Normal Symptoms of Detox During a Cleanse

Normal Symptoms of Detox During a Cleanse

Headache is one of the most common signs of detox during a cleanse.

Headache is one of the most common signs of detox during a cleanse.

The number one concern when doing a detox cleanse is, “Will I experience side effects”? It is important to know that there are 5 normal ‘side effect’ symptoms. Knowing these are a normal part of detoxification will help to alleviate worry. Anything outside of these 5 symptoms may be a sign that a different reaction is happening in response to the ingredients or dose used. Often, detox symptoms are heightened during a cleanse because most people also choose to eat better and eliminate some bad habits like drinking alcohol at the same time.

5 Signs You Are Detoxing

Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine Mark Hyman, MD shares that anytime you detoxify and take toxic foods/drinks out of your diet, “…you may initially have uncomfortable reactions like feeling achy, flu-like feelings, irritability, nausea, headaches, brain fog, constipation, hunger, itchy skin, fatigue and sleep difficulties.” Below I explain why these symptoms can happen while detoxifying.

1. Fatigue & Disrupted Sleep Patterns
Stimulating the body to purge toxins requires a larger internal workload than the body is used to. This creates fatigue and sometimes disrupted sleep. Expect to feel more tired and respond to the feeling by resting more than you normally do. Take naps when you can and get to bed at the very latest by 10pm. Go to bed with a plan to get a full 8 hours of sleep a night. When you are sleeping, your body is able to work efficiently at repairing and cleansing itself. Scheduling more rest that you are used to will help ensure you are getting enough down time, so that if sleep is disturbed you are still getting in enough rest.

Adding any additional tasks may cause the fatigue to be worse. Stick to a moderate exercise routine, don’t overdo it. Increasing your workload is not beneficial to the workload required of your body during detoxification. Stress in any form, whether physical, emotional or mental, is counterproductive.

2. Headache
A dull, prolonged headache is one of the most common detoxification side effects. Headaches during detox are most common in the afternoon and evening, as the body has been active all day. One reason this happens is because you have altered your normal daily routine and most likely ditched some bad habits such as drinking alcohol, caffeine, smoking or cutting out sugars or processed foods, etc. This creates a situation of withdrawal, which can cause a headache, as your body is no longer receiving these.

Second, you will find you will need to urinate more frequently and may perhaps experience loose stools, both of which can be dehydrating to the body. It is commonly understood that dehydration causes headache, and that liver cleansing can cause dehydration. Researchers from the University of Connecticut published findings in The Journal Of Nutrition stating that “degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration, and headache symptoms resulted from 1.36% dehydration in females… especially during and after moderate exercise.” This study’s finding prove the importance of hydration, given the necessity of daily moderate exercise and periodic healthy detoxification on your fertility journey. It is imperative to drink a lot of water, that being a minimum of 8-10 full glasses of filtered water daily, so as to prevent even mild dehydration.

3. Frequent urination, Loose stools & Digestive upset
As discussed under number 2, urination and loose stools are some ways the body eliminates toxins. Some of the herbs in a cleanse may be slightly diuretic, which stimulate the body to urinate and have a bowel movement.

It can be a shock to the digestive system to introduce herbs, nutrients, more fresh, whole foods, while eliminating processed foods and bad habits. The stimulation of purging toxins and excess hormones also stimulate more frequent digestion and the body works hard to get rid of the bad stuff.

This is why hydration and eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet is so important, while including a whole food multivitamin. These will help ensure you are replenishing nutrients. A great way to support your digestion while doing a cleanse is to drink fresh vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies.

4. Nausea
The change in diet and lifestyle, along with the introduction of herbs and nutrients, may cause some slight nausea.

The best ways to avoid nausea are through hydration, dietary choices, resting more, and taking capsules with a little food and water. This should pass in a few days. If it advances to vomiting, something else may be going on. See signs and symptoms you may be detoxing too quickly below for more information about this.

5. Cravings
When choosing to do a cleanse, it is important to eliminate poor dietary and lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol, caffeine, processed sugary foods, and smoking. Eliminating stress is also an important part of cleansing. Changing diet and lifestyle practices can create a situation of temporary withdrawal. This will most definitely trigger cravings associated with those areas you have changed and eliminated. For example, if you drank coffee every morning, it makes sense that your body, being used to that, will desire it once again.

Signs and Symptoms You May be Detoxing Too Quickly

Sometimes the body tries to expel toxins faster than they can be properly eliminated. When this happens, more serious symptoms may appear. These are a warning of caution by your body to slow down and change what you are currently doing. These symptoms include rash, flu-like symptoms and, very rarely, vomiting. Any of these symptoms may also be a sign of a reaction to one of the ingredients in the cleanse and it may need to be discontinued.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    What about spotting? I had lymph drainage with extra concentration on my right pelvic area. I have fibroids, severe endometriosis, & a complex ovarian cyst on the right & now my pain so bad I cannot even stand & am spotting? I also had my 1st colon hydrotherapy session that day.

  2. Avatar

    Does detox cause soreness in knees?

    • Dear Lee,

      From what I know joint pain is a symptom of toxicity, so it seems as though detoxification could temporarily exacerbate this, although there are also many other causes. If you are concerned, do at least talk to your doctor’s nurse about what you are experiencing while detoxing.

  3. Avatar

    Does shape and consistency and color change with detoxing? And, do you feel flu like? Stool is narrower and at times stringy??? Thank you so much.

    • Dear Sylvia,

      These may be signs of detoxification and liver cleansing. Stool can change and one may feel slightly run down and achy. Do stay hydrated, consider a luke-warm bath, or perhaps cut back a bit on the cleansing products you are using. Pay attention to symptoms and if you are in fact ill, it would be best to pause the cleanse.

    • Avatar

      Stringy is usually candida.

  4. Avatar

    After just one day on green smoothy detox I ended up with headache and nausea. Have decided not to eat anything the next day and both symptoms dissapired. Today is my day nr. 3 and I haven t been eating anything until 6 p.m. I do not have any symptos. Green smoothy makes me feel kind of sick.This is my second attempt with this detox and the symptoms are exactely the same as the first time.

  5. Avatar

    Hello! Three weeks ago I started taking daily, 1 tbsp. of ACV with honey and lemon. I also started 6 oz. of beet juice. I like being able to finally go to the bathroom, but I started getting skin colored bumps that started on my stomach, now legs and arms. They look and feel like goose bumps. I don’t feel sick and they don’t itch. I just have bumps. Is this a slow detox happening or is this an allergy? I don’t want to stop, but if it’s an allergy is it bad to continue? Someone said it’s a gluten rash caused by the ACV. I’ve never had problems with gluten. I want what’s best for my body.

    • Dear Steph,

      It seems as though this could be a detoxification reaction. Or could it be a reaction from clothing or warmer weather?

      Apple Cider Vinegar is gluten free. It would be the detoxification it is supporting – the body getting rid of gluten – that might appear on the skin as a rash (the skin is a large detoxifying organ).

      I truly can’t know, but if there is no itching or irritation, perhaps it’s fine to continue with your program while monitoring things. It’s up to you of course.

    • Avatar

      I always get that while detoxing, it comes out through my skin because my liver & colon do not function properly.

  6. Avatar

    Hi I use essential oils and started doing a detox yesterday, eliminating sugars, breads, starchy foods. Is it normal for a person’s blood pressure to go up and down and headaches. My blood pressure normally range 117-125 over 75-80

    • Dear Tarwana,

      It seems very possible that detoxing while also changing the diet could be cause. Blood pressure can fluctuate througout the day. Be sure to stay hydrated with water, coconut water (nature’s electrolyte beverage), or herbal tea and do consume a small bit of sodium. I like Himalyan pink salt. If you feel off or bad, are dizzy or lightheaded regularly or for long periods of time, do please check in with your doctor.

  7. Avatar

    Hi there, ive been oil pulling for just over 2 months and so far im really impressed. I had some eczema on my arm, and that has all now seemingly cleared.
    But ive been doing OP 2-3 times a day all this time, and since end of last week i felt fatigued and generally rubbish.Now i am going to continue doing this, but im thinking would it be better to slow it down to once a day or every other day, first thing in morning, so it gives my body more time to detox fully at a slower pace, with less side affects?I just feel achy and like ive got the flu.
    Plus I have an illostomy, and 5 years ago, had bowel removed and my backside ‘stiched up’, which was painful to sit on and is again. Thank you.

  8. Avatar

    I have been taking a detox juice ( i.e. a combination of Green Apple, Celery, Ginger, Cucumber and Lemon ) once on empty stomach. However , for the rest of the day I have a balanced diet. Still I started having headaches for the entire day. what is that mean. Is it a side affect or its a sign of cleansing. I am bit worried to know weather I should continue or not.

    • Dear Madhu,

      This could be a symptom of detoxification, yet I can not know. It seems like a fairly mild combination of foods. It may be worth considering not drinking it for a day or two to see if you get a headache or not. Then, you will know if it’s the culprit.

  9. Avatar

    I know I’m a little late, but…Would starting a detox lead to not only flu-like symptoms, but candida ones, as well? I have a hot rash across my plantar fasciitis, which is also swollen, a flat rash across my chest, and another across my pelvis and thighs. I also have a migraine that stops and starts.

    • Dear Meg,

      I’m sorry!

      While this is more a stronger reaction to detoxing than I have seen, but it could be possible. Our Fertility Cleanse has not caused such a reaction for anyone that I know of. Could you have caught a virus?

      It would be best to discontinue the detox you are on I feel.

  10. Avatar

    Is ovarian pain common during the cleanse?

    • Dear Andrea,

      I can not say pain of any sort is common during the Fertility Cleanse. Could this be digestive, related to a bowel movement rather than an ovary? Are you using the Fertility Cleanse and having pain? Are you mid-cycle, near ovulation? Ovulation itself can cause mild-moderate pain for some women. It should be short lived and go away after ovulation happens. Might this be what you feel?

      I’d like to talk more and if you’d rather do so in private, you can contact our herbalist team here…

  11. Avatar

    I’ve been doing a cleanse that involves fresh lemon juice in water. I’ve managed to get 6 glasses, so 3 whole lemons, a day for the past week or so. I have also started taking a supergreens supplement, along with a Wolfberry drink I get from Young Living. I’ve actually been feeling pretty good this past week, more energetic and overall in a better mood, but just in the past couple days I’ve noticed a very light rash on my face. The skin on my face feels “textured” and it just makes me look slightly flush. It’s not severely discolored and only seems to be on my face. I have been eating like normal (some good days, some not so much). I was hoping it was just a detox symptom. Any thoughts?

    • Dear Rena!

      I can’t know for certain, but one of the largest organs of the body through which it detoxifies is the skin. We do know that mild cleansing reactions can show up on the skin. In particular a sugar detox is known to cause mild, temporary skin reactions. The only other thing I can think of it that perhaps this cleanse has created a acid/alkaline imbalance (me speculating) or an allergy to something in the supergreens supplement.

      Be sure to use mild, natural skin care products, fragrances and laundry detergents.

      If the redness starts to feel warm itch or bumps appear that differ from acne, do reach out to your doctor.

  12. Avatar

    what type of food should one take

  13. Avatar

    How long do the symptoms of a body cleanse usually last. I am feeling pretty rough right now. It has only been 2-3 days since I started,

    • Hi Dawn,

      There is no one right answer for this question. This typically should level out after the first week, but depending on how long the cleanse is you are doing and why type of cleanse it is may play into this as well. Be sure to drink plenty of water, get extra rest and cut back on how much of cleansing product/s you are taking daily if symptoms persist.