How to Avoid a Healing Crisis and Detox Safely

Detoxing is not a no pain no gain process. Going slow enough for your body to process liberated toxins is key to a successful detox regime. Have you ever done a fast, detox, weight loss program, or a juice cleanse only to feel like garbage for a few days?


Avoiding Detox Symptoms

Enter the healing paradox, otherwise known as the Herxheimer reaction. In order for sick people to get well, we have to kill off the invading infestations. When these fungi or invaders are alive they give off some toxins; but when they die, they often empty their entire contents of toxins into the body quickly. So dead pathogens are usually much more toxic than alive ones.

As we kill off the invading pathogens, the toxic load on the body increases based on the amount and type of pathogen killed. This results in the person feeling worse, and in some cases, the treatment protocol killing the pathogens must be stopped to relieve the extra toxic stress from the die-off.

Toxic Body Burden

Although our bodies have an incredibly efficient detox system built in, the onslaught of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis is increasing rapidly. Our individual chemical exposures, diet, medications, lifestyle, environment and a multitude of other things determine the level of toxic body burden, and therefore how efficiently our body is able to detox.

Picture the body’s detox pathways like a bucket with a hole on the bottom. The toxins sit in the bucket until they leave out the hole. If we fill up the bucket with toxins (by stirring up the body’s pathways) faster than toxins are exiting, the bucket will overflow and we’ll experience symptoms.

Common Detox Symptoms

  • Increased fatigue
  • Muscle soreness, especially in the back, but all over the body
  • Kidney pain (lower back internal)
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sinus congestion
  • Diarrhea or constipation or gas
  • Skin rashes, flushing

You get the point. You feel pretty bad all over and just do not want to get out of bed. There are varying degrees of severity, ranging from a mild annoyance to the point where the detox may need to be slowed or stopped.

Rules of thumb to avoid detox symptoms


Support the organs of elimination

Before any type of cleanse, detox, or fast is attempted, the body’s emunctories, or organs of elimination need to be functioning properly. Think of them as your body’s garbage disposal – picking up, transporting, packaging, and eliminating garbage. Our bowels, liver, kidney, lymph, skin, and lungs make up our organs of elimination.

Detoxing or cleansing is not a “no pain no gain” situation. If we are getting symptoms, we know that our body is overburdened and our detox systems aren’t working. Think about checking out at the grocery store. If we throw our entire cart on belt at once, it’s going to create a big mess, things are going to fall off, and it’s going to take much longer and be much bigger deal than it needs to be. If we add things to the belt more slowly, matching the pace of the cashier, everything will get done in a much less dramatic fashion.

Have regular bowel movements

Many people don’t realize how important it is to have a healthy pooping experience. Ideally, we should be having 1-3 bowel movements a day. Our bowels are the main route of excretion for toxins and dead bacteria in our body. We definitely don’t want them sitting around in our colon, leeching stuff back into our bodies.

Drink lots of fluids

Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Not juice, pop or tea… just good old fashioned water. Our body is mostly water, and it’s essential to keep things moving along and flushing out.


Far infrared sauna heats your body core and raises your internal temperature, allowing your body to sweat.

Exercise another good way to get sweating. Dress a little warmer at the gym or outside to get sweating faster and heavier. Drink extra water during and after all of the skin sweating activities. People who do not sweat regularly store many more toxins in their body and the kidneys get stressed much more by not sweating regularly. If you have skin issues, listen to your body. Sweat might irritate your skin

Don’t just lie in bed all day!

It usually helps clear the body faster if you get up and walk around regularly. Lying around all the time leaves the body stagnant and the toxins in the lymphatic system will never clear out. Regular short walks outside in the fresh air will often help. So rest some, then walk and breath deeply, drink water, rest some, walk and breath deeply, drink water…

Help! I am still getting a bad reaction even though I tried some of the above ideas.

Consult your doctor. You may need to completely stop taking any products that may be causing the die-off reaction, slow down, or stop the cleanse. Stopping for 2-3 days is often enough to get the body cleared and feeling better again. Of course continue doing the above die-off reaction reduction techniques. See your doctor before starting the detox process again.


Butler, T. (2017). The Jarisch–Herxheimer Reaction After Antibiotic Treatment of Spirochetal Infections: A Review of Recent Cases and Our Inderstanding of Pathogenesis. Am J Med Hyg, 46-52.

Gaby, A. (2013). Nutritional Medicine. New Hampshire: Fritz Perlberg.

Pound, M. (2005). Proposed mechanisms and preventative options of Jarisch–Herxheimer reactions. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.


Suggested for you

Trending Posts

Connect With Me

Picture of Dr. Kayla Clarke, ND

Dr. Kayla Clarke, ND

Dr. Kayla Springer is a Naturopathic Doctor focusing on delivering clear, conscious, and actionable pathways to wellness for modern humans who are ready to embrace their best selves and show up in the world. She utilizes a diversity of tools in the naturopathic toolbox to craft my patients custom programs designed to build strong foundational systems unique to their history and biochemistry.