Detoxing for Sensitive People
When you take a detoxifier like humic substances, there’s a small chance that you’ll experience something called a Herxheimer reaction—a sudden onset of uncomfortable symptoms. These are reactions to toxins, either from bacterial die-off, or as a result of the release of stored toxins, which are moving through your body for excretion (in the case of certain metals, pesticides, and other harmful compounds).
People who are “sensitive” often know they are, but sometimes it can surprise you when you have a reaction to a new supplement.
Symptoms of a Herxheimer reaction include:
- Aching muscles
- Gastrointestinal distress (gas, diarrhea or constipation)
- Painful kidneys or liver
- Flushed skin
- Low fever
Herxheimer reactions are exceedingly rare. I’ve seen them in about 0.01% of people who take BEAM’s humic complex supplement – Micro-BOOST™. However, when a Herxheimer reaction does happen, it can be scary. You may think you’re having an allergic reaction to the minerals or that they’ve made you sick.
That’s why I wanted to write this article. If you’re one of the very few people who gets a Herxheimer reaction, hopefully the paragraphs below can give you some context as to what’s going on with your body. Let’s talk about what the Herxheimer reaction is, why it happens, and how you can prevent it from happening again.
What is a Herxheimer Reaction?
The Herxheimer reaction was discovered in 1902 by Dr. Karl Herxheimer, a German dermatologist. Dr. Herxheimer was treating patients for syphilis, which is caused by a bacterium. He noticed that some patients would exhibit sudden-onset rashes, fevers, aches, and kidney pain within about two hours of starting treatment.
Research eventually revealed that this response (later named the Herxheimer reaction) happened during a number of other treatments as well—most notably in addressing Lyme disease, E. coli infections, and exposure to toxic mold.
Basically, a Herxheimer reaction happens because your body is detoxing very quickly. When you take something that destroys harmful bacteria, their cell membranes disintegrate and their contents leak into your bloodstream. As the bacteria die, you’re exposed to a sudden and large quantity of bacterial endotoxins, which can cause rash, fever, aches, and other symptoms of the Herxheimer reaction.
Why Does a Herxheimer Reaction Happen?
If you take humic substances (or any other powerful detoxifier) and you get a Herxheimer reaction, you likely have a high toxin load. That sounds scary, but don’t worry! The fact that you’re having a reaction means you’re rapidly detoxing, which is a good thing.
You could be killing off pathogenic gut bacteria like E. coli or addressing the bacteria that cause Lyme’s. It could also be toxin mobilization—as certain heavy metals, pesticides, and other compounds that get stored in the body begin to detox, they can cause sudden, temporary symptoms that are essentially a Herxheimer reaction (although technically, Herxheimer only applies to bacteria).
Another common cause of a Herxheimer-like reaction is detoxing from mold exposure. If you’ve had black mold in your home, you may experience symptoms as you begin to detox.
How to Prevent a Herxheimer Reaction (While Still Detoxing)
A Herxheimer reaction happens because you’re detoxing rapidly. The best way to prevent it is to slow the detox process down, easing your body into detoxification without causing a sudden endotoxin release into your bloodstream.
Important: Keep in mind that this is NOT medical advice. If you have a reaction that worries you, we definitely recommend that you seek guidance from a healthcare professional.
Disclaimer out of the way, this is our recommendation for people who have a Herxheimer reaction in response to starting humic minerals:
First, wait a couple days, until the symptoms of your reaction have disappeared, then use the following method.
Slow Introduction Method:
- Start with 1/8 tspn in a 4-6 oz glass of non-chlorinated water.
- Drink over 10-15 minutes.
- Wait 24 hours, see how you feel.
- If you have no detox symptoms, then continue that protocol for 3-5 days.
- After that you can add an additional 1/8 tsp in water – using the same protocol.
- Over time, you can slowly increase the amount.
- If, at any stage of the process you have any recurrence of the detox symptoms, stop for 24-48 hrs and start again at the lower amount (which gave you no symptoms).
Humic is a great detoxifier, but it can be a little too effective for some people. The basic idea is that, if you get a Herxheimer reaction, start at lower amount and work your way up. A gentle, gradual detox is better than one that overwhelms your body. This process works well with other supplements as well.
Hopefully this article puts your mind at ease. And remember: if you have any doubts or your symptoms persist or worsen, talk to a doctor! It’s always better to be careful with your health.