Doctor-induced horror herxes

by | Jul 30, 2011 | Columns, Featured, Optimum Health | 8 comments

Herxheimer reaction (herx)The following are true stories, though the names have been changed.

After taking a selection of popular natural antimicrobial herbal products often recommended by one of the Lyme community’s big-name herbologists, Sally awoke one morning not only feeling all of her original symptoms, but was horrified to realize that she could not swallow! She could not swallow food, water or even saliva. She was rapidly losing weight and all of her previous symptoms were profoundly worse which led to her being admitted to the hospital. A feeding tube had to be put in to provide her nourishment and liquids.

Over a year and a half passed before Sally could begin to swallow on her own. Doctors had previously diagnosed her with Lyme disease and informed her to expect to feel worse, possibly for years before feeling better, but Sally had not counted on feeling this badly!

Sally’s Lyme-Literate M.D. (LLMD) started her on five different antibiotics in an all out attack to “kill the Lyme bacteria” at all costs. The cost in this case was Sally losing the use of her colon, which stopped functioning completely, and her having to contend with the new symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic colitis, asthma, fatty liver, hemophilia, a propensity to skin, sinus, and lung infections, confinement to her home virtually 100% of the time, and she still has difficulty swallowing!

Even years later, Sally can still not believe that her healthcare team probably did more harm to her than the original Lyme disease would have.

Mary suffered from mild to moderate symptoms of Lyme disease so her LLMD prescribed the drug Rifampin. After being told by everyone from her doctor to many people in her support group to expect to feel worse, she felt as many others do that she could tolerate feeling a little worse if it meant she could eventually feel better. Her support group members would even swap “Herx stories” all reveling in the one-upmanship of who had had the worst Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction.

After just two Rifampin pills Mary could not sleep for seven whole days, even for an hour, and she felt like she was going to jump out of her body. The nerves from her head to her toes felt inflamed and like they were vibrating. To Mary’s horror she began to feel like she was suffocating, which caused her blood pressure to rise dangerously high for days on end. For many weeks the symptoms persisted and were joined by uncontrollable urination, severe tremors, and severe, constant pain throughout her entire body. She would watch the nerves causing her muscles to jump like they were going to come through the skin. Her eyes twitched in spasms that would force them to close, while her eyeballs thumped inside her sockets. Her LLMD calmly told her that it was just a severe herx reaction that can be expected in the treatment of Lyme disease.

Mary still has virtually all of these symptoms to this day.

These are just two stories that were submitted to me by caring individuals who desired to warn others away from doctors who don’t take measure to prevent severe Herx reations. I have personally heard thousands of these stories from people that come to my clinic. People who have suffered for many years, not from the illness, but from the medications.

There is a prevalent thought in the natural and conventional Lyme disease treatment philosophies, that one should expect worsening of their symptoms from conventional or natural antibiotic medicines. Doctors often actually base the selection of their medicines on whether or not their patient starts feeling worse after beginning antibiotics! They believe the medicine must not be working if you don’t feel horrible.

I am here to tell you that you should RUN, not walk, from any natural or conventional doctor who tells you to expect to feel worse from their treatments. Virtually no other aspect of medicine functions with this mentality. A person goes to a doctor so that the doctor can help them feel better.

After treating thousands of people with LD I cannot say that no one ever got worse, nor can we guarantee a person will only feel better from our more comprehensive treatment philosophy, but I will say that expecting you to feel worse and watching with anticipation of you feeling worse is never, ever the goal of a doctor who practices American Biological Medicine!

Although all doctors take the Hippocratic oath, promising to “Do no harm”, many, if not most well-meaning doctors are purposely causing horrible suffering in their patients with Lyme disease. They have been taught, as many of you have been taught that it is just a fact of good Lyme treatment to cause worsening of the patients. I have seen many people who would fight to the death that a Herxheimer reaction is a good thing. The worse it is the better!

I have to protest and I must passionately disagree, because our doctors just don’t see it in practice, a practice that treats only the worst, most chronically ill cases from all over the world. These people have often seen between 10 to literally 100 specialists and doctors before coming to our clinic. The suffering must end. It is barbaric to hold to the idea that it is necessary to make the patient feel worse and sometimes cause them permanent damage, and even drive the person to suicide, when all it takes is a more supportive and carefully thought out treatment strategy.

Top doctors are telling their patients to expect to feel worse “for the next five years!”

Sally and Mary would now likely be willing to fight to the death to help stop anyone else from suffering as they have suffered!

When a doctor uses an antibiotic to kill some Lyme spirochetes in a patient, there is often a resultant Jarisch- Herxheimer reaction (Herx) — a worsening of the patient’s symptoms in response to the increased release of bacterial die-off toxins. The toxins are deposited into the bloodstream and are circulated throughout the body until they can either be eliminated or become lodged in areas of weakened tissues. As neurotoxins, they are preferentially taken up by nerve tissue. These lodged toxins are one of the reasons that symptoms can persist even after the actual Bb infection is gone; the toxins can remain as an irritant in the tissues for years.

In truth, a severe Herxheimer reaction is a sign of poor elimination pathway drainage, poor organ support, and poor treatment by your doctor!

The body of most chronic Lyme sufferers is a toxic dump to start with; if the doctor does not get the pathways of elimination open and working, the body gets even more toxic when the bacteria begin to die and their toxins release.

The person with Lyme Disease has already suffered enough and does not need to go through a Herx just to prove they have Lyme Disease.

So how does one avoid experiencing a worsening of their symptoms from effective treatment? The simplest and most direct answer is by changing treatment philosophies from Allopathic medical philosophy to the American Biological Medicine philosophy.

Allopathic medicine is what 99.9% of all LLMD’s and most Lyme-Literate, Natural Medicine doctors practice. This philosophy is promoted by LLMD’s and Herbologists alike…kill the bugs at all costs and maybe throw in some vitamins and supplements to “support the immune system.” Allopathic medicine is interested in the relief of symptoms through medicines. A good example of the allopathic philosophy of medicine is the use of Tylenol for a headache. I promise you that no one is having a headache from a deficiency of Tylenol.

In contrast to the relatively simplistic, allopathic, antibiotic-based and antimicrobial treatments, which focus only on the numbers on blood tests and symptomatic relief, the treatment philosophy of American Biological Medicine is based upon the following core principles:

  1. That the restoration of optimum health and bio-regulation is the principle goal. That optimum health is that point at which the body, mind, and spirit can adapt instantly and correctly to any change in their internal and external environment.
  2. That no bacteria or virus can replicate out of control and cause disease in an optimally healthy body. That in a healthy body, normal components in the blood, such as albumen, is six times more effective than antibiotics at controlling bacterial growth.
  3. That the physician should never give a remedy or treatment that will harm other unintended aspects of the body’s function and integrity. Every remedy must be frequency-matched (BRS) to work synergistically with every function of the body.
  4. That the standard pieces and parts view of the body is doomed to fail. The interconnectedness of the entire body and the individual Organ Circuits must be understood, viewed, and the many problems within each circuit must be addressed within each treatment visit.
  5. That each Organ Circuit is shared by an organ, gland, muscle, tooth, neurological tissue, and sense organ. When anything goes wrong at any level of the circuit, everything on that circuit suffers the same fate, resulting in an overall decrease of 60% energy available in that circuit to maintain integrity and resistance to microbial overgrowth.
  6. That the wisdom of the body must be respected and understood.
  7. That the world’s most astute and celebrated physicians cannot heal even a simple paper cut, much less kill every last bacteria and microbe thereby resulting in health. So the role of the physician is to identify and correct any interference with the body’s own ability to heal on all levels.
  8. That everything in the universe is simply an electromagnetic frequency. That by providing the body with the corrective/inverse frequencies of the pathological condition, bio-regulation can be restored.
  9. That every microbe and pathology has its own unique electromagnetic signature based upon its unique molecular structure and can be detected with the non-computerized, adjunctive, diagnostic test called Bio-Resonance Scanning more reliably than the 96% fail-rate of blood tests.
  10. That the goal of the first treatment is to get every organ circuit up and running at 100% integrity. Subsequent treatments involve specialized testing to reveal other issues anywhere in the body that are out of optimum and repair them.
  11. That every treatment must strive through BRS testing to identify and provide the body with the corrections in the musculo-skeletal, neurological, emotional, epigenetic, and energetic systems.
  12. The primary goal is to restore the optimum function and integrity within all of the body systems, provide the body with the frequency-matched remedies to facilitate the body’s control of microbes.
  13. Address the issues in the mind and spirit that are contrary to healing and proper genetic expression.
  14. Maintain optimum function and integrity long enough that the body has time to replace the dysfunctional cells with healthy cells.
  15. That the physician expects rapid resolution with each new treatment. An effective treatment plan results in overall improvement of the patient.
  16. That in Lyme disease, a Herxheimer reaction is a sign of a poorly designed and poorly implemented treatment plan. The worsening of a patient’s condition should never be viewed as an indication that the treatments are working in an optimum fashion.

American Biological Medicine is a profoundly eloquent and scientifically sound philosophy of healing. The best treatment centers and hospitals in the world, for any type of illness, are recognizing that although drugs have relieved many symptoms for the last 100 years, they have also led to our own demise in the form of chronic diseases like Lyme disease and cancer.

Almost 88% of every pharmaceutical drug addresses only the symptoms. This includes antibiotics, in the long run. The top treatment centers, such as the Paracelsus Clinic, Lucas Clinic, and the Filder Clinic in Switzerland, as well as the Hansa Center for Optimum Health in the U.S.A., now strive only to restore the optimum integrity and function of every aspect of the patient. From this stance, disease, including Lyme disease falls away rapidly, especially when suppressive drugs and treatments have not already excessively damaged the person being treated.

As a philosophy, American Biological Medicine does not treat diseases. Diseases fall away as function and integrity are restored through a myriad of different tests and natural treatments. The end result and ultimate goal is that the person will not need to continue taking any medicine in order to feel good.

In summary, doctors who watch for worsening of their Lyme patients symptoms as a guide to know if they are providing “good treatment” is a travesty and barbaric. A severe Herxheimer reaction (herx) is a sign of a poor treatment plan and is unnecessary. Doctors should even avoid mild herxes by being more comprehensive in their treatment strategy and get back to the business of facilitating the improvement of symptoms through the restoration of health. A Herx greatly increases the toxic load on the body; at its worst it can kill an illness-weakened patient outright. A severe herx can temporarily or permanently disable the body, mind, and spirit.


  1. mary aspinwall

    Thanks David. It makes sense to me that if you go to war with your symptoms your body will be the battleground and you’ll experience collateral damage. For those suffering Lyme’s disease a useful approach is to take a homeopathic dose of Ledum, repeating as and when benefit wears off. You can also get homeopathic preparations of the Lyme’s spirochete itself to alert your body at a deep level to know what it is being attacked by and respond more effectively. Lastly have in depth constitutional homeopathic treatment with a homeopath is a powerful option for those wanting to return to health. Best wishes Mary.

  2. Dr. Patricia Jordan

    I am a veterinarian who wrote a book on vaccine damage, however, I researched the medical profession and the veterinary professions back into the start of using vaccinations. Clearly, the AMA was found to have NO HIPPOCRATIC OATH that the members entering the field of medicine ever take. There is NO
    “FIRST DO NO HARM Hippocratic Oath”.
    THe AMA by admission never had a Hippocratic Oath that any members ever take. The AMA is also the only doctors on the entire planet that take the Staff of Hermes with all of that symbolism as their symbol of medicine.
    All veterinarians in the United States and thoroughout the world as well as all medical doctors everywhere in the world except the United States take the staff of Aesculpius for their symbol. This has very important ramifications both in deed and spirit with the mission statement and vision of the AMA. This mantra puts them in a class by themselves on how patients are treated.
    You should research these facts before making blanket statements about what doctors do and do not do especially in conforming to a general “FIRST DO NO HARM” oath taking which is a serious mis information in your above article. By not writing truths, you lose credibility in anything you write…..
    Dr. Jordan
    Mark of teh Beast Hidden in Plain Sight

  3. Dr. David A. Jernigan

    Dr. Jordan you are correct that the “AMA” never had their members take a Hippocratic Oath since the AMA is just a professional organization. However, my point was doctors upon graduation from medical, Osteopathy, and Chiropractic school do take the oath.

    Dr. Jernigan

  4. Julia t

    I don’t have lyme but have had MCs and viral damage from mono. I have gone through many detox symptoms as i am healing. When i don’t go to a doctor it seems my body goes into them as well. I have neurological damage and am unable to swallow solid food. This is not from the herx but prior.
    Is this just in case of lyme or are you talking about all herx reactions? When i go to an energy healer my body starts going into cleansing. How do we differentiate between too much and what the body is clearing naturally?

  5. Chrissy Mann

    When our nation legalized abortion on demand, a pandora’s box was opened in the medical field like no other. Since that time, death and destruction have been unleashed and these horror stories are never ending. All the drugs that have been prescribed leading to just about every malady known to man, along with their recalls; it just never stops. There is a correlation between the sanctity of life and the destruction of it as is so evident by all these types of stories surfacing daily. This is just another prime example of where the medical field has come since abortion was legalized and where we’re headed unless serious changes take place. The Hippocratic Oath is no longer a consideration and is not even in practice by so many in positions of authority.

  6. Susan

    Hi Dr. Jernigan,

    I have had chronic Lyme Disease for about a decade now and I must say, many of the symptoms you describe I have from the Lyme Disease and the co-infections. I have Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, and a few others. I had been misdiagnosed for almost all of those ten years with CFS, Fibromyalgia, and a host of other illnesses that never responded to treatment. I never got antibiotics. No one thought of this as an infection of any kind. Even without antibiotics and being off all medication for at least 80% of that time (I never tolerated meds well), I still developed many of those problems you spoke of as herxing. Antibiotics didn’t bring that on, the illnesses did. Eventually, Lyme Disease and it’s other infections get so bad that you can develop all of those problems. The only thing I have not had was a feeding tube mentioned by that poor woman.

    Still, without treatment I would wake up not being able to breathe, not being able to swallow. I would have episodes of it during the day. Babesia causes air hunger and anaerobic states. When I was finally put on amoxi I did herx and it was like all my symptoms had flared, but it died down after a bit. I was switched to Doxy along the way and then developed more issues with breathing. When I was on herbal treatments instead, I never herxed. I loved it and felt better, but only for a while. After about two months I started to get all of my symptoms back again and the pain and exhaustion were terrible. I also have a lot of heart symptoms. So far, nothing has touched that and even though I have an ND trying to build up my system (I am currently on no treatment for Lyme and co-infections) to be strong enough to help fight these infections, it’s not working. My body rejects almost all treatment. It never used to before becoming sick with LD. I was able to handle foods, supplements, etc.

    Now all of my doctors are concerned about the heart issues and want me on Doxycycline for six months because that is what all of them have found to actually help the heart. I know of a few people who had to go on a PICC line in order to treat their heart symptoms and after three months of it (and that was no easy task for them at all with herxing and such), they ended up having a total recovery and to this day have no heart issues any longer. One woman had this treatment fifteen years ago.

    While I am not a big fan of pharmaceuticals, and while I am actually frightened of going on them myself from all the reading I’ve done, I have seen it save lives better than natural cures in some cases of Lyme Disease, and yes, the herxing was horrible. I would never have continued with treatment if I could not swallow due to it or breathe. But since I already have those issues to some degree just from being sick with LD, then I wonder how bad I’ll get if I don’t do the doxy. I tried it once and was pulled off of it after 5 weeks… but all my doctors told me doxy has super duper side effects, but it’s the one drug that they have actually watched turn around heart related issues with LD.

    My ND gave me a dose of Ledum in homeopathic form and it caused a pretty good herx too. So you can definitely herx on homeopathic treatment as well. The problem runs into people who do not have enough info on LD and the sensitivities some people have just due to the disease. Sometimes something happens that actually trips the disease off to become worse… sometimes stress, or developing chemical sensitivities (which many I know have even without being on treatment). For some reason it can come with the territory. The truth is, I believe, that no one is the same and there are many roads to treat LD and it’s other infections and everyone is so individual that what works for one will not work for another, or it needs to be changed up with dose, time on that treatment, pulsing, changing treatment every six to eight weeks, etc… But it’s trying to find that correct treatment strategy for each person (and I believe a person getting treated must become the most educated in their own body’s responses) that is the extreme tricky part, and it is, for the most part, no simple or quick path. I’ve been in treatment for nearly a year now and we have to change everything around every six to eight weeks or so because my body begins to reject all treatment, no matter what it is- pharma, herbal, homeopathic, even diet. That, I believe, is due to the combination of illnesses that I have and the bacteria and viruses fighting to keep alive. It’s a very “intelligent” group of infections.

    I know so many people who have seizures, or cannot breathe well, in so much horrible agony, heart issues, spasms, gut issues, and so many other things that are truly life threatening just from the illness long before ever receiving treatment for it, and after treatment, sometimes five years long, they start to turn around and their lives change. Now whether the treatment, whatever kind, drove the LD and such into remission or actually killed it all off is a matter of debate, but it worked for them. about 20% or less, from my understanding, stay chronically ill from it. I think with facing such horrible circumstances, it is totally understandable to try what a person can to get well. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like for me and my body rejecting so much, but I’m not going to give up. I will probably have to try the doxy again in an attempt to help me get better. My ND doesn’t seem to know what to do for me but keeps trying- but homeopathic remedies do cause me herxing… though so far a bit milder than the pharma abx. Herbals so far have worked the best… but only short term.

  7. Susan

    Oh, I wanted to add, I have been on Thieves oil and iodine, and a few other things in your LD treatment kits and they made me super duper sick. I do not believe it is so easy to treat like this. People with LD really do need individualized care and treatment, monitoring and the care of a doctor, or doctors, to help them through this all the way. My doctors ( I have a few) are in contact with me via phone and email weekly and I see them every few weeks or so. They are super dedicated and work like crazy to learn about this and treat this illness. I am a tricky case, yes, but they are great with all their LD patients. That’s very important. I’ve read books before and tried to self treat, but it doesn’t work so well since most of us have many co-infections, have a huge amount of trouble handling treatments, and so on. Also, iodine is bad news for many of us with Hoshimotos and other health issues, so it can make symptoms much, much worse.

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