Saturday, May 8, 2010

D4 Group Cleanse: Love Your Liver

We are thrilled to welcome 12 friends to our office last Wednesday for the start of our 21-day Cleanse. We got tasked with clearing out gluten, dairy, caffeine, sugar and alcohol over the next seven days as part of the "Pre-Cleanse" as well as starting the Detox supplements to prepare our liver and gut for the job ahead. Did you start your morning today with a cup of warm, filtered water with a quarter of yummy Meyer lemon? That is your job for the next 21 days.

We start in earnest with our full Cleanse next week, on May 12, and the next seven days allow us to transition off of the toxins we've been using somewhat gradually. While this blog post is primarily aimed at those who have joined our Group Cleanse, you can also join us virtually both on the blog, or on Facebook, and take the supportive supplements (ordering information is below).

Yesterday there was a great question on Detoxification: why bother with detox supplements to support the Cleanse? I thought I'd spend a moment giving the liver's job description and listing the functions of the supplements that support the job. I really believe that you understand the biochemical underpinnings, even in broad strokes, you'll be more motivated and derive a better outcome. First we'll talk about the liver and then I'll fill in the gaps on how the detox supplements help you.

Job: The liver takes harmful (such as alcohol) and more benign substances (such as estradiol, the most common estrogen until about age 50), and converts these substances typically from fat-soluble to water-soluble so that you can remove them in your urine, stool or bile. You have a bazillion enzymes in the liver that act on these substances.

Break it down for me, please. There are two steps to the liver's daily task - Phase 1 and Phase 2. A toxin enters Phase 1 in the liver (the P-450 cytochrome system) and is reduced to smaller metabolites, which then move onto Phase 2, where the are bound to glutathione, glycine and sulfate. This new now non-toxic metabolite can be excreted in the bile, urine or stool.

Phase 1, in other words, either neutralizes a toxin or metabolizes a toxin to an intermediate form that is then neutralized in Phase 2. The mechanism used in Phase 1 include the chemical reactions of oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis, and these processes produce free radicals which may damage liver cells. Antitioxidants (Vitamin D, resveratrol, etc) reduce the damage. If there are lots of toxins and not enough antioxidants, the risk is much higher, and sometimes potentially carcinogenic substances may be made.

Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 detox pathways may be overloaded or otherwise not working well. Particularly bad (aka, perfect storm conditions) exist when an ill person has an overload of toxins coming into Phase 1, and then Phase 2 is inefficient. This can lead to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, drug intolerance, and chemical/environmental sensitivities, as well as other not-fun conditions.

A little more info on Phase 1: when it's inefficient or overloaded, you may experience intolerance to caffeine as well as scented products.  Overactive Phase 1 folks will be unaffected by caffeine. Here are things that activate Phase 1 detox:
  • food: brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage; high-protein diet, oranges/tangerines, charcoal-broiled meats
  • alcohol, sulfa drugs, nicotine in cigarette smoke, steroids (including estrogen)
  • environmental: paint fumes, carbon tetrachloride, exhaust, dioxin, pesticides
  • supplements: vitamin C, niacin (B3) 

Phase 2 is also known as the conjugation pathway -- this means that liver cells add a little something (cysteine, glycine, sulfur) to the substance that is coming in. This makes the substance dissolve in water, and then you can get rid of it in urine, bile or stool. For things to work optimally here in Phase 2, you need the amino acids taurine and cysteine as well as additional nutrients (glycine, choline, inositol). This is where the detox supplements come in!

A side note about bile: you make it in phase 2, and normal folks make a quart per day! Bile is the truck that drives the toxins out of your system into the intestines. What's important here is that the bile gets absorbed by fiber and excreted. Low fiber-diets lead to poor binding of the toxins, and the toxins get re-absorbed.  This now helps you understand why we are adding more fiber both with whole foods and a fiber supplement starting on day 8 of our Cleanse.

Take a wild guess at what's in the Detox support packets: potent doses of taurine, cysteine, glycine, inositol, taurine, MSM, Vitamin B6 & 12, Vitamin C, antioxidants, and several other co-factors that help the liver such as biotin, selenium, zinc. These make Phase 1 and Phase 2 Detox pathways operate more efficiently and clear out lingering toxins. We haven't yet talked about the gallbladder, but several additional botanicals such as dandelion root, artichoke and beet extract help both the gallbladder and the liver with detoxification. The twice/daily Detox support packets prepare the liver and gut for the full Cleanse. The supplement helps to minimize damage from free radicals while revving up (or upregulating) the Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification pathways. You'll also get from the supplements improved digestion of fats and fat-soluble substances. You'll take the Detox supplements for one month. 

If you are interested in joining our Cleanse virtually, call or email our office and order the Detoxification Support Packets ($90 for a 30 day supply). Click here to order online or to visit our website (email us if you need help). Our next Group Cleanse will begin October, 2010.

Detoxification is a very complex biochemical system, and I've oversimplified much of it in the service of making it more accessible. If you have questions, please post them in the comment section.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved reading your informative post on the liver...amazing! I was confused by one thing. You say that vitamin C and B3 activate phase 1 detox but then say the supplements to take include vitamin c. Did I misunderstand? Thank you!

Gottfried Center for Integrative Medicine's Fan Box

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.