Why do I feel so bad when I detox?

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

In the first few days of a detox – possibly longer, you may start to feel somewhat – if not, incredibly worse than what you did the day before you started this detox. “Detox” they said, “You’ll feel energised” they said. This is what you will be thinking whilst you are possibly harbouring a headache, feeling exhausted and achy, and wondering what this new itchy rash is doing over your body!

The Herxheimer reaction – also known as the “Healing Crisis” within naturopathic circles, is a reaction to endotoxins released by the death of harmful organisms  within your body such as parasites, bacteria, Candida etc within the body.

The dead pathogens leak toxins, break down and are absorbed by surrounding tissues, which were already displaying symptoms caused by the infection of the pathogens in the first place. The majority of these toxins end up at your liver, overwhelming it. When your liver is overworked you can feel exhausted, depressed and achy.

This increase in the concentration of toxins worsens the original symptoms and elicits a further immune response from the body causing histamine release, swelling and pain. The body ramps up its detoxification and cleansing processes which may result in other uncomfortable symptoms. Your body will try to release the waste products via bowel motions. Ensuring you are not constipated will help clear the toxins faster and minimise discomfort. As the overload of dead organisms is reduced and removed from the body, healing and a surge of energy should follow.

Eliminating sugar, caffeine and alcohol if you’ve previously consumed high amounts, increases unpleasant symptoms as your body experiences withdrawal.

Common symptoms while detoxing

The following symptoms are common while detoxing:

  • Dull headaches
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Feverishness and sweating
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat, increased sneezing
  • Vaginal irritation

If your symptoms are particularly intense, and your days are long and demanding, a reduction in your dosage of supplements may be necessary to reduce discomfort. Treatment can also be temporarily suspended to allow the body to deal with the overload more easily, and then resumed at a lower dosage to keep the die-off effect at a manageable level.

Herxheimer reaction is regarded as a positive sign, meaning that the treatment is working and is killing off the offending pathogens, so when you start to get cravings – especially for sugars, you must resist the urge to succumb to the pathogens in your body by starving them!

Drinking 2 litres of purified water daily helps the body eliminate these toxins more quickly. Supporting your liver with a superfood powder and ensuring your gut eliminates wastes well with a Gut Health powder should help make your detox more efficient and less painful.

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