Frequently Asked Questions about What to Expect
Why does the healing process often involve a temporary heightening of physical and/or emotional symptoms?
The short answer is because what has been suppressed in the past has to come to the surface before it can be cleared. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), this is how healing works.
In network chiropractic, this clearing process is called retracing. Retracing occurs with all of the energetic healing modalities (homeopathy, flower essences, acupuncture, breath work, reiki, core energetics, etc). It also occurs anytime you retrace past memories on an emotional level.
For example, suppose you go to a movie and see a story about heartbreak that reminds you of a heartbreak from your own past. You may "resonate" with the movie, and it may cause you to cry while you're in the theatre. This experience of tears or sadness is really a retrace of old grief that you still hold within your body-mind memory.
As it comes up and out, it may give you new insight into your own experience from long ago - and from an energetic perspective it's opening the flow of energy to your heart, and ultimately helping to heal your physical heart. Energetic healing modalities, such as homeopathy, work the same way.
Why does the body-mind system hold memory?
The idea is that our body-mind system holds memory of all of the stresses and traumas that we have experienced in our past. The body memory is really a way of compartmentalizing our experience, so we don't have to deal with the emotional pain associated with it. For many of us, the pain at the time of the original insult would have been too great and too destabilizing to face - so our body wisdom protects us by walling us off from the pain until a later time when we are capable of processing it.
How is body memory related to physical illness?
As long as a particular body memory lingers unresolved, the body must maintain some type of armor or survival mechanism to keep the memory in place. But this survival mechanism or body armor is also what helps keep the chronic illness in place. So, in resolving chronic illness, it's usually necessary to let go of the body armor that it's attached to, and to let go of the body armor, it's usually necessary to deal with the body memory or trauma that it has walled off.
As an example, suppose you grew up with a father that was perfectionistic and critical and became irritated with you every time you made a mistake. Not wanting to suffer the affects of your father's irritability and judgement, you might have striven to do everything perfectly. This in turn would have created a tremendous stress on your nervous system, and especially your colon (since in holistic medicine the colon maps to issues around perfectionism). Then suppose as an adult you took a homeopathic remedy for irritable bowel syndrome.
The body memory that would most likely surface would be a memory of your father becoming irritated with you for making a mistake. This memory might not be an actual visual picture of what occurred in the past, but more so a retrace of the feeling that you had experienced. As you moved through this type of feeling memory and let go of your fear of your father's criticism you would be able to relax and ultimately let go of your perfectionism. This would off load the stress on your nervous system and colon and contribute to the physical healing of your irritable bowel syndrome.
Is it possible to predict what body memories or physical symptoms might surface as the result of taking a homeopathic remedy?
Yes and no. To some extent I can predict what to expect after you take a particular remedy, since anything that comes up and out will always be part of the symptom picture of the remedy you took. Also, I can use muscle testing to identify which themes you might be confronted with after taking the remedy (e.g. perfectionism, low self esteem, etc.), as well as what areas of your body might be involved in the clearing process.
In general, with each type of disorder, I can somewhat predict what will come up in the retrace. For example, someone with chronic skin problems will most likely have a flare up as a result of taking a remedy (e.g. the skin eruptions become more pronounced for a half day, or spread to other parts of your body). Once the skin symptoms peak and then begin dissipating, I might also expect to see a surfacing of anger or irritability (often, although not always associated with skin problems.)
With arthritic disorders, most likely the retrace experience will involve some temporary exacerbation of stiffness in the body. For heart disease, I usually expect some temporary tightening in the chest area, mild palpitations and then some type of release of grief and/or anxiety. For chronic fatigue syndrome, I hope to see a retrace of a flu in which the individual's body generates a fever to clear out a chronic viral or bacterial infection.
But, having said this - the body wisdom has a mind of its own and it's possible that you may take a remedy and then have a response that surprises you. This has often happened with my own healing process and with the process of many of my clients. At the start of the process, people often think - "Where the heck did this come from?, I've never seen these symptoms before." But, as the process continues, they get more clarity on what their retrace is all about and how it relates to their overall healing.
How long does a retrace experience last?
It's variable, depending on what your body wisdom is clearing, but in general, any one symptom usually doesn't last for more than a half day or a day. Usually there's a wave-like phenomena, in which one symptom will gradually surface for a few hours, then peak for five to ten minutes, and then resolve - at which time another symptom begins to surface, eventually peaks, and then resolves - at which time yet another symptom begins to surface, etc. The retrace will occur continually in waves like this until your body wisdom is finished with all of the restructuring that was triggered by the remedy you took.
The depth of the restructuring (and therefore the length of the overall process) depends on the potency of the homeopathic remedy. For low potencies (6C or 6X), the healing process is very superficial and so the overall retrace typically only lasts a day or two. For repeated doses of medium potencies (30C or 30X), the healing process is more in-depth and so you might expect a retrace that lasts three to four weeks. For single doses of high potencies (200C, 200X, LM, or 1M), the healing process involves very deep restructuring, and so the retrace process typically lasts from one to ten months. For 1M potencies, the remedy's affect may last up to a twenty months.
Also, the amount of time it takes for you to process a remedy depends on how open and ready you are to clear what's coming up. Some remedies have been quick and easy for me to process since they dealt with themes that were not that threatening for me. Others have taken much longer to process because they dealt with themes that I was more resistant to dealing with. In general, the more relaxed and open you are, and the more flexible and open your body is, the more quick and graceful the retrace process will be.
If you're concerned about how long you might respond to a particular remedy, let me know. I can sometimes use muscle testing to predict ahead of time what to expect.
Is it possible to predict how intense a retrace experience will be?
Often I can use muscle testing to ask your body wisdom what we can expect in terms of your reaction to a remedy, but not always. If I do discern through muscle testing that your body wisdom is predicting an intense reaction, I'll do my best to select the optimal potency and dosage and to support your process by making additional recommendations as needed (see below: What tools do you recommend to support the retrace process).
In general, the intensity of your retrace experience will depend on your body wisdoms' assessment of what's optimal for you at this point in your healing process and what you can handle while still maintaining some degree of homeostasis.
What tools do you recommend to support the retrace process?
Often times the healing process brought on by taking a homeopathic remedy is subtle and gentle enough that no additional tools are needed. For example, the individual may have a few disruptive dreams, and maybe a few minor physical discomforts that quickly resolve - but nothing that makes them consciously aware that something is happening or makes them feel that they need to support their process in any way.
Other times the retrace symptoms are more intense, but the individual is able to move through them without getting stuck. For example, the individual may move into sadness, recall a past heartache, cry, feel great remorse about what transpired in the past, come to some new awareness, and then feel a sense of resolution and peace - all within a days time.
In each of these cases, additional tools are not usually needed. So, this question really applies to those individuals who have a more intense retrace experience, and who need support in "confronting their demons" so to speak - so that they don't get stuck in the past and can continue to move forward.
This usually applies to anyone who has had past experiences of severe or repeated emotional abuse, violence, and/or sexual molestation. It might also apply to individuals who come from a family that has severe trauma imprinted on their genetics (e.g. children and grandchildren of holocaust survivors).
In these cases, I will ask through muscle testing whether additional tools are needed to support the individual in their healing process. If I get a "yes" answer, I do further muscle testing to discern what other tools would be optimal for the individual. These might include, but are not limited to the following:
NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) - This is a gentle chiropractic technique that uses applied kinesiology to identify a negative emotional pattern in the nervous system. Often times the practitioner is able to identify the age of the imprint, the surrounding circumstances, the negative core belief that the individual assumed at the time of the incident, and the organs that are implicated. Once these elements are identified, the practitioner applies subtle pressure to the spine at specific trigger points as the individual does a particular breathing pattern.
NET is often an extremely quick and effective tool for helping people "lift" negative imprints so they can continue moving forward. Both of the chiropractors I work with offer this technique.
NAET (Nambrudipad Allergy Elimination Technique) - This is a technique that uses a combination of acupressure and homeopathy to clear the body of allergic responses to foods, environmental substances, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc - virtually anything that triggers an immune response in your system. It's often effective at helping people make the physiological shifts necessary to continue their restructuring process. Often chiropractors are trained in and offer this technique.
HBLU (Healing Body Level Up) - This is a technique that uses muscle testing and a question and answer protocol to zero in on negative imprints and traumas that may be impacting the subconscious mind and contributing to health issues. Once imprints are identified, the practitioner uses muscle testing to select the appropriate interventions (e.g. usually energy psychology techniques such as the Tapas method, Callahan technique, etc - these are self-repatterning techniques that involve eye movement, tapping of specific acupressure points, and focusing on specific core beliefs, feelings, or memories.) Similar to NET, this is also a quick and effective tool for helping individuals release phobias or traumatic imprints. I offer this technique myself if it' s indicated through muscle testing.
Flower Essences - These are mother tinctures made from flowers. They're very subtle but very powerful tools for supporting emotional and psycho-spiritual healing. Each flower matches a particular profile (e.g. hidden fears, guilt, fear of abandonment, fear of going against the group, stress during major life transitions, shame about one''s sexuality, hopelessness, withdrawal, shock, leadership issues, etc.) I work with the FES (Flower Essence Society) and Bach brand of flowers, which includes 136 flower essences, each with its own characteristic mental/emotional profile.
When indicated through muscle testing, flower essences can be very effective in helping individuals move through an emotional crises, and/or resolve a current mental/emotional blockage. They are usually very soothing and often bring more gracefulness to the healing process. As such, they're usually an excellent compliment to homeopathy.
Body Work - This is a large category which includes any modality in which the practitioner uses a hands-on technique to address blockages in the physical body, the subtle energy body, and/or the emotional body (my definition). (e.g. massage, Rolfing, Reiki, Bowen, Myofascial Release, Polarity therapy, Cranial Sacral therapy, Somatic Emotional Release, Trager Method, and many others). Some people are very receptive to these types of modalities and benefit greatly from them. Others are less comfortable with them. Again, I use muscle testing to discern what type of referral is needed.
If a particular type of body work is indicated, I have a list of professionals in my area that I can refer people to.
Psychotherapists/Energy Psychologists/Mental Health Professionals - I have a list of professionals in my immediate area that I sometimes refer people to, depending on what the muscle testing indicates.
Psycho-Spiritual Support Systems - As indicated by muscle testing, this might include any one of a variety of 12 Step programs or recovery groups. For people with a particular religious preference, it might also include working with, for example, a spiritual director, a Bible study group, or a meditation group.
Exercise, yoga, chi-gong, tai chi - Sometimes just moving the physical body, circulating the blood and freeing up the "chi" is all that's needed to help someone move through a retrace experience. Specific forms of exercises, such as walking, yoga, chi-gong, etc. are sometimes indicated.
Diet changes - The standard recommendation from many practitioners is "drink lots of water". Sometimes the body wisdom indicates other changes to smooth the retrace experience (e.g. eat more, eat less, maximize protein intake, etc.).
Nutritional Supplements/Herbs - Sometimes muscle testing indicates that people need a higher concentration of a particular nutrient (e.g. an enzyme, anti-oxidant, vitamin, mineral, probiotic, combination nutritional, etc.), or an herb to move them through their retrace experience. In these cases, I use muscle testing to hone in on the particular product they need and how long they'll need it.
Can you recommend a book that describes the general stages that people go through during the healing process?
Yes, I often recommend the book "The Twelve Stages of Healing", by Dr. Donald M. Epstein, D.C. This book provides a nice description of each of the stages that people go through when they're healing a particular issue - as well as what you can do in each stage to maximize your progress and minimize your discomfort.
Knowing the stage that you're in at any particular time can bring you tremendous peace of mind. It's sort of like being on a hiking trail, winding your way through the switch backs, not knowing how far you are from the top of the mountain and then having someone hand you a map that says "you are here". You still have to continue your journey up the mountain, but at least you know where you're at and can predict what the trail looks like ahead. For more information, see my write-up on the Twelve Stages of Healing.
Can the healing process stimulated by a homeopathic remedy interfere with what I have planned for the next few weeks?
As an example - Is it possible for me to have a retrace of symptoms while I'm on vacation?, Can it impact my work schedule?, Could I have retrace symptoms the day of my daughter's wedding?, etc...
The short answer to these types of questions is that anything is possible during the healing process so if you're worried about the remedy's affect impacting something you have scheduled, you might want to wait until after the scheduled event before taking the remedy. Many of my clients have done this in the past, and I have supported them in their decision.
The long answer is that how you respond to a remedy or remedies really depends on your body wisdom, since it is always in charge of your healing process. It determines what you retrace and when, as well as how that retrace schedule relates to your day to day life and the schedule that you have laid out for yourself in the coming weeks.
My experience has been that what has transpired in my current life has always related to the healing process I have entered into by taking a particular remedy. For example, when I've taken homeopathic remedies that have included "fear of being late" in their symptom picture, I have had life circumstances arise (e.g. traffic) that have caused me to be late, forcing me to confront my fear of being late, my beliefs about being late, and triggering memories of being reprimanded for being late in childhood. The end result was that I now no longer have issues around "lateness", and the physical symptoms that were connected with those issues have permanently resolved.
This is a very mild example of how the homeopathic remedy you take, your body wisdom, your retrace experience, and your present life circumstances can conspire together to help you heal yourself of a chronic disorder. It can be mildly stressful (as in this example), or in some cases extremely stressful - it just depends on the issue you clearing and how much charge you have around it.
Can the emotions that surface as a result of my healing process be disruptive to my personal relationships?
This is a possibility. When I first started taking remedies years ago, this was sometimes the case for me. However, in time I learned how to separate the feelings that were surfacing from the past with what was occurring in my present life. Essentially, I had to remember over and over again that the source of my unrest was the emotional baggage I was clearing from my past, not the actions of my friends or loved ones.
If you're concerned about your healing process causing undue stress in any of your relationships, I suggest that you do your best to be honest with the people close to you about what you're processing up-front, before the feelings surface. For example, you might say - "I'm taking a homeopathic remedy that may help me surface repressed anger, so I may be a little touchy in the next week or so. If anger comes up, I'll do my best to process it outside of our interaction, but know that I'm going through this process, so I may be more moody than usual."
Sometimes this type of awareness helps. Other times the current situation serves as a necessary trigger to help resurface the old anger and in the moment, you and your loved one may forget that it may be related to your healing process. Also, some situations require a strong emotional response for self-parenting (e.g. anger to assist in setting healthy boundaries). In any event, it's usually desirable to let your immediate loved ones know that old feelings may be resurfacing, causing present feelings to be more intensified.
Will I be able to stop taking my medication after I take this remedy?
No, at least not immediately. But, as your body heals, you may be able to slowly lower your dosages and - with the help of your MD - wean yourself off entirely. Also know that even in cases in which you have successfully weaned yourself off your western meds, you may still need them on occasion, depending on how your healing process progresses - so, never dismiss them entirely.
Here are some examples of what to expect with different medications:
- Blood pressure medication, anti-cholesterol meds - As your heart and nervous system let go of deeply stored tension, you will be able to work with your MD to gradually lower your dosage. For moderate blood pressure problems, expect three to six months of homeopathic care before being able to begin reducing dosages. For more serious problems, expect possibly a year or more of healing work before reducing dosage.
- Prednizone, anti-inflammatories - If the disorder requiring these types of meds is a deeply chronic auto-immune illness (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple scleorisis, etc.), the healing process will be lengthy. If you've had the condition diagnosed for two or more years, you should not expect to see a significant reduction in your meds for at least six months to a year. For a new diagnosis, the reduction in meds may go faster. In any event, you should maintain a supply of your meds and stay on them until it is clear to you and your MD that you can begin reducing dosages. Stopping these types of meds without a weaning process can be very stressful to the immune system and cause big flare-ups.
- Anti-depressant meds - These types of meds have a profound affect on brain chemistry, and as such cause huge swings in brain chemistry if you discontinue them without a weaning process. If you've been on these types of meds for more than a year, expect at least three to six months of healing with homeopathy before seeing a reduction in dosage. For deeply chronic disorders (e.g. bipolar disorders requiring lithium, long lasting suicidal depression), the healing process may take years and the meds may always be needed. As always, work with your MD as you begin the weaning process. Also, ideally, if your suffering from deep seated depression, you should also be under the care of a therapist.
- Anti-anxiety meds - Similarly to anti-depressant drugs, these meds have a profound affect on brain chemistry and can cause big pendulum swings if you take yourself off them abruptly. If you've been on anti-anxiety drugs for six months or more, expect at least three to four months before beginning to reduce your dosages.
- Ritalin, drugs for ADD, ADHD - Quite honestly, none of the children I've worked with have been on meds when they came to see me - so, I don't have any experience with assisting children in getting off Ritalin. Having said that, I expect that it would take about six months of healing work with homeopathy to assist most children in weaning off of Ritalin or other ADD/ADHD meds.
- Insulin - Diabetes is, of course, a deeply chronic disorder that is life threatening when not controlled. Most likely, if you've been dependent on insulin for type one or type two diabetes for most of your life, you should not expect to be able to get off of your insulin by doing one or two years of healing work. You might expect that through the healing process you are able to moderate the affects of your diabetes, resolve other physical and emotional issues, and perhaps even stabilize and minimize your insulin dosage. If your diabetes is type two (adult onset) and mild, and you are deeply committed to your healing process for a long period of time (e.g. two to five years), you will likely be able to eventually wean yourself off.
Will I still need prescription pain killers after I take this remedy? (e.g. for my migraines, back ache, etc)?
In the long term - no. In the short term, possibly. It depends on your particular path of healing and how you respond to your remedies.
Sometimes, for people that have experienced painful episodes for long period of time, it takes time to unwind the underlying pattern. In these cases, the homeopathic remedy (or adjunct therapy) can sometimes alleviate pain in the midst of the episode, but not always.
Sometimes the remedy brings the pain out into the open so the individual can better recognize a connection between the physical pain and something in their life that may be out of alignment. In these cases, there is often nothing I can offer the individual homeopathically during the painful episode to reduce the pain.
What I can offer the individual is some education up-front about how to move through a painful episode should it be a part of their process. Overall, the best thing to do is to try to relax as best you can and surrender to what your body is trying to do. The book "The Twelve Stages of Healing" does a beautiful job of describing what this means in the first chapter (the chapter entitled Suffering). Essentially this involves breathing with the rhythm of the pain or spasm and really tuning into what your body-mind is trying to tell you through the experience of the pain. Usually it has to do with letting go of some long held belief or self-perception that is contributing to your chronic illness - or it may just be a message to you that a particular area of your life needs your attention.
Having said all of this, if you are in pain while on a homeopathic remedy, you always have the option of taking your prescription pain medication. This is your choice to make and if you choose to take pain killers on a temporary basis, I will support your decision.