Herx Reaction: Gut Die Off Side Effect and How to Avoid

Herx Reaction: Gut Die Off Side Effect and How to Avoid

Detoxification is the natural process of removing toxins from the body. While lowering the body's toxic load is beneficial to health, feeling side effects from detoxing too fast is common. Side effects from detoxing are commonly referred to as herx reactions. 


Some potential herxing symptoms include:


  • flu-like symptoms
  • sweating, fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea
  • chills
  • body aches
  • sore throat
  •  joint and muscle pain


This detoxification reaction is the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, or simply the Herx Reaction. This reaction most often occurs from toxins recirculating in the bloodstream.


What Is a Herx Reaction?


Woman experiencing a rash on her arm from detoxing


A Herx reaction is a short-term detoxification reaction in the body. Herx reactions were first discovered in 1895 by Adolf Jarisch and later in 1902 by Karl Herxheimer, a German dermatologist. Both doctors documented a pattern of an increase in herx symptoms shortly after their syphilis patients started treatment.


This type of detoxification reaction is a die-off reaction. It commonly occurs when certain toxic organisms die off during a cleanse, such as parasites, candida, or pathogenic bacteria.


Research on die-off reactions states that "in a die-off reaction, there is a release of toxins, proteins, and oxidizing agents that increases inflammatory cytokines.


What Causes a Herx Reaction?


Detox written on a table


A Herx reaction is the body's natural response to the process of detoxification. Intense forms of detoxification especially trigger it. Therefore, those who follow more intensive detox programs are more likely to experience these herxing symptoms than those who take a gentler approach.


Following cleanse programs, such as a parasite cleanse, candida cleanse, heavy metal cleanse, colon cleanse, and fasting, may trigger the reaction. Still, it is essential to understand that a Herx reaction is not necessarily bad. It is a positive sign that your body is detoxing. However, suppose the detoxification symptoms are too intense or causing severe discomfort. In that case, slow down the rate of detoxification by cutting back on the cleansing methods that are triggering the reaction. Make sure to consult a doctor before taking any dietary supplements.


For example, suppose one is doing a parasite cleanse and taking too high of doses of a parasite detox supplement. In that case, they may experience more symptoms due to their intense detoxification. To reduce the uncomfortable herxing symptoms, one needs to slow the rate of detoxification. Reduce the dose of the parasite detox supplement. Consider alternating days or taking a short break to let the body heal and reduce the symptoms naturally before resuming the cleanse.


Understanding Detoxification


An icon of a human liver


To understand the Herx reaction, one needs to understand detoxification. You can learn more about detoxification in our article "Detoxification - Everything You Need to Know."

Essentially, detoxification is the natural process of removing toxins from the body. Toxins may enter the body from several sources: 


  • including the water we drink
  • the food we eat
  • the air we breathe
  • the utensils we cook and eat with
  • personal care products we use
  • among other sources

When toxins accumulate in the body, it creates what is known as a toxic load. Toxic load refers to the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in our bodies that we ingest from various sources. Each person has a different toxic load based on the number of toxins accumulated in their body. The goal of detoxification is to eliminate toxins from the body and reduce our toxic load, improving our health.


The body has innate detoxification organs and systems that constantly remove toxins in the body. The primary organs and detoxification systems include the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, and digestive system.


The liver mainly carries out detoxification, as everything we consume passes through the liver. The liver performs over 500 tasks, including neutralization and toxic detoxifying substances. However, toxins often overburden the liver, and its functioning can become impaired. Once overburdened, this process can reduce the liver's ability to neutralize toxic substances and can cause toxins to accumulate in the body.


A Herx reaction typically occurs when too many toxic substances circulate in the body. It is more than just the liver being overwhelmed. The entire detoxification system (lymphatic system, digestive system, liver, kidneys.) is overwhelmed by these toxic byproducts. The body cannot clear them from the system fast enough.


Essentially, a Herx reaction is your body signaling that it is overwhelmed by the number of toxins in the body. A minor Herx reaction is natural, and the body's inflammatory response to this reaction will help it heal and resolve the issue in its own time. However, suppose you experience a Herx reaction, especially an intensely uncomfortable one. In that case, slow down your treatment and reduce the dosage of your supplements.


Supporting the Body's Natural Detoxification


One of the significant ways to detoxify the body is to support the body's natural detox systems. Enhancing liver and kidney function, supporting lymphatic drainage, and enhancing digestion and elimination are important ways to help the body reduce its toxic load.


Some important recommendations for detoxing include:


  • drink plenty of water to flush the system
  • eating nutrient-rich real foods 
  • avoid toxic substances and junk foods
  • get plenty of rest 
  • incorporate exercise and physical movement
  • supplement with herbs


This last method—supplementing with anthelmintic herbs and anti-fungal herbs —is the most likely method that will lead to a Herx reaction. Of course, a Herx reaction can occur simply by making a radical diet and lifestyle change. Still, herbs and medicinal substances contain active compounds that can more likely trigger rapid detoxification and lead to a Herx reaction.


Make sure to detox gently, rather than forcing the body to detox too much, too fast. Also, follow specific cleanse protocols and follow medical supervision while taking dietary supplements. Finally, never exceed the recommended doses of herbs or supplements, and reduce the number of herbs or supplements if you begin to experience too intense of a detox reaction.


Again, it is essential to remember that experiencing minor reactions is normal. A Herx reaction is a sign of healing, but if the response becomes too intense or uncomfortable, it is good to slow down on your detox cleanse.


What Foods Help the Body Detox?


The body is always seeking to maintain homeostasis, and so it is constantly regenerating and healing. Therefore, the best thing we can do to support the body's detoxification is to stop consuming toxic substances through food, beverage, personal care items, and the environment. When we take a break from consuming toxic substances, the body has a chance to process its current toxic load and heal itself. In addition, the natural detoxification pathways work better when eating a nutritious diet and natural foods, and proper hydration.




Zuma Nutrition Multi Strain Probiotic Complex


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut. They are effective at killing off harmful microorganisms such as Clostridioides difficile (commonly known as C. diff), Escherichia coli (aka E. coli)Candida albicans (typically referred to as candida). In addition, supplementing with probiotics may greatly support the body's natural detoxification.


However, people with IBS may need to be more cautious with taking probiotics. Always consult a licensed healthcare professional before taking a dietary supplement such as probiotics if you have a health condition.


Fulvic Acid


Fulvic Acid Supplement


One of the major types of toxins that affect the body is heavy metals. Fulvic acid is a natural supplement extracted from composted organic matter. It is excellent at helping the body get rid of heavy metals. It has powerful chelating properties, which means that it can actually bind to heavy metals and then eliminate them from the body.


Sometimes people worry about fulvic acid detox symptoms when taking a fulvic acid supplement. Because fulvic acid works so well at detoxing, they assume that they will develop fulvic acid detox symptoms due to taking the supplement. Detox reactions from fulvic acid are infrequent. However, fulvic acid doesn't just flush toxins and metals out of the body but chemically binds to them, helping to protect the body from these pathogens getting back into the blood. So, fulvic acid detox symptoms are very common. Instead, fulvic acid will reduce your symptoms as a binder.




Cilantro growing in garden


Like fulvic acid, cilantro is also a potent chelator that can help the body detoxify heavy metals.




apples on a table


Apples support detoxification in numerous ways. Apples carry pectin and malic acid that help remove toxins and carcinogens. In addition, the polyphenols present in apples keep their serum and lipid levels under control. Apples also have anti-inflammatory properties that protect you against fatty liver.




Beets and Beet Juice on a Table


The liver has two different phases of detoxification, referred to as Phase 1 and Phase 2. For example, beets contain phytonutrients called betalains that support detoxification. This detoxification support comes through a critical phase 2 detox step in the liver. When your liver can detoxify chemicals and toxins more effectively, your body can better balance hormones, cholesterol, and energy levels.




Variety of prebiotic Fiber on a table


Eating more fiber will help remove toxins from the body rather than keeping toxins stuck in the digestive tract. Most forms of detoxification encourage consuming a high fiber diet to support elimination.


Of course, many other foods support detoxification. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and healthy fats will supply the body with its nutrition. It will offer a great benefit to the detox process.


Jarisch Herxheimer Reaction Parasites


A Parasite detox is one of the most common cleanses associated with a herx reaction. As parasites die, they release toxins and gases that can cause a herx response in the body. This die-off reaction is especially common when the parasite detoxification process is rapid.


Jarisch Herxheimer Reaction Candida


Like Parasites, as candida die, they release toxins and gases that can cause an adverse reaction in the body. This Candida die-off can also cause a herx reaction. Her reactions tend to happen most commonly when detoxification is rapid. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be uncomfortable. To mitigate die-off effects, aim to ease into your candida cleanse to give your body time to eliminate the toxins and adjust to the changes.


Jarisch Herxheimer Reaction Probiotics


Taking probiotics is a great way to rebalance the gut microbiome. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that carry out many functions in the body, mainly related to digestion, gut health, immunity, and mood regulation. While probiotics are beneficial to health, taking a probiotic supplement may also cause a herx reaction. A probiotic herxheimer reaction can occur because one of the significant roles of probiotics in the body is to regulate and even kill other harmful organisms like bad bacteria, yeast, fungus, and parasites. For example, suppose you introduce a new probiotic supplement to your diet and experience a herx reaction. In that case, these probiotics are likely killing off harmful organisms that are releasing toxins as they die.


Probiotics detox symptoms will depend on what is in the body. With probiotics detox, symptoms can occur when they kill off organisms like candida or parasites, which may cause any of the symptoms of a herx reaction.


While a probiotic herxheimer reaction may be uncomfortable, it is a sign that you are cleansing the harmful organisms in your body. Thankfully, there are ways you can significantly reduce the discomfort of a herx reaction.


How to Help a Herx Reaction


Suppose you are undergoing a detox cleanse and are experiencing a Herx reaction. In that case, several things can help reduce the reaction's symptoms. The first one is, of course, to cut back on the substance or method that is causing the rapid detoxification and be a bit gentler in your approach. Some other ways you can help a Herx reaction include:


  • Drink enough water
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take Epsom salt baths
  • Consume Prebiotic Foods
  • Try Ozone therapy
  • Supplement with a Liver Detox tonic to support liver function
  • Supplement with Whole Food Zinc
  • Eat a nutrient-dense whole food diet




A Herx reaction is a short-term reaction in the body that happens as a response to detoxification. People experiencing this type of detox reaction may experience symptoms like sweating, fatigue, headache, nausea, chills, body aches, sore throat, joint and muscle pain, or other symptoms. Though these symptoms are typically negative things associated with illness, these symptoms are positive signs of healing in the case of detoxification.


The Herx reaction was first described in 1895 by Adolf Jarisch, an Austrian dermatologist. And later, in 1902, Karl Herxheimer, a German dermatologist. This type of detoxification reaction is a die-off reaction. It commonly occurs when certain toxic organisms die off during a cleanse, such as parasites, candida, or harmful bacteria.


A Herx reaction is the body's natural response to the process of detoxification. Intense forms of detoxification especially trigger this reaction. And those who follow more intensive detox programs are likely to experience worse symptoms than those who take a gentler approach.


You can reduce the symptoms of a Herx reaction by reducing the substance or method causing the detoxification. Be a bit gentler in your approach, as well as by following specific tips such as drinking a lot of water, consuming prebiotic foods, getting plenty of sleep, taking an Epsom salt bath, doing Ozone therapy, supplementing with Liposomal Vitamin C or colloidal silver, and eating a nutrient-dense diet.






Products mentioned in this post

Parasite Detox Tonic

Parasite Detox Tonic


Gut Health, Detoxification, Immunity

Fulvic Acid & Trace Ocean Minerals

Fulvic Acid & Trace Ocean Minerals


Energy, Immunity, Detoxification

Candida Cleanse Tonic

Candida Cleanse Tonic

From $39.95

Anti Fungal, Gut Health, Detoxification

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