What Is The Herxheimer Reaction?
In the normal course of life, we continually have some of our body cells dying and being replaced with new ones. When the cells die, part of the job of the liver and kidneys is to remove the dead cells (the body doesn’t like dead cells floating around in it).
All people also have what is called a “bacterial load”. This means that we all have some bad bacteria fungus and yeasts in our body – especially if we are sick! Some people have more, some less. If these pathogens are killed off too fast, they can temporarily overload the capacity of the liver and kidneys to remove them from the body. Since they are, technically, toxins, the body can react to them. It is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills or nausea from them.
This is fairly common when taking antibiotics! Since doctors like to “hit it hard” in the beginning of treatment, there is often a large die-off of pathogens. It is often referred to as a “reaction” to the antibiotic, or that “it didn’t agree with me”, etc. when, all the time, it was a herxheimer reaction from killing pathogens too fast. In fact, one report in ’04 said,“. . . without exception, the improving patients are reporting periodic aggravation of their symptoms as an apparent direct response to the antibiotics. In other words, these patients say that their treatment makes them feel much worse before they experience symptom-relief.”
Technically known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, it is usually a Herxheimer Reaction, or Herx Reaction, Herx or die-off syndrome for short. It is simply an immune system reaction to the endotoxins released when large amounts of pathogens are being killed off, and the body does not eliminate the toxins quickly enough. The symptoms do not indicate failure of the treatment; in fact, usually just the opposite. It indicates that parasites, fungus, viruses, bacteria or other pathogens are being effectively killed off.
The biggest problem with the Herxheimer reaction is that people stop taking the medication that is causing the reaction. They are discontinuing the very treatment that is helping to make them better! Although the experience may not make you feel particularly good, the Herxheimer Reaction is actually a sign that bad things are being killed. When first discovered, they found that those who had the most extreme reactions healed the best and fastest.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to endure it!
Monolaurin is Different than Antibiotics!
Most importantly, pathogens do not develop resistant to monolaurin! It operates on a different principle than antibiotics. This is important because that means that we do not have to “hit it hard” with monolaurin if we don’t want to. We can begin slowly if a herx reaction is a concern.
The majority of people that begin with a full dose of monolaurin do not have any problems. However, there is a significant number of people that do have some reactions. There are a couple ways of handling it.
Two Ways to Avoid Herx Reactions with Monolaurin
- A Slow Start: If a person is not in a hurry, the simplest (and least expensive) way is to slowly build up to a full dose! A typical treatment dose is 3 tsp. spread out during a day (from a range of 2-4 tsp.).
A typical start up for an adult is to start with a single tsp. a day for 4 days, then move up to 2 tsp. (1 am, 1 pm) for 4 days, then up to 3 tsp. spread out in the day.
There are still a few people that may need to start even slower. The most extreme case was a lady who had to start with only 5 pellet a day for two weeks. Then, she moved up to 10 pellets, then 20 pellets, and took 1 1/2 months to build up to 1 tsp. a day.
Either the bacterial load, or her bodily reaction, was extreme. However, it moved faster after the biggest wave of bacteria dying leveled off. (Of course, she had had Lyme disease for 20+ years and an extra month or two to get rid of it was still a blessing to her.)
- Add Body Detox: For those who want to be more aggressive in getting rid of an illness, they can begin much stronger with Monolaurin and/or Bio-Fibrin if they wish to add our Body Detox. The Body Detox is designed to help remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. It helps encapsulate and remove toxins, helping the liver and kidneys to be more efficient in removing them.
The Body Detox will help reduce any herx side effects, allowing a quicker start-up in the treatment plan.
The “Maintenance” Program: The number one use of monolaurin worldwide for people is to help prevent getting the flu. It is a very good preventative. Some people will take a scoop (1 tsp.) a day to prevent getting the flu. I do this – except I take less during the summer, 1 scoop during flu season, 2 scoops (it’s inexpensive and has no side effects) if I am being actively exposed to people with the flu.
If doing this, your bacterial load will be very low and you can go to a full dose, if needed, without concern about a herx reaction.
There is different data on how long a Herxheimer reaction is possible. Some data indicates that it usually occurs between 4 and 24 hours from the onset of treatment. Others note that between Day 3 and Day 5 of a treatment program is often when the reaction is most noticeable. The duration of the reaction varies widely, from an hour or a few hours to days or even a week or two.
We have found that, if used, 1 container of Body Detox is usually enough to get through this stage (possibly 2 container if it is a long term Lyme disease condition).
What To Do In The Event of a Herxheimer Reaction
If the reaction is mild enough that it can be borne without grave discomfort, one can choose to continue treatment and assist the body in eliminating the toxins as quickly and as thoroughly as possible by the methods below.
If the reaction is too severe, stopping the dosage for 1 day is usually long enough for the liver and kidneys to catch up. Then, a person can start up again – cutting back on the dosage or frequency of use. This lessens the symptoms but still allows the healing process to continue.
The best assistance for the body is drinking plenty of pure water (a half gallon a day is recommended).
For those who want to be aggressive, other helpful suggestions include:
- Minimizing exercise for the detox period,
- Keeping the organs of elimination (the bowels, lungs, skin, kidneys, lymph) functioning properly,
- Keeping the diet relatively pure during the detox period so that the body is not loaded with additional chemicals and toxins,
- Adding lemon to the water,
- Taking steam baths and/or saunas.
The most important advice in relation to the Herxheimer reaction is to “bear with as able”. The reaction is usually over in a short time and is well worth the healing that results. Plus, it is a sure sign that the supplements are doing their job and working to help restore your body to natural health!
(Standard Warning: Any serious symptoms such as cardiac irregularity; breathing difficulties; chest, lung or throat constriction; significant swelling; or other severe symptoms should be given immediate medical attention.)