“Why do you keep doing all that liver cleansing?”
Once when I was quite ill, I was told by a friend (who was an M.D.), “Why do you keep doing all that liver cleansing? There’s nothing wrong with your liver”. The friend gave me this advice with good intentions of course, but it shows a fundamental difference in thought between allopathic medicine and holistic practice. It’s true; I did not have a liver disease, medically speaking. I was not an alcoholic, no scarring, no Hepatitis, no fatty liver issues, or obesity related issues. My bilirubin and liver enzymes were normal at the time. (They had been elevated in the past but had come down in part because of liver cleansing).
So, no liver disease; from a medical standpoint, so why mess with the poor liver? Leave it alone and stop cleansing, right? But… I did have Lyme disease at the time and I was also underweight. I had a poor appetite, was pale, and often became nauseated after eating. Let me ask you then, if you know anything about holistic health, would you agree with the statement “there’s nothing wrong with your liver?”
Liver Health Influences Overall Health
Holistic practitioners obsess over the liver. We can’t help it, because quite frankly, it determines outcomes. With many of the emerging non-definable chronic illnesses, once your “doc” has shrugged his or her shoulders and shows by either body language, or by directly telling you that they want you to go away, then it is time to think about liver stagnation as an issue to be addressed. A neglected liver can leave you in peril. When I open my kit of testing vials to use for energetic testing, they are categorized according to therapeutic use, and yes, the largest group of testing vials of homeopathic remedies, herbs, and nutrients are for liver support. Why is this needed? Why can’t you just ignore the liver like everyone else does?
Because many, and I mean MANY, health issues such as Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/CFIDS, nerve diseases, and even cancer, all have liver stagnation and dysfunction as a root cause in a causal chain. Not THE root cause in the causal chain, but just one factor in their poor health. In a causal chain, there really is no such thing as THE root cause in everyone’s health issues. You follow the causal chain backwards by asking “What is the root cause of this symptom?” “What happened in the body before this symptom (muscle pain, fatigue, etc) appeared that proceeded it?” That could be called a root cause. A causal chain just asks, “What is the root cause, of the root cause, of the root cause, of the…..?” And so it progresses backwards in that way. The reason this discussion of a causal chain is relevant to liver health is this: if you trace the causal chain backwards in just about any chronic health condition you are going to trace back to a toxic and congested liver. By toxic liver, this does not mean a liver that has a disease, but it simply indicates a dysfunction. A liver that is energetically weakened (sluggish metabolism, sub-clinical inflammation) is chronically deficient in key phases one and two of the detoxification nutrients and co-nutrients, and basically is not processing toxins or performing other metabolic functions fast enough.
Prevention of Toxic Accumulation
In chronic illness you can have multiple chronic infections that are producing biotoxin/endotoxins around the clock. You can have accumulation of toxic metals or chemicals, and an overproduction of ammonia, and many different toxins from a bowel with altered flora. Either the liver keeps up with this process of detoxification or the toxins accumulate. If they accumulate long enough, you are going to feel sick and things are going to start breaking down. The good news is that we humans are pretty robust. With a little cleansing work, some people turn some of the above mentioned symptoms around rapidly. They have such increases in well-being that they can feel they are well when there is still work to do.
So what about the specifics of cleansing and improving liver health naturally? What can you do? To answer this first understand some basics of liver function, and specifically we will look at detoxification since this is HUGE for improving overall health and well being. As blood pumps through the liver (almost a half gallon per minute), the liver removes toxins from that blood with amazing effectiveness when things are going right. Some of these toxins are disassembled by enzymes so that they are no longer toxins and the now non-toxic components are released back into circulation.
Other poisons are too toxic to deactivate, or in the case of heavy metals, they are basic elements and so breaking them down is not possible. For these toxins, the liver engages Phase 1 and Phase 2 detox pathways. Phase 2 consists of the cytochrome P450 enzymes. There are about 100 of these. They overlap in function and each tends to be specific for certain toxins. These enzymes modify toxins in preparation for phase 2. They do so through various methods, adding and removing electrons (redox) and other ways. Many of these toxins become MORE toxic after Phase 1 Cytochrome P450 enzymes process them. This creates a common problem with detoxification. Phase 1 is too fast and Phase 2 is too slow, and toxic intermediates are released back into circulation. There really is no other outcome. If Phase 2 can’t keep up potentially cancer causing toxins that needed Phase 2 detox back up in the system. It is important to note that this could be going on in your body while all your basic blood work for liver health appear normal.
So why would Phase 2 be too slow to keep up? This is a pretty important subject in chronic illness. To understand what could go wrong let’s look at how Phase 2 detox works. Phase 2 is also known as the conjugation phase. In this phase, a conjugating nutrient is stuck to/attached to a toxin. Very specific nutrients are used in Phase 2 detox. For want of a better description, nutrients with sticky qualities are used; sticky at the molecular level that is. Sulfur based nutrients are key to this. Just as garlic is sticky, eggs are sticky because of sulfur, sulfur based nutrients are sticky. Other nutrients also stick to toxins. These include methylating nutrients, acetylation, glucurate conjugation, amino acid conjugation (glycine, taurine, glutamine, etc), and sulfation. But the tri-peptide L-glutathione is really the most critical nutrient of in all. Glutathione is the premiere toxin binding/conjugating nutrient. Therefore getting whole glutathione in is valuable for liver health.
Once these nutrients are “stuck” to a toxin, the toxin/nutrient molecule may be released back into the blood to be cleared by the kidneys. This is a reason people report strong or toxic smelling urine after doing natural liver detox. Other toxins are actually too toxic to release back into circulation for kidney elimination. These are secreted into the bile, which passes through the gallbladder, common bile duct, into the upper intestine, and then passes into the toilet with a bowel movement. There can be astounding variances in how fast this process works in different individuals. Someone chronically ill who feels sick after a whiff of strong perfume may wonder, how can this other person smoke and work in a chemical plant and feel great? Differences in ability to detox may hold the answer, and again remember, we are talking about function here, not disease. Your liver may look fine with conventional lab testing yet you feel like garbage. It is little comfort to have “perfect labs” if this is the case.
So again, the question, why would phase 2 be going too slow? There are a lot of potential issues that can’t be covered here, but one thing for sure is an outright deficiency of phase 2 nutrients. Keep in mind that each time you conjugate a toxin and it passes into the toilet via urine or stool, the nutrient went with it. If over time you are more and more deficient in these nutrients you will detox slower and slower. It’s just that simple. In addition to nutrients that specifically bind to toxins there are many, facilitating co-nutrients.
There is a lot of attention specifically on methylation and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in chronic illness as well there should be. These things very much need to be identified and corrected by a knowledgeable holistic practitioner. This article cannot dissect that subject. But the SNP in the MTHFR gene that codes to create that enzyme and the resulting problems from one or more nucleotides out of place show how profoundly the resulting deficiency of just one B vitamin metabolite, 5 Methyltetrohydrofolate (5 MTHF) can effect one aspect of Phase 2 detoxification, namely methylation.
So, Phase 2 is very much nutrient dependent and nutrient driven. If one is chronically ill you can bet that they have more toxins being generated internally than the average person. So they have an imbalance: too many toxins being produced inside, and a chronically slow detoxification system that can’t keep up. Toxin backlog, feeling like crud, not knowing how to fix it is the norm with many clients seeking natural medicine to feel better.
Detox for the Liver
But there is hope! (It’s not all bad news) You can take charge of this situation. What are some tools?
- Coffee Enemas
- Metabolic detox nutrient formulas that provide all the Phase 1 and 2 nutrients and co-nutrients. There are many of these. They need to have adequate amounts of key nutrients and also be free of some of the toxins such as arsenic in rice protein. The goal is to detox, not put more in.
- Liver herbs like Milk Thistle, Phyllanthus, Gentian, Dandelion, and others.
- Liver supporting homeopathics energetically tested specifically for you.
- Nutrients to bypass genetic SNPs.
- Higher dose individual conjugating nutrients like TMG, SAMe, L-cysteine,Taurine, L-glycine, Calcium-D-Glucurate, and perhaps most important of all, a well absorbed form of reduced L-Glutathione.
If there is one word of caution here, go slow. You can’t detox toxins that have been accumulating for years in a few days, and to be honest with you, you need the help of a knowledgeable holistic practitioner; otherwise you may be in for a rough road of trial by error. These are generally regarded as safe natural cleansing therapies and products, but you can make yourself feel very ill doing things in the wrong order or too aggressively. You need help.
There is a 7th method I highly recommend – the liver/gallbladder flush. You may read about this in my upcoming Kindle book on the subject
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