Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this information should not be considered medical advice. This post is for informational purposes only; you should seek the advice of your own medical professional for your own situation.
If you’ve ever gotten sick from treating Lyme disease or one of many of it’s co-infections, then you’ve likely had a herx, or Herxheimer Reaction. The last thing that you want when you’re trying to heal from chronic illness is having the treatment make you sick.
Detoxification when treating Lyme disease (and co-infections) is so important. The herbs and antibiotics only have one mission, and that is to kill the spirochetes and parasites. When these microbes are killed, they release toxins into our bodies, which have to be filtered out through our detox pathways.
Unfortunately, if the microbes die-off in large amounts, it releases too many toxins into our body, which ends up clogging up our liver, kidneys, and other detox pathways, and it exacerbates our symptoms, resulting in a sudden inflammatory reaction by our body. This causes a Herxheimer Reaction, or a herx.
Symptoms of a Herxheimer Reaction
The symptoms of a Herxheimer Reaction vary just as much as your symptoms from Lyme or co-infections. You can expect your typical symptoms to worsen, along with feeling flu-like symptoms, headache, nausea, aching; or you could have physical pain, increased anxiety, brain fog, and other issues. Some people herx worse than others, but it’s generally unpleasant all around.
Sometimes, a herx is seen as a good sign. Feeling sick is never a good sign, but some people view this as a sign that the medication they’re taking is working and killing off the microbes. So while it can show that you’re making progress, they can also cause massive damage to your body if they’re not controlled or minimized.
You have to help your body to detoxify from the Lyme die-off so that it can function properly. How do you do that?
Treating a Herxheimer Reaction
- Back Off- This is the first thing that you should do when it comes to managing your herx; back off on whatever treatment you started that’s making you feel ill. You have to give your body time to adjust to these treatments, and if you go too fast you will suffer from it.
- Epsom Salt Baths– These help immensely because they help to draw the toxins out through your skin, allowing the burden to be eased on your liver. Put 1-2 cups of epsom salt in a warm bath, and soak in it for 20-30 minutes.
- Activated Charcoal- This is great for adhering to the endotoxins responsible for a herx. It’s suggested to take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon one to two hours after a treatment. However, make sure that you don’t take supplements or meds within 2 hours of taking charcoal; it can bind to the medicine too and prevent it from being absorbed. Drink LOTS of water with activated charcoal, or it can constipate you. (Be careful with the powder- it stains!)
- Chlorella- This works in a similar way as the charcoal- it binds to toxins and removes them from the body. It also stimulates your liver and helps it to function more optimally.
- Castor Oil Pack- These packs are fantastic for stimulating your lymphatic system and your liver and encouraging them to detoxify. They work very quickly, and offer numerous health benefits, while being very safe and easy to do.
- Dandelion Root Tea- Dandelion root is known for stimulating your liver and helping it to function correctly in order to eliminate toxins from the body.
- Dry Brushing- Using a stiff-bristled dry brush, you brush your skin in the direction of lymph flow in order to stimulate your lymphatic system and get it pumping, eliminating toxins.
- Alka Seltzer Gold– This is my go-to when I’m feeling off because of a herx. The minerals in it help to balance my body, yet it doesn’t contain aspirin like regular Alka Seltzer does.
- Mild Exercise- If you can move, move. Even if it’s just a light walk; moving your muscles, getting your blood & lymphatic system pumping, and sweating is a great way to help your body to clear out toxins. One of my favorite ways to do this is by rebounding; great for the lymph system and detox!
It’s important to note that detoxing needs to become a regular part of your routine, because there will be continued die-off as you treat. It’s not a ‘one and done’ thing. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do all of these detox routines; nobody has time for that! Just pick and choose which ones work for you. Each person will be different.
What are your secrets for dealing with a Herxheimer Reaction?
This post was originally written in April 2017. It was updated in May 2019.