Difference between Herx & Immune Response & Flare??

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by TwinMa, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Can someone give me a good definition of each of these terms and what the difference is?

    My understanding of Herx:
    The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (often referred to as “Herx” or “Herxing”) is a reaction caused by organisms (bacteria or viruses) dying off and releasing toxins into the body faster than the body may comfortably handle it. This is referred to as "die-off". It can cause sweating, diarrhea and nausea. This reaction can be caused by a medication or an herbal remedy.

    Do I have that correct?

    How does this compare to an Immune Response?

    How does this compare to a Flare?

    Thanks for any clarification.


    [This Message was Edited on 12/02/2005]
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    The immune reaction often comes before the actual Herx, which produces sweating, diarrhea, and/or nausea. With the Herx, the body is trying to purge the toxic dead pathogens. You were right on with that.

    An immune response is the immune system's response to foreign substances and pathogens. When you have an immune response, it is often an inflammatory response which can produce a fever. It can cause swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, headache, aches and pains, fatigue, and generally feeling fluish. Immune responses can be strong to anything which stirus up chronic infections or to new infections. Transfer factors cause a really big immune response because they train the immune system to recognize and kill pathogens. ABX and AV's often stir up pathogens and can cause an immune response followed by Herxing.

    Flares are just relapses in our conditions which can cause increased pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Flares can also produce some of the same symptoms of an immune response. In fact, an immune response could be considered a flare.

    Hope this helps. Usually, but not always, a flare can come out of the blue or on the heels of stress or trauma. Immune responses and Herxes usually follow treatments designed to kill pathogens.

    Love, Mikie
  3. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Let me see if I have this, you can have an immune system response with or without a herx following?

    So, say I take some extra garlic or an ABX, I would get an immune response no matter what because my immune system is mounting a response to the garlic or ABX. This may be mild, moderate or severe. It would be the flu-like feeling with aches and pains and generally feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck. But it could be a big truck or a little truck. Then it COULD be followed by a herx which could produce nausea, diarrhea and sweating. Is that correct?

    So an immune response or a herx is to something you take, like ABX or AV or transfer factors or grape seed extract. While a flare is more of a response to an environmental stimulus, like stress or trauma? Is that correct?

    I appreciate your patience with this. It is hard for me to wrap my head around this.

  4. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    People used to think that Herxing included the immune response, but they are distinct from one another. You can have an immune response and than not have a Herx because there weren't enough pathogens killed off and the body is able to handle excretion before the dead pathogens can turn toxic.

    If one Herxes, though, it usually follows some kind of immune response, but not always. If ABX or AV's kill off pathogens before the immune system can react, one can just Herx.

    Flares usually follow exposure to toxins, overdoing things, dietary indisgressions, etc. If one is flaring, seemingly out of the blue, it is a good idea to keep a journal to see whether one can pinpoint the cause.

    One thing is certain--nothing about our illnesses is certain :) We are all different and react differently so about all we can do is generalize. I do think your questions are excellent; it is important to understand what is happening to our bodies. Many people take ABX and when they have an immune response or Herx, they assume they are allergic to the ABX and stop them prematurely. This can cause mutated strains of some bacteria and make them even more difficult to get rid of.

    Love, Mikie
  5. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    I appreciate your response. I like to understand what is happening in my body. It certainly helps to evaluate whether to continue on a course of treatment or not. If a med or herb is giving you a reaction, it could be doing exactly what you want it to do. And it may be unpleasant.

    I'm glad you brought up the issue of people stopping ABX or other meds/herbals because they thought they were allergic. Or thought they were having bad side effects. I can see how immune response and/or herxing could be confused with allergies or side effects. The symptoms do seem to be very similar.

    Along those same lines, what would you say is a good way to tell the difference between an immune response or herxing and a bad side effect or allergy?

  6. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Or look it up on the web, same for herbals. Allergic reactions often cause rashes or may affect one's breathing. Sometimes, it's just almost impossible to tell.

    I think by knowing how Herxing and the immune response feel, one can recognize those and be fairly certain it isn't an allergic response.

    I am allergic to some forms of fluoride. My doc prescribed Cipro. I was having really labored breathing and checked the drug out. Sure enough, it is in the family of fluoroquinolins and contains fluoride.

    I am on the Guai Protocol and when I took the OTC Mucinex instead of the Rx form, the blue dye caused a rash on my legs.

    Sometimes, we aren't allergic to a drug but cannot tolerate it well. I cannot take natural codeine. It makes me feel sick and disoriented. I can, however, take the synthetic form in Vicodin.

    Many with our illnesses have slight seizure activity going on in the brain. It causes racing brain, anxiety, sensory overload, and insomnia. Docs will prescribe an SSRI or SNRI antidepressant. These can exacerbate the seizure symptoms. Docs then have to prescribe sleeping meds to get their patients to sleep at night. All the SSRI's and SNRI's come with a warning to tell one's doc if one has seizures. Many with out illnesses do not realize they have seizure activity and neither do their docs. Taking an antiseizure med is often what is needed to stop these symptoms. So, while people aren't really allergic to these AD's, they do not tolerate them well because they make other conditions worse.

    Lots of what we eventually find that helps us is from trial and error. I would say that if one has side effects which the drug info warns about, has labored breathing, or develops a rash, the med should be immediately discontinued. Swelling is another hint of an allergic reaction. These symptoms warrant a call to the doc. If the breathing becomes too labored, it is time to go to the ER.

    OK, I think that just about taps out my limited knowledge. I don't take anything from the doc without knowing exactly what it is now. I also stay away from new drugs. Too many have been recalled because they cause serious health problems.

    Love, Mikie
  7. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    That really helps clarify things for me. I really appreciate your sharing your wisdom! Thank you!!!

  8. jane32

    jane32 New Member

    You could write a book on these information Mikie! When I try to explain this to others they think I am crazy:)
  9. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    It's not wisdom so much as experience. I'm an old war dog when it comes to treating with these things. I'm always glad when what I've been through is of help to others. That's what we're here for.

    Still, I appreciate you kindness. Thank you.

    Love, Mikie
  10. cbs1234

    cbs1234 New Member

    Herx-immune response-flare OR DRUG REACTION--

    Just a word of caution. Many of you on the antibiotics kick for treating your symptoms--especially those of you with a diagnosis of lyme.

    The cure can be much worse than the disease. Watch out for the abx--especially the class of drugs called the fluoroquinolones. They can be nasty. Just do a search for fluoroquinolones and peripheral neuropathy, tendon damage or joint damage and you will get more hits than you will ever be able to look at. There is even a forum devoted only to reactions to these drugs with over 26 thousand messages from people that have been damaged by these drugs.

    Be very careful with the abx, you might get more than you bargained for.
  11. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Makes this treatment protocol sound like some kind of fad. It is not a fad and is the treatment of choice for many problems in which mycoplasmas and other cell-wall-deficient bacteria cause or trigger Lyme, CFIDS, and RA. ABX treatment is having good results. One can read about the progress with RA at the Roadback Foundation.

    If you read my response, you may have noticed that I cannot take Cipro because of the fluoride. Cipro is not the first drug of choice for treating these bacteria. It is a heavy hitter ABX and should be reserved for a last resort effort or not even considered at all taking into account the potential side effects.

    Doxycycline, on the other hand, has been shown to be very safe for long-term use. There are alternatives and had I known there was a transfer factor for mycoplasmas, I might have decided to go that route instead of the Doxy. Chronic infections from Lyme and mycoplasmas sap the body of life and one cannot heal as long as these pathogens remain inside the body's cells, reproducing and killing off the host cells.

    All drugs have potential side effects and we have to decide our treatments based on knowledge of those risks versus the potential benefits. We agree on one thing. The Fluroquinolones should be carefully considered and rejected if there is another drug or treatment available.

    If you have alternative treatments for ridding the body of these tenacious pathogens, I would love to hear about it.

    Love, Mikie
  12. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

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