Crisis in the ordinary sense of the word means change, either
for better or for worse. In its relation to medicine, the term
"crisis" has been defined as "a decisive change
in the disease, resulting either in recovery or in death."
We of the Nature Cure school distinguish between healing crises
and disease crises, according to the character and the tendency
of the acute reaction. If an acute disease is brought about through
the accumulation of morbid matter or the invasion of disease germs
to such an extent that the health or the life of the organism
is endangered, in other words, if the disease conditions are forcing
the crises, we speak of disease crises.
But if acute reactions take place in the system because conditions
have become more normal, because the healing forces have gained
the ascendancy and forced the acute inflammatory processes, we
call them healing crises.
Healing crises are simply different forms of elimination by means
of which Nature endeavors to remove the latent, chronic disease
encumbrance from the system. The most common forms of these acute
purifications are colds, catarrhal and hemorrhoidal discharges,
boils, ulcers, abscesses, open sores, skin eruptions, diarrheas,
crises and disease crises may seem very much alike. Patients
often tell me: "I have had this before. I call it an ordinary
boil (or cold, or fever)."
That may be true. The former disease crisis and the present healing
crisis may be similar in their outward manifestations. But
they are taking place under entirely different conditions.
When the organism is loaded to the danger point with morbid matter,
it may arouse itself in self-defense to an acute eliminative effort
in the shape of cold, catarrh, fever, inflammation, skin eruption,
etc. In these instances, the disease conditions bring about the
crisis and the organism is on the defensive. These are disease
Such unequal struggles between the healing forces and disease
conditions sometimes end favorably and sometimes unfavorably.
On the other hand, healing crises develop because the healing
forces are in the ascendancy and take the offensive. They are
brought about through the natural methods of living and of treatment
and always result in improved conditions.
A simple allegory may assist me in explaining the difference between
a healing crisis and a disease crisis:
For years a prizefighter holds the championship because he keeps
himself in perfect physical condition and before every contest
spends many weeks in careful training. When he faces his opponent
in the ring, he has eliminated from his organism as much waste
matter and superfluous flesh and fat as possible by a strictly
regulated diet and a great deal of hard exercise. As a consequence,
he comes off victorious in every contest and easily maintains
These victories in his career, like healing crises in the organism,
are the result of training and preparation.
The prizefighter in the one case and Vital Force in the other
are on the offensive from the beginning of the struggle and have
the best of the fight from start to finish.
Rendered overconfident by long-continued success, our champion
gradually permits himself to drift into a weakened physical condition.
He omits his regular training and indulges in all kinds of dissipation.
One day, full of self-conceit and underestimating the strength
of his challenger, he enters the ring without preparation and
is ingloriously defeated by a man who, under different circumstances,
would not be a match for him.
So, in the case of a patient in a disease crisis, fatal termination
may be due to the excessive accumulation of waste and morbid matter
in the system, to lowered vitality and to lack of preparation.
Victory or defeat in acute reactions as well as in the ring depends
on right living and preparatory training.
In the healing crisis, vitality is the stronger and gains the
victory in the struggle; in the disease crisis, disease conditions
have gained the ascendancy and may bring about the defeat of the
conditions favorable to human life, a body of normal structure,
healthy blood and tissues and good vitality cannot be affected
by acute disease. Such an organism is practically immune
to all forms of inflammatory febrile reactions. These always indicate
that there is something wrong in the system which Nature is trying
to correct or get rid of.
In Chapter Two "Catechism of Nature Cure," we defined
healing crises"as follows: "A healing crisis is an acute
reaction, resulting from the ascendancy of Nature's healing forces
over disease conditions. Its tendency is toward recovery, and
it is, therefore, in conformity with Nature's constructive principle."
The possibility of producing healing crises and thereby curing
chronic ailments depends upon the following conditions:
The patient must possess sufficient vital energy and powers of
reaction to respond to the natural treatment and to a change of
2. The destruction and disorganization of vital
fluids and organs must not have advanced too far.
Some patients become frightened at the idea of crises. They exclaim:
"I came here to get well, not to grow worse."
However, there is no occasion for alarm. Healing crises occur
in mild form only because, under the influence of natural living
and treatment, Nature has the best of the fight. The healing forces
of the organism have gained the ascendancy over the disease conditions.
In fact, Nature never undertakes a healing crisis until
the system has been prepared for it, until the organism
is sufficiently purified and strengthened to conduct the acute
reaction to a favorable termination.
Furthermore, it is well to remember that crises cannot be avoided,
because it is through fevers and inflammatory processes that Nature
effects the cure--that she tears down the old to build up the
On the other hand, if patients are possessed of exceptionally
good vitality and if the organs of elimination are in good working
order, the purification and adjustment of the organism may occasionally
proceed gradually without the occurrence of marked acute reactions
Healing Crises, When Properly Conducted,
Are Never Fatal to Life
When well assisted by the right, natural methods of living and
of treatment, healing crises are never dangerous or fatal to life.
The only danger lies in suppressing these acute reactions by drugs,
knife, the ice bag or any means whatever.
acute reactions are suppressed, the constructive healing crisis
may be changed into a destructive disease crisis. Therefore
we earnestly warn our patients never to interfere in any way with
a healing crisis lest the chronic condition (which resulted from
the suppression of the original disease) become worse than before.
When Nature, with all the force inherent in the human organism,
has finally worked up to the point of a healing crisis, another
defeat by a new suppression may be beyond her powers of endurance
and recuperation. Fatal collapse may then be the result.
Therefore, take heed! If you are not willing to endure the healing
crises, do not undertake the treatment. When you have conjured
up the hidden demons of disease, you must have the courage to
face and subdue them. Nothing good in life comes to us except
as we pay the price. He who is too cowardly to conquer in a healing
crisis may perish in a disease crisis.
Drugs Versus Healing Crises
Our explanations of the natural laws of cure and of natural therapeutics
are often greeted by "Old School" physicians and students
with remarks like the following:
speak as if you had the monopoly of eliminative treatment and
of the production of crises. With our laxatives, cathartics, diuretics,
diaphoretics and tonics, we are doing the same thing. What is
more effectual for stimulating a sluggish liver and cleansing
the intestinal tract than calomel followed by a dose of salts?
What will produce more profuse perspiration than pilocarpin; or
what is a better stimulus to the kidneys than squills or buchu?
Can we not by means of stimulants and depressants regulate heart
action to a nicety?
accomplish all this in a clean, scientific manner, without resorting
to unpleasant dieting and to barbarous applications of douches,
packs and manual treatments. Isn't it more dignified and professional
to write a Latin prescription? How much better the impression
on the laity than soaking and rubbing!"
Let us see if these statements are true, if laxation, urination
or perspiration produced by poisonous drugs are identical in character
and in effect with the elimination produced by natural living
and natural methods of treatment through healing crises.
Mercury, in the form of calomel, is one of the best-known cholagogues
[an agent designed to increase the flow of bile and, thereby,
stimulate lower bowel action, ed.]. It is the favorite laxative
and cathartic of allopathy. The prevailing idea is that calomel
acts on the liver and the intestines; but in reality these
organs act on the drug.
All laxatives and cathartics are poisons; if it were not so, they
would not produce their peculiar, drastic effects. Because they
are poisons, Nature tries to eliminate them from the system as
quickly and as thoroughly as possible. In order to do this, the
excretory glands and membranes of the liver and the digestive
tract greatly increase the amount of their secretions and thereby
produce a forced evacuation of the intestinal canal.
Thus the system, in the effort to eliminate the mercurial poison,
expels also the other contents of the intestines. This may effect
a temporary cleansing of the intestinal tract, but it does not
and cannot cleanse the individual cells throughout the body of
The Lasting Effects of Artificial Purging
In accordance with the Law of Action and Reaction, action and
reaction are equal and opposite; the temporary irritation and
overstimulation of the sensitive membranes of the digestive organs
are followed by corresponding weakness and exhaustion, and if
this procedure be repeated and become habitual, by gradual atrophy
and paralysis. As atrophy progresses, the dose of the purgative
must be increased in order to accomplish the desired result and
this, in its turn, hastens the degenerative changes in the system.
Such enforced, artificial purging may flush the drains and sewers,
but does not cleanse the chambers of the house. The cells in the
interior tissues remain encumbered with morbid matter. A genuine
and truly effective housecleaning must start in the cells and
must be brought about through the initiative of the vital energies
in the organism, through healing crises, and not through stimulation
by means of poisonous irritants.
When, under a natural regimen of living and of treatment, the
system has been sufficiently purified, adjusted and vivified,
the cells themselves begin the work of elimination.
This is what takes place: The morbid matter and poisons thrown
off by the cells and tissues are carried by means of the venous
circulation to the organs of elimination, the bowels, kidneys,
lungs and skin, and to the mucous membranes lining the interior
tracts, such as the nasal passages, the throat and bronchi, the
digestive and genitourinary canals, etc.
These organs of elimination become overcrowded with the rush of
morbid matter and the accompanying congestion and irritation cause
the acute inflammatory processes and feverish symptoms characterizing
the various forms of colds, catarrhs, skin eruptions, diarrheas,
boils and other acute forms of elimination, which we call healing
crises. In other words, what the "Old School"
of medicine calls the disease, we look upon as the Cure.
Acute elimination brought about in this manner is Nature's method
of housecleaning. It is a true healing crisis, the result
of purification and increased activity from within the cell, produced
by natural means.
Here interposes Friend Allopath: "You claim that you bring
about your acute reactions by natural means only, and that these
are never injurious to the organism. What difference does it make
if the circulation is stimulated and elimination increased by
a cold-water spray or by digitalis? The cold-water stimulation
produces a reaction just as digitalis does, and the one must therefore
be as injurious as the other."
To this we reply: "The stimulating effect on heart and circulation
produced by digitalis is the first action of a highly poisonous
drug; the second lasting effect is weakening and paralyzing. On
the other hand, the first action of a cold-water spray is depressing;
it sends the blood into the interior of the body and benumbs the
surface. The sensory nerves at once report this sensation of cold
to headquarters in the brain, and immediately the command is telegraphed
to the blood vessels in the interior of the body: ‘Send
blood to the surface!' As a result, the blood is carried to the
surface, and the skin becomes warm and rosy with the glow of life.
In this case the stimulation is the second and lasting effect
of the water treatment, from which there is no further reaction."
Similarly, the stimulation produced by exercise, massage, manipulation
or the exposure of the nude body to light and air is natural stimulation,
produced by harmless, natural means. It is entirely due to the
fact that conditions in the system have been made more normal,
as explained in other chapters.
Drugs, stimulants and tonics, while they produce an artificial,
temporary stimulation, do not change the underlying abnormal conditions
in the organism. Likewise, the flushing of the colon with water,
the use of laxative herb teas and decoctions or forced sweating
by means of Turkish or Russian baths, though not as dangerous
as inorganic minerals and poisonous drugs, cannot be classed among
the natural means of cure. These agents, which by many persons
are looked upon as natural treatment, irritate the organs of elimination
to forced, abnormal activity without at the same time arousing
the cells in the interior of the body to natural elimination.
Dr. H. Lahmann, one of the foremost scientists of the Nature Cure
movement, made a series of interesting experiments. His chemists
gathered the natural perspiration of certain patients, produced
by ordinary exercise in the sunshine. These excretions of the
skin were evaporated and analyzed, and were found to contain poisons
powerful enough to kill rabbits.
If profuse sweating was produced in the same patients by the high
temperature of the hot-air box or the electric-light cabinet,
their perspiration, when evaporated and analyzed, was found to
contain only small amounts of toxins. Thus Dr. Lahmann proved
Sweating and the elimination of disease matter are two
2. Artificially induced sweating does not eliminate
3. The organism cannot be forced by irritants
and stimulants and artificial means, but eliminates morbid matter
only in its own natural manner and when it is in proper condition
to do so.
In a lesser degree, this applies also to fasting. Under certain
conditions it becomes a necessity; but it may easily be abused
Do We Never Fail?
Certainly we fail, but our failures are usually due to the fact
that sick people, as a rule, do not consider Nature Cure except
as a last resort. The methods and requirements of Nature Cure
appear at first so unusual and exacting that people seek to evade
them so long as they have the least faith in the miracle-working
power of the poison bottle, a metaphysical healer or the surgeon's
knife. When health, wealth and hope are entirely exhausted, then
the chronic sufferer grasps at Nature Cure as a drowning man clutches
at a straw. But even though ninety percent of these cases which
come to us are of the apparently incurable type, our total failures
are few and far between.
If there is sufficient vitality in the body to react to natural
treatment and if the destruction of vital parts and organs has
not too far advanced, a cure is possible. Often the seemingly
hopeless cases yield the most readily.
Our success is due to the fact that we do not rely on any one
method of treatment, but combine in our work everything that is
good in the different systems of natural healing.
The Law of Crises
Everywhere in nature and in the world of men we find the Law of
Crises in evidence. This proves it to be a universal law, ruling
all cosmic relations and activities.
Wars and revolutions are the healing crises in the life of nations.
Heresies and reformations are the crises of religion. In strikes,
riots and panics, we recognize the crises of commercial life.
Staid old Mother Earth herself has in the hoary past repeatedly
changed the configurations of her continents and oceans by great
cataclysms or geological crises.
When the sultry summer air has become pregnant with poisonous
vapors and miasmas, atmospheric crises, such as rainstorms, thunder,
lightning and electric storms, cool and purify the air and charge
it anew with life-giving ozone. In like manner will healing crises
purify the disease-laden bodies of men.
Emanuel Swedenborg gives us a wonderful description of the Law
of Crises in its relationship to the regeneration of the soul.
We quote from the chapter in which he describes the working of
this law, entitled, "Regeneration Is Effected by Combats
who have not been instructed concerning the regeneration of man
think that man can be regenerated without temptation. But it is
to be known that no one is regenerated without temptation; and
that many temptations succeed, one after another. The reason is
that regeneration is effected for an end, in order that the life
of the old man may die, and the new life which is heavenly be
insinuated. It is evident, therefore, that there must be a conflict
[healing crisis--author's note ]; for the life of the
old man resists and determines not to be extinguished; and the
life of the new man can only enter where the life of the old is
thinks from an enlightened rationale, may see and perceive from
this that a man cannot be regenerated without combat, that is,
without spiritual temptations; and further, that he is not regenerated
by one temptation, but by many. For there are very many kinds
of evil which formed the delight of his former life, that is,
of the old life. These evils cannot all be subdued at once and
together; for they cleave tenaciously, since they have been inrooted
in the parents for many ages back [the scrofula of the soul--author's
note ] and are therefore innate in man, and are confirmed by actual
evils from himself from infancy. All these evils are diametrically
opposite to the celestial good [perfect health--author's note
] that is to be insinuated and which is to constitute the New
Thus the inspired Seer of the North draws a vivid picture of what
we call healing crises in their relation to moral regeneration.
We cannot help recognizing the close agreement of physical and
spiritual crises; this, again, demonstrates the continuity and
exact correspondence of Natural Law on the different planes of
being. [The Law of Hermes: As above, so below; as in the inner,
so in the outer; as in the lesser, so in the greater.]
We of the Nature Cure school know that this great Law of Crises
dominates the cure of chronic disease. Every case is another verification
of it; in fact, every decided advance on the road to perfect health
is marked by acute reactions.
The cure invariably proceeds through the darkness and chaos of
the crises to the light and beauty of perfect health, periods
of marked improvement alternating with acute eliminating activity
(the "spiritual temptations" and "combats"
of Swedenborg), until perfect regeneration has taken place.