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Why Do I Have to Feel Worse Before Feeling Better?

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July 2, 2013 | Published by


stressed and fatigued man

It seems cruel, but sometimes it seems like your body punishes you for doing the right thing. For example, many people, when starting their journey to battle adrenal fatigue, start to feel worse before feeling better. They’re watching their diet, monitoring their lifestyle to eliminate and reduce stress, supplementing with good nutrients, yet are worse for the wear than before. To get a better understanding of why his happens, we’re stepping into the time machine to pay a visit to one of the pioneers of modern medicine — Hippocrates.

Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC) was credited with being the first to argue that diseases are caused naturally, not by godly acts. He put forth the idea that diseases are the product of environmental factors: things like a low-nutrient diet, harsh weather and bad habits. And all this more than 2,000 years ago, in an age when most people believed the Earth was flat and you could fall off the edge.

To explain the worse before better puzzle, Hippocrates put forth the idea of the ‘crisis.’ A crisis in the healing process meant a turning point in the patient’s condition; these would occur at multiple set points during the recovery process, especially toward the beginning. He realized these setbacks would often happen after treatment because it stimulated the body’s ‘vital principle’—the force that animates living beings—which would throw off the recovery process. A crisis could manifest as a bowel irritation, headache, low-grade fever, severe tiredness or a skin rash to name a few. Severity also varies, with symptoms ranging from mild to sometimes severe. In my practice, I generally find that in chronic cases a patient may call or email me around the three day mark to ask if it’s normal to feel worse before feeling better.

As a practitioner himself, Hippocrates was passive yet observant, basing his therapeutic approach on “the healing power of nature.” Hippocrates believed rest and immobilization were the two most important aspects of the recovery process. He also believed that the physician needed to be kind to the patient and intend no harm; these tenants are upheld today, and are known (surprise!) as the Hippocratic Oath. The treatments Hippocrates used on his own patients were (mostly) gentle, with an emphasis on keeping the patient ‘pure’ and sterile. Patients were encouraged to rest and take it easy to minimize any crises during the important healing process.

So in this present day, how do you go about minimizing your own crises after starting a treatment? You go low and start slow with treatment, especially if you have been chronically unwell. Your body will need time to slowly adapt to the changes you are introducing, so be patient. Don’t act in haste and quit your treatment right away because you think it’s not working; these setbacks are temporary, and if you can push through them you will be rewarded for your efforts.

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  candidacrusher.com  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos: www.yeastinfection.org  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:  www.ericbakker.com


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5 Comments

  • Dee says:

    How do you feel
    About 2000 mg per day 6 weeks for someone just diagnosed with Rheumatoud arthritis ?

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Dee,

      Sorry, we’re not sure what you’re referring to with this question. Also please keep in mind we are unable to provide medical advice on this blog.

  • Elisabeth says:

    Sadly 98% of practitioners are sellouts to the pharmaceuticals amd although they swear by the Hippocratic Oath they do not uphold it. Being a health practitioner was never intended for profit or corporate agenda but to genuinely heal people naturally and console them thru the process. It is an extreme rarity to see such in this day and age. And those whom do, specifically among the Holistic spectrum, are being ‘eliminated’.

  • Clare says:

    I think I have been suffering from adrenal fatigue for many years. I say ‘I think’ because doctors are no help and there is no good test for it. It has gradually got worse and despite lowering my stress levels in the last 18 months, I am not getting better. So I’ve started on the supplements, taking 1000 mg of vitamin C a day and 500 mg of magnesium. Would this be enough to make my nausea even worse? I feel awful, especially in the mornings, and can barely function, although inexplicably some days are better than others. I could not tolerate the adrenal extract I bought. Do you think supplements could me making me feel ill? Shall I start on a very low dose? Which one/s should I start with? Thank you.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Clare,

      Thank you for writing. We can only speak for our supplements, which we do recommend “starting low and going slow.” It’s quite possible you started out taking too much. We can’t make recommendations for other supplement brands, but with ours we recommend starting with the full Adrenal Fatigue Protocol, or at least the Adrenal Rebuilder and Super Adrenal Stress Formula to start. Regardless, we recommend starting out at the minimal dose and building up from there. We hope that helps! Please let us know if you have any further questions.

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