"Welcome to Nutritionhelp - supporting health for 26 years."
Erica White DipION, FBANT, Nutritionhelp Founder

Herxheimer Reaction

Mon 7th May, 2012 - 12:04pm by Emma Cockrell

Many clients with Nutritionhelp may be following advice to balance their gut ecology.  This entails increasing friendly bacteria and reducing unhelpful yeasts through diet and supplement recommendations.  Whilst in theory this sounds very straight forward, in practice it can be quite challenging. A main contributing factor to this challenge is that one particular yeast, Candida albicans, releases 79 identified chemical toxins, which may contribute to the symptoms that a client has experienced.  However, when dead, this yeast may actually release even more toxins, which could lead to a worsening of symptoms as the diet and supplement recommendations are followed. For example, aches and pains, a muzzy head, skin problems, tiredness and depression may increase as gut yeast is killed off, and this reaction is known as Herxheimer reaction, or more simply, ‘die-off’.

Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook states:

Since dead yeast releases a great many extra toxins, it is not surprising that you don’t feel well until the body has been able to off-load them. Not only is your blood stream full of toxic substances, but each area of your body which has been colonised by candida is now having to deal with toxins being released by dead candida in those very areas, so for a while the inflammation in joints or sinuses or other tissues is worse than it was before.

A Nutritionhelp report will take Herxheimer reaction into consideration. In particular, in order to minimise initial ‘die-off’, clients are recommended to begin on the diet for at least one month before introducing a supplement to specifically support gut ecology. Later, when supplements for gut ecology are introduced, they are increased very gradually to help the client remain in control as much as possible over the level of ‘die-off’ they experience. Certain supplements and foods may help support the the body at this time, and these are included within a report. If ‘die-off’ symptoms increase too much it may be helpful for the client to have a complete break from the gut ecology supplement and just stick with the diet and basic supplement recommendations, to allow the body time to ‘catch-up’. This very often provides the relief needed, but occasionally it may be beneficial to change to an alternative gut ecology supplement or to take an additional supplement to provide specific support for the liver. These options may be discussed for a small fee with one of our associate nutritionists if a client feels they need extra support.

Tomorrow I will write about the role of vitamin C in Herxheimer reaction.