Tired of Lyme's Top 3 Methods for
Reducing a Herxheimer Reaction
Detox Methods for Near-immediate Relief from a Herx
The reluctant irony of treating chronic Lyme disease involves eliciting what many experience and have come to know as a herxheimer reaction. In a nutshell, antibiotics and/or antimicrobials are used to kill the Lyme infection -- or one or more of its many coinfections -- and in doing, a person will actually feel worse (i.e., herxing, for short).
A herxheimer reaction is really a massive inflammatory response to the dead pathogens and their toxins - symptoms increase. Reducing the herxheimer reaction means shutting down cytokines with anti-inflammatory agents, but more importantly, removing the dead pathogens and their toxins from the body so the immune system no longer deems it necessary to release more cytokines (i.e., inflammation). Reducing inflammation means reducing symptoms.
It’s not the increasing of a treatment protocol that makes a person feel bad (i.e., herx), it’s the immune system's response to the presence of an excessive amount of dead pathogens and their toxins. This condition can be created by not just increasing an antibiotic and/or antimicrobial, but many other ways such as treating a biotoxin illness, treating the MTHFR gene mutation, heating up the body, or a full moon in which Lyme spirochetes reproduce (binary fission), exposing their ribosomes to the already present and unchanged antibiotic and/or antimicrobial dosage - this kills them.
The Top 3 Detox Methods
The following detox methods were aggregated based on cost, convenience, anecdotal experience from those with Lyme, as well as advice from Lyme-literate medical professionals. While every person’s body is different, and while there are many other detox methods that could be just as effective, if not better, these 3 detox methods are a great place to start. Always check with your treating physician for altering any treatment protocol.
#3. Burbur and Pinella Combination
Coming in at #3 is a combination elixir consisting of Nutramedix’s Burbur Detox and Pinella Detox tinctures. Nutramedix’s Burbur Detox is well known in the Lyme community for relieving a herx on its own. According to Dr. Lee Cowden, MD, “[Burbur] helps to drain the kidneys and the liver and gallbladder, the lymphatic system, and the ground matrix”. Nutramedix Pinella is a brain and nerve cleanse, and according to Dr. Cowden, MD, “[Pinella] is especially effective in detoxifying the nervous system, the brain, the spine, the peripheral nerves...”
While these tinctures can be taken separately for their inherent purposes, taking them together ameliorates symptoms of a herx much better. To take Burbur Detox and Pinella Detox together, add 8-10 drops of each tincture to 4 ounces of water, stir, wait 1 minute, and then drink. You can repeat this process every 10-15 minutes and the herxheimer reaction should resolve within an hour, but almost always within 2 hours.
#2. Epsom Salt Bath
At #2, epsom salt baths -- although inconvenient to some -- are a very powerful tool in reducing a herxheimer reaction and can be your best friend. Epsom salt consists of magnesium sulfate, and while the magnesium can make a person feel very relaxed, it is the sulfate that helps the body detoxify. While the jury is still out on the method of delivery, the conjecture is that the magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the pores of the skin -- the warm water open the pores, naturally -- and it quickly goes in and eventually provides the liver with the much needed element for detoxification, sulfur.
To take an epsom salt bath for reducing a herxheimer reaction, fill a bathtub with warm water -- not too hot, as this can make you feel worse -- to a level in which your entire body can be submerged. If your bathtub is small, you can also rotate between submerging your legs and bending your legs to submerge your upper body. Once the bathtub is filled, add 2 cups of epsom salt to the bathtub, stir, and once the salt has dissolved, hop in and soak for 20 minutes. You may begin to feel better immediately, but the effects of an epsom salt bath are usually felt exponentially in the hours after the bath.
To help make an epsom salt bath more effective, consider a dry skin brush before you hop in. A dry skin brush helps to stimulate the lymphatic system which is where a lot of toxins end up before the body removes them.
#1. Alka-Seltzer Gold, Lemon, and Glutathione
And at #1, Dr. Richard Horowitz, MD has provided the Lyme community with an interesting, but potent reducer for herxheimer reactions consisting of Alka-Seltzer Gold, the juice of 1 lemon (¼ cup), 8 ounces of purified water, and 1500mg of liposomal glutathione. The liposomal glutathione is a highly absorbable form of the antioxidant that will be used by the liver for processing toxins during phase ll liver detoxification. The lemon juice provides the antioxidant vitamin c, and both the Alka-Seltzer Gold and lemon juice help to temporarily restore alkaline reserves (i.e., alkalize the body). By alkalizing the body, enzymes of the methylation cycle work better -- detoxification is one job -- and as Dr. Horowitz explains, “[alkalizing the body] provides an increase in water soluble antioxidants that are available to counter increased free-radical production”.
To take this detox method, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a measuring cup. You should have about ¼ of lemon juice, but if not, grab another lemon and squeeze until you do. Now add water to the measuring cup until the total combined liquids of the lemon juice and water reach 8 ounces. Add the 8 ounces of lemon juice to a voluminous glass -- you’ll need the room because the Alka-Seltzer Gold will expand the contents within the cup -- and then drop 2 Alka-Seltzer Gold tablets in the cup. As the contents within the cup expand, take 1500mg of liposomal glutathione. Once you’ve downed the glutathione, the lemon juice should be ready to drink. Slowly drink this liquid over a period of a few minutes. You should begin to feel the herx let up after about 2 hours and continue to exponentially feel better as the hours pass.
Note: If you have a CBS gene mutation or a known sulfur sensitivity, consult with your treating physician before taking glutathione or an epsom salt bath. The sulfur contained within these products can make a person feel bad if they’re sulfur sensitive. It’s important to get sulfur levels, and other facets of a CBS gene mutation, under control through the protocol designed by Dr. Amy Yasko, MD before taking sulfur based products.
Extra Considerations for Reducing a
Herxheimer Reaction (or Avoiding One Entirely)
Consider adding an anti-inflammatory agent such as Japanese Knotweed, curcumin, fish oil, or all of the above as part of a treatment protocol to help shut down inflammation.
Consistently take glutathione, red root for lymphatic drainage, a good multivitamin designed for phase l and ll liver detoxification, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, treat an MTHFR gene mutation (if you have one), and take a good binder designed to attach to fat based Lyme and pathogen toxins -- such as modified citrus pectin -- to lessen the chances of having of herx. Instead of having one massive herx that stalls treatment, by working a good detox regimen, herxing becomes less frequent and severe throughout treatment.
Definitely don’t increase your treatment protocol during a herx, consider reducing your dosage back to the dosage at which you were feeling relatively good if detox methods aren't working, and if all else fails, you may need to completely back off the antibiotics and/or antimicrobial -- or any medicine, supplement, or activity that can make you feel bad -- for a few days (consult with your treating physician first).
- Wilson, Dr. Lawrence, MD. "Sulfur and Sulfur-containing Amino Acids."Drlwilson.com. The Center for Development, Jan. 2014. Web. 26 May 2016.
- Horowitz, Dr. Richard, MD. "Integrative Treatments." Why Can't I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Disease. New York: St. Martin's, 2013. 430-31. Print.
- Yasko, Dr. Amy, PhD. "Autism: Pathways to Recovery." (2011): 129. Dramyyasko.com. Web. 26 May 2016.
- Grier, Thomas M., M.S. "The Complexities of Lyme Disease." The Complexities of Lyme Disease. LymeNet Europe, 1997. Web. 26 May. 2016.
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