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Can CBD Cause the Herxheimer Effect?

When it comes to using CBD, you may have read or heard from others that it can get worse before it gets better. Perhaps you’ve even experienced it yourself with a headache or two after starting CBD. But what’s actually happening? Is this the Herxheimer Effect or something else?

What is the Herxheimer Effect?

The Jarisch–Herxheimer Effect ( or “herxing”) is the idea that as the body detoxifies itself, there are negative short-term side effects. These effects occur because our immune system reacts to the toxins faster than we can rid ourselves of them. A mass die-off of toxins is believed to be occurring. Basically, when bacteria and other pathogens die, they release endotoxins.

These endotoxins are what cause us to feel worse before we feel better. This is because our immune system is fighting back, which can cause inflammation and other worsening symptoms. While this is a documented occurrence in the case of syphilis and Lyme disease, there are still many questions surrounding its legitimacy with other conditions and treatments.

How Does Herxing Apply to CBD?

CBD is known to have antibacterial properties which could theoretically cause a herxing reaction. But it has never been documented or studied. Most of these claims surrounding CBD and herxing are assumptions and anecdotal experiences. After all, CBD is also an anti-inflammatory, which should reduce this issue. And what about people who use CBD for conditions that have little to do with bacteria, such as joint or muscle pain? Why would they feel any herxing reactions?

Some believe that any form of toxin, not just from bacteria, could be the cause for flu-like symptoms when first starting CBD. Others believe that it could be side effects from activating the endocannabinoid system and flooding our endocannabinoid receptors for the first time.

Can You Herx from CBD?

The jury is still out and more studies regarding this phenomenon are still needed. We simply don’t know enough yet to conclude whether or not CBD truly does cause a herxing reaction. But we do know that short-term side effects, such as nausea, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms are sometimes reported among those who first start using CBD.

They are often short-lived and subside within 2-3 days. They can last up to a week in some cases, but any longer and it could mean you are taking the wrong CBD product for your body. In cases where the symptoms don’t subside, consider stopping the CBD and consult with your doctor.

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