When a patient tells me they feel much worse after starting Lyme disease treatment and I excitedly respond, “Thats great news!”, normally you would think I have a few screws loose in my head. But the patient feeling worse is very common because it means they are having a herxheimer reaction and the nasty bugs invading their bodies and brain are dying. So essentially, you will have to feel worse to feel better which again, seems a little nutty, but when you are treating Lyme and its myriad of co-infections, feeling worse at first is what you get.
The herxheimer reaction or herxing is a systemic inflammatory response that can cause severe symptoms such as fever, chills, hypotension, joint pain, headache, flushing, muscle pain, chest pain, heart arrhythmias and anxiety. This inflammatory cascade is triggered when the lyme spirochetes and other microorganisms die and that process releases endotoxin like products into the body. Your body doesn’t like it and definitely lets you know it with some very uncomfortable herxing episodes. To imagine what its like to herx, remind yourself when you had the flu and how horrible you felt. Now take that and double it and that’s what it feels like for most people to deal with herxing. These episodes are usually temporary but the duration and frequency can seem like its just one horrific episode.
How to combat herxing
To reduce or alleviate herxing, you must reduce your body’s inflammatory response. Some use a combination of things including ibuprofen, herbals, vitamins & minerals, nutrients, dietary and lifestyle changes which all are effective and should be used during the herxing process. I use all of these in combination with hyperbaric oxygen therapy as my preferred method of alleviating herxing symptoms. Not only do my patients tolerate the lyme treatment much better in terms of physical symptoms, but they receive all the other benefits that hyperbaric oxygen provides such as improved immune system function, increased blood oxygenation, intensified cellular activity, detoxification of the brain and the liver and so much more.
Hard or soft?
Some people think bigger or more powerful must be better at knocking out a chronic illness but that is simply not the case. Just look to eastern medicine, homeopathy and naturopathic medicine to know that less can be much more powerful. And this is also the case for lyme patients and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. There are hard and soft chambers in hyperbaric and you should be strategic about which you use depending on how you plan to approach your lyme disease treatment. The hard hyperbaric chambers go to a deeper depth and have been shown in studies to kill the lyme spirochete. The problem with using the hard chamber approach is that most patients are not strong enough to handle the severe herx reaction they will undergo. I prefer the soft hyperbaric chamber that maintans a shallower pressure depth and then becomes an inflammation reduction agent.
Most people that test positive for Lyme, or borrelia burgdorferi, also test positive for many of its associated co-infections such as Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, Mycoplasms etc. For those patients that have multiple infections, their herxheimer reactions tend to be stronger than those with just one infection. For those patients, I highly recommend that they help their body fight these insidious bugs by utilizing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These patients are more inclined to stick with their treatment protocols and have overall faster recovery times than those patients who did not choose to use hyperbaric oxygen therapy.