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Herxheimer Reaction from Probiotic Foods, good or bad?

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Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:40 PM
Created March 11, 2012 at 5:19 AM

Since it seems I'm steadily losing my extra weight on paleo and finding what works in those regards, I've begun to focus my attention on some of my other issues. I've started eating sauerkraut recently, and I've been feeling a bit of brain-fog and vaguely flu-ish dizziness (as well as some, uh, laxative effects, and waking up the next day with a white tongue when I had a little too much sauerkraut the night before), presumably from the die-off. I was on antibiotics several times as a kid so, while I never had any obvious GI issues, I don't think it's very unlikely that I have an imbalance. I'm also noticing improvement in my acne/dandruff/hair shedding, which didn't improve much with just paleo (the acne did a little, perhaps, but not enough) so I think it's having some effect.

I just started upping my carbs from VLC to something that is, on most days, within the 50-100 range and it feels a lot more sustainable for me while still working towards my weight loss. I've read conflicting ideas about which method is better for gut flora though (Paul Jaminet's recommendations vs the standard vlc/zc recommendation) and it doesn't help not knowing exactly what is dying off, I suppose, and I really wouldn't know where to start to find out (uninsured; thank god for paleo in that light, I suppose!).

So I guess my question is, are fermented foods enough to re-balance gut flora without eating super restrictively, i.e. GAPS or taking the super duper expensive commercial probiotics that I can't really afford? Are these symptoms causing lasting harm I should be concerned about, or is it just a "gets worse before it gets better" type of deal? As I mentioned, I am seeing improvement in the issues I was targeting, even while I still have the die-off symptoms. I scaled back a bit today and didn't have any yesterday, but the brain fog is still happening, and that's the most inconveniencing symptom for me (being a student and all). It's been a couple weeks; am I possibly extending the duration of these symptoms with other factors like what I eat? (muscle meat [I can't do organs without literally gagging just yet, sorry], bone broth, eggs, butter, CLO supplement, leafy, cruciferous, or root vegetables, fruit including occasional tomatoes and peppers, some greek yogurt and cheese, occasional starchy tubers, occasional chocolate, and very occasional non-gluten grains.) I'll try harder to restrict things if I really have to, but as it is, I'm human and want the easiest, least stressful (most sustainable?) way out possible ;D

Sorry for the fog-induced abuse of parentheses and any dumb questions I may have asked. TIA

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164 · April 09, 2012 at 3:31 AM

@PaleoGreyhound: you are absolutely correct. It's like bacterial sepsis; you're sick as hell. Brain fog it is not.

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20353 · March 11, 2012 at 9:30 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/104178/specific-carbohydrate-diet-vs-gaps#axzz1oqVXjjE1

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20353 · March 11, 2012 at 8:42 AM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/104084/what-are-the-main-causes-of-brain-fog

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445 · March 25, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Just for clarification sake, I think a Herxheimer reaction is a lot more severe than a brain fog...especially since it is caused by the "dying off" of some pretty severe pathogenic bacteria...Bartonella, Lyme disease, typhoid fever, etc. And it comes after taking some pretty heavy dose antibacterials like tetracyclines or a penicillin. At least that's the way I learned it... so I would be hesitant to associate "brain fog" with probiotics...

3058079ae822f066c06e55071d74b634
164 · April 09, 2012 at 3:31 AM

@PaleoGreyhound: you are absolutely correct. It's like bacterial sepsis; you're sick as hell. Brain fog it is not.

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20353 · March 11, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Maria,

Thanks for your question. Pro Biotics might be helpful for a week or two. However you would need to get quality ones. They would account for just a small portion of overall gut flora. The GAPS diet might also be helpful. It would be helpful for folks that need it. However we dont know if you need that at all.

If you need the GAPS diet and you dont go on it then gut problems will continue...

I am not sure what the brain fog is from.

if you are up to walking then exercise is one possible choice.

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