Everything You Need to Know About Detox Reactions |

Everything You Need to Know About Detox Reactions

Sarena-Rae Santos October 16, 2023

I’ll never forget the first time I did a heavy metal detox. It was right after I had my dental filling replaced. I was ready to detox my body from the toxin load of having an amalgam filling for about two decades. It was the final step of removing toxins from my body. 

I was so excited about this part of my journey I took to TikTok to document every step of the process. On day one of my detox, I started experiencing herxing symptoms like chills, temperature increase, fever-like symptoms, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Many of these symptoms are normal, but the extent to which I experienced them was not. 

Of course, to be transparent with my following, I discussed the herxing symptoms (and what I was doing to counteract them). One of the comments I received was, “What makes you think it’s working as opposed to it actually poisoning you? What if you’re believing something that isn’t true?” I’m not sure if the comment was meant to be malicious, but I used it as an opportunity to explain why herxing symptoms occur. 

What Is Herxing?

Jarisch Herxheimer reaction (JHR), sometimes called herx reactions, herxing, or die-off symptoms, occurs when the body kills or releases toxins faster than it can eliminate them. Herxing presents as fever, chills, shivering, nausea and vomiting, headache, tachycardia, hypotension, hyperventilation, flushing, myalgia, and/or exacerbation of skin lesions (1). Although herxing most commonly occurs 24 hours after antibiotic treatments of spirochete infections, including syphilis, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and relapsing fever, it can also occur from detoxing.

Although some symptoms of herxing are normal, individually, herxing as a whole is not, but it does happen. In my case, herxing occurred because I wasn’t supporting my detox pathways well enough to ensure the toxins had a way out of my body. Once I started supporting my detox pathways and ensuring I was getting enough electrolytes, my herxing symptoms ceased within two days.

Of course, herxing isn’t the only detox symptom that occurs. As I previously mentioned, individual herxing symptoms, like nausea and headaches, are normal but shouldn’t be extreme. Detoxing shouldn’t be exhausting, but chances are it won’t be easy breezy. Let’s dig deeper into individual detox reactions.

Everything You Need to Know About Detox Reactions

If you read our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Detoxing, you know the importance of detoxing and supporting the detox pathways. Maybe it influenced you to start detoxing. Whether you read our blog Detox Reactions and Healing Crisis, or you’ve started your own detox journey, you know detox reactions are common and may include the following:

  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Upset stomach and nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sore throat and swollen glands
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes

These symptoms are likely detox-related if you’ve recently begun detoxing. Of course, like everything else, there are normal and abnormal detox symptoms. Let’s discuss each of these symptoms, how to alleviate them, and how to identify what’s normal and what isn’t.

Addressing Fatigue & Brain Fog 

Fatigue and brain fog are normal detox symptoms as long as they are not worsening. Depending on your toxin load and detox method, your body will be tired, much like when you’re under the weather. Of course, drinking water is important for hydration, and in my experience, electrolytes helped a lot. 

If you read our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Electrolytes, you know electrolytes are far beyond the mainstream recommended unhealthy sports drinks. Instead, you want real hydration through natural minerals. Electrolytes are minerals with a naturally occurring positive or negative electrical charge when dissolved in water that helps regulate bodily functions (2). Make homemade Ginger-Lemon or Turmeric-Lime Electrolyte Drinks and use Earthley’s Electrolyte Powder.

If electrolytes aren’t the problem, consider dry brushing. Dry brushing helps detoxify and encourage lymphatic drainage by increasing blood circulation (3). There is no scientific proof that dry brushing is energizing, but many people, myself included, feel invigorated and energized after a dry brushing session (4). 

Additional tips for alleviating fatigue and brain fog:

If the tips for alleviating fatigue and brain fog aren’t working, consider slowing down or pausing the detox until your pathways work more efficiently.

Addressing Upset Stomach & Nausea

Nausea is another normal detox symptom (vomiting is not). If vomiting occurs, that’s leaning more towards herxing; additional, whole-body support is needed. If you’re already supporting your body, you may need to cut back on the detoxing method. Nonetheless, addressing nausea is pretty straightforward, as many herbs are great for these symptoms. 

Tips for alleviating upset stomach and nausea: 

Addressing Constipation or Diarrhea

Constipation or diarrhea is a normal detox reaction; chronic constipation or explosive diarrhea is not. Although it is normal, constipation isn’t a good thing and should be addressed immediately because it blocks an elimination pathway. Consider supporting your detox pathways. I recommend increasing water consumption to help flush toxins out and support gut health. Drink kombucha and take gut-supporting herbs like peppermint and pumpkin seeds. Consider supplements like Earthley’s Gut Health Oil or Candida Cleanse.

Additional tips for alleviating constipation or diarrhea:

Addressing Sore Throat & Swollen Glands

A sore throat and swollen glands are normal detox reactions. Like muscle aches and pains, this symptom typically comes from a congested lymphatic system and trapped extracellular waste. Unfortunately, when we experience a sore throat, the first course of action is to take a cough drop, but that won’t help the underlying cause. 

Start by supporting your lymphatic systemdry brushing or lymphatic massages, especially of the throat and glands, followed by Earthley’s Lymphatic Cream. After dry brushing or lymphatic massages, consider taking a detox bath. Of course, one dry brushing, lymphatic massage, or detox bath session probably won’t fix the problem. You can use remedies like Earthley’s Cough-B-Gone or Herbal Throat Spray to manage symptoms while addressing the underlying cause (lymphatic congestion).

Additional tips for alleviating sore throat and swollen glands:

Addressing Muscle Aches & Pain

Muscle aches and pains are a normal detox symptom. This pain typically comes from congestion in the lymphatic system. The immune system is very active, killing toxins and creating extracellular waste. Plus, you’re probably not moving around much, and the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so cellular debris gets trapped. That’s where lymphatic support comes in. 

A detox bath is a warm or hot bath with some addition like herbs, salt, clay, etc. — that helps draw toxins out through the skin. Detox baths help the perspiration pathway work more effectively. Try making one of our 5 Detox Bath Recipes, or try Earthley’s Detox Bath, which combines calendula, hyssop, yarrow, ginger, and sage to help relieve pain, soothe rashes, promote lymphatic health, and improve sleep.

Additional tips for alleviating muscle aches and pain:

Addressing Headaches

Headaches are a normal detox symptom. If you read Earthley’s Guide to Headaches & Migraines, you know the importance of finding the root cause. Of course, while detoxing, finding the root cause of a headache can be difficult. It could be dehydration, lack of electrolytes, inflammation, toxin overload, etc. 

The best way to approach a headache, especially while detoxing, is to tackle inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s way of healing and fighting off infections, but chronic inflammation can cause serious problems (5). Skip the liver and kidney-damaging acetaminophen and consider natural alternatives for your detox headache.

Tips for alleviating headaches:

Skin Rashes

Skin rashes are a normal, but not as common, detox reaction. Usually, skin rashes occur when the body isn’t being supported well enough, and the toxins have no choice but to be eliminated through the skin’s pores. Detox rashes are most common in individuals prone to certain skin conditions like eczema (6). It is also possible to experience an allergic reaction, presented as hives, as a result of new supplements or foods that are part of the detox.

Tips for alleviating skin rashes: 

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.

Have you ever experienced detox reactions? If so, how did you manage them?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos
Sarena-Rae Santos' journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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