Natural Liver Detox: How to Support Natural Liver Detoxification

by | Mar 4, 2013 | Functional Medicine, Healthy Living, Nutrition Info

Natural Liver Detoxification: How to Support Natural Liver Detoxification and the Science Behind Phase I and II

The liver is an amazing organ. Besides filtering the blood, storing glucose for energy, breaking down steroid hormones and producing/secreting bile, our liver plays a major role in detoxification. This critical function relies on a two-step enzymatic pathway for the neutralization of unwanted toxic chemical compounds that our bodies encounter on a daily basis. Other systems in our body are compromised if our liver is not functioning properly. This is because most of the toxins we are exposed to are fat soluble – they are attracted to the fatty portion of cells throughout our body, instead of directly being excreted in water-based urine. Unfortunately, this attraction allows them to be easily transported into cells where they settle and can exert toxic effects. These toxins can stay in our systems for a long time and start to negatively affect various organs – including liver, colon, kidney, heart, brain, lungs, skin and endocrine system (hormones).

Liver Detoxification Pathways

Generally speaking, our liver eliminates toxins through a two-step enzymatic process, known as Phase I and II detoxification (biotransformation) pathways. Specific reactions occur in these two pathways that help break down these toxins into harmless substances.

PHASE I: A series of enzymes, called cytochrome P450, chemically changes harmful fat-soluble toxins into a more toxic substance called an “intermediary metabolite.” Since the intermediary metabolite is often more toxic than the original fat-soluble toxin, it has to go through Phase II to become less toxic.

Specific nutrients that are needed for phase I detoxification consist of:

  • B vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12)
  • Folic acid
  • Glutathione
  • Flavonoids (such as catechins, found in green tea)

PHASE II: Attachment (or conjugation) of specific molecules onto the intermediary metabolite occurs. This process makes intermediary metabolites non-toxic and water soluble so they can be eliminated through the urine or stool.

  • 6 detoxification pathways in phase II:
  • Sulfation
  • Glucuronidation
  • Glutathione Conjugation
  • Acetylation
  • Amino Acid Conjugation
  • Methylation
Phase I and Phase II Liver Detox Pathways

Phase I and Phase II Liver Detox Pathways

The biggest potential problems are:

  • Your body does not have the necessary nutrients to initiate or continue each pathway sufficiently
  • Metabolites get stuck in between phase I and II
  • Your liver is overloaded and can’t keep up with the demand

Supporting Liver Detox