November 6

What is a Herxheimer reaction? Part 2 of 3


Let’s kick off Part 2 with this little section from Part 1:

Have you ever gone through a treatment/therapy that was supposed to help you feel better, only to feel worse? Whatever symptoms you were struggling with before your treatment now include increased headaches, nausea, fatigue, brain fog, increased muscle and joint pains and yes, on occasion, diarrhea (oh joy). It feels like someone with a twisted sense of humor is playing puppeteer with our hope strings, hope for relief and hope for a chance at living.

Is it possible there’s more to the story?

Disclaimer: This post is written out of my personal life experiences. I do not treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease on this blog or with my healthstyle and product recommendations. I share with you things I learn from my experiences and what works or doesn’t work for me. Some things I share may resonant with you. Some may not. And that’s okay! We never know what may ripple on the water of our lives. I am glad you are here!

Because it’s worth saying again, I am glad, blessed and excited you are here. You are a blessing!

In my previous post about the Herxheimer reaction, we discussed the body’s reaction to cellular die-off causing an inflammatory response similar to the flu.

We covered the many different names this set of symptoms is called and a window into my experience with herxing connected to treatment for Lyme disease.

Today’s Big Question: What things cause a herx for me?

In my experience, I notice two things precede a herx for my body.

Thing One:

I feel herx symptoms following any treatment, therapy or modality which has the effect of killing something in my body.

What things get killed down in our “hell-th holes?”

Viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungus, cancer and the like. As we discussed in Part 1 when a cell we don’t want around (like a bad bacteria) is destroyed it releases endotoxins (ex: from Lyme disease treatment, antibiotics, cancer treatment etc.)

The cellular waste it releases causes an inflammatory response in the body.

That inflammatory response is what mimics flu-like symptoms giving a person the sensation they are getting worse before they get better.

Thing Two:

Thing Two is important and directly connected to Thing One.

Thing Two: I feel herx symptoms following any treatment, therapy or modality which has the effect of moving  inflammatory substances out of the body.

Our bodies are created to self-cleanse from toxins we encounter from internal or external sources and the waste from this process (ex: cellular die-off) must exit the body.

Note: Cellular waste (cell poop) occurs naturally within the life cycle of healthy cells also. So incorporating anti-oxidants into our healthstyles is effective for ANYbody! Anti-oxidants are one support of an effective ongoing detox experience from all the stuff of life.   

The organs our body uses for self-cleansing are the liver, the colon, the kidneys, the lungs and the skin.

It is possible to overwhelm our body’s ability to self-cleanse when cellular waste is created or mobilized. This happened to me after my Lyme treatment and created a cascade of other challenges to overcome.

It is most often short term leading to flu-like symptoms usually lasting for 1 to 3 days, but in the case of large amounts of cellular die-off (ex. Lyme disease or cancer treatment) it may take longer.

If the organs our body uses for self-cleansing are damaged, (as in kidney or liver disease), or our gut is compromised (as in inflammatory bowel disease or leaky gut), health outcomes require medical management. Please seek professional medical care in such cases.  

Another thing to be aware of, which we touched on in Part One is this: if your body is not capable of eliminating your toxic or cellular waste, these toxins and cellular waste will re-absorb into your system.

This places a burden on your body’s ability to self-cleanse and increases inflammation over time.

Gut health is key here also.

My body struggles with healthy detox pathways and I take actions to support the detox process so my inflammation levels stay as low as possible. One example of a barrier to healthy detox is “leaky gut” or more accurately “increased intestinal permeability.” For more on this check out this article.  

Example Time:

I recently helped my family transition my Grandma to a cute little yellow house. The home we were moving her out of was one she and my Grandpa had lived for 43 years.

Boy, I had never seen dust and clutter and odds and ends in corners and hidey holes like I had during the season I helped empty that house.

Have any of you experienced a moving day? Everything’s got to go.

All the excess stuff hidden in the corners and pockets of your home sees sunlight for the first time EVER.

Sleeping out of sight for years on end, suddenly what was hidden is exposed and boxed up. Generally, there are two piles. Trash and box. The question gets asked at some point, “Where did all this stuff come from?” as items make their way into storage.

Our bodies do the same thing. Whatever the body can’t use or get rid of, it stores. 

This can happen with toxins we bring in to our bodies from the outside as well as the cellular waste we discussed above.

For example, the body uses fat cells for storage. (For a summary of other places in the body where toxins are stored, check out this article.  

When fat cells break down due to weight loss, the toxins/waste stored there are released into the blood stream and need be processed out of the body.

This is one example of how moving inflammatory substances within the body can cause a herxheimer reaction.

Other examples of movers I have experienced include:

  • massage therapy 
  • osteopathic manual manipulation 
  • cupping 
  • lymphatic drainage techniques 
  • frequency specific microcurrant 
  • intense exercise
  • whole-body vibration and more!

My next post will answer the question:  

What things do I do to shorten a Herxheimer reaction or minimize/manage my symptoms?

PS. If you are curious about some of the lifestyle pieces I have applied in cultivating my healthstyle throughout my journey check out my ebook, "What the 'F' is In*lammation?"

To your health!


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