herxheimer reaction

Herxheimer Reaction: What is the jarisch herxheimer reaction?

Herxheimer Reaction

Herxheimer reaction or jarisch herxheimer reaction is a common detoxification response of the body to the increased toxins released during a treatment for pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, or candida, or while dealing with toxins removal protocols. A common misconception about herxheimer reaction is that it is a sign that the treatment is working. When you have a herxheimer reaction, it means that the amount of toxins released into the circulation is more than what your body can safely handle. The high level of toxins put a lot of stress on internal organs, especially the colon, liver and kidneys that are involved in filtering toxins in the body.

In This Experts Guide

Herxheimer reaction facts you should know

Herxheimer reaction facts you should know
Known as: Jarisch herxheimer reaction, jarisch-herxheimer reaction, jarisch herxheimer, herx, herxing, herxheimer effect, herxheimer breakout, healing crisis, die-off reaction, bacteria die off, parasite die off, candida die off.
Common conditions:
  • Pathogens: lyme disease, syphilis, bacterial infections, parasite infections, fungal infections, yeast infections and candida overgrowth.
  • Toxins removal: heavy metal toxicity.
  • Special consideration: liver cleanse.
Common Drugs known to cause Herxheimer reaction. Antibiotics, antifungal drugs.
Common natural ingredients known to cause Herxheimer reaction. Probiotic and fermented foods, coconut oil, essential oils, raw garlic, spices, colloidal silver, diatomaceous earth, systemic enzymes.

Healing Crisis

  • Do you have to feel bad in order to feel good?

Healing crisis or herxheimer reaction usually occur when the amount of endotoxins released by the dying bacteria, parasites, candida or other pathogens is more than what your body can safely handle. As a result your existing symptoms may become worse, often with new symptoms. While a healing crises may be a sign that pathogens are being killed, it is often a sign that the treatment is too aggressive. In many cases, the treatment has to be stopped due to a severe herxheimer reaction and high discomfort level. There is however, even a bigger concern. The high level of toxins can put a lot of stress on internal organs, especially the colon, liver and kidneys that are involved in filtering toxins in the body.

Based on our practice, working with thousands of cases of candida, parasite, heavy metal toxicity, liver cleanses and other body detox plans, we have found that a healing crises can be avoided or minimized in the majority of the cases. We hope this experts guide will help you to minimize the many discomforts and risks of herxheimer reaction, so you feel better, without feeling worse first.

How to prevent a herxheimer reaction

The colon is the primary organ in the body responsible for removing toxins from the body through normal bowel movements. For this reason, making sure your colon is cleansed so it can quickly eliminate the high levels of toxins released during the treatment is the most important step when treating any condition that involves pathogens or toxins removal from the body.

This critical step is often overlooked, and is the main cause of the healing crises and herxheimer reaction many people experience during the treatment; it just takes the body too much time to eliminate the released toxins.
What we have seen in our practice is usually very straightforward: the longer these released toxins stay in the body, the more severe herxheimer reaction symptoms people experience.

Herxheimer reaction is very common with the following conditions:

  • Pathogens: lyme disease, syphilis, bacterial infections, parasite infections, fungal infections, yeast infections and candida overgrowth.
  • Toxins removal: heavy metal toxicity.
  • Special consideration: liver cleanse.

Oxygen colon cleanse and herxheimer reaction

herxheimer reaction oxy-powder studyOxygen colon cleanse is designed to neutralize and cleanse toxins, accumulated waste buildup and undigested food particles from the colon using oxygen, so they can be removed out of the body through normal bowel movements. When the colon is free of all this waste buildup, it gets rid of toxins quicker during the treatment, which can prevent or minimize the herxheimer reaction. This natural toxin removal mechanism of oxygen has shown to be very effective and safe (see study on herxheimer reaction candida), gentle enough even for people with extreme sensitivities, severe candida overgrowth and other health issues.

Due to its effectiveness, safety profile and ease of use, oxygen colon cleanse is commonly used and recommended by health professionals to prevent herxheimer reaction or deal with existing herxheimer reaction issues.
Oxygen colon cleanse is the first step or most of our body cleanse protocols. Based on our many years of practice, we have found it to be a very effective and safe way to prevent or minimize herxheimer reaction symptoms in the majority of the cases. Learn more about oxygen colon cleanse.

Common mistakes that cause herxheimer reaction

The following mistakes are known to cause herxheimer reaction. In our practice we have learned that many people are not always aware of these, so these mistakes are covered in depth in our candida die-off symptoms experts guide. They are relevant not only to candida but to any treatment that causes an increase in released toxins in the body.

For your convenience, we included the links to the relevant experts guide below. This 5 minutes read may save you long days of unpleasant herxheimer reaction symptoms!

Not cleansing the colon before the treatment
70% of Votes, Unbearable herxheimer reaction symptoms
Supplements that cause herxheimer reaction
60% of Votes, Unbearable herxheimer reaction symptoms
Foods that cause herxheimer reaction
40% of Votes, Medium herxheimer reaction
Making drastic changes
35% of Votes, Some Discomforts

As you can see from the study results, the top cause of herxheimer reaction that usually leads to severe symptoms is not cleansing the colon before the treatment.

Next we’ll cover the other common mistakes.

Supplements that cause herxheimer reaction

Many supplements have naturally occurring antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial or antiparasitic ingredients in them. As a result they often cause a herxheimer reaction by killing these pathogens. There’s another side to this story though. Very often, these ingredients are too aggressive, toxic, contain harsh chemicals and even act as stimulants which can prevent your body from healing. For this reason, before you use any ingredient, even a natural one as a part of your treatment, do your research and make sure it is safe.

Common supplements that often cause a herxheimer reaction may include:

  • Natural antifungals.
  • Diatomaceous earth.
  • Essential oils, especially oil of oregano, tea tree oil.
  • Allicin, garlic extract.
  • Grapefruit seed extract (GSE).
  • Caprylic acid (from coconut oil).
  • Systemic enzymes.
  • Probiotics  – see the probiotics detox symptoms section to learn more.
  • Colloidal silver.

Dosage is another important factor that can cause a healing crises. Always start with the lowest possible dosage and test your body’s response. Gradually increase the dosage if needed. Some people are more sensitive than others and may get great results using very low dosage. More is definitely not better in this case.

To learn more about how to safely use supplements for pathogens such as candida or parasites and minimize the risk of a healing crises see our expert guide on this topic: How to use antifungals.

Diet and foods that cause herxheimer reaction

Similar to supplements, many healthy foods, drinks, herbs and spices can also cause a herxheimer reaction due to their antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial or antiparasitic properties. These foods usually have medicinal properties that can offer many health benefits. If you have never tried these before however, you may want to start slow, with the lowest serving size possible and see how your body responds. The best way to deal with a herxheimer reaction, is to prevent it from happening.

Common foods, drinks, herbs, spices and natural teas that often cause a herxheimer reaction may include:

  • Coconut oil, coconut milk.
  • Garlic, especially raw garlic.
  • Spices: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper.
  • Probiotic and fermented foods – see the probiotics detox symptoms section to learn more.

Making fast changes and herxheimer reaction

Many people are so eager to start the treatment that they jump right into it. The psychology behind it makes a lot sense but can also lead to a very large increase in the released toxins and a severe herxheimer reaction. For this reason, gradually transitioning into the plan is often preferred, especially for people that are ill or have high sensitivities. When making changes during the treatment, it is also wise to avoid making too many changes. The benefit here is not just preventing a healing crises. It can also help you to identify how a change made you feel, something that is hard to determine when making many changes all at once.

Herxheimer reaction treatment

Herxheimer reaction treatment typically focuses on:

  • Improve the body’s ability to eliminate toxins.
  • Relieve existing symptoms and discomforts.
  • Reduce treatment intensity in cases of a severe herxheimer reaction.

If you already experience a herxheimer reaction:

Do an oxygen colon cleanse

Cleansing your colon should be your first priority as it is specifically designed to remove the toxins quicker from your body. The overnight die-off toxins flush is one of the most popular natural remedies to achieve that, taken before bedtime.

Specific symptom relief & health concerns

Below are the recommended natural remedies used in our different protocols for specific symptom relief and related health concerns. For your convenience, we included the links to the relevant experts guide below:

Herxheimer reaction probiotics

The herxheimer reaction probiotics connection catches many people by surprise. The main reason of taking probiotics to begin with, is to support a healthy gut bacteria growth. Getting a herxheimer reaction from probiotics however, is not something people expect. It is common though.

Typical herxheimer reaction symptoms from probiotics usually include flu-like symptoms, joint pain, headache and digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rash, acne and itching. In some cases, the herxheimer reaction from probiotics is so severe, that the treatment had to be stopped. The fact that a probiotic supplement is effective is not enough; it also has to be safe and gentle. Many probiotic strains are known to be quite aggressive or to cause side effects.

A good example of a probiotic strain that we use in many of our protocols is the the Bacillus laterosporus strain (B.O.D.™).

The BOD strain has been shown by research to be very effective against various pathogens and harmful organisms such as Candida (study), Salmonella (study), E-Coli -Escherichia coli (study) and Streptococcus Faecalis (study). It is also shown to be very safe with no indications of toxicity, even at extremely high dosage.

Herxheimer reaction and probiotic foods

Probiotics detox symptoms can occur after you take certain probiotic supplements, but they can also happen after eating probiotic or fermented foods. This also surprises many people, as fermented foods are usually highly recomended by many health practitioners and are considered very healthy. Herxheimer reaction to probiotics foods and drinks however is also common; Kombucha, kefir, cultured yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods may cause a herxheimer reaction, so if you are new to these, you may want to start with a very small serving size and see how your body responds.

Herxheimer reaction symptoms

What are the symptoms of herxheimer reaction?

Herxheimer reaction symptoms can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days, sometimes up to a week, with most people feel a relief in less than 24 hours. Herxheimer reaction symptoms in many cases are similar to flu-like symptoms and may include:

  • Malaise, general feeling of illness and high discomfort level.
  • Fever.
  • Hot or cold flashes.
  • Excessive sweating, night sweats.
  • Elevated or racing heartbeat, chest pain.
  • Joint and muscle pain, body aches.
  • Brain fog.
  • Headache.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Digestive issues and intestinal discomfort such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain.
  • Skin rash, skin breakouts, acne, itchy skin.
  • Hives.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Increased mucus production, mucus in stool.
  • Sinus infections.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Swollen glands, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat.
  • Depression.

If you already experience herx symptoms, the treatment typically focuses on:

  • Improve the body’s ability to eliminate toxins.
  • Relieve existing symptoms and discomforts.
  • Reduce treatment intensity in cases of a severe herxheimer reaction.

To learn more, see the treatment section.

Herxheimer reaction origin

Herxheimer reaction was first observed by two dermatologists, Adolf Jarisch and a few years later by Karl Herxheimer (hence the name Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction). Both Jarisch and Herxheimer noticed a reaction in patients with syphilis as a response to the treatment that included worsening of their symptoms as well as new symptoms.

To read more about Herxheimer reaction from the medical literature, see a medical publication taken from the British medical journal on Herxheimer reaction in patients with early syphilis.

Herx FAQ

What does it mean to HERX?

Herx or jarisch herxheimer reaction is a common detoxification response of the body to the increased toxins released during a treatment for pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, or candida, or while dealing with toxins removal protocols. A common misconception about herxheimer reaction is that it is a sign that the treatment is working. When you have a herxheimer reaction, it means that the amount of toxins released into the circulation is more than what your body can safely handle. The high level of toxins put a lot of stress on internal organs, especially the colon, liver and kidneys that are involved in filtering toxins in the body.

How long does a healing crisis last?

A healing crisis can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days, sometimes up to a week. Most people feel a relief in less than 24 hours. Healing crisis symptoms are usually similar to flu-like symptoms and can cause high level of discomfort; in some cases the treatment has to be stopped due to a severe herxheimer reaction.

What are endotoxins?

Endotoxins are toxic chemicals that are present inside a bacterial cell and that are released when the cell weaken or break apart.