You’ve likely already taken some meaningful steps toward taking charge of your health. Perhaps you vowed to exercise more, get a better night’s sleep, or take control of your diet once and for all. Or maybe you ditched gluten, said goodbye to caffeine and alcohol, and bid refined sugar a bittersweet farewell. You feel great, right?

Maybe not. It could be that you felt terrific at first, and now you suddenly have flu-like symptoms or you’re dealing with headaches, brain fog, and even nausea. You might be thinking, “How could I possibly feel bad when I’m doing something so good for myself?” If this sounds familiar, it’s likely you are experiencing what is known as “die-off”.

Die-off, a form of a Herxheimer reaction, is a bodily process triggered by a sudden increase in endotoxins. Die-off is also fairly common when you first start avoiding certain food such as carbs, sugar, dairy, and alcohol. Die-off can cause irritability, fatigue, digestive issues, and other unpleasant symptoms that make sticking with beneficial lifestyle changes challenging to say the least. However, these symptoms are temporary, and the good news is you’re on the right track.

To help you avoid die-off — or to quickly remedy it — I have tried-and-true solutions. First, let’s discuss what die-off actually is and why it happens.

What is Die-off?

Die-off, also known as the Herxheimer reaction, is a bodily process triggered by a sudden increase in endotoxins. These harmful substances are released when microorganisms in the body such as fungi and yeasts, as well as bacteria, are destroyed. Rapid destruction of microorganisms can cause a flood of endotoxins. Your immune system responds by triggering an acute immune response resulting in inflammation that can be experienced throughout the body. This can lead to worsening symptoms as well as the development of new ones.

Die-off is commonly the result of medications such as antifungals or antibiotics.1 However, what many people don’t realize is that die-off and its accompanying symptoms can also occur when they suddenly change their diets during a detox or cleanse — or switch to a healthy eating plan.

The Herxheimer Reaction

Die-off is also known as the Herxheimer Reaction or Jarisch-Herxheimer and, despite how it may feel, is actually a sign that you’re going in the right direction. As I mentioned above, die-off occurs when microorganisms such as fungi and yeast are destroyed, meaning your treatment, diet, or detox is working. However, an increase in toxins is never a good thing. All those endotoxins released by dying microorganisms can place extreme strain on your detoxing organs as they attempt to bind and flush them out of your system. Plus, the longer toxins remain in your body, your chances of reabsorbing them increase drastically.

What Causes Die-Off?

Treatment of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, whether that be by taking antibiotics or starting a low-carb diet, is the main cause of die-off. Die-off symptoms typically appear within six to eight hours after beginning treatment and resolve as you continue dieting or taking your prescribed medication.

Die-Off in Action

The bacteria and yeasts that live in your gut thrive on sugar. A small amount of these bacteria and yeasts, including Candida, are critical for digestion and beneficial to your gut health. However, if you’ve been consuming a diet high in carbs, sugar, and alcohol, you likely have a lot more of these microorganisms than your body needs. Through complex chemical processes, these microorganisms fuel your desire to consume even more carbs and sugars. So when you limit your intake of sugar and carbs, it starves this overpopulation, causing a die-off.

As yeasts die they release a toxic substance called acetaldehyde, which is the same byproduct produced when you drink alcohol. Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin. It can be irritating to your brain and it can even cause neurologic symptoms, which is why some people literally feel as if they are drunk while experiencing die-off. To make matters worse, yeast also produces a toxin known as gliotoxin. This can suppress your immune system and damage your liver cells.2 Because your body is being flooded with toxins faster than it can clear them, you can experience a range of issues that typically last 3-7 days.3

Die-off Symptoms

https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/die-off-avoid/ Infographic showing the whole body symptoms of die off

Because there is an increase in toxins circulating in your bloodstream, your immune system jumps into action by entering into a state of inflammation. This results in a range of die-off symptoms that vary in duration and severity.

You are more likely to experience die-off symptoms if your detox pathways are compromised (e.g. if you have an MTHFR mutation), or you already had a high toxic burden and the dying microorganisms are overwhelming your system. You could also simply be clearing an overgrowth of pathogenic or opportunistic microorganisms too quickly.

Candida Die-Off

Candida die-off is a result of treatments used to combat an overgrowth of Candida yeast cells.4 When Candida is overproduced by your body, it breaks down the walls of the intestine and penetrates the bloodstream. This releases toxic byproducts into your body and causes leaky gut. Candida die-off can cause flu-like symptoms that can come on suddenly and range in severity.5

Candida Die-Off Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Skin rash
  • Mild decrease in blood pressure
  • Muscle aches
  • Weakness

Do you think you have Candida overgrowth? Take this simple quiz to find out!

My Candida Breakthrough® Kit is formulated to minimize Candida die-off symptoms. It’s a combination of the three most powerful nutritional supplements to support yeast balance in the digestive tract and discourage opportunistic yeast overgrowth. While small amounts of yeast and Candida are a normal inhabitant of your digestive tract, stress, a high sugar diet, a lack of healthy probiotic bacteria, immune suppression, and antibiotic use can cause it to grow unchecked and contribute to disease. I put together a selection of three powerful supplements in my Candida Breakthrough® Kit to help you keep Candida and yeast in check, as well as maintain a healthy gut barrier and immune and digestive function.

In addition to supplementing with my Candida Breakthrough® Kit and removing toxic and inflammatory foods, following an anti-Candida diet can help minimize yeast overgrowth and restore the friendly bacteria that keep Candida in check. Read my article on the Anti-Candida Diet Top 10 Strongest Candida Killers to find out which foods are best to incorporate into your diet. 

SIBO Die-Off

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO, occurs when the bacteria in your small intestine become unbalanced and overgrow. Most of your gut bacteria are meant to be located in your large intestine and colon, where they help break down food, synthesize vitamins, and eliminate waste. When bacteria normally found in the large intestine and colon begin to colonize in the small intestine, bacterial overgrowth occurs. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth can also occur when there is an overgrowth of otherwise normal bacteria in the small intestine itself. 

After you begin treatment, and the overgrown microbiota begins to die, your immune system kicks into high gear to combat the increase in endotoxins being released into your system, causing a wide range of symptoms.

SIBO Die-Off Symptoms

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Brain fog
  • Exacerbation of SIBO symptoms (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.)

Do you think you have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? Take this quiz to find out!

Treating your SIBO is a 3-step approach that works to eliminate the overgrowth and restore your gut’s natural balance. My SIBO Breakthrough™ Program is a step-by-step process to help you beat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth for good. In it, you find all the information you need to get control over the overgrowth. With the SIBO Breakthrough Program™, not only do you get information, supplements, and a solution, you also get the support you need to take on these three steps.

Parasite Die-Off

A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off of another organism. Usually, intestinal parasites are parasitic worms that feed off the material in your body. Some examples include tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Parasites can release neurotoxins, heavy metals, viruses, and other toxins when they die. If you have an autoimmune disease and your body is unable to detox, those toxins are left to recirculate as they wait to be detoxified. This can exacerbate parasite die-off symptoms.6 

Parasite Die-Off Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Skin rashes
  • Teeth grinding
  • Weight loss
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia

The Myers Way® Parasite Breakthrough® Kit helps promote and maintain a healthy and normal population of probiotic bacteria in your digestive tract. I designed this kit specifically to help tackle the issue of microbial imbalance, as well as help populate the digestive tract with beneficial probiotic bacteria that are normal residents in your digestive tract. 

How to Avoid Die-off

When you have an overgrowth of bacteria, whether it be Candida or SIBO, it can break down the walls of your intestines—causing leaky gut—and is then able to travel throughout your body. From there it can colonize in your skin, ears, thyroid, respiratory tract, and other areas of your body, leading to a host of symptoms including brain fog, skin irritation, seasonal allergies, mood swings, and autoimmune disorders. And if you’re dealing with a parasite, these symptoms increase greatly as your detoxing organs become compromised.

So, if die-off is an indication that you are clearing an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast from your body, why would you want to avoid it? Aside from feeling miserable, die-off is a toxic state. The longer your body remains in this toxic state, the more likely you are to reabsorb the toxins being released by the dying microorganisms.

So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can prevent die-off symptoms while you transition to a healthy diet. Then, if you’re already experiencing die-off, I’ll cover the steps on how to reduce your symptoms so you can start feeling great again!

1. Go Slow

First, it’s important for you to be gentle on yourself. I don’t believe that you need to feel bad in order to feel good. When you clear an overgrowth of microorganisms too quickly, your body simply cannot handle the huge toxic burden from the acetaldehyde being produced. Take it slow! Begin by gradually transitioning to a diet of less sugar and fewer carbs each day to lessen your die-off symptoms. I also recommend supporting your body with a combination of supplements that naturally support a healthy balance of yeast in your digestive tract and encourage beneficial bacteria growth.

2. Reduce Your Toxic Burden

One reason you may experience die-off is that you already have a high accumulation of toxins in your body. Taming the toxins is crucial to help you avoid die-off symptoms. Review Pillar III of The Autoimmune Solution for tips on how to reduce your toxic burden.

3. Support Your Detox Pathways

Remember what I said about gliotoxin damaging your liver cells? Your liver is your primary detox organ. If your liver is not working optimally, it could be why you’ve been dealing with excess yeast in the form of Candida in your gut. This is why it’s so essential to support your detox pathways.

One of my favorite tools for supporting detox pathways Acetyl-Glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s most powerful detoxifier, and can help your body process and eliminate toxins. As a bonus, glutathione supports your immune system. Supplementing with glutathione will help your body counteract the immunosuppressive effects of gliotoxin, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with die-off.

Steps to Reduce Die-off Symptoms

1. Take Coconut Charcoal

Coconut Charcoal binds to toxins and helps flush them from your body safely and quickly. Coconut Charcoal is activated, which means that it’s been heated to extremely high temperatures in order to create millions of tiny little pores, giving it an incredibly large surface area that allows it to bind the toxins contributing to die-off.

The way that charcoal works is through adsorption, rather than absorption. It’s full of negatively charged ions that work like magnets to attract positively charged elements such as the toxic byproducts released during die-off. These byproducts bind to the outside of the activated charcoal and get trapped in its tiny little pores. Once trapped, the charcoal effectively carries these harmful byproducts out of your body so they don’t get reabsorbed.

I recommend taking one capsule of Coconut Charcoal in the morning and one capsule in the evening to help minimize die-off symptoms.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

You want to make sure you’re drinking at least 8 oz. of filtered water while you’re taking Coconut Charcoal in order to support your digestion since charcoal may cause constipation. In fact, drinking water is vital during the detox process as it is. My motto is when it comes to detoxifying, you need to make sure you’re peeing, pooping, and sweating every single day! Drinking plenty of water will help ensure that you’re doing all three of these.

Stirring a scoop of Organic Greens into your water is a simple and effective way to supercharge your detox efforts with immune-boosting greens and superfoods. Organic Greens also contains spirulina and chlorella, which are natural chelators that can help speed up the elimination of toxins from your body.

3. Sweat

When it comes to sweating, my favorite way to sweat out toxins is to get in my infrared sauna. I suggest you learn more about infrared saunas, how they work, and why they’re beneficial for your health. I personally use mine a few times a week and it’s a great way to sweat out toxins.

Not everyone has room for an infrared sauna in their house and that’s ok. You can always do light exercise or use a traditional sauna at your local gym to help you sweat out the toxins.

4. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is critical while you are working to overcome die-off because it’s when your detox pathways are the most active! I recommend getting 8-9 hours of sleep while you are detoxing so that your body has plenty of time to rest and rejuvenate.

Again, if you’re not experiencing die-off, bravo! And if you are having any die-off symptoms whatsoever, fear not… Following these simple steps will get you back on track in no time at all. I am SO proud of you for taking your health into your own hands, and remember: you don’t have to go through this alone! If you’re looking for some additional encouragement to achieve your optimal health, check out The Myers Way® Community on Facebook!

Your Opportunity To Take Back Your Health

Need some extra support as you work to overcome Candida overgrowth? Try my Candida Breakthrough® Program and join the thousands of others who have successfully taken back their health. You will learn my 3-step proven protocol for beating Candida, including an entire module focused on recurring Candida, where we’ll cover:

  • The strategies you need to create a gut-healthy lifestyle
  • The paradigm shift required to stick with it
  • Recipes for celebrations, so you’re always prepared

You’ll get all of the powerful supplements, easy-to-make meal plans, and other resources in my Candida Breakthrough® Program so that you can take back your health and live your best life.

So what are you waiting for? Take back your health and start your very own journey to optimal health today.

Get exclusive subscriber-only savings on physician-formulated kits and programs. Be the first to know.

Die-Off FAQs

https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/die-off-avoid/

How long does die-off last?

How long your die-off symptoms last varies based on the condition you’re treating. However, die-off symptoms are typically short-lived and often last between 3-7 days.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/die-off-avoid/

What are Candida die-off symptoms?

Some of the most common Candida die-off symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, weakness, skin rash, and a mild decrease in blood pressure.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/die-off-avoid/

What are SIBO die-off symptoms?

If you’re treating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, you may experience die-off symptoms such as bloating, chills, constipation, muscle aches, and brain fog.


Article Sources

  1. The Jarisch–Herxheimer Reaction After Antibiotic Treatment of Spirochetal Infections: A Review of Recent Cases and Our Understanding of Pathogenesis. . NCBI. .
  2. Gliotoxin stimulates the apoptosis of human and rat helatic stellate cells and enhances the resolution of liver fibrosis in rats. . NCBI. .
  3. 5 Die-Off Myths Everyone Needs to Know About. . Healthy Gut. .
  4. What a Candida Die-Off Is and Why It Makes You Feel So Lousy. . Healthline. .
  5. What to Know About Candida Die-Off. . Medical News Today. .
  6. 12 Parasite Die-Off Symptoms and How to Fight Them. . Detox Learning Center. .