Sometimes on the GAPS Diet™ it’s hard to know what you’re reacting to or what your reaction means. There are food sensitivities, die-off reactions, detox reactions, and histamine reactions. And what is a healing reaction, or are you just sick?
If you’ve ever had a sinus infection you understand the how-can-I-have-pain-so-deep-inside-my-face feeling that absolutely disrupts your life. I’ve only had one and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Being new to the experience, I looked up what to do online and found out that 90-98% are viral, so I determined to tough it out and see a doctor if it lasted more than 10 days. In the midst of the 7-day festival of pain I (half) jokingly wondered if Oregon’s assisted suicide law could be used for this.
After this experience, I was really excited for my client, Julie, who had sinus infections on and off for the past 20 years. She was completely rid of them during her first 4 months on the GAPS Diet – in the middle of winter. Then all the sudden she got another dreaded sinus infection. She was so frustrated because she thought the GAPS Diet was working and that she should be “over this by now.” Just because you do GAPS and rebuild your immune system doesn’t mean you’ll never be sick again, but I suggested this could be a healing reaction.
Healing reactions, or re-tracing as they’re sometimes called, come up after a period of good nourishment and healing on GAPS. When your body has enough metabolic energy to tackle the last remnants of an illness that’s buried within you, the symptoms can resurface. Your immune system is strong enough to bring up that fever, inflammation, or immune cell response again. It’s not that you’ve contracted the illness again, but that you were never strong enough to completely eradicate it. Until now.
The most common healing reactions I see are a reoccurrence of an infection that you’ve had multiple times, or that has been chronic. Frequently these are sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and vaginal yeast infections. One client experienced a week of symptoms exactly like when she had mono, which was something she had many years ago as a teen. Healing reactions can also show up as dental infections, an ear infection, or a month of persistent pain in an area that was injured years ago.
While tedious, I consider healing reactions to be a sign of great progress. They typically last anywhere from a few days to a month, and they can sometimes be really terrible and persistent. My suggestion to you is to work with your healthcare practitioner to try every natural means possible to support your immune system and healing, and to use antibiotics or other medical interventions as a last resort. Those options are always out there when you need them.
When your own immune system overcomes this illness, you’ll be done with it for good. It won’t feel like this is possible in the midst of it of course, but I’ve seen it time and time again. I expect to see healing reactions like this after approximately 2 to 4 months on GAPS, and another may crop again later too.
My rule of thumb is that if you have a healing reaction illness going on for more than two weeks, or if supporting your immune system doesn’t seem to help you over the hump, you should look a little deeper into what’s going on with your healthcare practitioner. Otherwise it’s best to just ride the wave of this illness by listening to your body’s needs, resting, and eating simple GAPS foods with plenty of meat stock each day.