5 Tips on Dealing with A Detox Herxheimer Reaction

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Detox Herxheimer Reaction

A detox Herxheimer reaction, or “Herx” for short, is a ‘healing crisis reaction’ that can happen when you are detoxing from mold, SIBO, candida, lyme, or simply starting a new detox elimination diet or supplements.

“Herx reaction” refers to an adverse response to toxins released by bacteria and fungus when they are disrupted by antimicrobials, antifungals, dietary or lifestyle habit shifts.

A detox Herxheimer reaction is basically a sign that your body is circulating toxins or releasing lipopolysaccharides (aka LPS—toxins from bacteria) a little too quickly in your body and is unable to clear them, metabolize them or detox them out effectively.

As a result, toxins get released into the gut and bloodstream instead, causing all sorts of Herx reaction side effects, such as:

  • brain fog
  • skin breakouts or rashes
  • anxiety or depression
  • tingling
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • digestive symptoms (loose stools, constipation)
  • chills and sweats
  • muscle aches or fatigue

Although a Herxheimer reaction is common for many patients during a detox or elimination diet of any sort, you don’t get brownie points for “Herxing.”

Ultimately, it’s important to understand what caused a Herxhimer reaction to occur, quickly mitigate the symptoms of a Herxheimer reaction, then re-strategize the next best step(s) in your healing journey.

Here are 5 Tips for Dealing with Herxheimer Reactions During a Detox so you can prevent extreme healing crisis symptoms.

#1. Support Drainage & Elimination Prior to Detoxing

You have 7 “drainage pathways” or “cleansing channels” in your body that help your body remove excess wastes and toxins.

Your 7 drainage pathways include:

  1. Lymphatic system
  2. Circulatory system (blood)
  3. Lungs
  4. Kidneys
  5. Liver & Gallbladder
  6. Colon
  7. Skin

If any or multiple of these pathways are “clogged” or not open, you cannot detox toxins effectively.

For example, if you are not pooping daily, you’re not going to get far in detox. Poop helps excrete toxins, wastes and even excess hormones.

This is where “drainage support” and “lymph support” come into place in the form of supplements (often homeopathy) and lifestyle practices that keep your channels open.

Some of my drainage essentials include:

  • Homeopathic drainage supports like ToxEase GL or a drainage formula like LymphActiv (use code PJ03HABY to order)
  • Poop support to go #2 daily (you are NOT ready to detox if you are not pooping daily; try Iberogast, buffered vitamin C or magnesium citrate)
  • Daily sweat and lymph movement practices (ex. Sauna, dry brushing, rebounding, hikes/walks, exercise, yoga, lying with your legs up the wall) 

#2. Heal & Seal the Gut

A huge reason why some folks have Herx reactions more than others is because they have a leaky gut. As a result the die-off of ‘bad’ bacteria releases LPS (lipopolysaccharides) into the bloodstream, resulting in all the Herxheimer reaction detox symptoms.

To strengthen your gut lining and healthy gut bug army to fight off pathogens, I often recommend a combination of:

  • Spore based probiotics (top pick: use code PJ03HABY to order)
  • Short chain fatty acids (here)
  • Intestinal support formula (like SBI Protect, order HERE in my FullScript store) 

#3. Go Low & Slow

The slow and steady win the detox race. When introducing new supplements, upping up dosages or foods, introduce one new variable at a time and repeat for several days in a row prior to introducing anything else new. 

#4. Bring in the Natural Anti-histamines & Toxin Mopping Reinforcements

If you find yourself in a “flare,” support your immune system and gut to help mitigate brain fog, tingling, headaches, IBS, dizziness and beyond.

I like natural anti-histamines like Histoplex or D-Hist (order HERE in my FullScript store). Or for my sensitive patients, I will use homeopathy like Mast Ease.

Glutathione is also a game changer!

I also may bring in a binder like Biotoxin Binder or V-Rad binder to mop up toxins (use code PJ03HABY to order). 

#5. Destress the HPA Axis

The primary aim if your body is in a “flare” or Herxheimer reaction is less stress. When the body is less stressed and less inflamed, it’s able to fight, defend and recover much more quickly from a Herx detox reaction.

Some simple, but effective, ways to help a Herx reaction include all the things that bring your body back to balance:

  • Drinking plenty of mineral rich water
  • Deep breathing
  • Natural inhalers (help calm your breathing too: like sea salt inhalers or essential oil inhalers)
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Fresh air walks
  • Reminding yourself (and your body) that you are going to be okay
  • Sauna therapy
  • Taking a supplement holiday off any non-essential or questionable formulas (you don’t know if they are helloing or not)
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Just say “no” to non-essential to-dos and commitments
  • Eating simple, nutrient-dense foods (not trying anything new or crazy)

Here’s to coming back stronger from a Herx reaction.

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