Ever Heard of the CBD Oil Herxheimer Effect?

Taken CBD and experienced a headache? Read this.


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 the 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 who 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?

Since CBD is an effective antioxidant, it isn’t a surprise that it could lead to the Herxheimer Effect. Although experiences vary, CBD oil users can report headaches within a day or two of their first use. 

The headache may be accompanied by dizziness. Some users say that they have experienced night sweats a feeling of nausea. 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), take a couple of grams of vitamin C (if you don’t have any contraindications), and eat 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. If you are struggling and you are fairly certain the effects are due to CBD and not another medical condition (please check with your doctor if you are concerned), then it may be worth it to endure a few days of discomfort for the bigger picture. 

For example, if you have suffered from chronic pain for years and prescription medication hasn’t helped, you may want to give CBD a full test run to see if you can finally get some relief. If you persist with your treatment, the negative side effects should subside. After this happens, users often report increased energy and a clearer mind. 

How Much CBD Should I Use?

Although there is no way of knowing whether 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 digestive system is partially 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 recommend a maximum of 200mg of CBD a day.

Most users claim to experience positive results when they use significantly lower doses, like20 mg of CBD a day for chronic pain, for example. It is a wise move to start with as little as 2.5 – 5 mg a day and work your way up. If the initial dose has no positive effects after trying it for a few days, increase it until it begins to work. This is known as finding the minimum effective dose.

While the Herxheimer Effect can be unpleasant, it should only last for a couple of days. After you get through that, you should 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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