Overcoming a Herxheimer Reaction, What Helps
Published on July 23, 2018
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Overcoming a Herxheimer Reaction, What Helps

Published on July 23, 2018 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon


herxheimer reaction has person laying in bed with pillow over faceI haven’t been feeling so hot on week 2 of my parasite cleanse (I do a yearly parasite cleanse), and it’s due to what’s called a Herxheimer reaction. Herxheimer reactions are a systemic inflammatory response to endotoxins released into the bloodstream when pathogens (bacteria, yeast, mold, viruses, etc) are killed off. Some people also refer to this as a healing crisis or die-off reaction. The detox reaction from die-off can be pretty uncomfortable.

My symptoms this week have been nausea, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, poor coordination, malaise, and breakouts. Typically Herx reactions only last a few days but can last as long as a few weeks for some more aggressive antibiotic therapies like those used for Lyme. Treatments for SIBO, Candida, Lyme and coinfections, parasites, mold, and other viruses can all cause “Herxing”. These are all things I test for and treat regularly as a functional medicine clinician.

Common Herxheimer Reaction Symptoms

  • fatigue
  • joint or muscle pain
  • headaches
  • stomach pain
  • change in bowel movements– constipation or diarrhea
  • brain fog
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • change in appetite
  • acne
  • nausea
  • cognitive impairment
  • poor coordination
  • change in body temp
  • racing heart

What Helps Ease Herxheimer Reactions

Some things that can be helpful for Herx reactions:
  • slowing down treatment or taking a few days off to let your body’s liver and kidneys flush out the endotoxin buildup
  • dry brushing
  • lymphatic massage
  • jump roping or rebounders
  • enemas or gentle natural laxatives
  • acupuncture
  • sweating, infrared saunas or exercise
  • increasing water intake
  • upping the leafy greens and antioxidants
  • fasting
  • getting extra sleep
  • increasing glutathione
  • certain supplements which help metabolize or bind to endotoxins and anti-inflammatories.
  • epsom salt baths

Have any of you had Herx reactions? What helped you?

If you aren’t feeling well and suspect you may have a gut infection, or exposure to heavy metals, Lyme, mold, or other environmental toxins, you can schedule a functional medicine phone consult to discuss testing and treatment.

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