect. For one, a healing reaction in my profession is actually a desired and expected reaction. Our bodies are hard wired to heal given the right environment and the right nutrients. When given the proper nutrients needed to heal, new tissue will replace old tissue and old toxins and traumas will be released into the blood stream. When these old toxins and traumas are released, we may feel the symptoms of this release which is referred to as a healing reaction.
This type of reaction is one of the most misunderstood aspects in the natural healing realm. The healing reaction is also referred to as a die-off reaction, Herxheimer, retracing, healing crisis, cleansing, or detox reaction. When a therapeutic, supplement and dietary plan is introduced into the body there will most likely be a period of time when the body produces less than desirable symptoms. This is an indication that the plan is working and the body is healing. How many supplements have you tried and noticed absolutely nothing, whether good or bad? Most supplements are not healing the body, thus a true healing reaction is not experienced.
WHY A HEALING REACTION?
• Old tissue holds toxins and bacteria that are released into the bloodstream during the healing reaction
• Old tissue is being replaced with new tissue
• “Out with the old, in with the new,” detox symptoms ensue as the body heals
POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS (but not limited to this list)
• Increased joint or muscle pain
• Extreme fatigue and/or its opposite, restlessness
• Headache (believed to be caused by buildup of toxins in the blood)
• Aches, Pains
• Arthritic flair up
• Sinus congestion
• Fever (usually low grade) and/or chills
• Frequent urination and/or urinary tract discharges
• Drop in blood pressure
• Skin eruptions, including: boils, hives, and rashes
• Cold or flu-like symptoms
• Strong emotions: anger, despair, sadness, fear, etc.
• Suppressed memories arise
• Mood swings
• New phobias develop
This list may seem similar to the list of side effects for Zolft. However, it is very different because of the different in the end result of the healing and resolution that the body is able to express by balancing dopamine and serotonin levels naturally.
This is a reason to celebrate because when my client is experiencing a healing reaction, this means that their body is resolving a long-standing issue, imbalance, or dysfunction in the body. There is true resolution and true healing at the cellular level. These symptoms last anywhere from 1 day to 4 weeks, depending on how and what the body is healing. However, at the end of these symptoms, the resolution of this issue is worth the temporary pain of symptoms.
I would much rather experience 4 weeks of healing reactions and receive recovery from my condition than to experience side effects that indicate the increase of toxicity in my liver and the other potential undesirable effects of a pharmaceutical drug.
If you are on a pharmaceutical drug, do not receive these words as condemnation. Rather, receive them as hope that your body can heal and that you can come up with a plan with your doctor to ween off the medications. It is important to make changes in your diet, lifestyle, and nutrition plan and to have a buffer to help in the transition. Your doctor can help with the plan to ween off and you may want to find someone who can help you find the right nutrition plan to help aid in this process of healing at the root level.