Ever Heard of the CBD Oil Herxheimer Effect?

Taken CBD and experienced a headache? Read this.
MarijuanaBreak Staff MarijuanaBreak Staff / Updated on June 21, 2019

Herxheimer Effect

Have you ever heard the phrase “it will get worse before it gets better”? As it turns out, there is an official medical term for when you feel negative side effects of medicine before you begin to experience relief. The ‘Jarisch-Herxheimer Effect’ is named after a pair of physicians, Adolf Jarisch and Karl Herxheimer. During the late 19th century, both men discovered that patients developed symptoms such as nausea, night sweats, and even vomiting, in response to treatment.

This doesn’t mean that a patient has had an allergic reaction or anything of the sort. In reality, it is a fairly normal short-term medical reaction. Ultimately, the symptoms dissipate, and the medicine gets to work. It happens when taking the best CBD oils too, so don’t panic!

How Does the Herxheimer Effect Work?

In basic terms, you have been ‘herxed’ because the effective treatment releases toxic chemicals from the cell walls of dying bacteria. Your body is detoxifying, which leads to symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, sore throat, nausea, chills, and a headache. All of these issues are normal occurrences and is an indication that viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other pathogens are being killed.

Our immune system reacts to these toxins, but we are not able to eliminate them quickly enough. As a result, the toxins are capable of causing some pretty unpleasant symptoms, and the original symptoms may even get worse for a short while.

It is especially common for Lyme Disease patients to experience the Herxheimer Effect. During this timeframe, your body and immune system are working overtime to remove harmful toxins, and you should look to drink lots of water, perhaps take an Epsom Salts detox bath, or invest in a deep tissue massage to help speed up the process.

Jarisch and Herxheimer both worked in Frankfurt, Germany, although they did not work together. They were dermatologists and noticed that, when their patients were treated for syphilitic lesions of the skin, they developed symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, perspiration, and fever. Oddly enough, the patients that had the worst initial side effects healed the fastest.

How Can the Herxheimer Effect Impact a CBD Oil User?

It appears as if CBD is an effective antioxidant, so it isn’t a surprise that it could lead to the Herxheimer Effect. Although experiences vary, CBD oil users report headaches within a day or two of their first use. You could be trying to watch television when suddenly, you feel hypnotized and unable to function as a severe headache makes life decidedly unpleasant.

You may wake up to use the bathroom multiple times and feel so thirsty that you end up consuming 2-3 liters of water. All the while, the headache persists and is accompanied by dizziness. Some users say that they wake up covered in sweat with a constant feeling of nausea. You may even vomit a couple of times during the day as the dizziness becomes overwhelming. If this happens, you are advised to take a few days off work if possible and focus on getting better.

If you take CBD oil and begin to experience the Herxheimer Effect, begin a detoxification protocol as soon as possible. Drink up to a gallon of water a day, take a detox bath before bed (add a mix of two cups Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda to your bath water), a couple of grams of vitamin C, and foods known to work as antioxidants. Your goal is to speed up the process so that the Herxheimer Effect doesn’t linger.

Typically, you could feel these effects for 2-3 days, although some people report the negative side effects for up to a week. It is imperative that you grind your way through even when you feel like staying away from CBD oil. Remember the reason you took cannabidiol in the first place. If you have suffered from chronic pain for years and prescription medication hasn’t helped, it makes no sense to quit a new course of treatment after a couple of days.

Sadly, it is common for people who experience the Herxheimer Effect to turn their back on CBD oil within a day or two. If you persist with your treatment, the negative side effects should subside. After this happens, users often report increased energy and a clearer mind. Of course, there is a possibility that the CBD oil will also ease your chronic pain, alleviate anxiety, and help you live a normal life.

How Much CBD Should I Use?

Although there is no way of knowing whether or not you will experience the Herxheimer Effect when you consume CBD oil, you can reduce the risk by following some simple protocols. For instance, did you know that your colon is the main organ responsible for removing toxins? Make sure you cleanse your colon correctly, so it becomes capable of eliminating the high levels of toxins released during CBD treatment.

Although various clinical trials have shown that you can consume up to 1,500mg of CBD a day without adverse side effects, taking extremely high doses at the beginning of your treatment increases the risk of the Herxheimer Effect. It is also important to note that the European Industrial Hemp Association and the British Cannabis Trades Association recommends a maximum of 200mg of CBD a day.

To tell you the truth, most users claim to experience positive results when they use significantly lower doses – as low as 20 mg of CBD a day for chronic pain, for example. It is also a wise move to start with as little as 2.5-5mg a day and work your way upwards. If the initial dose has no positive effects after trying for a few days, increase it until it begins to work. This is known as finding the minimum effective dose.

While the Herxheimer Effect is deeply unpleasant, it should only last for a couple of days. After you get through a tough spell, you could feel significantly better, but the only way to know for sure is to try it out. In any case, prior to using any CBD oil, it is extremely important to consult with your primary physician.

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11 comments
  1. Sue
    Scratchy throat

    I just started taking CBC oil in the past 4 days. I take 1/2 dropper full 1x/day. I noticed today mid afternoon that I have a terrible scratchy throat. 7 hours later it’s not any better. Is this normal? Should I be concerned?

  2. Dustin Vincent
    Will try topical application

    For me this Herxheimer effect was too severe to tolerate. I got a number of blisters blow my tongue, I was trying CBD orally. Now will go for the cream version, and will apply it over the rashes, as I using this for some skin rashes. Hopefully the application will be as effective as the oral method promises to be.

    1. Angela B
      Severe Herx Reactions

      Hi, the more toxins in the body that need removal, the more build-up over the years, the worse the reaction of a Herxheimer experience can be. So, the more toxic your body is, the more severe your symptoms will be until those toxins are removed and the body has started healing those areas. You could try detoxing slower, in cycles, to help reduce the severity of your symptoms. The CBD is doing its job. I hope this helps!

  3. Jane
    Indegestion

    Does anyone feel shaky and have really painful indegestion from cbd/the for cancer. I feel worse last few days than 2 weeks ago

  4. Pamela Garcia
    I need this horrible feeling to go away please help me

    How long does the effects last.this feeling is very unpleasant and very scary. Should I stop using it for a while.how long should I wait. For 2 days I used a full dropper after that I felt really weird no energy dizzy. Truthfully it’s like I’ve over dosed. Last night I didn’t take it. Today feeling the same way. This morning I only did one drop. I just now took a Xanax hoping it stops the feelings I’m having. Please give me your input on what I need to do to stop these feelings

    1. Adam

      If you are feeling bad then obviously stop taking whatever you are taking.

  5. Nathalie B.
    Feeling sick

    Have you ever felt sick to your stomach after taking CBD oil?

  6. John
    High CBD is a MUST for Prostate Cancer.

    Prostate. Stage 4, mets, 700mgTHC/day, same level for CBD. Shit through the eye of a needle some days, headaches, joint pain, but other things improving cancer-wise, AFAIK.

    If I could have one thing, it would be ‘tests’ – you can’t have enough (non-invasive ones), especially with Cannabis, because it acts so quickly – in “three months,” you have gone from being on death’s door to being cured (assuming that it works for you) – they missed it! You need weekly scans with Cannabis.

    1. Ashley
      John

      John
      How’s it going with you now ???

  7. Barry

    Okay that sounds great for the cbd dose but what strength are you calculated to get 20 mg a day?

    1. Mary
      How to calculate a dosage using a CBD oil tincture

      Barry..not sure if your asking HOW to calculate a 20 MG dose .
      If you are. Here how.
      For example..if you buy a 1000 mg bottle (that’s how much CBD is in the entire bottle) and it’s a 1 oz bottle aka 30 ml size bottle and the dropper is 1 ml size ( most are)

      1000 mg bottle of CBS ÷ 30 ml size bottle = 33.3 mg per dropper full
      If you took a full dropper a day..you would be getting 33.3 mg of CBD a day

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