• Kayla Springer

Why did my cleanse make me feel worse?

Have you ever done a fast, detox, weight loss program, or a juice cleanse only to feel like absolute crap for a few days?

This can happen when we start flushing the liver, killing off yeasts, and releasing stored toxins too quickly. This causes a buildup of free floating toxins in the body while the body tries to keep with up with eliminating everything effectively, meaning all of these toxins just end up floating around your body causing havoc.

Headaches, gut symptoms, brain fog, irritability, insomnia or fatigue, flare ups of inflammatory conditions, muscle and joint pain, and skin breakouts are common signs that you are releasing toxins too quickly.

Our individual chemical exposures, diet, medications, lifestyle, environment and a multitude of other things determine the level of toxic body burden, and therefore how efficiently our body is able to detox.

Toxic Body Burden

Although our bodies have an incredibly efficient detox system build in, the onslaught of toxins we are exposed to on the daily is increasing rapidly. Our individual chemical exposures, diet, medications, lifestyle, environment and a multitude of other things determine the level of toxic body burden, and therefore how efficiently our body is able to detox.

If our bodies detox pathways are already overburdened, releasing stored toxins from the body too quickly is going to further add to the to do list for your detox system. Those of us who have a higher toxic body burden will be more likely to experience symptoms while moving too fast on an cleanse or detox.

Rules of thumb to avoid detox symptoms

1. Happy emunctories = Happy detox experience.

  • Before any type of cleanse, detox, or fast is attempted, we need to make sure our bodies emunctories, or organs of elimination are functioning properly. Think of them as your bodys garbage disposal – picking up, transporting, packaging, and eliminating garbage. Our bowels, liver, kidney, lymph, skin, and lungs make up our organs of elimination.


  • ·Detoxing or cleansing is not a “no pain no gain” situation. If we are getting symptoms, we know that our body is overburdened and our detox systems aren’t working. Think about checking out at the grocery store. If we throw our entire cart on belt at once, it’s going to create a big mess, things are going to fall off, and it’s going to take much longer and be much bigger deal than it needs to be. If we add things to the belt more slowly, matching the pace of the cashier, everything will get done in a much less dramatic fashion.

3. Make sure you have a regular POOP schedule

  • Many people don’t realize how important it is to have a healthy pooping experience. Ideally, we should be having 1-3 bowel movements a day. Our bowels are the main route of excretion for toxins and dead bacteria in our body. We definitely don’t want them sitting around in our colon, leeching stuff back into our bodies.

4. Drink lots of FLUIDS

  • Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Not juice, pop or tea… just good old fashioned water. Our body is mostly water, and it’s essential to keep things moving along and flushing out.

5. Rest, sleep, and exercise

  • The FUNDAMENTALS. These support literally every process in the body. Do not underestimate their importance.

The detox process will be unique to everyone. The most effective way to approach a detox protocol is by working with someone who can assess your own individual body requirements and processes and go through tailored program to support your own foundational detox processes and avoid a high toxic load in the future. In my practice, I do this by building a strong foundation for the body to run, targeting specific pathways via nutrition and lifestyle practices, and customizing treatment plans, including targeted supplements.


Butler, T. (2017). The Jarisch–Herxheimer Reaction After Antibiotic Treatment of Spirochetal Infections: A Review of Recent Cases and Our Understanding of Pathogenesis. Am J Med Hyg, 46-52.

Gaby, A. (2013). Nutritional Medicine. New Hampshire: Fritz Perlberg .

Pound, M. (2005). Proposed mechanisms and preventative options of Jarisch–Herxheimer reactions. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

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