The liver is your body’s primary organ for detoxification. Detoxification is the process of removing poisonous substances such as pesticides, alcohol, microorganisms, and other contaminants from your body. Your liver is able to neutralize and eliminate toxins in two phases: the first phase transforms substances to make them less harmful and the second phase attaches molecules to the substances allowing them to exit the body. Learn more about each of these detoxification phases of the liver below.
Phase I Detoxification (Modification)
During Phase I detoxification, the cytochrome P450 mixed function oxidase (MFO) family of enzymes takes center stage (I’m particularly fond of this family of enzymes since I studied one member in detail for four years during my doctoral research!). These enzymes are located on the membrane of liver cells, and they help facilitate oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis reactions that change the molecular structure of toxins (to make them less hazardous for us!).
Most of the harmful chemicals we encounter are fat soluble—meaning they only dissolve in fat or oil (and as a result, can accumulate in our fatty tissues instead of being washed out through urine or bile). So, a major role of Phase I detoxification is using oxygen and enzymes to convert fat-soluble toxins into more water-soluble compounds. The cytochrome P450 enzymes accomplish this by either adding or exposing functional groups on the toxins (typically a carboxyl group, amino group, or hydroxyl group). Nutrient deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, liver damage, and certain drugs can all impair Phase I by reducing the activity of these important P450 enzymes.
Because oxidation plays such a central role in Phase I, free radical production increases, and the liver has to draw on plenty of antioxidant support in order to protect cells from damage!
Phase II Detoxification (Conjugation)
Phase II detoxification is all about conjugation, or linking things together. In this case, small molecules (sulfur or amino acids) are added to partially-processed toxins to help neutralize them (especially because some intermediate metabolites from Phase I can actually be even more harmful than in their original state!). This also completes the process of turning them water-soluble, so that the body can safely excrete them via watery fluids. The four major conjugation pathways in this phase are:
Glutathionation, where glutathione (a combination of the amino acids cysteine, glutamine, and glycine) binds with toxic substances such as some drugs, foreign chemicals, carcinogens like aflatoxin, and toxic metals like mercury and lead.
Glucuronidation, where glucuronic acid (a sugar acid derived from glucose) combines with foreign chemicals, pesticides, steroid hormones, NSAIDs, and other pharmaceuticals.
Sulfation, where sulfate binds with artificial food colorings, steroid hormones, heterocyclic amines (produced from cooking meat at high temperatures), and other substances in order to make them water-soluble.
Glycination, where the amino acid glycine binds with salicylates (like from aspirin), benzoic acids, and some decongestants and antihistamines.
If the Phase II pathway is impaired (or overloaded), it can result in buildup of fat-soluble toxins that get incorporated into fatty tissue (including in the brain and endocrine glands). That can lead to a wide variety of problems, including hormonal imbalances, recurrent infections, headaches and migraines, multiple chemical sensitivities, and potentially a higher risk of cancer (if the chemicals are carcinogenic).
Does your body need herbs, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, dietary modifications? Any recommendations made without the use of muscle testing are guesses at best.Nutrition Response Testing takes the guess-work out of the equation so you can be provided with a treatment plan beneficial to your health the first time around. Contact Dr. Della Parker to schedule your Nutrition Response Testing by calling 503.908.0881 today!