The Herxheimer reaction- why do I feel so bad when I detox?

In the first few days of a detox – possibly longer, you may start to feel far worse than what you did the day before you started this detox.  “Detox” they said “you will feel Energized; you will feel great” they said. This is what you may be thinking whilst the jack hammer cracks away at your skull with a headache, on the verge of regurg, and wondering what this new itchy rash is doing over your body.

The Herxheimer reaction – also known as the “Healing Crisis” within Naturopathic circles, is a reaction to endotoxins within your body.   Endotoxins are toxins within your body that are released by the death of harmful organisms within your body such as Viruses, parasites, bacteria and fungus’ such as candida within the body. 

Once the pathogens die, they turn into a toxic matter, break down and are then absorbed by surrounding tissues.  These tissues were already displaying symptoms caused by the infection of the pathogens in the first place.

This increase in the concentration of toxins worsens the original symptoms and elicits a further immune response from your body causing histamine release, swelling and pain.

The body ramps up its detoxification and cleansing processes which may result in other uncomfortable symptoms which is exactly why you need to assist the release of those toxin out of your body as efficiently as possible using specific herbs depending on what phase of detoxification you are in.

An experienced practitioner will be able to assist you through the phases of detoxification.  There is no point spending your time and money on detoxifying food and products, releasing harmful toxins from your fat stores within the body, only to fail in the final stages of the metabolic processes, by not assisting the actual elimination out of your body.

As the overload of dead organisms is reduced and removed from the body, healing and a surge of that energy they said would occur begins and a feeling of good health follows.

Drinking at least 2 litres of purified water daily helps the body eliminate these toxins more quickly. The tissue surfaces where most discomfort may be felt are the mucous membranes of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, sexual and urinary organs, ears, lungs and membranes surrounding the brain and synovial linings of the joints.
These can give rise to the following side effects:

Dull headaches, muscle and joint pain, feverishness and sweating, nausea, sore throat and nasal passages.
Vaginal irritation especially in the case of yeast/fungal infections.

If infections being treated are more severe, the side-effects may be worse and last longer and a reduction in your dosage of supplementation may be necessary to reduce discomfort –  this is monitored carefully by your practitioner.

Treatment can also be temporarily suspended to allow the body to deal with the overload more easily, and then resumed at a lower dosage to keep the die-off effect at a manageable level.  Your nutritional program will usually remain, however herbal formulas can be powerful and sometimes need reducing or eliminating for a short period before continuing.

Herxheimer reaction is regarded as a positive sign, meaning that the treatment is working, it is killing off the offending pathogens.  When you start to get cravings – especially for sugars, you must resist the urge to succumb to the living pathogens feeding off your body, they are trying to survive- you need to starve them!  The only way to eliminate and eradicate them is to stick to your nutrient dense muscles enhancing sugar free detox program that your practitioner has given you.

You may find you lose weight, however detoxification is about much more than that-  the mental clarity, elevated mood and physical energy you will gain from a detox will be more rewarding than the weight loss.