Updated: May 7, 2020
I am writing this blog today to put an end to one important misconception most people have about what is required to get their life back after being chronically ill with a tick borne illness like Lyme Disease. When you embrace the mindset that you can heal overnight it comes with some very serious consequences to your health. Many of you believe for a variety of reasons that you have to “KILL KILL KILL” all of the pathogens in your body whether they are from Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Viruses, Parasites, Yeast, etc. as fast as possible so you can be well again. The faster you get rid of these pathogens…the faster you will get your life back. There is nothing farther from the truth and every practitioner that reads research and understands the human body knows this to be true. So why are you not told this upfront before you start any kind of treatment? Honestly, I do not have an answer for that.
Most people that have symptoms from tick borne illnesses just want their life back and they are willing to do anything it takes when they get past a certain level of pain and loss of function. The problem is that it most likely took you a long time to get to the point you are at now. You could have been misdiagnosed or just treated for a long time without getting well. You may or may not have done a ton of antibiotics, herbs, diets, etc…and you are still sick. It is even worse to experience this with a sick child. We have an ethical responsibility to do everything we possibly can to help you get well but I think we also have an ethical responsibility to tell you the truth about HERXING.
So, what is a HERX reaction? You will also see this referred to as a healing crisis or healing response. Anyone that has Chronic Lyme can tell you what a HERX reaction is because 99% of the people have experienced the joy of living through these or watching their loved ones live through them. A Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction was given its name from two dermatologists Adolph Jarisch and Karl Herxheimer in the beginning of the 20th century. A HERX reaction usually happens after a person has been given some kind of treatment to eradicate some pathogen in their body like borreliosis that is making them sick. The symptoms can vary greatly in both presentation and intensity. Many people actually end up in the Emergency Room as a result of these reactions because they can impact every system of the body including your emotional health. From what I have seen and personally experienced it is not uncommon for a person to have intense heart palpitations, skin issues, migraines, panic attacks, neuropathy, cognition issues, tinnitus, loss of balance and the list goes on and on! This reaction is attributed to the endotoxin-like substances generated from the massive load of dead or dying microorganisms. Many people have different opinions on whether this is an allergy, reaction, cytokine storm, etc. but to me it does not really matter because there is one clear truth. That truth is that your body is not able to detox the result of these dead or dying microorganisms.
I use an analogy to describe this as a clogged drain in your body. You can keep that “KILL KILL KILL” mindset but if you cannot detox this toxic debris out of your body where do you think it is going? Do you think it makes it through the drain or does it just keep adding up until it gets reabsorbed and causes even more inflammation and harmful issues within the body? This is one area where I think people need to use common sense especially after they experienced this horror at least once. You know at the end of this process you are not better physically, emotionally or energetically so why are you doing it? Do you think it would be better to customize the approach so that your body can handle the die-off regardless of what you use to produce this result? I do! I have seen too many people suffer horrifically including myself from this bad misconception in the Lyme community. I personally think the emotional impact is just as bad if not worse than the physical symptoms.
My approach is to use holistic lifestyle methods and not antibiotics because I think they do more harm than good. If a person is on an antibiotic for a short period of time and can bounce back quickly and get well…great! But I tend to see the people that have been on antibiotics for years and if you read the inserts on any of the drugs you have taken directly from the manufacturer or the CDC/FDA websites you can educate yourself on the side effects. I am a holistic practitioner so I do not promote the use of antibiotics but I do think they are amazing in acute situations and can save lives. I do not think they are amazing in people with chronic illnesses because I generally do not see people getting off these drugs but rather just cycling from one set of antibiotics to the next without getting well and doing more harm to themselves. This is my opinion because this is what I see in the Lyme community. Note what I said above about HERXing applies to any approach including integrative, holistic, herbal, allopathic….I literally mean any approach so I am not just going after antibiotics!
Just remember to use your own intuition and what you know about your own body to heal. Becoming empowered with knowledge gives you the skills to make better decisions about your future healing options.
Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. (n.d.) Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. (2009). Retrieved June 6 2018 from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Jarisch-Herxheimer+reaction
PEACE OUT Lyme Tribe! XXOO
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Monica Sava Bruenn PhD, FDN, CHN, Herbalist
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