The Emotions of Detoxification: Herbalism

Riley Coules
September 20, 2017

Detoxification is often noted for its ability to purify the physical–but what about the mental?

 

Some well-known methodologies, such as the GAPS diet (which advocates the consumption of non-inflammatory animal products and by-products), tout cleansing the body as a means of healing the mind. While I don’t agree with the building blocks of the journey, I do commend its destination: addressing mental disorders through restoration.

 

I am a firm believer in one common thread amongst those who suffer from depression, anxiety, malaise, or any other mood disorder: an impaired gut, which hinders the afflicted more than just corporeally (other parts of the body may too disorder the mind, and vice versa; see the homeopathy tab for more).

 

So many studies cite the connection: leaky gut, chronic low-grade inflammation, dysbiosis, pathogenic overgrowth, autoimmune disorders, nutrient deficiencies and more all contribute to the various mood afflictions we treat as intrinsic, incurable, “natural” (1, 3, 4). I don’t need these studies, however, to validate what I have experienced first-hand: a dramatic change in my personality due to gastrointestinal distress of which I remained unaware until its ramifications became too oppressive to ignore.

 

I’m actually quite grateful considering how quickly I declined; most aren’t so lucky. They spend years consuming the processed crap this country runs on–accustomed to the processed crap this country runs on–until a mental, emotional, or physical trigger (such as a bout of excessive prescription/recreational drug usage) worsens any preexisting conditions they unknowingly possess, or incites the very disharmony they may go on to ignore. Then their deeply-ingrained poor dietary selections, themselves physically traumatic in excessive amounts, support their gut flora imbalances, as does ignorance, to the prevalence of sub-par digestion as well as how to fix it. Note the effectuation of a vicious cycle.

 

By depressing the immune system with prescription medication and/or escapist emotional tendencies–in effect, suppressing digestive distress as opposed to correcting it–another self-fulfilling prophecy ensures the afflicted never pull themselves out of their mental sorrow: disintegration of the intestinal lining (also known as the “blood-brain barrier”) often accompanies Candida colonization, and Candida thrives in pockets of inflammation. Thus, if the vital force is to truly heal, free from suppression and free from “relapse”, internalized toxicity must be brought to the surface, and genuinely rectified at that.

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From Personal Experience

This quote about sums up the nature of my experiences, from its ambiguous beginnings to its undeniable consequences:

“Initially, symptoms of autoimmune disorders are vague and include fatigue, low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches, and malaise. They usually progress and become debilitating with significant morbidity. Patients are often seen by physicians only after their disease process has become symptomatic, clouding the understanding of the early events leading to disease.” (2).

 

I delineate on the effects of trauma over, and over, and over again throughout this website: disorder within the body or mind, and quite often both, manifests out of experience. Yes, genealogy predisposes one to certain ailments, but when these ailments do not exist from birth- that is, they are not congenital- something must bring them out. Thus, anxiety, depression, the aforementioned malaise, heart disorders, warts, acne, eczema, gallstones, liver dysfunction, kidney disease, constipation, diarrhea, fibromyalgia, etc. are not innate in the sense that they are unavoidable; injurious stress, either mental, emotional, or physical in nature, must have permanently impressed disorder on the vital force, inciting the very disharmony we often fail to trace the origin of... Moreover, the disease process is just that- a process. People do not just suddenly fall ill with an affliction as devastating and cumbersome as cancer. Those that suffer so dearly likely live with disorder brewing for many, many years, as evidenced by other physical deformities they may or may not be aware of, but most certainly affect the mind. A series of small disturbances may culminate into something great; a sudden, heart wrenching blow to homeostasis may otherwise cause near death (think deadly parasites!), or set the vital force up for near failure, furthering the effects of those mild traumas that already exist.

Even when we can’t pinpoint the sufferings of our pasts (when did I become depressed?, how long has it been since I’ve felt totally at ease?, why doesn’t [some scenario, or all of them] feel the same anymore?), we can tell our minds are disordered, if not by indications of the corporeal, then by the lack of magic permeating our perceptions. A deficiency in magic is, quite simply, suppressed emotion, for emotion implores the virtues of a beloved existence; this truth only the disordered can deny. The foremost cause of cynicism is an ability to wholly feel life no doubt. Considering the prevalence of emotional detachment in a society dominated by allopathic medicine, it’s no wonder we’re all so wounded, some more than others, and yet few make the connection. The widespread suppression of disease with Western bandages has spurred a prophecy of suffering, as the symptoms of any malady, both mental and corporeal, indicate the vital force’s attempt to restore homeostasis- that is, its attempt to diffuse toxicity. Hence the pervasiveness of lowly mentalities, which social norms do little to diffuse themselves… For those that think we have “cured” major diseases that have afflicted us in the past, read ___. 

Allopathic medicine offers us quick-fixes which do not actually fix to which our natural, and often unavoidable, defense mechanisms aid in the exacerbation of the lower self; when we lack awareness, how can we uncover the means through which we may grow? In order to flourish, we must conceive of our starting point, the source of our frustrations, so that we may expel those emotions that contributed disharmony at its onslaught. Moreover, when we can’t even feel for ourselves, how can we expect to feel for others? We need emotion to care. “Caring” plants the seeds for progressive, we-minded mentalities- and even me-minded mentalities, when they do no harm and in fact aid in the progression of all, including the self. No self-hater has ever fulfilled their highest calling… the strength of the sum relies on the strength of all parts.

 

Some actually respond to disease with an inclination to give as opposed to take; they may lose their backbone, never wanting to cause any trouble, letting others walk all over them as a result (consider Natrum Sulphuricum)- but these people aren’t happy, nor are they really connected to those to which they give. Their generosity arises out of fear, a propensity to shy away from rocking the boat; they do not fully recognize the value in giving to satisfy all, the beauty that altruism entails. The higher self, the most moral self, ensures no one suffers, including the self. And yet, Natrum Sulphuricum in a state of disorder does not care for the self, nor realize zir own inherent worth; without homeopathy, and perhaps with the bullshit of modern medicine to aid in their emotional suppression, Natrum Sulphuricums will struggle to unearth the sentiments of their trauma, the effects of which (mentally, emotionally, and physically) are unique to them. What is not unique to them, however, is the oppression suppression incites, how it subliminally alters the personality, and consequently the manifestation of the higher self; without knowing what has affected us so greatly, why it has affected us so greatly, or how can grow because of it, we will struggle to truly connect with life and all it has to offer us- particularly in a state of equilibrium. 

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I write about my experiences in My Story, so here I’ll keep it short and sweet:  

I began to understand why I felt so lost all of the time when runny tummy combined with profound hypoglycemia settled in after a year of sudden, unexplained suffering. Excessive weight loss, depression, and extreme fatigue, amongst a whole slew of other oppressive sentiments, tore me apart without my comprehension (I couldn’t remember myself), or permission (trauma doesn’t ask for it). The events of 2016 were a culmination of sorts after multiple “triggers” in my life permanently disordered my digestive system as well as my personality. I now realize that even years before I didn’t completely feel as wholly as I now do, had intense sugar cravings that I always gave into, and exacerbated symptoms of PMS (constipation, acne, heavy flow), all of which I now attribute to mild Candida overgrowth after a two-week bout of “stomach bug” in eighth grade (at which time I consumed mostly Wendy’s Frosty’s and french fries- a Standard American Diet classic).

 

My leaky gut became obvious when I realized the herbs my holistic doctor instructed me to take only put a dent in my illness. Like most professionals, he knew enough about cleansing to prescribe the standard regimen, but unfortunately lacked the expertise to entirely eradicate pathogenic overgrowth as it remains so misunderstood and unexplored in the medical community. I constantly had a layer of white goop on my lips (a reflection of biofilms within, which hinder the body’s ability to repair its damaged intestinal lining), abdominal pain, and flatulence like no other (I felt like an air-balloon; I could not expel my gas and it drove me nuts). I suffered from brain fog for roughly 90% of the day, in addition to overwhelming depression and anxiety- all of which came to fruition within a year’s time. I know I can attribute some of my sufferings to the degradation of my gut lining as L-Glutamine did wonders to remedy it. The same symptoms afflicted me throughout 2015, although to a lesser degree; they amplified throughout my herbal cleanse in 2016, a reflection of everything I ever experienced while sick. Once again, internalized toxicity must be brought to the surface.

 

Homeopathy Versus Herbalism

I spent roughly seven months cleansing with herbs until I found homeopathy, altering my life as well as my healing philosophies. An aggravation in homeopathy equates to the Herxheimer reaction of an herbal cleanse, but homeopaths typically avoid crises. This principle can apply to herbal detox regimens as well if treatment is conducted rather slowly and painlessly… my herbal cleanse was not conducted slowly, nor painlessly, however. I had little guidance from my naturopath despite the severity of my digestive issues, due to which I continued to suffer on levels I failed to understand throughout my cleanse, levels I did not have to suffer on. While my symptoms lessened in intensity over time (I wouldn’t have continued to cleanse otherwise), the herbs I took never mended the source of my pathogenic overgrowth, nor my mind. After I finally gained weight, eradicated my hypoglycemia and overcame the majority of my other symptoms, I found that I could not reverb back to a normal diet without them returning, indicating that disorder within the body remained. My altered personality continued to suffocate me concomitantly, although I didn’t know it, for I could not remember myself. I wouldn’t remember myself until homeopathy.

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Because homeopathic remedies treat the body and not just the manifestations of its dysfunction, the emotions of its healing reaction differ from those of an herbal treatment. The direction of the “cure” exemplifies this distinction; my remedies put me on a journey back in time, reflecting the sentiments of my failing organs and their corresponding triggers, the very circumstances that led to their demise. In homeopathy, the body remembers past wrongs. With my herbal regimen, however, I cyclically experienced the same products of die-off for nearly a year as my body eradicated what I killed, consequently placing more pressure on my stressed organs and never really addressing the root causes of my overgrowth. Each cycle lasted roughly seven days; my symptoms became easier to cope with as time went on, including the emotions that resulted from the trauma resulting from detoxification at that very moment. Interestingly, the symptoms of the healing crisis actually tend to reflect past wrongs as well due to the fact that the body is under a constant state of detoxification when ridden with overgrowth; however, unlike homeopathy, the body is mended superficially. Herbs directly kill pathogens; they do not compel the vital force into a state of restoration. For this reason, I advocate homeopathy over herbalism- point-blank. 

Despite my preferences, I do believe herbs benefit those in a mild, nearly-harmless state of disequilibrium. What I have written below should not be taken to the extreme (as in, the emotions one experiences while cleansing should not be so extreme) simply because anyone who embarks on an herbal detox regimen should not have much negativity- at least that which arises out of the digestive tract- to eradicate. I wrote this guide largely before homeopathy. I believe my knowledge regarding herbal detoxification should be shared, needs to be shared, but those who utilize it must be aware that there are better alternatives if they are seriously suffering.

 


The Emotions of Detoxification

The emotions of the healing crisis are just that- healing, whether positive or negative. They may be heavy, oppressive, and maddening, but they ultimately serve to enlighten. Embarking on a cleanse compels the soul to strip away dead layers of toxicity, those that have veiled the light within; one’s true nature, the unaltered personality, will certainly be exposed, but so will any self-destructive behaviors that have silently inhibited zir growth. Harnessing the drive to mold self-destruction into regeneration will solidify the higher self- not only that which exists naturally, but that which one creates during the darkest of times. It is through regulating the various mental states associated with an herbal cleanse that an individual will begin to fully channel the power of the mind, to contrive a virtuous reality, as well as to manifest authentic identity when it has been buried under a guise of toxicity for years prior.

Knowing that extrinsic factors compromise the true self should compel a purge of sorts, in which internalized negativity is brought to the surface. The soul will necessary mediate any and all negative energy before it dissipates into the outside world. This catharsis results in the emotions of detoxification, which are as follows:

  • Anxiety and malaise
  • Tranquility, a sense of well-being
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Euphoria

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Each mood accompanies certain physical conditions such as flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, insomnia, physical anxiety (such as a rapid heart rate/palpatations), etc. The severity of the healing crisis as well as one’s baseline temperament will exacerbate or reduce the impact of detoxification on their greater well-being.

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ANXIETY FOLLOWED BY TRANQUILITY

In my experience, each die-off period began with anxiety, often a product of malaise, or a general state of feeling ill-at-ease. Racing thoughts consistently reflected this panic within the body, a huge contribution to how lost I felt all of 2015. In fact, the overwhelming sense of calmness I now attribute to the end of a healing cycle absolutely baffled me when I first experienced it wholly after a few cycles of cleansing (I was too overwhelmed in the beginning to feel at ease, no matter what point in my journey I was at); I realized I had not experienced such tranquility in years. After the events of 2015 and throughout healing, into my herbal cleanse as well as my homeopathic treatment, I suffered from a serious inability to live in the moment. I did anything and everything to ease my racing thoughts, jumping from one task to the next, desperately trying to fulfill the gaping hole that kept me from experiencing life. I personally turn to productivity when I’m out of sorts; others will use drugs and partying to feel whole. Neither of these methods are “right”, however; both negate balance in the favor of excess, and both lead to spiritual suffocation for they suppress as opposed to cope. Constantly searching for happiness outside of the self inhibits its actualization within.

The sense of wholeness I wrote about before typically followed intense periods of anxiety, in which inner peace and the tranquility of harmony guided me toward self-discover. Digestive distress had muddled by ability to self-actualize for far too long. When you feel this peace, know your body is telling you you are “winning”; it too feels reposed with the thought of freedom (the gut has a brain don’t ya know!!).

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IRRITABILITY

As perhaps the most prevalent emotion of die-off, agitation reflects the uprooting of organisms from their pleasant little home in your gut. They’re like hey man, watch it, I’m living here! I got a wife and kids and a mortgage to pay…

And you’re like umm, did I invite you??

I can be quite irritable when I want to be; although, I now realize this quality arises out of a state of inner tension. Not only did I constantly feel ill-at-ease during my cleanse, I often felt peeved, reflecting the battle within. Pathogens and dysbiosis impede the proper functioning of the digestive tract whilst allowed to exist; in their death the body echos this strain as it is constantly forced to clear away the by-products of their demise. Each individual will respond to their cleanse differently given their “essence”, or baseline character traits. My irritability brought out my critical nature- of myself, of others, and the world, wherein negativity sustains negativity. Of course, there is always a lesson to be learned, and I realized I was only displacing my pessimism by pointing out the unwashed dishes or dirty floors; I avoided coping with the sentiments of my mind and body I feared so greatly. When I wasn’t projecting my cynicism, however, I was beating myself up for my wrongdoings. It tends to be a catch-22 with us Virgos, aye?!

Make no mistake, detoxification will force you to cope with your lower tendencies. However, manifesting your highest at your lowest provides the grounds for so much wisdom and so, so much growth. Instead of inquiring about the wrongs of a certain situation, consider your err in judgment, and furthermore, how you can alter your perception by reflecting on the motives that drive it.

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DEPRESSION

You will begin to notice a pattern with the emotions of die-off: they often follow meals that explicitly starve pathogens, especially in conjunction with a heavy herbal regimen. Herbs break down the cell walls of parasites and yeast while the meals you consume either directly kill or “paralyze” them (as with coconut, pineapple, garlic, etc.), weakening their ability to defend themselves against your immune system. From a spiritual standpoint, the depression experienced during the healing crisis represents the release of undesirable organisms’ negative energy into the bloodstream. Physically, this negativity is known as ammonia, which is toxic to the human body. Ammonia keeps you awake, grinding your teeth, and running around like a maniac as you attempt to fulfill the urges of your racing thoughts.

When I went to the hospital during the onslaught of my healing crisis in December of 2016, my BUN levels were significantly high (I’m talking the 50s). BUN levels reflect the body’s level of nitrogen in the blood, which itself represents the amount of ammonia being transferred into the urea. High ammonia levels indicate heavy detoxification. I find this phenomena very interesting.

I treated the depression I felt during my cleanse like every other emotion: with rationalization and the regard to it as extrinsic. This concept brings about the question: who am I, really? And further, who are you, really? So many people are affected by phantom illnesses of the gut, in which even mild symptoms indicate dysfunction necessarily reflected within the mind; they consequently spend their lives in ignorance as lesser versions of themselves, unaware that happiness could come so easy if only their bodies functioned without impediment. The depression I experienced during my healing crisis reflected my mood throughout 2015, only at that time I did not understand why I was so unhappy; the element of the unknown brought me down even further. Throughout your cleanse, however, you will know why you are suffering, what is had derived from (trauma), and how you can rectify it: with forward-thinking, and even backward thinking mentalities; deal with your past, manifest the higher out of it, and you will heal.

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EUPHORIA

Euphoria manifests in the absence of irritability, anxiety and malaise, requiring the least effort to incarnate when physical well-being perpetuates the sense of tranquility I referenced earlier. A product of perception, euphoria accompanies the realization that freedom from the barriers of sickness is near. These barriers usually entail restriction- of desires, when they cannot be pursued due to physical ineptitudes; of comfort, for the state of the body will not allow it; and of self-expression… the disorder-driven emotions of years prior have mangled the identity and suppressed the formation of the higher. Only once the limitations of the corporeal have been reduced to the extent that they no longer affect the mind, whether permanently or in between cycles of healing, can an individual attach their own reflections to the tranquility they currently feel. This serenity can be contrived during times of mental woe; however, the ease with which it is obtained in the wake of an uninhibited mind in and of itself renders the individual who holds it euphoric. During these times I felt the most optimistic about the end-result of my journey: authentic contentment with life. I felt like I finally got a glimpse of the real me, driving me to persevere.

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AIM TO ENLIGHTEN

The emotions of the healing crisis present you with two options: cope, or suppress. Now, if you’ve read anything I’ve written on this website as a junior homeopath, you know suppression may result in deeper illness- if not physical, then surely mental. After going through what I’ve gone through, I know escapism never amounts to anything good. Sure, if you’re struggling with the intensity of some emotion, whether due to detoxification or any other trying life circumstance, you may certainly give yourself a break through distraction. But if distractive mechanisms become chronic, know you will never truly pull yourself out of your sorrows. The whole souls- the happiest souls- have dealt with all lower tendencies and the emotions they evince, for it is through identifying and managing these sentiments that an individual uncovers the lower self. Once the lower self has been exposed, it can be conquered.

As for the healthy distractions that may even help you cope with your lower self, engage in constructive activities that take a little bit of effort- for you, specifically- to put into motion. When I was feeling low, pulling myself out of my rut meant going out with my friends when I had the energy. This exercise may prove less constructive for those that turn to “partying” to avoid their emotions, but for me it meant politely pushing past a barrier that I had set for myself for quite some time. Nonetheless, pushing past any barrier, whether induced by chronic illness or acute distress, may be a little “win” to get you through the hard emotional stuff. In short, it feeds your soul 🙂 .

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Resources:

  1. Berk, Michael, et al. “So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from?.” BMC medicine, vol. 11, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1.
  2. Cole, Will. “Signs You Might Have A “Leaky Brain” + What To Do About It.” Mindbodygreen. N.p., 21 July 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.
  3. Campbell, Andrew W. “Autoimmunity and the Gut.” Autoimmune Diseases, vol. 2014, no. 152428, 2014, pp. 12.
  4. Leonard, Brian, and Michael Maes. “Mechanistic explanations how cell-mediated immune activation, inflammation and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways and their sequels and concomitants play a role in the pathophysiology of unipolar depression.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 36, no. 2, 2012, pp. 764-785.
  5. Personal Experience.