Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy
Non-Toxic Biological Approaches to the Theories,
Treatments and Prevention of Cancer

Our 53rd Year

The Healing Crisis: A Blessing In Disguise… A CASE HISTORYBy Vera Hirschhorn

In this age of health awareness with an increased emphasis on raw vegetables and fruits as well as the omission of coffee, sugar, chocolate, tobacco, and alcohol, many health seekers undergo a “healing crisis.” The latter is most often misdiagnosed as degenerative disease. Physicians need to be desperately open minded and re-educated about this natural phenomenon so that drugs including antibiotics, aspirin, etc. are not prescribed!

“Ancient physicians were so familiar with this natural power of the organism to control disease that they invented for it, the beautiful expression, vis medicatrix naturae, ‘the healing power of nature.’ ”
(Rene Dubois Introduction to The Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins)

What is the Healing Crisis? It is the onset of acute or constructive “disease” wherein the body conducts the ‘housecleaning’ of accumulated, uneliminated poisonous by-products created by excessive bacteria and protein decomposition. The process of ‘cleansing and repair’ is triggered by an improved diet and lifestyle but grossly prolonged and painfully exaggerated by the intake of drugs. “Disease is a process of purification… It is a vital struggle to overcome obstructions and to keep the channels of circulation free… it must never be suppressed.” (Dr. Emmet Densmore, How Nature Cures.)

How does one distinguish between a “healing crisis” and a “disease crisis?” If one has increased the consumption of live, vitalized, raw foods and drastically reduced the intake of cooked, devitalized, processed and chemically-laden foods prior to the on-set of a crisis, then, undoubtedly, the disease-like symptoms are indicative of a healing or reparative, regenerative process. The healing crisis popularized by the brilliant Dr. Bernard Jensen must especially include a good elimination of the bowels, whereas in a disease crisis non-elimination and disease symptoms reveal an irreparable and degenerative state.

The most fascinating element in the healing crisis is the reversal process in which one relives and literally re-experiences the disease symptoms one underwent from childhood on. As Constantine Hering stated in his Law of Cure, “All cure starts from within out and from head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared.”

My sixty-one year old mother’s blessing in disguise came without warning on Monday, May 21, 1984. It began with a severe headache for which she took aspirin, the grand-daddy of all painkillers!

On Tuesday, she visited the doctor due to the persistent, unbearable headache for which she was prescribed an antibiotic, vibramycin, in addition to tylenol, a close relative to the “grand-daddy.” The antibiotic was to be taken as a preventative measure, in case she was to have the flu with possible secondary complications. That evening a high fever of 103 degrees began and lasted for three days. A blotchy rash and brutal itching which persisted tenaciously for two and a half weeks accompanied the fever. The fever was the body’s way of ejecting the accumulated endogenous and exogenous toxins along with the newly introduced medicinal toxins by autolysis.

On Wednesday, my mother was advised to double the antibiotics and tylenol. As a family, we all agreed that this would do her more harm. One need only refer to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, its 3,068 pages, to see the dangerous side effects of drugs. If one antibiotic could TRIGGER such a violent reaction, could we afford to risk increasing the dosage?

On Thursday, upon re-examining my mother and suspecting possible pneumonia, the physician recommended chest X-rays. His diagnosis? Mild pneumonia. Terribly worried, I confronted the radiologist and requested to know the severity of the respiratory infection. I was stunned by his uncertainty as to whether my mother had bronchitis or pneumonia and by his explanation: “It’s difficult to determine since I have no previous X-rays for comparison.”

On Friday, it was suggested that another type of antibiotic, Velosef, be given for the pneumonia as well as an antihistamine for the itching. Still unsure of the “healing crisis” phenomenon, we reluctantly yielded and permitted my mom to take five tablets of the antibiotic and the one antihistamine. Despite the drugs, there was no relief. The rash and itching only intensified. Seeing my mother’s strength diminish day by day, I decided to consult a nutritionally oriented researcher who recommended Vitamin B liquid, cod liver oil for Vitamins A and D, and raw vegetable juices. I immediately referred to a book on raw juice therapy entitled, Raw Vegetable Juices, written by Dr. N. W. Walker, a well respected centenarian. Luckily, my mother had a juicer and I juiced combinations of carrot, beet, cucumber for the pneumonia and the itching. This was given morning, noon and night.

On Saturday, the family doctor revisited and was pleasantly surprised to see an improvement in my mother’s lungs. What amazed everyone was that it improved without the constant use of medications. In fact, throughout the entire ordeal, we gained more confidence and reassurance in the “Nature Cure” as we witnessed consistently a relatively normal blood pressure and pulse. This was most gratifying as my mother had had high blood pressure for several years prior to the change in diet. Up to this point, the fact that my mother did not have any elimination of the bowel perplexed us tremendously. Knowing that her diet had relatively improved, I could not understand why her elimination was at a stand still. I feared the worst! She looked so bloated and her skin was becoming more and more discolored with red and purple. Suspecting the antibiotics as the culprit for the constipation, I called a pharmacist who confirmed my suspicions. He did, indeed, state that antibiotics are often responsible for the destruction of the intestinal flora, so necessary for proper digestion and elimination. Pursuing it further, I read in the Physicians’ Desk Reference of the myriad of other side effects that could develop from Vibramycin and Velosef. They included skin rashes and renal toxicity, the former especially evident in a most severe form in my mother’s case. The listing of adverse reactions to the drugs continued for at least three pages. Those deadly antibiotics! T. C. Fry, his predecessors and contemporaries were so right:

“When an organism is overwhelmed by toxic substances beyond its ability to eliminate them in normal course the body institutes emergency action to effect expulsion of the toxic burden… which results in a healing crisis.”… “Drugs… interfere with vital body purification and reparative functions and normal body functions as well. . . .” (T. C. Fry, The Life Science Health System)

The intake of drugs to treat the symptoms only adds more toxins to the already toxic body, thereby causing a more severe reaction.

On Sunday, my mother’s itching subsided somewhat. Soon, she developed excruciating arthritic pains in her joints. Referring to Dr. Walker’s book, we juiced grapefruit for breakfast, carrot juice for a snack, carrot and spinach juice for lunch. My adorable mother drank all this with some reluctance but turned out to be a super patient. During her moments of utter despair, she did suggest that we take her to the hospital. All we could say to her was to try to think logically. What would they do for her in the hospital? Give her painkillers, tranquilizers, other forms of antibiotics, antihistamines? Nevertheless, in order to please my mother, we asked her physician what he thought about the idea of admitting her to the hospital. Upon seeing how my husband, brother, sister-in-law and my father had kept vigil on a rotating basis for twenty-four hours, he felt that her home care was far superior to the hospital care that she would have received.

On Monday, May 28, 1984, the juicing of the organically grown carrots combined with the celery began. Her arthritic pains persisted for three days along with the itching. Temporary relief was to be had for the itching with the application of cold compresses, the juice of the aloe vera plant and above all, an aloe-based moisturizing cream. While we realized that the cream could serve as an obstacle in permitting toxic elimination via the skin, we had no other alternatives; it was necessary to apply it for everyone’s sanity and especially my mother’s. Despite her sleepless nights and days, my mother continued to “hang in there.”

My brother played “doctor” by taking mom’s blood pressure with his newly acquired kit. We reported the result to the physician who said that it was normal. In order to help alleviate the arthritic pains, we tried to divert mom’s attention to television programs; unfortunately, the soaps and news were too depressing. If only they could have aired more shows with “belly laughter” humor so highly recommended by Norman Cousins in his book, Anatomy of an Illness. (The book is a MUST for it beautifully describes the healing benefits derived from the Art of Laughter. It also emphasizes the importance of a harmonious patient doctor relationship in conquering disease through natural healing.)

Floral bouquets were sent by friends and family but they offered only a few moments of relief. Our children created super-duper greeting cards and put on a brief ‘puppet show’ which cheered her temporarily. Knowing about the powers of the mind and realizing how sickness is inevitably an interaction between the body and the mind, I called a registered nurse who specializes in Stress Management and relaxation techniques. She was most willing to assist. In retrospect, I should have pursued the idea. I even considered a hypnotist so as to alleviate the pain. Never having had the experience of hypnosis, my dad and I decided to abandon the thought.

On Tuesday, the vegetable juices continued. Thanks to our health food stores who lovingly replenished our organic carrots, we incessantly scrubbed, peeled, washed and juiced the adored, yellow and green treasures. And then it happened! My mom finally had her first elimination. Who ever thought that I would rejoice about the elimination of my mother’s bowels? Now, I was convinced that my mom was indeed experiencing a healing rather than a disease crisis. It was at this point that my husband and I reread, reread and reread Dr. Bernard Jensen’s Doctor-Patient Handbook: Dealing with The Reversal Process and The Healing Crisis through Eliminating Diets and Detoxification. This valuable book which was to become my “bible” was most comforting, for it explained my mother’s road to rebirth perfectly.:

“Symptoms… do not usually come at the same moment but move from one part of the body to another or wherever the body is placing its energy for cleansing, rejuvenation and getting rid of the old tissue and acids that probably have accumulated over a period of years.” (Dr. Jensen)

The arthritic pains were now being replaced by sciatica pains, both of which were very prominent in her past. There was, undoubtedly, a cleansing of the inorganic calcium deposits in the cartilage of the joints, commonly known as arthritis. The cleansing was now traveling to the sciatic nerve and/or surrounding muscle. The former condition was due to the over-consumption of concentrated carbohydrates; the latter state was due to the excessive uric-acid producing foods. All the many years of bad eating habits were coining back to haunt my mother! For our further peace of mind, we had asked our physician to have my mom’s blood chemistry tested. What a shock when we were informed that the white blood count was 35,000! In the evening we spoke to a naturopath from N.Y.C. who advised that she have a blended celery and tomato juice three times per day; a blended salad three times per day; fruit and an egg yolk.

On Wednesday, the diet continued. My courageous mother was still “hanging in.” Needless to say, her weakened state worried us all. I was also disturbed about her overall bloated appearance. I began to read Dr. Ann Wigmore’s Book, Recipes for Longer Life. After reading about the therapeutic use of wheatgrass and of her Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston and San Diego, I was ready to take my mother; the only problem was that since she was bed-ridden and hardly able to walk, I did not know how she could get to the airport and especially endure the ride.

On Thursday, the doctor retook the blood test as he felt the W.B.C. was an error. The blood pressure and body temperature continued to be normal. The severe itching persisted along with the deep purple discoloration of my mother’s extremities. The latter worried me greatly; in fact, I even feared gangrene. The vegetable juices, blended salads, sub-acid fruit and cooked egg yolk were still given. Her bowel movements were irregular and infrequent. The sciatica was beginning to subside.

On Friday, the doctor informed us that the W.B.C. had now risen from 35,000 to 36,900. The W.B.C. was not the only abnormal factor in my mother’s blood chemistry. The LDH, glucose, uric acid, B.U.N., globulin, triglycerides and potassium levels were all unusually elevated. The cholesterol, albumin, sodium were also “out of whack” as they were abnormally low. (Please refer to the enclosed chart which compares the blood test results, before, during and after the crisis.) The doctor insisted that my mother be hospitalized for a week of testing as he suspected leukemia . We were panic-stricken! How could we permit her to undergo painful bone-marrow tests? NO WAY! Most fortunately, I remembered Ruth Sackman, founder of the Foundation for Alternative Cancer Therapies (FACT) It was Ruth who recognized the symptoms as toxicity due to a “healing crisis” and familiarized me with Dr. Bernard Jensen’s writings. I am indebted to Dr. Jensen for his advice as per our telephone conversation and to Ruth Sackman for her continued support, reassurance and expert guidance. She gave me the strength and courage to comfort and assist my mother mentally, physically and emotionally. She advised us to immediately refer to Dr. Walker’s Detoxification Diet of three days and the essential use of enemas. We were lucky that Ruth lived within telephone distance as we spoke to her frequently throughout the week-end.

On Saturday, the enemas continued as did the lemon-orange-grapefruit combo. In addition, epsom salt drinks were given as we did not have the Glauber Salts or Seidlitz powders. My mother’s weakness troubled all of us but in spite of it all she listened and did everything we asked her to do. My exhausted father was great and a marvelous help with the enemas. I don’t know what we would have done without him. Having been born and raised in Europe, he was well acquainted with the use of enemas.

On Sunday, in the early morning hours, a peculiar thing happened. My mother’s body temperature ranged from 94 to 97 degrees. The strange thing was that the temperature was the same degree as the degree to which I had shaken the thermometer. I began calling the Emergency Units of different hospitals as I was worried and puzzled. Most said that there was no need for alarm but it would be best to bring my mother to the hospital…. Throughout the day, my brother observed the same results for which we could not obtain any scientific explanation. The enemas and drinks continued but there was still not a tremendous amount of water that my mother could tolerate with regard to the enemas. As a result, Ruth suggested colonies. We made several phone calls and finally found a clinic in Pennsylvania that administered them.

On Monday, we traveled with my mother, comfortably propped on pillows and blankets for two hours to the clinic. She was some champ! Everyone boosted my mom’s morale as they were sweet and gentle. She had a colonic and medical examination. She still had the purple discoloration and rash throughout her body but the itching FINALLY BEGAN TO SUBSIDE. The kitchen staff juiced her carrots and spinach and prepared her a soft-boiled egg yolk along with a green leaf salad.

My mother had a colonic on Wednesday and again on Friday. She slowly began to recover her strength. THE WORST OF THE BEST WAS SOON TO END. Since that week throughout July, my mother was losing her old skin which was beautifully replaced by soft, baby-fine, new skin. The process is well described by Dr. Bernard Jensen:

“What becomes of the old tissue? It is not absorbed immediately; nor is it eliminated from the body immediately. It is exchanged by the blood stream over a period of months in a gradual process of re-absorption. This process of building up new cellular structure has been accomplished through good blood containing needed substances and through the circulation of the blood where it is needed.”

The intense peeling of skin was an incredible sight. My father literally had to cut off the old, peeled epidermis which hung in excess from my mom’s extremities. We were all in ecstasy and very thankful and grateful for the wonderful people that guided us: Ruth Sackman and Dr. Bernard Jensen!

I must say, that in spite of it all, I have an admiration and respect for the two physicians who cared for my mother. Nowadays, it is, indeed, rare to have doctors make “house calls.” Their patience and compassion will always be remembered. They cannot be blamed for their educational limitations. For how can they know that “the human body is its own best apothecary.” (Norman Cousins) “How can they know that the most successful prescriptions are those filled by the body itself.” (ibid) Medical schools should get back to basics and heed Hippocrates: “Nature heals; the physician is only an assistant.” Aren’t medical schools hypocritical when asking students to take the Hippocratic Oath?

When will “the Doctor of the Future,” as described by Thomas Edison, “give no medicine?” When will he “interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease?”

When will the medical researchers, scientists, professors and physicians learn the true cause of all disease, whether it be called cancer, heart disease, arthritis or even the flu or common cold? A brilliant medical doctor, J. H. Tilden (1851-1940), wrote about that cause toxemia. He recognized then as we must recognize today that over consumption of highly processed, refined, chemically laden foods along with a highly stressed lifestyle, without exercise, can only lead to an accumulation of toxins. What will cure toxemia? Tilden had a simple answer:

“A fast, rest in bed and the giving up of enervating habits, mental and physical.” This “will allow nature to eliminate the accumulated toxins…”