The 5 Stages of Disease

Disease is really a process that goes through several stages before it appears as a diagnosable disease. This alternative health concept is quite different than the medical concept that disease can appear suddenly where there was only health before. Likewise, in treatment for disease, alternative health differs from the medical concept of healing.

Alternative health sees the first three stages of disease as normal body processes to combat the toxic influences on the body. A cold helps to more rapidly detoxify the body with a runny nose and fever. From an alternative health point of view, it should be allowed to run its course. The body is handling the cause of future ill health by rapidly (if unpleasantly) detoxifying. Medicine sees the same cold symptoms and prescribes something to stop the symptoms (the sneezing, runny nose and fever) and therefore doesn’t address the actual cause of the cold.

You might look at “cold/flu season” as as nature attempting to clean out the body following the “holiday season” with its ritual overeating of meat and rich, sweet, alcoholic foods. If this detoxification is prevented, future problems are allowed to grow.

Tina Johnson and Dr. Chris Morris, a naturopathic doctor (one who uses food, herbs, water and natural means to cure; not surgery or drugs) explain it this way: The body becomes ill by stages. (I have used different names for these stages in the hope that the names below are more recognizable.)

Elimination — When the body is first presented with toxic substances that impede the body’s normal function, the body attempts to eliminate them. Such substances could be from normal digestion such as uric acid from digesting meat; a bacterial infection such as strep throat; a bee sting or even pesticides. These would be neutralized by the liver and then eliminated through pooping, peeing, coughing, sweating or exhaling.

Irritation — When the body is overwhelmed by toxins and the normal elimination channels are not sufficient to expel all the toxins as they come in, the body throws additional means of elimination into gear. Such means might include skin rashes, bad breath, diarrhea, etc.

Inflammation— When even the additional means of elimination are overwhelmed and insufficient to handle the toxic load, the body tries to localize the toxins and the resulting location becomes inflamed: red, swollen, hot and painful. Calling it tonsillitis just says the toxins “have taken up residence” in the tonsils; tendonitis says they’ve accumulated in the tendons (the tough white bands at the end of muscles that anchor them to the bones). Fever, from an alternative health point of view, is very favorable as the high temperature kills viruses and bacteria if it is not prevented. A cold is the body’s way of eliminating toxins on a faster, broader scale.

All the above stages are usually quickly resolved and health restored if we catch the problem early and apply remedies to help the body heal itself. However, if they are ignored and the toxic load continues to overwhelm the body, the disease that is now obvious becomes very difficult to cure.

Chronic disease — If the body is prevented, instead of assisted in eliminating toxins, the body attempts to quarantine the toxins by sacrificing a particular organ or system to prevent death. Here, after all three of the preceding stages, we find growths and chronic disease such as ulcers, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

Organ failure, cancer — Unable to reverse the chronic disease(s), the body begins to die.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie H. October 1, 2012 at 4:43 am

I’ve been using 10-Undecenoic acid to kill off candida [bad case of systemic candidiasis], but the toxic load is so great that I get really sick and have to stop the supplements. I’m drinking 10-14 glasses of water a day, sweating 30 mins every day, eating specified foods. The 3rd attempt on these supplements, and following the recommended diet, I got a gout attack. Boy, if that’s not the worst pain ever. Reading your article above, I’m wondering what to do. The gout pain does not seem to be leaving, even though I’m eating only foods that do not contain/produce purines and taking supplements to break up uric acid crystals. Do you have any recommendations, as I do not want this arthritis to progress. Maybe you offer phone consults for a fee.


Maria October 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Hello, my name is Maria. I have been suffering for 2 years of trigger fingers on my left hand. The small, the ring and the index fingers are stiff and I can’t flex them. The doctor told me that the cause is “Overuse”. I go to the gym every day and lift heavy weights. Could that be the problem? Or, is it toxicity? I have been following a Macrobiotic, Vegan diet for many years. I do not eat meat, dairy and I try to stay away from refined sugars and flours. I do like my espresso coffee in the morning sweetened with stevia. If this is toxicity, what kind of diet should I follow? I am very puzzled and curious to know the answer.
Thank you so much for your time.


Sylvia March 7, 2017 at 2:35 am

I have taken my Macrobiotic Level 1 and learned that stevia is the most Yin food, even more Yin than sugar. I wonder if you stopped taking that for a while if that would help. Of course these things are more complicated than that but I just thought I would let you know what I learned only recently. Cheers!
(Coffee of course is very Yin also.)


las artes October 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

WARNING: when you detoxify – when your body initiates a detoxification due to too much “dirt in the system” – you will feel funny, and may get cold-symptoms – perhaps runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, rashes, headaches, other aches and pains. This is normal and good – just big house-cleaning ongoing!


gold price October 22, 2012 at 12:38 am

The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs care, under the supervision of a health care practitioner. Before giving any herbs to a child to treat the flu, talk to your pediatrician.


Trisha February 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Hello Peter,
I have done the Master Cleanse 3 times in the past and although I was fine while on the cleanse, getting off was very difficult and I always ended up in the hospital with severe pain from acid reflux, despite following the instructions for ending the fast. When I saw my iridologist afterwards, she could even see a lot of scar tissue on my esophagus that was not there previously. I have since had my gall bladder removed so I thought the problem of getting off if it would be solved. I am now on my 20th day of the MC and 2 days, ago, on my 18th day, I had just about 2 tablespoons of miso soup (just the broth), along with 2 cups of green tea. That evening I got very sick and afterwards when I tried to drink my lemonade, it really burned my throat. Now I am afraid to get off of it as I don’t want another visit to the hospital. Have you ever heard of this happening with other members? Surely I can’t be the only one this has happened to. Can you please give me any advice on how to end this without getting sick? Thank you very kindly for your help and for promoting natural health. It is greatly needed in this world.
Warm wishes and blessings to you,


Peter Glickman February 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi Trisha,
I was sorry to hear of your problems.

Of the 2000+ people who have done the cleanse, I have never heard of anyone developing acid reflux from it or scarring on the esophagus. Most likely it is from another cause than the Master Cleanse or you followed some altered version pretending to be the “Master Cleanse.”

To answer your question about coming off it, the instructions say drink fresh squeezed orange juice the first day off it, not miso soup or green tea. Then more fresh orange juice and some homemade vegetable broth and orange juice for breakfast, vegetables from the soup you made the day before and vegetable salad for dinner.

Stanley Burroughs does say that if there is any difficulty coming off the Master Cleanse, continue it another few days until the difficulty passes. I strongly recommend getting Stanley Burroughs’ book or my book and reading up on it.

I hope this helps,
Peter Glickman


Mia April 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm

My son had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy in July….his health has been deteriorating…he has severe and intractable pain in his feet and hands,,,,(peripheral neuropathy ?)he has parasthesia from his stoach to inner portion of his thighs and legs…he has lost a tremendous amount of muscle mass in his legs.thighs,arms….he has lost 130 pounds and is down to 229 pounds….he is 6ft 1 inches tall…..he is suffering and I need some direction as to where to get him the help that he needs…?Perhaps, after the VSG in July….an auto immune illness was pushed to the surface ?He is allergic to any and all dairy products…..pleasae advise….thanks,…


Peter Glickman June 9, 2014 at 2:59 am

He sounds like he is very toxic. Find a good naturopathic doctor in your city.


Clare July 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

I have done the MC 3 x with good results, after a lifetime of severe food sensitivities. I wouldn’t go near miso soup or any soy product with a 10 foot pole. Soy is man made and as bad as wheat, if not worse. I can only imagine that another MC (in time) is best as, in my mind’s eye, it would help eliminate the scarring. If you want to sip on broth, stop the fast; and make sure you are eating something that has been around since the beginning of time. Man makes money on your ails. Don’t let him.


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