This is the original latin phrase which translates to “The disease worsens with the treatment” or “The remedy is worse than the disease.” This is the phrase aptly given to what is known as the Herxheimer Reaction (technically the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction), AKA, “healing reaction”, “healing response” “healing crisis” “die-off reaction” or “detox symptoms”.
The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction is named for Adolf Jarisch, an Austrian dermatologist and Karl Herxheimer, a German dermatologist, who were the first to observe this reaction in patients being treated for syphilis. The phrase, shortened to the Herxheimer reaction, has since been applied to reactions from healing and detoxing the body.
Healing responses can be scary and quite uncomfortable, to say the least, but are a natural part of the body’s healing process. The liver, in an attempt to protect the body, either stores unhealthy chemicals, in the liver itself, or in fatty tissue throughout the body. (4) Toxins, called endotoxins, also come from bad bacteria as they grow or when they die off. As you detox, and the body either burns fat for fuel, these chemicals are released into the bloodstream, or the bacteria die off, creating the adverse symptoms. These toxins cause an immune response through out the body, creating inflammation where they are being released. (3)
While healing responses are a sign that the body is healing itself, detoxing isn’t for the faint of heart, and I mean this quite literally. If you have a chronic disease, heart problems or a diseased liver, DO NOT under any circumstances, detox without the assistance, and approval of a medical doctor or other qualified professional. Many in the medical field consider healing responses to be potentially dangerous, “especially in vulnerable individuals“.
While it is a natural process, I agree with them, but only to the extent of chronically ill people. It can make their illness worse, unless done properly and very carefully under close supervision. In most cases, a detox is exactly what they need to begin healing, however, their bodies are simply too sick to manage it. Detoxing is hard on all parts of the body, but particularly the liver, the main detox organ. Within these people, the liver, already weak, can become overwhelmed and begin shutting down.
In most healthy people, however, it is simply part of healing the body. It should be perfectly safe for most people to detox, as long as it is done slowly and carefully. That said, it is advisable to consult a physician prior to beginning any program.
The below video wonderful if you’d like to learn a bit more about a healing response.
Before we get to the tips for easing healing symptoms, I want to mention one thing. Doing any detox program or even suddenly switching from an unhealthy diet to a very healthy one, isn’t a smooth road, but more like a rollercoaster.
Upon starting the detox, you’ll experience initial symptoms, which will gradually improve. Just when you think things are getting better, you’ll have another flare-up, another healing reaction. Remember, your body is FULL of toxins. They don’t all get released at once, then go away. Quite frankly, you don’t want all of them to be released at once. As they gradually release, your healing responses will come and go.
Another thing to keep in mind, is you may experience pain from illnesses or injuries you acquired many years ago. So don’t be surprised if your injured knee from 20 years ago reasserts itself during your detox. Just something to keep in mind.
Tips for dealing with a healing response – Part of any good detox plan is to drink plenty of water, as well as get plenty of rest. Daily meditation is also a good way to deal with the stress from the detox. Other than that, here are a few of the best ways to deal with a healing response.
- Himalayan Salt Bath – Salt bath soaks are one of the best ways to detox the body. You’ll hear many advise you to use epsom salts. These are okay, buy I prefer Himalayan Salts in my detox baths. Himalayan salts are a wonderful addition, not just to your bath, but to your daily diet. Salt isn’t the evil thing it’s been made out to be, but like anything else, you just need the right kind. For more information on Himalayan Salts, FOLLOW THIS LINK. For a demo on how to do a Himalayan salt bath, aka a SOLE bath, FOLLOW THIS LINK. A 30 minute Himalayan salt bath will do the following (5):
- Reduce inflammation – relieve joint and muscle pain throughout the body. (I’ve personally experienced this effect.)
- Detox the skin – release inflammation on the skin
- Increase your metabolism
- Increase lymph flow – increased lymph flow is essential for cleansing the body during a detox
- Increase blood flow – healing issues deep within the body
- Dry Skin Brushing – The skin is the largest organ in the body and one simple 6 minute routine every morning can improve your overall health, not just the skin, but the entire body. For more information on skin brushing, FOLLOW THIS LINK. For a demo on how to do a 6 minute skin brushing routine FOLLOW THIS LINK. Making skin brushing a part of your daily routine will do the following (6)
- Stimulate your lymphatic system
- Exfoliate your skin
- Increase cirulation
- Reduce cellulite
- Relieve stress
- Improve digestion and kidney function (essential during a detox!)
- Caster Oil Pack on the Liver – This may be a new one for all of you, but I’ve been doing these for years, especially during my cleanses and detoxing. Basically, you take a quality caster oil, cold pressed, saturate a wool with oil, and warm the oil pack with a hot water bottle or heating pad. You then simply lay back and relax for 45 – 60 minutes. This may see like an odd thing to do, but it really works and so relaxing. Caster oil has been used for thousands of years, back to Egypt, 3500 years ago. For more information on Caster Oil Packs, FOLLOW THIS LINK. For a demo on how to do a caster oil pack on the liver, FOLLOW THIS LINK. A 45 – 60 minute caster oil pack will do the following (7)
- Promotes circulation around the organ, in this case the liver
- Supports the body’s natural ability to detox
- Supports the nervous system
- Reduces pain, inflammation and swelling
- Increases lymphatic flow
- Improves liver function
- Improves digestion
- –Yoga While strictly speaking, yoga doesn’t actually “detox”, but like the other tips, it is an aid to help improve circulation in specific parts of the body, and relieve healing response symptoms. For more information on Yoga for Detox, FOLLOW THIS LINK. For a 20 minute yoga flow for detox and digestion, FOLLOW THIS LINK. Specific poses in yoga do the following (8):
- Twists- These moves squeeze the abdominal muscles and stimulating the muscles and circulation to the organs of the digestive tract
- Forward bends – compress the organs of the digestive tract increasing elimination
- Inversions – drain fluid from the legs and feet back toward the heart.
- Take Activated Charcoal – Activated charcoal is actual charcoal, made from many different substances, that has been exposed to a gas, which creates a porous surface, increasing the surface area and ability cleanse the body of toxins. Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins into the millions of tiny pores. It is widely used in hospital to aid in cases of drug overdose, and can be used during a detox or cleanse. It is important to use natural sources of activated charcoal, such as coconut shells. Some things of which to be aware: charcoal can react to medications, check with your doctor; interfere with the absorption of nutrients; should NEVER BE TAKEN LONG TERM, only use during your detox. For more information on activated charcoal, FOLLOW THIS LINK. For a video on activated charcoal, including how to use it, as well as precautions, FOLLOW THIS LINK. Taking activated charcoal will help in the following ways (8)
- Relieves gas and bloating
- Cleanses the body of mold
- Emergency toxin removal
- reduces cholesterol
- anti-aging – by preventing toxin related cellular damage
- promotes a healthy digestive tract – by removing toxins that create allergic reactions and create damage
One final note, I apologize for getting this out so late in the day. However, I was dealing with my own healing response from my detox. It’s been a bad day! Anyway….
There are many more ways of alleviating healing responses, these are just the 5 I prefer. Other methods include acupuncture, enemas/colonics, essential oils, probiotics, bone broth, apple cider vinegar, and chiropractic care.
If you are thinking about a detox, implementing any of the above methods will go a long way to relieving the symptoms. Remember, as uncomfortable as healing responses are, it is well worth it in the end. You’ll feel so much better, cleaner and healthier as a result.
Until next time…
Namaste my friends
- Himalayan salt bath