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How do you detoxify your organ of detoxification?

‘Liver cleansing’ has long been the mantra of many natural therapists, Homeopaths or other ‘alternate’ therapies – and sometimes rightly so.

The question is how do you detoxify your organ of detoxification – i.e.: the liver? A rhetorical question of course but in some ways a contradiction in terms. To take this point one step further: by implementing a ‘liver detoxification’ program – are we just treating symptoms or the cause?

My argument is a sluggish (or fatty) liver may be the consequence of various causes:

It may be the result of iron deficiency resulting in insufficient or quality Adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) production. Or it could be the individual consumes too much alcohol, caffeine; illicit drugs or is a regular cigarette smoker; has been prescribed a ‘liver toxic’ drug for some health problem – and if female – also taking some form of hormonal or contraceptive therapy?

The metabolites from these drugs (they are all regarded as drugs) will tend to overload Phase I of the liver’s detoxification pathway.

There are numerous other causes such as liver disease or diseases that affect the liver, or other nutrient deficiency adversely impacting on thyroid-metabolic functioning to retard liver function.

The progressive medical-pharmaceutical researchers who mentor me (or whose work I follow) generally do NOT treat elevated Cholesterol by prescribing ‘Statins’ (or other Cholesterol-lowering medication), but assess and treat the patient’s nutritional-metabolic-(thyroid-adrenal) or hormone disturbance that is often causing the elevated Cholesterol.

They’ve also always instilled in me that ‘things are not always as they appear‘ – meaning that the necessary preliminary testing should always be undertaken before any treatment regimen is embarked on.

This is where some natural practitioners fall short in my opinion: they provide supplements or herbal remedies for almost every symptom the Client expresses without the essential baseline pathology testing to assess ‘where’ these sometimes disparate symptoms are originating from. This tends to be potentially very costly for the Client and ‘often misses the mark’ in diagnosis.

A few times per year I am consulted for Telogen Effluvium scalp hair shedding from people who’ve undertaken a self-imposed or prescribed ‘liver detoxification’ program.

Symptoms of under-functioning liver detoxification pathways are:

  • continual chronic fatigue and malaise
  • recurring headaches
  • hormonal imbalance – particularly Oestrogen metabolism
  • intolerance to – with feelings of nausea for – fatty/fried foods and/or alcohol
  • Gut discomfort, bloating or windiness (in the form of burping or flatulence)
  • recurrent infections; low-grade febrile temperature
  • increasing skin and respiratory sensitivity to multiple chemicals smells or perfumes/creams applied to the skin
  • ‘flare-up’ of skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema
  • continual muscle or joint pain – often mistaken for Fibromyalgia

The experienced Practitioner will immediately realise the above plethora of symptoms overlap many potential diagnoses, so it’s particularly important that appropriate baseline diagnostic testing be undertaken as a first step.

This should begin with the common nutritional-metabolic blood pathology; if necessary followed by a Liver Detoxification Profile/Assessment from one of the accredited functional pathology laboratories in Australia.

A newer test offered by Clinical Labs is DNAdose testing a non-fasting once only blood test to assess liver detoxification pathways.

Moderating or ceasing previously mentioned lifestyle drugs is one simple measure to ‘lighten the load’ of liver detoxification pathways. Juicing of fresh fruits and vegetables and their daily consumption will help ‘cleanse’ pathways.

Glycine amino acid supplementation usually corrects an out-of-balance Phase II ‘Glycination pathway’ – this has a tendency to restore the other Phase II pathways to more optimal parameters also. Naringenin – found in grapefruit juice can normalise an ‘up-regulated’ Phase I – but its use should be taken under medical supervision if taking essential medication.

Once a disturbance in liver detoxification pathways has been established – a ‘less is more’ intervention is advised to prevent the patient feeling more unwell than they previously were. Overweight or obese people sometimes complain of fetid body odour as some liver toxins are excreted through the skin. This may be amusing to some but very embarrassing to the sufferer, and usually results in treatment non-compliance.

The holistic philosophy in me loves treating sluggish liver detoxification pathways as NO patented drug can help; instead simple, natural solutions such as Grapefruit juice to down-regulate Phase I detoxification: Green tea, Turmeric or B + E Vitamins to up-regulate Phase I; Glycine amino acid for Phase II Glycination or Calcium d-glucurate**, Zinc, Curcumin, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) or B-group Vitamins for Phase II Glucuronidation.

* A blood pathology ‘liver function test’ does NOT in fact assess liver ‘function’ but rather reflects liver cell enzyme distress or death.

** Calcium d-glucurate is metabolised to glucare lactone GL (d-glucaro-1, 4-lactone). GL is a direct inhibitor of beta-glucuronidase. By inhibiting beta-glucuronidase activity, GL increases the net elimination of carcinogens, toxins and steroid hormones via Glucuronidation (Healthscope/ARL Practitioner Manual: 2011)

Copyright – Anthony Pearce 2015 (Revised September 2017)

Please NOTE: this is my my opinion only – I am NOT a Hepatologist.