Question: How long does herx reaction last?
Answer: Not long if you implement some of the strategies in this article to kick herx reactions to the curb.
Herx Reaction 101: What is It?
A Herxheimer reaction is a “die off” or “healing crisis” reaction that may occur during a cleanse, detox protocol, new diet or supplement introduction.
In a Herx reaction, typically the body jumps into detox or “reset” mode, but the detox pathways cannot clear toxins, pathogens or die off bacteria fast enough. As a result, the patient ends up detoxing into themselves.
In other cases, such as a diet or schedule shift, the body and hormones are simply not strong enough to handle the drastic change or the new demands placed upon your system. As a result, the patient feels worse, not better. The ketogenic diet is a perfect example. Many people report experiencing the “keto flu” when they transition their body from a higher carbohydrate intake to a restrictive very low carb intake (less than 20 grams of carbs per day). If they jump into the diet too fast (without prepping the body with minerals to balance out electrolytes and shifts in fluid balance, or gradually tip toeing into stabilizing insulin and blood sugar levels with balanced meals, moderate carb, proteins and fats first, on the front end), then keto flu unfolds—headache, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability, nausea, difficulty sleeping, and constipation. A herx reaction.
Herx Reaction Symptoms
Common symptoms of a herx reaction typically include the same exact symptoms you are trying to avoid. These may include:
- Gastrointestinal distress—IBS, diarrhea, nausea, bloating or constipation,
- Headaches and migraines, Brain fog or fatigue
- Histamine reactions—shortness of breath, itchy skin, hives
- Skin breakouts and acne
- Cold and flu like symptoms (fever, sinus congestion or release, chills)
- Joint pain
Keep in mind, though, that these symptoms are actually often an indication that the treatment is working. If you experience Herxheimer reactions, stop taking the treatment for 24 to 48 hours and then resume at a lower dose.
Why Herx Reactions Happen
You have your liver, gallbladder, gut health and other “drainage” systems or channels (lymph, circulatory system, kidneys) to thank for Herx Reactions, as well as missing links in the detox protocol.
If your drainage channels and detox systems are not working in tip top shape to break down or clear out toxins, wastes, pathogens and die off bacteria, or if the supplement dosage or diet is “too high”, strong or “too drastic” (too much at once), OR if you are missing out on a binder, fiber or pooping daily, then the body gets overwhelmed.
Many folks with a history of chronic illness have a history of a sub-optimal liver, gallbladder and gut health already.
Also, if you’ve or followed a restrictive diet for some time (low calorie, vegetarian/vegan, carnivore, keto), there’s a good chance your liver has not gotten all the essential nutrients it needs to detox effectively. For example, long time vegetarian who has avoided amino acids in complete proteins will simply not have the nutrients they need to push toxins out through Phase 2 Liver Detox—the second step of liver detox to actually clear wastes out of body (fun fact: this is often why juice cleanses fail too). Whereas, a long time low carb, high fat dieter may not have enough fiber and too much fat overwhelming their gallbladder to clear out excess hormones (cortisol) and eliminate wastes via bile and the feces.
The big idea is that imbalances or weakened detox pathways and gut health set the stage for a herx reaction to occur in addition to simply pushing the body “too fast” through a detox process.
In order to limit or avoid Herx reactions, I encourage my patients to focus on “opening the channels” and prepping the body to cleanse during the first 4 to 6 weeks (a Kickstart) before jumping into detox at all.
This includes things like:
- A balanced “clean” diet—limiting inflammatory foods in the diet
- Ensuring you are pooping daily
- Drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily
- Sweating and moving your body daily
- Optimizing sleep (the #1 time we detox)
- Supplementing with bitter herbs (gallbladder support), minerals, lymphatic drainage supports (like Conesase detox or LymphActive), prebiotic fiber and/or probiotics and/or a gentle binder (like chlorella) for 4 to 6 weeks
How Long Does Herx Reaction Last?
Are they inevitable?
Unfortunately, while we do our best to avoid herx reactions, they are sometimes inevitable—especially when we are pushing the body with supplement or dietary strategies to help it break free from any underlying infections or imbalances that have been underlying or dormant for awhile.
Sort of like developing new strong muscles in the gym, you often have to “feel it, to heal it,” (or grow stronger) and herx reactions can be a normal part of the process.
Healing is a dance and sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back.
If not me, another key is clear communication with whichever practitioner you are working with to make adjustments quickly.
My Herx Reaction Story
In both my gut healing journey and my mold detox journey, I experienced a handful of Herx reactions along the way.
There was the time I took an entire dropper full (30 drops) of my mold detox tincture, instead of 3 drops, and I had the same mold exposure symptoms I got in my black mold infused home—shortness of breath, asthma and IBS— a as mycotoxins kicked up into my system.
One time, I sat in the sauna for about 20 minutes too long and was totally zonked for the next few days.
Then the time I started anti-fungals for yeast in my gut, and I made 8 or 9 trips to the toilet every day for about a week straight.
Oh yeah, and that prescription my doc gave me for anti-fungal nose spray to clear toxins in my sinus pathways. I got a ‘neurotoxic’ reaction—dizzy and woozy and migraines for about a week straight.
The bottom line: Herx reactions even occur for healthcare professionals well-versed in detox.
The key difference is, I knew how to get out of it.
How long does herx reaction last? Not long with these 10 hacks to kick herx reactions and healing crises to the curb.
10 Hacks to Kick Herx Reactions to the Curb
Herx Reaction Hack #1: Increase Your Binders
Herx Reaction Hack #2: Check the pH of Your Saliva & Urine
Use pH strips to measure your saliva (ideal 6.7) and urine pH(6.2). If you are more acidic (less than those numbers), consider supplementing with a dose of tri-salts or sodium bicarbonate. Similarly, Alka Seltzer Gold, lemon water, Ginger Root and Fennel tea and baking soda water all help reduce inflammation, calm acidosis and support the body during a herx. These tactics help to change the body from being acidic to alkaline.
Herx Reaction Hack #3: Poop
If you’re not going #2, Houston we have a problem. Poop is an essential route of clearing wastes and toxins. During a healing crisis, some folks find a colon hydrotherapy treatment or coffee enema helps tremendously. Others find simply stimulating a bowel movement (or two) does the trick using digestive bitter herbs, Smooth Move tea, magnesium citrate or oxide, and buffered Vitamin C (or Camu Camu for histamine sensitive folks).
Herx Reaction Hack #4: Sweat
Sweat mobilizes and excretes toxins out through your skin. Infrared sauna (or regular sauna) and detox baths were my BFF’s during my healing process. Ozone therapy (sauna sessions) are something I also integrate on a weekly basis to this day as maintenance.
Herx Reaction Hack #5: Lymphatic Drainage & Dry Brushing
Add massage, or better, lymphatic drainage massage and daily dry brushing. Some patients with more severe pain or reactions also get a neural therapy done (an alternative therapy in which local anesthetic is injected into certain locations of the body in an attempt to treat chronic pain and illness—especially for affected brain ganglia, segmental treatment of liver, small intestine and kidney).
Herx Reaction Hack #6: Extra Liver/Gallbladder Love
I may integrate in a liver support formula like OmniCleanse capsules or Pure Body Clear with ingredients like molybdenum, milk thistle phosphatidylcholine, NAC, sulforaphane, glycine, taurine, green tea extract, catalase, glutathione, ALA and calcium d-glucarate.
Herx Reaction Hack #7: Natural Anti-Histamines
Choose 1 to 2 natural anti-histamines to take with meals and when symptoms strike. Top picks include: Quercetin, AllQlear, PEA (Mirica), MC Stabilizer or “Mast Ease” tincture, Chinese Skullcap, Luteolin, Boswellia, Camu Camu Claritin (1 at bed).
Herx Reaction Hack #8: Colloidal Silver Nose Spray and/or Drops
Silver ions help destroy free radicals and bacteria/fungii that may be circulating in your system. In addition to your binders, try taking 1 teaspoon (5 ccs) of Argentyn 23 on an empty stomach one to three times daily.
Note: for some silver can be immune stimulating. Go low and slow with this one too.
Herx Reaction Hack #9: IV Therapy
IV Vit C (37.5-50 grams) + alpha lipoic acid (75 mg) + glutathione (1200 mg) magnesium sulfate (2.5 ml +2.5% Procaine) and IV amino acids can help restore internal balance. Many cities have free-standing IV clinics or practitioners offering these therapies.
Herx Reaction Hack #10: Just Breathe
Yoga, deep breathing (sometimes I use these inhalers to help calm my breath) and fresh air are nutrients for calming the stress response. Inhale for 10 seconds through your nose and breathe out 10 seconds through your nose or mouth and soak up the sun!
Here’s to happy detoxing!
How long does herx reaction last? Need support in your detox process? Reach out to my clinic. We’ve got you covered! Don’t go it alone.