Have you ever heard of the Herxheimer effect? Even if that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, you may have seen this medical phenomenon in action, or even experienced the effects for yourself. It can be summed up quite succinctly with the adage “sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.” Also known as a “herx reaction or “herxing”, it refers to a temporary worsening of symptoms that can occur when the body is detoxifying. What might seem to be a negative side effect or allergic reaction could actually be a sign that everything is working as its supposed to. We’ll take a closer look at what the Herxheimer effect is, the effects it can have on the body, and some simple ways that may help counteract the unpleasant feelings.
What is the Herxheimer Effect?
The ‘Jarisch-Herxheimer Effect’ is named after a pair of physicians, Adolf Jarisch and Karl Herxheimer. During the late 19th century, these dermatologists began noticing patients would experience worsening symptoms after treatment. They believed this effect was caused by a toxin released from the dying bacteria in response to an effective treatment.
In modern day medicine, Herxheimer reactions often happen as a result of antibiotic treatments, but can also be caused by something as simple as a change in diet or taking supplements, like CBD. When bacteria, or other pathogens, are killed, it releases toxins into the body that enter the bloodstream. If there’s a significant quantity, it can trigger an immune-like response that can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, rash, and nausea. Some have reported that it simply intensifies the symptoms they were already experiencing, making it feel as if things are getting worse.
Most often, the Herxheimer reactions only last about 24-72 hours, but some people may experience the effects several days later. The severity or duration of the reactions will vary from person to person.
Does CBD Cause Herxheimer Reactions?
While Herxheimer reactions are mostly associated with antibiotic treatments for spirochetal infections (where the bacteria has a spiral shape) such as syphilis, Lyme disease, and leptospirosis, it can happen with other treatments, lifestyle changes or supplements. Many people have reported experiencing some sort of Herxheimer effect when doing a cleanse diet, taking CBD oil, or using supplements that are intended to help detoxify the body.
Because CBD is believed to have antibacterial properties, it could theoretically cause a Herxheimer reaction. However there is still much research to be done in this regard. There are many in CBD circles that believe the potential antioxidant properties of CBD are enough to induce Herxheimer reactions for certain individuals, even just from CBD oil. However, CBD IV Infusion increases the absorption of the CBD molecules to nearly 100%, which is much more than CBD oil could ever achieve.
The increase in bioavailability has the potential to lead to more pronounced Herxheimer reactions in individuals receiving CBD IV Infusion.
How to Manage Herxheimer Reactions
Herxheimer reactions don’t have to be a “knuckle down” situation where someone just has to ride it out. Especially if the ultimate benefits can have a positive impact on someones quality of life. There are a few ways to help mitigate the negative reactions that might occur after a CBD IV infusion
Take 3,000mg in activated charcoal capsules at the beginning of infusion, and then another 3,000mg with in 1 hour post infusion.
Add additional supplements infusion therapy cocktail: magnesium chloride and vitamin C. If those aren’t available, upping the doses based on the Doctor’s discretion will help mitigate herxing.
*Glutathione push or IM injection (Glutathione Reduced not Glutathione L-Isomer as only the reduced version has the necessary anti-oxidant properties.)
Here’s an example cocktail bag and usage guideline:
This is the latest recommendation from feedback with clinics infusing with PICO IV (Updated 1/29/24).
Inject Pico CBD 5mg-10mg, Magnesium Chloride 1,000mg and Vitamin C 15,000mg into a 1,000ml bag. A 1,000ml bag is the MINIMUM due to dehydration effects. Once all have been injected into the saline bag then gently agitate or turn the bag to homogenize before hooking up the IV. Make sure to never inject the bag on the hanger as this runs the risk of the injections going directly into the exit port in a concentrated form.
These are primarily preventative measures. If the individual is still experiencing detox symptoms after an infusion, they can take alka-seltzer or any antacid that contains magnesium and acetaminophen about 4-6 hours after, as well as take a warm epsom salt bath.
Lastly, taking a probiotic to help add “good” bacteria back into the body is great way to rebalance after an infusion.