Feeling worse before feeling better
A patient may become worse following the administration of antibiotics or other form of treatment that kills the causative organism. The Herxheimer Reaction is well recognized in the world of natural medicine or supplements and less in medical circles.
The Herxheimer Reaction (die-off reaction) is a short-term (from days to a few weeks) detoxification reaction in the body. As the body detoxifies, it is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills, nausea or itch and rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue. With this system people may also find themselves emotional.
This is a normal — and even healthy — reaction to the reactions that are taking place when teh body is going through changes. The important thing to note is that worsening symptoms do not indicate failure of the treatment in question; in fact, usually just the opposite. The biggest problem with the Herxheimer reaction is that people stop taking the supplement that is causing the reaction, and thus discontinue 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 healing is taking place.
The History of the Herxheimer Reaction
This reaction was first described by an Austrian dermatologist Jarisch Adolf Herxheimer working in Vienna and Innsbruck in 1895 and shortly after this, confirmed by his brother Karl Herxheimer(1902 and 1926). Both doctors were dermatologists mainly treating syphilitic lesions of the skin. They noticed that in response to treatment, many patients developed not only fever, perspiration, night sweats, nausea and vomiting, but their skin lesions became larger and more inflamed before settling down and healing. Interestingly, they found that those who had the most extreme reactions healed the best and fastest. The patient might be ill for 2-3 days, but then their lesions resolved.
A Medical Example
For example, a recent study report (Feb ’04) on the treatment of Sarcoidosis found that, “. . . 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.” In Sarcoidosis patients, the Herxheimer reaction seems to be a valuable indication that an antibiotic is reaching its target.” In the conclusion, the author states: “In my work with Sarcoidosis patients, it is my experience that recovering MP patients understand and welcome the Herxheimer reactions even when they must endure temporary increased suffering. They accept it as the price that they must pay in order to get well and they even seem to find it gratifying to experience tangible evidence of bacterial elimination. “
What To Do In The Event of a Herxheimer Reaction
If the reaction is mild enough that it can be borne without grave discomfort, the best approach is to continue treatment and assist the body in this process as quickly and as thoroughly as possible by the methods below.
If you are uncomfortable with the symptoms and feel you need to move slower you can:
Decrease the BioPhasic dose to half.
Double the Lymph Plus.
Know that your body is healing.
The most important advice if you think you may be experiencing the Herxheimer reaction is to “bear with the process”. The reaction is usually over within a few days and is well worth the cleansing and healing results.
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.