This particular blog I found very interesting. I remember at Thanksgiving while visiting family, I said to my sister in law that the antibiotics I was on were making me feel worse. Her remark: Really, I thought they were supposed to make you feel better. Then, the explanation went on to the Herxheimer reaction and how that showed the medicine was working.
“The Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, or more commonly knows as ”herx,” is a detoxification reaction your body has from die off of bacteria. It is the worsening of symtpoms before getting better. As the body detoxifies, or tried to get rid of dead bacteria and toxins, it is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills, fever, nausea or other symptoms.
This is a normal reaction when starting a treatment for Lyme Disease , Syphillis, or Candida, and some other infections. It indicates that parasites, fungus, viruses, bacteria or other pathogens are being effectively killed off.
The Herxheimer Reaction is an immune system reaction to the toxins that are released when large amounts of pathogens are being killed off, and the body does not eliminate the toxins quickly enough. Simply stated, it is a reaction that occurs when the body is detoxifying and the released toxins,(endotoxins) released from the cell walls of dying bacteria due to effective treatment, either exacerbate the symptoms being treated or create new symptoms. The important thing to note is that worsening symptoms do not indicate failure of the treatment in question; in fact, usually just the opposite.”
For that reason, I am sharing this blog by Dr. David Jernigan.
Doctor-induced horror herxes
The following are true stories, though the names have been changed.
After taking a selection of popular natural antimicrobial herbal products often recommended by one of the Lyme community’s big-name herbologists, Sally awoke one morning not only feeling all of her original symptoms, but was horrified to realize that she could not swallow! She could not swallow food, water or even saliva. She was rapidly losing weight and all of her previous symptoms were profoundly worse which led to her being admitted to the hospital. A feeding tube had to be put in to provide her nourishment and liquids.
Over a year and a half passed before Sally could begin to swallow on her own. Doctors had previously diagnosed her with Lyme disease and informed her to expect to feel worse, possibly for years before feeling better, but Sally had not counted on feeling this badly!
Sally’s Lyme-Literate M.D. (LLMD) started her on five different antibiotics in an all out attack to “kill the Lyme bacteria” at all costs. The cost in this case was Sally losing the use of her colon, which stopped functioning completely, and her having to contend with the new symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic colitis, asthma, fatty liver, hemophilia, a propensity to skin, sinus, and lung infections, confinement to her home virtually 100% of the time, and she still has difficulty swallowing!
Even years later, Sally can still not believe that her healthcare team probably did more harm to her than the original Lyme disease would have.
Mary suffered from mild to moderate symptoms of Lyme disease so her LLMD prescribed the drug Rifampin. After being told by everyone from her doctor to many people in her support group to expect to feel worse, she felt as many others do that she could tolerate feeling a little worse if it meant she could eventually feel better. Her support group members would even swap “Herx stories” all reveling in the one-upmanship of who had had the worst Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction.
After just two Rifampin pills Mary could not sleep for seven whole days, even for an hour, and she felt like she was going to jump out of her body. The nerves from her head to her toes felt inflamed and like they were vibrating. To Mary’s horror she began to feel like she was suffocating, which caused her blood pressure to rise dangerously high for days on end. For many weeks the symptoms persisted and were joined by uncontrollable urination, severe tremors, and severe, constant pain throughout her entire body. She would watch the nerves causing her muscles to jump like they were going to come through the skin. Her eyes twitched in spasms that would force them to close, while her eyeballs thumped inside her sockets. Her LLMD calmly told her that it was just a severe herx reaction that can be expected in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Mary still has virtually all of these symptoms to this day.
These are just two stories that were submitted to me by caring individuals who desired to warn others away from doctors who don’t take measure to prevent severe Herx reations. I have personally heard thousands of these stories from people that come to my clinic. People who have suffered for many years, not from the illness, but from the medications.
There is a prevalent thought in the natural and conventional Lyme disease treatment philosophies, that one should expect worsening of their symptoms from conventional or natural antibiotic medicines. Doctors often actually base the selection of their medicines on whether or not their patient starts feeling worse after beginning antibiotics! They believe the medicine must not be working if you don’t feel horrible.
I am here to tell you that you should RUN, not walk, from any natural or conventional doctor who tells you to expect to feel worse from their treatments. Virtually no other aspect of medicine functions with this mentality. A person goes to a doctor so that the doctor can help them feel better.
After treating thousands of people with LD I cannot say that no one ever got worse, nor can we guarantee a person will only feel better from our more comprehensive treatment philosophy, but I will say that expecting you to feel worse and watching with anticipation of you feeling worse is never, ever the goal of a doctor who practices American Biological Medicine!
Although all doctors take the Hippocratic oath, promising to “Do no harm”, many, if not most well-meaning doctors are purposely causing horrible suffering in their patients with Lyme disease. They have been taught, as many of you have been taught that it is just a fact of good Lyme treatment to cause worsening of the patients. I have seen many people who would fight to the death that a Herxheimer reaction is a good thing. The worse it is the better!
I have to protest and I must passionately disagree, because our doctors just don’t see it in practice, a practice that treats only the worst, most chronically ill cases from all over the world. These people have often seen between 10 to literally 100 specialists and doctors before coming to our clinic. The suffering must end. It is barbaric to hold to the idea that it is necessary to make the patient feel worse and sometimes cause them permanent damage, and even drive the person to suicide, when all it takes is a more supportive and carefully thought out treatment strategy.
Top doctors are telling their patients to expect to feel worse “for the next five years!”
Sally and Mary would now likely be willing to fight to the death to help stop anyone else from suffering as they have suffered!
When a doctor uses an antibiotic to kill some Lyme spirochetes in a patient, there is often a resultant Jarisch- Herxheimer reaction (Herx) — a worsening of the patient’s symptoms in response to the increased release of bacterial die-off toxins. The toxins are deposited into the bloodstream and are circulated throughout the body until they can either be eliminated or become lodged in areas of weakened tissues. As neurotoxins, they are preferentially taken up by nerve tissue. These lodged toxins are one of the reasons that symptoms can persist even after the actual Bb infection is gone; the toxins can remain as an irritant in the tissues for years.
In truth, a severe Herxheimer reaction is a sign of poor elimination pathway drainage, poor organ support, and poor treatment by your doctor!
The body of most chronic Lyme sufferers is a toxic dump to start with; if the doctor does not get the pathways of elimination open and working, the body gets even more toxic when the bacteria begin to die and their toxins release.
The person with Lyme Disease has already suffered enough and does not need to go through a Herx just to prove they have Lyme Disease.
So how does one avoid experiencing a worsening of their symptoms from effective treatment? The simplest and most direct answer is by changing treatment philosophies from Allopathic medical philosophy to the American Biological Medicine philosophy.
Allopathic medicine is what 99.9% of all LLMD’s and most Lyme-Literate, Natural Medicine doctors practice. This philosophy is promoted by LLMD’s and Herbologists alike…kill the bugs at all costs and maybe throw in some vitamins and supplements to “support the immune system.” Allopathic medicine is interested in the relief of symptoms through medicines. A good example of the allopathic philosophy of medicine is the use of Tylenol for a headache. I promise you that no one is having a headache from a deficiency of Tylenol.
In contrast to the relatively simplistic, allopathic, antibiotic-based and antimicrobial treatments, which focus only on the numbers on blood tests and symptomatic relief, the treatment philosophy of American Biological Medicine is based upon the following core principles:
- That the restoration of optimum health and bio-regulation is the principle goal. That optimum health is that point at which the body, mind, and spirit can adapt instantly and correctly to any change in their internal and external environment.
- That no bacteria or virus can replicate out of control and cause disease in an optimally healthy body. That in a healthy body, normal components in the blood, such as albumen, is six times more effective than antibiotics at controlling bacterial growth.
- That the physician should never give a remedy or treatment that will harm other unintended aspects of the body’s function and integrity. Every remedy must be frequency-matched (BRS) to work synergistically with every function of the body.
- That the standard pieces and parts view of the body is doomed to fail. The interconnectedness of the entire body and the individual Organ Circuits must be understood, viewed, and the many problems within each circuit must be addressed within each treatment visit.
- That each Organ Circuit is shared by an organ, gland, muscle, tooth, neurological tissue, and sense organ. When anything goes wrong at any level of the circuit, everything on that circuit suffers the same fate, resulting in an overall decrease of 60% energy available in that circuit to maintain integrity and resistance to microbial overgrowth.
- That the wisdom of the body must be respected and understood.
- That the world’s most astute and celebrated physicians cannot heal even a simple paper cut, much less kill every last bacteria and microbe thereby resulting in health. So the role of the physician is to identify and correct any interference with the body’s own ability to heal on all levels.
- That everything in the universe is simply an electromagnetic frequency. That by providing the body with the corrective/inverse frequencies of the pathological condition, bio-regulation can be restored.
- That every microbe and pathology has its own unique electromagnetic signature based upon its unique molecular structure and can be detected with the non-computerized, adjunctive, diagnostic test called Bio-Resonance Scanning more reliably than the 96% fail-rate of blood tests.
- That the goal of the first treatment is to get every organ circuit up and running at 100% integrity. Subsequent treatments involve specialized testing to reveal other issues anywhere in the body that are out of optimum and repair them.
- That every treatment must strive through BRS testing to identify and provide the body with the corrections in the musculo-skeletal, neurological, emotional, epigenetic, and energetic systems.
- The primary goal is to restore the optimum function and integrity within all of the body systems, provide the body with the frequency-matched remedies to facilitate the body’s control of microbes.
- Address the issues in the mind and spirit that are contrary to healing and proper genetic expression.
- Maintain optimum function and integrity long enough that the body has time to replace the dysfunctional cells with healthy cells.
- That the physician expects rapid resolution with each new treatment. An effective treatment plan results in overall improvement of the patient.
- That in Lyme disease, a Herxheimer reaction is a sign of a poorly designed and poorly implemented treatment plan. The worsening of a patient’s condition should never be viewed as an indication that the treatments are working in an optimum fashion.
American Biological Medicine is a profoundly eloquent and scientifically sound philosophy of healing. The best treatment centers and hospitals in the world, for any type of illness, are recognizing that although drugs have relieved many symptoms for the last 100 years, they have also led to our own demise in the form of chronic diseases like Lyme disease and cancer.
Almost 88% of every pharmaceutical drug addresses only the symptoms. This includes antibiotics, in the long run. The top treatment centers, such as the Paracelsus Clinic, Lucas Clinic, and the Filder Clinic in Switzerland, as well as the Hansa Center for Optimum Health in the U.S.A., now strive only to restore the optimum integrity and function of every aspect of the patient. From this stance, disease, including Lyme disease falls away rapidly, especially when suppressive drugs and treatments have not already excessively damaged the person being treated.
As a philosophy, American Biological Medicine does not treat diseases. Diseases fall away as function and integrity are restored through a myriad of different tests and natural treatments. The end result and ultimate goal is that the person will not need to continue taking any medicine in order to feel good.
In summary, doctors who watch for worsening of their Lyme patients symptoms as a guide to know if they are providing “good treatment” is a travesty and barbaric. A severe Herxheimer reaction (herx) is a sign of a poor treatment plan and is unnecessary. Doctors should even avoid mild herxes by being more comprehensive in their treatment strategy and get back to the business of facilitating the improvement of symptoms through the restoration of health. A Herx greatly increases the toxic load on the body; at its worst it can kill an illness-weakened patient outright. A severe herx can temporarily or permanently disable the body, mind, and spirit.
This article was originally published on PlanetThrive.com.
Julie Genser is the founder of PlanetThrive.com, an online community that empowers those healing from environmental illnesses like Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical injury, and mold illness with the information, resources, and support necessary to create positive change in their world. She also runs MCSsafehomes.com, and is co-founder of re|shelter, a forming 501(c)(3) non-profit created to address the housing crisis for people with disabling environmental intolerances.
Lyme-Aware is an independent organization and has no affiliation with this organization or individual.