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Herx Reaction

The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction was originally noted in 1895 by Dr. Jarisch who worked with Syphyllis (a spirochete) patients.  In the 21st century, we observe Herxheimer reactions in tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease, also caused by a spirochete.  A Herxheimer reaction (Herx) typically occurs hours to days after antimicrobial administration and is thought to be the result of endotoxins released into the bloodstream by dying spirochetes.  The body’s immune system then responds to the endotoxins and the concurrent release of cytokines (i.e., tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 6, and interleukin 8) which are chemical messenger molecules of the immune system producing exaggerated symptoms lasting 3 days up to several weeks.

Dr. Marra doses antibiotics specifically for the individual patient so that the Herxheimer reaction on a scale of 1-10, is about a 5.  This is her own technique, and she feels that severe Herxheimer reactions over prolonged periods of time may cause tissue damage from the excessive release of endotoxins and cytokines.  Tissues become friable as the result of chronic inflammation, not unlike what happens when a sponge is repeatedly used and the surface area becomes frayed.  Dr. Marra is not convinced that this kind of tissue damage is reversible which is why she chooses to take the route of treatment that she does.  However, many other physicians choose to treat more aggressively and seem to have good results. This is simply her own treatment preference.

Herx Symptoms

The general description of a Herxheimer reaction is a temporary increase in symptoms but may also include the development of completely new symptoms.  More specifically, the most common complaints of a Herx reaction are increased joint and muscle pain, headaches, chills, night sweats, fever (usually low grade), extreme fatigue, and brain fog or lack of mental clarity, drop in blood pressure, hives, or a rash of some sort.  Worth noting here is that a rash or hives can sometimes be mistaken for an allergic reaction.  It is up to the treating physician to determine this, but with close, experienced observation and the use of Benadryl, Alka Seltzer Gold, Quercetin, warm lemon water and vitamin C (see Herx management), unnecessary premature cessation of antibiotics may be prevented.  In more severe cases of Herxheimer reactions, a reduction in the antibiotic dosage or cessation of the antimicrobials may be required.

The timing of a Herx reaction is very individualistic and can occur within days to weeks after the onset of antibiotic treatment.  In some patients, a Herxheimer reaction occurs only once or twice, or not at all throughout treatment.  It is clear however, that as you move through the treatment and the spirochetal load becomes decreased, the Herx reactions become less and less severe.  Herxheimer reactions can also occur in cycles (usually 4 week cycles) and may be affected by the lunar cycle.  This is anecdotal but it is an interesting observation in some people.

Herx and Lyme Disease

About 70-80% of people undergoing Lyme Disease treatment with antibiotics experience some sort of Herxheimer reaction.  It is thought by a number of physicians and scientists that these people have difficulty in detoxification processes, and that perhaps there may be a defect in one of the detox pathways in the liver.  This may be genetic, environmental or a combination of both.  But without question, maintaining an alkaline diet and an  “alkaline bioterrain” helps lessen the effects of a Herx reaction.  The 20% of patients who do not experience a Herx reaction should not feel like they are getting nowhere by taking antibiotics.  Discussion of this issue should be left to the patient and their treating physician.

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Lyme Disease Testimonials

Dr. Andrew Chevalier, ND
"I’ve been suffering from a horrible disease for around 11 years. I’ve been neglected by doctors for about eight years, told I was crazy, that my disease is all in my head, there’s nothing they can do about it, etc. When I came to this place I was overjoyed, I’ve cried with happiness because of finding this place. This medical team is absolutely phenomenal and I would give them five stars and a 110% recommendation. This is something that is saving my life, and I know many other people that have the same experience as I do. They..."
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"Dr Chevalier and his team have created a very high quality practice over the past year. I am a very well-trained surgeon with very high standards, and have been very pleased and impressed with the quality of care this team provides consistently. Dr C has assembled a very bright and high quality team including Briana, the very bright, competent and professional practice manager, Rene a very skilled iv nurse, and Kacey and two superb phlebotomists, Amy and Summer. Dr Chevalier's focus is on interventions which strengthen the patient's own health and immune system. This approach has been invaluable for..."
Dr. Nicole Schertell, ND, CCT
"Honestly, Dr. Scherell was my last stop. After years of being passed around, I had one foot in the grave. I could barely function. Today my life is so different. After being diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013, Dr. Schertell started treating me. She has done for me what no other doctor could do. She is very smart and I love her dedicated staff. I owe them my life."
Dr. Nicole Schertell, ND, CCT
"A lot of people say that you cannot "cure" Lyme disease, but I have been Lyme symptom free for over 7 months now. I am now focusing on healing my body and balancing hormones. Dr Shertell saved my life! "
Dr. Jennifer Smith, ND
"I had my first appointment with Dr. Jennifer Smith this week. I have been to over 100 doctors in nine years. With Dr. Smith, I loved how she didn’t make assumptions or jump to a conclusion after I handed her my list of symptoms and past blood work. She took the time to understand the history and then ordered more testing. She did some other tests and was just very compassionate and understanding. She knows people like me have been through a lot. I would highly recommend you see her even if you already have a Lyme doctor. She does..."
Jennifer Goldstock BSN, MSN, ANP-BC
"Listen up folks !!!!! I had some bad experiences through misdiagnosis and courses of treatment until I was finally recommended to Jen and her staff at synRG Integrative. The compassion, knowledge and understanding from the moment I walked through that door is something I will never forget. Lyme is a terrible, painful and debilitating disease. Jennifer and her staff (Katie and Julie are incredible passionate people) are with you every step of the way during your course of treatment. I normally don't complete reviews, but I had to in this case to recommend synRG Integrative to..."
"If you want to get better from Lyme disease with lots of co-infections, then I suggest that you see Dr. Richey! Do not waste your money elsewhere! She and her family have Lyme disease, too, and she has a vested interested in keeping up-to-date on Lyme treatments. She knows what we are going through because she has gone through the same thing. She will understand you!"
Dr. Lesley Fein, MD, MPH
"Typically, I do not leave reviews, however after my experience with Dr. Fein I feel an obligation to do so. Let me begin by stating I have seen many specialists over the years after I was misdiagnosed for 10 years and was bound to a wheelchair. When I met her I had to choose between her and Dr. Frid of NY who, at the time, was treating me. I’m glad I chose Dr. Fein. Not only is her knowledge of this disease unmatched, but she is humble, caring, and listens to your concerns, in fact there..."
Mary-Beth Charno, RN, MSN, ANP-C
"I can't speak highly enough about Mary-Beth. She was a tremendous help when I was diagnosed with Lyme this past year. Her expertise in the area of Lyme disease and co-infections is such an asset to the healthcare community as it has become so prevalent today. Additionally, Mary-Beth's background in both conventional training as well as functional medicine is invaluable as well. Her approach to treatment not only includes addressing the symptoms of the infection, but she also addresses and supports the whole person. As a result, the common side effects of the treatment were lessened and I tolerated treatment..."
Dr. Charles Crist, MD, PC
"I have been under Dr. Crist’s care now for about 6 years, and I can honestly say he saved my life. After 10 ½ months of being misdiagnosed and basically abandoned by my family doctor and the local medical community, I was feeling pretty lost and hopeless. It’s hard to describe how much hope my first appointment with Dr. Crist gave me, because I had gone through months of seeing doctors that told me anything from “Lyme Disease doesn’t exist in Kansas” to “You’re just depressed.” Dr. Crist is everything all of those doctors were not: he is kind, knowledgeable,..."
Dr. Seth Osgood, DNP, FNP-BC, EMT-P, IFMCP
"I’ve been a patient of Dr. Seth’s for the past year and my husband has been a patient for the past two years. He is incredibly knowledgeable, researched, compassionate, caring and detailed. He’s a good listener, too. Dr. Seth has helped my husband successfully gain control of his Rheumatoid arthritis without drugs and he is now in remission. I had been to countless doctors over the years trying to find a cause for my ongoing fatigue and muscle pain. Dr. Seth was the only medical professional who took the time to dig deep and tried to find a root cause...."
Rita M. Rhoads, MPH, CRNP, CNM
"I would have died if I wouldn't have gone to see Rita. I had every lyme disease symptom you could possibly imagine. After working with Rita a few years ago I can live a normal life again. If you have lyme disease or think that you might, I would highly recommend her. She literally saved my life."
Dr. Andrew Chevalier, ND
"I went to Dr Andy Chevalier on April 11th of 2018 for umbilical stem cells. I had Aplastic Anemia from Lyme, Bartonella, CMV, and EBV entering my bones. Her I am one month later able to walk, run, swim, no pain except a little left in my neck and back, no seizures or migraines, able to handle an entire day of doing things I love and want to do. I owe him my life. The only thing I wanted to do but couldn’t was take him and the entire staff home with me. Amazingly beautiful souls!!! Niki ..."
"I want to thank Dr. Richey for her expert care. She literally saved my daughter's life when no one else would take me or her seriously! I greatly appreciate her thorough attention."
Dr. Tenesha Wards, DC
"I've been sick for 20+ years. The last 10 have been spent in the bed. I've been to EVERY specialist there is in my area and Houston. They piled pills upon pills to treat my symptoms and labeled me with "fibromyalgia." I knew that was not the problem, but finally just accepted I would never get better. One day while sitting on my floor exhausted, crying, scrolling through Facebook, an ad popped up for Doctor Tenesha Wards. She described me and my life and my symptoms completely and said there was an answer. For the first time, I..."

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