The Healing Cycle: Why a Broader Approach to Traditional Western Medicine is Needed

The healing cycle for most of us in the United States begins when we experience symptoms and disease. This is the culture of Western, traditional medicine. Unfortunately, healing from traditional medical treatment for chronic disease relies on medication and surgery. While these methods can be lifesaving for acute conditions, they do not cure chronic conditions. Medication for a chronic condition must be given for the lifetime of the condition, which neglects the broader view of the healing cycle. The approach to supporting the healing cycle is critical to healing from chronic illness.

Current treatment of chronic disease focused on medication and not correcting underlying triggers of  metabolic imbalances.

So, what is the healing cycle? Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. Our bodies run based on the collective function of our cells, tissues, organs, and chemical reactions. The collective network and programs we run on is called our metabolism. When the burden of triggers of disease is too great for the body to respond and self-heal, it impacts our body’s metabolic functions, and results in what is termed Metabolic Chaos™. As a result, disease may occur in our body’s weakest link(s) and symptoms of disease are present. Individuals are often frustrated by their symptoms and go from practitioner to practitioner and multiple cycles of trial and error to address unwanted symptoms  

In this broader view of the body, the disruption in metabolism results in chemical signaling of the immune response and activation of the healing cycle.  The healing cycle is comprised of 3 stages of the cell danger response (CDR). All 3 stages must be completed for healing to occur. Each stage is triggered by stress or injury and controlled by changes in mitochondrial function and metabolism. When the healing cycle is interrupted, cells with dysfunctional mitochondria accumulate in that stage and healing cannot be completed.  

The CDR is an innate defense system that helps cells respond effectively to potential harm. It activates when cells detect a threat such as injury, infection, or toxic substances. When this happens, the affected cells release signals that alert other cells of the danger and prompt them to take protective action. This allows the body’s immune system to mobilize resources quickly and mount an effective defense against whatever is threatening it.  

Disease or chronic illness results from incomplete stages of the healing cycle. In fact, various diseases can be classified according to which of the 3 stages have been interrupted. Diet and lifestyle changes can be very successful in reducing the triggers of the CDR and preventing chronic illness. However, for chronic illness that is already present, the initial key triggers (or root causes) can usually be identified, although, they may often no longer be present.  

Incomplete healing can lead to changes in metabolism and disease.

So, what insight does this provide us in terms of healing our bodies when we have symptoms of disease? It tells us that it is important to understand what factors are currently present that are blocking the healing cycle. While you can change diet and lifestyle to address symptoms and disease, functional lab testing helps uncover current underlying triggers and guides practitioners to help clients prioritize needed diet/lifestyle changes, supplements, or other treatment support.  

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioners are trained in Metabolic Chaos™ and a methodology to help their clients address underlying triggers of stress through a program called D.R.E.S.S. for success. This approach supports clients with access to functional lab testing to uncover underlying triggers of disease as well as to support them with diet and lifestyle changes through developing personalized protocols based on client assessments and lab testing.

While traditional medicine provides value, a downside is a more siloed view and focus on a specific organ or system and not an overall view of the body’s metabolic functions. It is important to include a holistic approach. Reframing how we approach chronic illness from medication to manage symptoms of disease to a broader approach of understanding and correcting current metabolic imbalances with diet and lifestyle changes can help to promote the healing cycle so that our bodies can work the way that they are designed to.  


Naviaux RK. Metabolic features and regulation of the healing cycle-A new model for chronic disease pathogenesis and treatment. Mitochondrion. 2019 May;46:278-297. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2018.08.001. Epub 2018 Aug 9. PMID: 30099222.  

D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® Guidebook Copyright 2022 AFDNP Inc.

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