And finally, detox that liver

By on October 1, 2014

This is the last of a three part series on detoxification. The first described the toxins you encounter at work and home and the second concentrated on the digestive system. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – As I mentioned in the first article, with detoxification it’s important to get the order right. Once you have decreased your external toxic load, made sure your bowels are moving and that you don’t have increased intestinal permeability (for which you can be tested), you are ready to detox your liver.

Your liver is an amazingly efficient organ, tasked with filtering out the toxins to which you are exposed, both endogenous (the byproducts of metabolism) and exogenous (the toxins to which you are exposed in everyday life).

Liver disease is becoming increasingly common in the Western world. It occurs when the toxic load on your liver exceeds the liver’s ability to deal with it. You’ve probably heard of liver cirrhosis, usually in conjunction with over-consumption of alcohol, but in today’s increasingly toxic world, it’s possible to overtax your liver’s capacity without closing the bar every night.

According to the New York University School of Medicine, the list of symptoms for an overworked liver due to toxins is lengthy and includes: headache; coughing, wheezing and shortness of breathe; eye, ear, nose or throat irritation; chills or fever; dizziness or vertigo; nausea; hair loss; skin rash; infertility in women and men; liver disease; neurological dysfunction, such as loss of memory or concentration, or confusion; weakness or fatigue; depression and cancer.

Fortunately, there are established tests to help you deal with that list that can help determine function and others that indicate if your environmental exposure is greater than your ability to detox from symptoms.

Phase One of liver detoxification consists of taking antioxidants that make toxins water soluble through oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis. Most toxins are fat soluble, which allows them to be excreted through bile or urine.

However, once the toxins have become water soluble, some of the metabolites are even more toxic than in their original form. A high level of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, C, E, Coenzyme Q10, silymarin, zinc and copper) decreases the threat, but they become fully neutralized by Phase Two liver detoxification.

Phase Two is where conjugation happens, which is when a sulfur containing amino acids is combined with the toxin so it can be safely eliminated. It is critical to ensure that your Phase Two detox operates even more efficiently than Phase One, to avoid a “back up” of toxins.

There are a variety of supplements that can aid in Phase Two detoxification including L-glutamine, glycine, glutathione, MSM and N-acetyl cysteine. Eating cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica family, (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and foods that contain organosulfur compounds (onions, garlic, leeks) is a great place to start.

These are the basics of liver detoxification. There are different nutrients, vitamins or herbs that have been studied and are effective with specific detox programs whether they target mercury, lead, organophosphates, polyphenols, or something else.

Fall is a great time to work on the detoxification of your whole system. Use these past three articles as a guideline and remember to work in order: first, eliminate your exposure to toxins; second, get your digestive system happy and healthy; only then is it time for the third step, detoxing your liver. The results will truly change your life.

Monique Lai, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and natural health expert with a family practice in Jackson Hole.

About Dr. Monique Lai

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