Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

Dr. Wilson: Herxheimer or “Die Off” Reaction

In the 1890s, two dermatologists, Karl Herxheimer and Adolph Jerisch defined a cluster of symptoms that are now known as a Herxheimer or “die off” reaction. Herxheimer symptoms resemble flu symptoms: chills, fever, body aches, headaches, and rashes. They occur as a result of therapies that kill “bugs” such as bacteria, viruses, or, yeast. The symptoms usually occur from four to 24 hours after taking a drug or other therapies that kill the “bugs.” The symptoms are not side effects of a therapy, per se, but are proof of both the effectiveness of the therapy and the existence of an infection, as it is the toxins that are released from dying organisms that result in Herxheimer symptoms. The load of toxins can be so great that the body’s natural detoxification processes can’t keep up with the toxin load. Natural support of the body’s detoxification processes is recommended. Drink plenty of water and get light exercise. Avoid constipation and eat a light diet. Consider getting lymphatic massage or colonics. Take internal-grade absorbent clay to absorb toxins from the digestive tract, Epsom Salt baths, Vitamin C, and GSMC’s Detox Offset, a homeopathic remedy formulated to treat detoxification symptoms. The dose and frequency of the drug or therapy that resulted in Herxheimer symptoms can often be adjusted to slow toxin release so as to not overwhelm the body’s detoxification ability.

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