Two patients have had a Return of Old Symptoms this month, so I thought I would write about this amazing phenomenon that can happen to naturopathic patients.
What is a Return of Old Symptoms?
A Return of Old Symptoms is when, while someone is on their healing journey, they get symptoms of something they used to have chronically, many years ago.
For example, Mrs. Apple came to her follow up appointment after having avoided her recently discovered food intolerances. She mentioned, “and oh ya, I had a sinus infection. I haven’t had a sinus infection in years. I used to get them often, but not for 10 years”.
Another recent example is from Mr. Lentil. About 4 months into his treatment plan, he said, “our plan isn’t working. Now I have eczema in my elbow creases”. Upon further questioning, he realized that he used to get eczema under periods of extreme stress, and it was treated and suppressed with a steroid cream. So what’s the deal? Why is this happening?
Why do old symptoms return when I’m supposed to be getting better?
A common analogy of healing, is that it’s like an onion. We peel away layers of illness, like layers of an onion. These layers that accumulate keep your health down and keep your vital force stuck. We actually store information in our cells – viruses, memories – and when symptoms are suppressed throughout our lives, they have to go somewhere, so they go deeper in our body – fibroids, cysts, ulcers, arthritis. When a layer is removed, the vital force can wake up! And it may create symptoms so that the body can have the opportunity to now clear them.
“But Ugh! This sucks. I don’t want to go through and heal old symptoms!” I hear ya. And this doesn’t always happen. Here’s what to do if it happens for you.
What to do if you get a Return of Old Symptoms
Sometimes, it is a milder version of the old symptom, and passes in just a few days. If it is uncomfortable, we can support you with non-suppressive naturopathic therapies, like hydrotherapy, acupuncture, herbal or homeopathic. It may spark a time for much needed rest, reflection, water, and simple foods. But if it does happen for you, it is incredibly valuable to the rest of your life and health.
This phenomenon is crucial to the true healing process and is specific to the Naturopathic understanding of the body – we heal from the top down, inside out, most important to least important, and in reverse order. Suppression skews this and becomes an obstacle to cure. So if an old symptom returns, you can be excited that your body is giving you this gift to move through it, and strengthen your vitality, immune function, nervous, digestive, detoxification, and hormonal systems!