My journey through Lyme Disease- Healing my body and mind.

What is a Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction?

on April 12, 2013


Ever heard of a Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction? Probably not. Many Late-Stage Lyme patients are very familiar with this term. The theory is an increase in symptoms or onset of new symptoms due to accumulation of toxins (inflammatory chemicals in the body) from the decay of Lyme bacteria during antibiotic use. Dr. Jemsek, a Lyme doctor on the east coast, has a more complete explanation here. After not having one for a while, this morning I had a lovely Herxheimer Reaction. For me, it usually goes like this: I take antibiotics in the morning. About 1 to 2 hours after taking antibiotics, I get an intense wave of symptoms including severe nausea, muscle weakness, slow movement, trembling head, pain and pressure in my spine, brain fog, and overwhelming feeling of needing to lay down and curl up into a ball. Pretty much just feels like a system shut-down. Typically, before or during times when I am having Herxheimer reactions, I get skin lesions along my spine that are really sore and generally leave scars. The theory behind the spine lesions is similar to syphilis, the body is trying to push out toxins through the largest organ it has- the skin. Why they are concentrated along my spine, I have no idea. I am going to take them to be a good thing and instead of being sad about scars, think of them as battle wounds that I received in a battle where I seriously kicked butt!

Thankfully, this type of experience generally doesn’t last long. Typically, I will begin feeling better within a couple of hours and will be right back to my normal self (which these days is feeling pretty darn good). This is, of course, never a fun experience. BUT, the reason that I want to share this with you, besides awareness, is to say that I have found some simple ways to deal with it until it passes. As soon as I start to feel the tell-tale signs, I start a warm epsom salt bath (with lots of epsom salt), drink tons of water with lemon, and do some dry skin brushing before taking my bath. Sometimes I add rose petals to the bath as well (pictured above) for added softness. Okay, I don’t really add rose petals. But, I do soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes while listening to some calm music. Doesn’t that sound nice? It does the trick almost every time! If you don’t ever need to use that protocol for Lyme, you could probably even use it to help get rid of gnarly hangovers. 😉 Not that you would ever need that…..

As always, thanks for the generous donations. Thanks for helping me fight this thing! Much love, Lyndsey

6 responses to “What is a Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction?

  1. Vicki says:

    Hey Lindsey! I love Epsom salt baths! I take them all the time. I started years ago after a good work out. But when I was pregnant last year I took them every day for the pains in my back, knees, hips…etc. You can also use it as a compress which is really good for a concentrated area. Another trick I use is after taking a really warm Epsom salt bath I rub Bio-freeze on my back or knees or whatever is hurting. My massage therapist told me that the warm then cold is really good. She recommends taking the hottest bath or shower u can stand for 15 min then putting it on right when you get out before you skin has a chance to cool down. All Bio-freeze is, is menthol. Its hard to find but you can get it at Massage Envy or most Chiropractor’s and Acupuncturist office. It has really helped me. Epsom salt can be used for so many different things. I love it. Hope this helps. I have chronic pain from endometriosis and the pregnancy. It really put alot of strain on my body. I also drink water like crazy. Helps your muscles. Im sure you already know that one tho! 😉 Keep fighting girl! You are an inspiration to us all. xoxoxo

  2. jeanvieve7 says:

    Reblogged this on My Color Is Lyme and commented:
    I have experienced this when switching or upping my Lyme med doses, and sometimes just randomly for no reason….

  3. Lisa Evans says:

    Hi Lindsey! Allie’s Mom here, I am so sorry to hear about your fight against Lyme disease. There is so much I didn’t know about it, and your blog is very interesting, and what you are doing is inspiring! I feel the need to write to you now, because of what I was just reading about Japanese knotweed, a hugely invasive plant that is growing out of control in the next property by ours and all over the place here in Fall City. I just learned on Friday that it is actually edible, and in further surfing for ways to prepare it, I discovered that it is useful for treating lyme disease! When I looked into THAT, I see that it is especially useful in reducing the Herxheimer reaction… so, I look at this, your latest entry talking about Herxheimer… hmmmm, is it just a coincidence that I learn about something that helps the Herx reaction just before seeing that you are having one? I think it is probably more than that, something deeper… so that is why I’m writing. I love doing this kind of research. Here are a few other links regarding using Japanese knotweed for lyme disease: *** a place to buy knotweed root

    The articles mention Lyme expert and Master Herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner and his book Healing Lyme – it looks really helpful.

    So Lindsey, if you’re interested in trying knotweed, let me know, and I will go harvest some (free!) knotweed for you. I can get some this weekend, or maybe during the week if I take some time off work (I’d be glad to!). This is exactly the right time to harvest the shoots/stalks and/or roots. I think the roots are the most concentrated parts and are used for the treatment, but I would want to see what the experts say… take care, Lisa

    • lilneeds says:

      Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for your help! Sorry you have a knotweed problem. It really takes over fast, doesn’t it? I’m glad you stumbled upon the therapeutic uses for the plant. My doctor actually does prescribe knotweed when necessary. She has me on a pretty strict protocol since certain herbs and meds can interfere with each other, etc, so I follow her recommendations. Right now I am not taking knotweed, but I have in the past. Good stuff. Herbs often seem to almost be more effective for my body than prescriptions. It’s interesting. Thanks again! Good luck battling your knotweed 🙂

  4. Nightmare Logic says:

    Keep positive! I have had chronic Lyme for 9 years and have now nearly done a year with no symptoms…please see my post from today, it may be useful…Keep Fighting!!

    • lilneeds says:

      Thank you so so much! I love to hear success stories and plan to be one myself. So encouraging to hear that you have had a good year! It looks like you have made all of the lifestyle changes that I have made to get well. It is SO crucial. I love your blog and am now a follower 🙂 Here’s to many more happy and healthy years to come! Take THAT stupid ticks!

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