Feeling bad but not real sick -- may be good 
By Walter Sorochan

Posted May 9, 2013. Updated October 18, 2021.  Disclaimer  The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.


Ever feel slightly sick, have itchy skin, a running nose and just generally not feeling good? Perhaps also feel like vomiting and even a slight touch of diarrhea.  But not sick enough to go to a doctor or ly down? A day or two later these symptoms disappear and you feel good again! 

So why is it important for you to understand this event; sometimes referred to as a healing crisis?  Answer: Because if you misinterpret these signals from your body, you may really get sick. Most persons assume that it is a reaction as side-effects to medication.  This may be an incorrect perception.

Most doctors may not recognize feeling sick symptoms, much less explain it to their patients!  But curiosity seekers may have an explanation for all this "not feeling good but not sick" mystery. Its probably not the flu' or some disease.

So is there a plausible explanation for feeling slightly sick from time to time but not sick enough to be bedridden? Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity

Scientists explain these off/on feelings as your body reacting to an excess of toxic substances in your body. You can have illness symptoms when you are getting sick, or when you are changing the body environment as when you are taking antibiotics, or when you are exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, water, soil or food and drink.  It is your body's instant defense system protecting you from dangerous substances.

You are exposed each day to chemical substances in the air, ground, water, plants and food. Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity  Many toxic waste substances accumulate in your body over time and would eventually kill you were it not for your body being programmed to continuously get rid of wastes and poisonous toxins by removing them from your blood stream.   

Your body gets rid of wastes by exhaling carbon dioxide, by the liver converting fat soluble wastes into water soluble by-products that the kidney can filter out of the blood stream, by the skin excreting toxic chemicals and metals, and by defecation.  Most times your body defense system gets rid of wastes and you feel good thereafter.

However, there are times when the toxic wastes accumulate faster in the blood stream than the body can get rid of them. This is when these toxic wastes can make you feel uncomfortable and slightly sick.  This is referred to as the Herxheimer’s reaction [ Herxing ].

Herxing, or feeling sick, occurs when there are too many toxins in the blood stream or when dead or dying bacteria release large amounts of toxins into blood and tissues at an alarming rate. Phillips: bacteria scavenger Bacteria is parasite 2009  

"This provokes a sudden and exaggerated inflammatory response," referred to as "Herxheimer reaction." Essentially, the body is attempting to eliminate the released toxins much faster than it is able to get rid of them.  The immune system releases a massive inflammatory response, and this will "cause a rise in symptoms [ swelling, warmth, redness, pain ] in the area in which the bacteria are being killed."  What this means is that if the bacteria in your knee are being killed off, your herx is likely to include swelling in your knee, or an itchy skin rash on your forearm if reacting to poison ivy, or sneezing when you inhale toxic chemical fumes from your computer or kitchen area. L&L article no longer active.

The body creates symptoms and reactions [inflammation] in response to all toxins/poisons, i.e. drugs, over-the-counter medicines, antibiotics, vaccines, mercury fillings in teeth, heavy metals Hanshew: heavy metals - Inflammation , environmental pollutants,  pesticides, herbicides, radiation, chemicals in foods, personal care and cleaning products, etc.. In other words, the body works hard at minimizing the damage caused by toxins/poisons by creating inflammation and other immune responses in order to get rid of the poisons and protect you from further harm.

The Herxheimer Reaction is a short-term [ from days to a few weeks ] detoxification reaction in the body. [ It is also often referred to as a healing crisis, a detox reaction, Herx feeling, or die-off syndrome. ]

The most common Herxheimer immune reactions are [ incomplete list ]: L&L article no longer active.

    1orange Headache mild (caused by buildup of toxins in the blood)
    1orange Flu-like symptoms
    1orange Itch and rashes
    1orange Flushes
    1orange Increased joint or muscle pain [ joint soreness ]
    1orange gastro-intestinal distress such as nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation
    1orange Extreme fatigue and/or its opposite, restlessness
    1orange Cramps
    1orange Inflammation
    1orange Aches, Pains
    1orange Arthritic flair up
    1orange Insomnia
    1orange Nausea
    1orange Sinus congestion
    1orange Fever (usually low grade) and/or chills
    1orange Frequent urination
    1orange Drop in blood pressure
    1orange Skin eruptions, including: boils, hives, and rashes

You may experience only one or a few of these symptoms.  Usually, the symptom reaction lasts a few days. In more severe cases, reactions can last a week or more.  During this time, you won't feel very well, but in reality, you are healing. After this initial detoxification period, you should sense significant improvement in well-being.

Here are some examples of Herx detox in action:

1. Fasting, which causes a rapid breakdown of fat cells [which are a storehouse for toxins], can cause a healing crisis as toxins previously lodged in the fat cells are released into the blood stream. It is an excess of toxin release that makes one fell slightly sick.

2. Iodine [ Lugol's solution ], for example, is a strong detoxifier.  Iodine acts as a strong chelator, that is, it attaches to these toxic substances or radicals, causing the bundled up toxins and other substances to build up as blobs in the blood stream.  Although detoxification is rapid when a large amount of iodine is consumed, there is a large amount of toxin circulating in the blood stream, causing such persons to feel toxic symptoms. 

3. Nutrient overdose:  Your body detox system can also be activated by many nutrients when these nutrients are in high enough concentrations, like Vitamin C and magnesium.  You could get a touch of diarrhea if you were to ingest an amount of magnesium or vitamin C that your body cannot tolerate.  This is a natural detox reaction, often referred to as an allergy [ which it is not ]. This is your body's protection system at work.

4. Antibiotics affect the whole body, causing desirable bacteria die-off in the large colon as well as other parts of the body.  Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria in the blood stream and especially in the large intestine.  Dead bacteria can release toxins into the blood stream, making you feel slightly sick. The bad bacteria in the colon can over-populate the good bacteria, causing constipation, and other feeling sick symptoms.  This is a side-effect of antibiotics and is related to the Herxheimer Reaction.  When this happens you need to re-seed the desirable bacteria with probiotics.

5. Radiation is a toxic poison even in small amounts like from dental X-rays.  Fall out from nuclear explosions, like the ones at Hiroshima, Six Mile Island power plant meltdown, power plant explosions in Chernobyl and Fukishima release numerous toxic radiation [ cesium-137, iodine-131 ]. Persons exposed to these poisonous radiations can develop  devastating symptoms.  

6. Yeast Die-Off Reactions: Many yeast [ as well as fungus ] sufferers, after starting a program for yeast control, have experienced a worsening of their condition.  Contrary to popularly held misconception, yeast die-off reactions are not a sign that yeast treatment is succeeding. It is an indication that yeast cells are dying, usually in large numbers, and is more of an indicator of the system's toxic overload. More poisons are being released than the body can adequately cope with at one time. In most cases, yeast die-off is a sign that the system's eliminatory pathways are overburdened or as oftentimes happens, blocked, as in constipation and liver stress.

7.Obesity-Toxin- Herx effect complex:  Obese persons may feel an unexplained discomfort that eventually becomes an accepted feeling.  This may be explained as follows:

Fat cells act as a warehouse for storing fat soluble chemicals and toxins.  These toxins hi-jack the fat cells and prevent their eviction; thereby preventing the fat cells from being excreted from the body. So the first step in getting rid of fat in the fat cells is to release the stored toxins.

Fat loss is difficult when the body is full of toxins, as toxins interfere with fat loss.  "The biggest reason we don't burn fat easily is because we are full of toxins, and our bodies store toxins in fat. Our bodies do not want to burn "toxic fat" because the toxins would be evicted, or re-released into the body. To explain this further, the fat burning cycle is initiated by the hormone glucagon, which is released when we eat protein. Three main things inhibit the production of glucagon. The first is excess Cortisol, released due to stress. The second is excess estrogen. [ Even guys produce or have excess estrogen in their bodies, obtained through food, tap water or other sources in the environment. ] The third inhibitor is toxic overload within the body. So, when toxins stress our bodies, our bodies do not burn fat. Our resourceful bodies remove surplus toxins from the blood, and store toxins in fat so that they can't cause Herx feeling and harm us. The body will not burn fat as long as our bodies continue to be stressed with toxins. To make matters worse, when our fat stores are full of toxins, we develop even more fat stores to take care of our newly acquired toxins. No wonder losing fat is so difficult!" Karl article no longer active.

Herx reactions vary widely, depending on many factors, including the general health of the individual, the condition being treated, the degree of toxicity that exists in the body, and the support the body is provided in eliminating the toxins as rapidly as possible.

The severity of the Herx reaction is often an indicator of just how much toxicity there was in the body to begin. It is also an indicator of the effectiveness of the treatment. Over duration of time, it is actually a sign that the body is restoring itself to good health. Herxheimer’s reaction

The Herx reaction is a normal — and even healthy; a reaction that indicates that chlorine, fluoride, bromide, mercury, lead, radiation, parasites, fungus, viruses, bacteria or other pathogens and their toxins are being effectively killed off and removed.  Typically the death of bacteria and/or the associated release of endotoxins often occurs faster than the body can remove them [ as in flu' symptoms ]. The biggest problem with the Herxheimer reaction is that people may stop taking the supplement or medication that is causing the reaction, and thus discontinue the very treatment that is helping to make them better. Although the experience may not make one feel particularly good, the Herxheimer Reaction is actually a sign that healing is taking place.  Herxheimer’s reaction

Helpful suggestions to deal with Herx effect include:

  • drink lots of water to flush out toxins
  • Getting plenty of sunshine
  • Minimizing exercise for the detox period
  • Keeping the organs of elimination (the bowels, lungs, skin, kidneys, lymph) functioning properly
  • Keeping the diet relatively pure during the detox period so that the body is not loaded with additional chemicals and toxins to eliminate while it is already working hard
  • slow down and get some rest

If the above suggestions do not help you, call your doctor.

Conclusion:  Herx effect is a sure sign that therapy is doing its job and working to help restore the body to natural health!

The more toxic one's bodily systems are, the more severe the detoxification, or healing crisis. For example, an obese person [ with more toxicity than a normal weight person ] should expect to feel more severe bouts of Herx reactions than a normal weight person. It is characterized by a temporary increase in symptoms during the cleansing or detox process which may be mild or severe. You may feel worse and therefore conclude that the treatment is not working. But these reactions are instead signs that the treatment is working and that your body is going through the process of cleaning itself of impurities, toxins and imbalances. 

The healing crisis is the result of every body-system, in concert, working to eliminate waste products through all elimination channels and set the stage for regeneration. The end result: old tissues are replaced with new.

Detoxification is a full-time job for your body! Toxin removal is a natural, ongoing process that happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And with all the toxins and stress in the modern world, it is a lot of work. Galland: detox daily 2013

The detoxification time needed varies from person to person and how much toxin is in the body of a person. Obese persons accumulate more toxins as compared to normal weight persons. These toxins need to be gradually released during a healthy weight loss program in order to minimize the Herxing effect. This is also true for those persons who have an unhealthier lifestyle [ smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts ] and have an overload of toxins to detoxify. The more toxins, the longer to detoxify. Thus, the body's own detox system may be continuously overwhelmed by the surplus of toxins and be unable to get rid of the toxins fast enough. HSU-Leblanc: Toxins fattening  Hyman: Toxins & obesity  Karl article no longer active.

Indeed, detoxification may never be complete while living in today's toxic environmental soup. You can help your body to continuously and slowly get rid of toxic poisons [ minimize Herx effect ] over a long time by ingesting chlorophyll in green vegetables, in chlorella and/or spirulina


Admin, "The Herxheimer Reaction – Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better," BioVida, February 10, 2010.  Admin: Herx reaction 2010

Bacteria are Decomposers:  Some animals eat dead animals or carrion. They are called scavengers. They help break down or reduce organic material into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are then eaten by decomposers like bacteria. Bacteria decomposers eat dead organic matter by using enzymes to break them down into smaller chemicals that are often toxic to humans.

Hanshew Lyn, " Toxic heavy metals and inflammatory pathways," The Journal of Results RNA, Issue V.    Hanshew: heavy metals - Inflammation

HSU-Leblanc Elisabeth, “Are Toxins Fattening?” Pure Inside Out,   HSU-Leblanc: Toxins fattening

Hyman Mark, "Systems Biology, Toxins, Obesity, and Functional Medicine," 13th International Symposium of The Institute for Functional Medicine.  Hyman: Toxins & obesity

Galland Leo, "Why You Need to Detoxify 24 Hours a Day," Huffington-Post [healthy-living] May 8, 2013.   Galland: detox daily 2013

Karl William H., "Time to Detoxify," Karl Wellness Center and Chiropractic Clinic PC,"  Karl article no longer active.

Lemon and Lime, "The Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction," Lemon&Lyme, 2012. L&L article no longer active.

Paull Team,"Toxins," IsAGenix,  Paull article no longer active. "It is common knowledge that 80% to 90% of most chronic health conditions are triggered by toxins. Toxins are carcinogens which cause damage to our DNA, and brain function, cause cells to divide faster than their normal rate, thus causing all kinds of cancer, as well as neurological disorders and so forth."

Phillips Theresa, "Bacterial Scavenging System Does Double-Duty," Biotech / Biomedical, Berkeley, California, September 9, 2008.   Phillips: bacteria scavenger 2009

U-Tube, "Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity."  Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity

Wikipedia, "Decomposer."  Wiki: bacteria decomposer

Wikipedia, "Detoxification (alternative medicine)," Wiki: detox

Wikipedia,  Wiki: Herxkeimer effect