The Concept & Need For Convalescence

Healing and convalescence are very much like a credit card. You can borrow time to skip healing and return to your routine, but you will have to pay the time back later. There is no way to avoid the need to heal.
My patients often arrive on my doorstep wanting a natural treatment to make them feel better instantly, even after the doctor’s prescription failed to get them back in the swing of things within hours.

In fact, natural medicines take longer to provide results, but not because they take a long time to work. Instead it is because the process of recovery from illness is part of the effect of the herbs you take.

In other words, herbs will work slowly, almost imperceptibly, so that your body heals correctly, not necessarily quickly.
— Dr. Karen Clickner


Rest is by far the most important element of convalescence. The body does all of its restoration, replenishment and recovery during sleep, so "rest" includes maximum sleep time. 

In fact, historically there were such things as "sleep clinics" for people that were almost constantly asleep at the start of convalescence. Rest also means less activity: if work has to be done, it should be in short stints, switching frequently between different activities.

You need to pace yourself, go to bed early, sleep late and not do anything that is not absolutely necessary.


It may seem contrary to the idea of rest but exercise is a necessary essential during convalescence.  The body needs to have short periods of exercise daily, particularly anything aerobic to dissipate adrenaline which is constantly generated during the day in response to perceived stressors common with illness and convalescence.

Worry is a huge factor that can trigger high levels of adrenaline. Exercise in the evening will encourage better sleep at night. No more than 15 minutes each day should be done, and at first only a minute or two may be possible.

This prevents further debilitation which can simply undo all the good that is done with convalescence.


The main purpose of your diet during convalescence is to nourish the body so that repair and healing can be accomplished.

Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or sugar should absolutely be avoided during this time.

Vegetables, especially root vegetables, cereals, fish and eggs are really a good basis for a nourishing diet.

Chicken stock soups are the traditional food of convalescence and can be filled with many nourishing vegetables.

This is also the chance to change your relationship to food. Take time to eat slowly, really pay attention to the act of eating and the food you are eating. See how each type of food makes you feel. Listen to your body during this time.

In the past it was taken for granted that any illness would require a decent period of recovery after it had passed, a period of recuperation, of convalescence, without which recurrence was not only possible, but likely to happen.

But in modern times, this has been relegated to the mists of history.  Now we believe that as soon as our symptoms reduce, we should be back to our regular schedule, our regular life, our daily responsibilities.

If we push ourselves to regain our normal life before our bodies have completely restored each of our systems, then we are cutting our recuperation short, and short-changing ourselves in the process. With each illness we then fall further and further behind. 

This gradual deficit in our bodies' resources, nutrients and quality of healthy tissue is what becomes autoimmune disease.

I believe this is the beginning of autoimmune disorders. Not allowing sufficient healing, so that an opportunistic secondary infection occurs and now you have two things your immune system is trying to handle at the same time.

Convalescence fell out of favor as powerful modern drugs emerged. It appeared that penicillin and the steroid anti-inflammatories produced so dramatic a resolution that all the time spent convalescing was no longer necessary. As soon as someone felt better, they were off to their usual routine.

A good convalescence is a marvelous thing.

Convalescence rounds off an illness and gives it meaning; it makes the sufferer stronger for having had it in a way no vaccination could.  It arms and strengthens the immune defenses and provides real protection against recurrence, possibly forever. It is probably the only strategy that will allow real recovery from debilitating disease, fatigue syndromes, recurrent infections and states of compromised immunity.

‘Healing’, Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature’.
— W.H. Auden

What is Needed During Convalescence?

Convalescence requires some essential components in order for the body to completely recover:

  • Length of Time
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Remedy
  • Therapy

During convalescence you may notice the onset of various symptoms, some of which may be from the recent illness, but some may be from past unresolved illnesses.

This is the time to stop and pay attention with remedies and therapies so that complete resolution can take place.

It's time to pay back
what was borrowed.


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The essence of natural and herbal medicine in convalescence is to direct and facilitate the healing process in accord with your body's natural methods. 

This is very different from conventional treatment which is often quite necessary, but doesn't carry the patient through convalescence.  There are no pharmaceuticals that inspire, direct and facilitate the body's healing process.

Herbal Tonics

Many of these are essential tonics that are directed towards the system or body tissue that is healing:

  • Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root for the liver
  • Hawthorn for the cardiovascular system
  • Mullein for the chest
  • St. John’s Wort, Damiana and Ashwaganda for the nervous system with hormonal symptoms
  • Sweet Fennel and Cardamon for digestion
  • Peppermint and flaxseed oil (Linum B6) for the bowel
  • Echinacea Premium and Astragalus for the immune defenses
  • Chaste Tree for the female reproductive system
  • Saw Palmetto for the prostate.

Remedy After Surgery

After surgery it is important to minimize scarring and this is the time to do that with whole Vitamin E applied directly to the skin and taken internally

  • Black Currant Seed and Linum B6 are essential for healing the skin from an incision.
  • Dermatrophin PMG helps to support the healing and repair of skin and internal tissues.
  • Gotu Kola Complex helps to repair internal tissue damage.
  • Goldenseal prevents post-surgical infection.
  • Livco, Livaplex and Globe Artichoke helps support liver detoxification of anesthetisia and pharmaceuticals.

Remedy For Illness

Each illness is unique depending on the body in which it occurs.  Your history, your lifestyle, your diet all determine how an illness will manifest, progress and resolve.

  • Illness with fever: yarrow, cinnamon, sweet fennel.
  • Viral infection: andrographis, astragalus, echinacea.
  • Fungal infection: pau d'arco, cat's claw.
  • Bacterial infection: goldenseal.
  • Exhaustion: rehmannia, eleuthero.



If you desire healing, let yourself fall ill, let yourself fall ill.
— Jalaluddin Rumi
It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.
— Hippocrates
Convalescence by Tissot

Convalescence by Tissot

One must not forget that recovery is brought about not by the physician, but by the sick man himself. He heals himself, by his own power, exactly as he walks by means of his own power, or eats, or thinks, breathes or sleeps.
— Georg Groddeck, German Physician

Length of Time

Convalescence begins when symptoms end.

Standard convalescence time is 1/4 to 1/2 the length of symptomatic time:

2 week flu = 14 days of symptoms plus 4-7 days of convalescence.

1 year since wellness = 3 months of convalescence.

More than 1 year since wellness = 3 months + 1 month for each additional year of illness.


During convalescence therapy is essential to help resolve structural changes that have taken place, such as after injury or surgery, as well as to enhance aspects of the healing process.

  • Physical Therapy is often provided following injury or surgery, but consider chiropractic, myofascial release, scar tissue therapy and yoga for more complete healing and more range of motion.
  • Decongestive Lymphatic Drainage is the only therapy that addresses the vital movement of the lymph.  This is the pathway that removes inflammatory products and waste material while supplying immune cells, oxygen and nutrients directly to cells from the blood.
  • FAR Infrared Sauna is much more than a sauna.  It is a way of detoxifying the body, healing the skin, speeding bone rebuilding and reducing pain. It is the most essential 30 minutes for any convalescence.
  • Emotional and Hypno Therapy can help to address the psychological and behavioral impact of injury, surgery and illness.  Many occurrences come with fear, guilt, grief, insomnia, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Healing cannot be complete without addressing these essential components.
  • Colonic Hydrotherapy can restore bowel regularity while helping to eliminate toxins from the body.