Detoxification, The Liver and General Health:
An Ignored Major Medical Issue
Part 1 of 2
When I hear the word "detoxification," I used to think of detox drug centers, dialysis machines for those with ruined kidneys or eccentric health potions.
Bluntly, I was poorly informed like 19/20 doctors about this massive health issue. If you cannot remove body toxins you die promptly -- every doctor knows this basic principle. We were trained in medical school to understand that without a healthy functional liver to remove body wastes, food wastes, and environmental junk, you die. We were taught that excess extreme Tylenol doses and dry cleaning fluid injure the liver, and without treatment with detoxification substances one could have severe injury or die.
Yet we were not taught about something much more common. The liver can be mildly strained and overwhelmed by a host of substances that are all around us. The liver is the "junk or poison" self-defense system. It has many ways to change, or "detoxify," thousands of common harmful substances into safe things the body can remove in feces or in urine.
Detoxification for health is very serious, but not commonly dramatic. Traditional medicine is great at emergency care, surgery and mediations. Detoxification is not as dramatic and obvious as a heart attack, stoke, or clear and profound cancer. Yet floating bodily "poisons" stored in fat or blood or other key organs help cause all major illness. Detoxification is not as dramatic as a severe rash, flu, or other major illnesses. But if your liver is not working correctly, you are more likely to get all of them.
Winning the lottery is dramatic and sudden. People feel excited and have sudden happiness and hope. But the way most people secure a retirement is by slowly saving over years and then one can suddenly retire. The liver problems I am discussing are just like this illustration -- usually slow over years and then quite serious. Especially, when your liver does not have the special compounds or "glue" it needs to remove toxins. The toxins just float about forever till you find a way to remove them. And while it is floating, it causes trouble with any number of organs in the body-potentially any of them.
The strain does not show up on basic organ failure labs, such as the basic "LFT" or liver function test or profile which typically only show if a liver cell is damaged. I am taking about deficits within the liver cells of substances the liver used to remove toxins.
The expression "toxins" sounds so dramatic. But there is nothing "alternative" or unusual about them. It is just that most very busy doctors are being worn out with tons of insurance paper work, relentless and crushing lawsuits, hundreds of Medicare and federal drug regulations, HMO abuse and malpractice insurance that can take a large portion of yearly income. My point? They have no time to read environmental toxin materials.
For example, in 1987 the EPA showed that of the people tested, 100% had major poisons and toxins in their fat from common household items like the common foam cups we use for coffee and various plastics. Dr. S. Rogers quoted a study showing that even organic vegetables have rocket fuel components as residue on their leaves. Another recent study showed chlorine worsens asthma.
Other sample common sources include:
- Common home products like storage plastics, oven cleaners and air cleaners.
- Pesticides and herbicides in the food and the water you drink
- Fertilizers in food and water
- Colorings and preservatives
- Air containing automobile fumes and industrial pollutants
- Cigarette smoke which releases toxic metals and about 200 miscellaneous toxins.
- Computers, electronics, building materials and paint all give off toxic gasses in constant small amounts.
- Virtually all medications have to be modified for excretion.
- Many thousands of created industrial chemicals that act like estrogens, like old DDT. We call these "Xeno" or foreign estrogens.
- Other synthetic industrial chemicals are hard for the liver to breakdown. I am not mocking industry, just expressing we need to limit contact and help the body remove these things.
- Cancer chemotherapy requires very aggressive replacement of the liver's detoxification substances, but this is not currently done routinely.
- Many of the bodies own compounds must be detoxified as well. For example, after chemotherapy, which profoundly depletes the liver of its junk removal "glue," sometimes supplemented natural bio-identical hormones cannot even be removed.
- Harmful digested or inhaled minerals
"So What? I Am Not Sure This Relates to Me"
My experience is that most people are not aware of the slow effects a fair functioning liver has on their health until something major happens which was helped along by a sub-optimal functioning liver.
Toxins move around the body hurting possibly every organ!
Yet here are some possible current problems or experiences which show liver detoxification might not be working fully:
- Many inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
- You are highly sensitive to medications, fumes or smoke.
- Unexplained fatigue and lack of energy; numerous allergy reactions
- Unable to lose weight. Since some toxins make insulin work poorly, increase insulin and increase cravings.
- Increased fat in the middle of the body which does not decrease with treatment.
- Depression or sadness.
- Even very low fractions of antidepressant tablets cause nothing but discomfort. Commonly recommended starting doses are too high for the first 48 hours.
- Worsening mental confusion or spacey thinking
- New or worsening food and chemical sensitivities
- Unexplained nausea
- Common emotional stress is harder to handle
- Common bodily "stress" like PMS and other menstrual difficulties are increasingly hard to handle. (This has many causes including reduced natural progesterone after 33-35 years old).
- Bags under the eyes
- A yellowish tint or liver spots on the skin
- Eccentric rashes or unexplained itching
- Large bruises
- (Severe) pain under right side of ribs
- Bizarre Stool--Undigested fat in stools, greasy/shiny stools and pale stools
- Sick feelings after a single glass of wine or cup of coffee. Very extreme sensitivity to even small "doses" of whiskey, cheap red wine, fruit brandy or a dark form of alcohol.
- Metallic or bitter taste in mouth
- Chronic runny nose or chronic post nasal drip
- Chronic cough, worsening cough or worsening asthma
- Eccentric sweating
- Eccentric joint and muscle pain which is in excess of reasonable causes (Yet watch out for tick disease like Lyme which routine tests at regular labs usually miss. See Washington Post "Health" section, F, August 5, 2003 on Lyme).
- Bizarre or vivid dreams
- Poor rebound from colds or too many colds
- Fast fatigue with minimal exercise
- Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue
- Headaches -- toxins are often fatty and can go to the fatty brain. Or could inflame and irritate the blood vessels in the brain.
- Water Retention -- has many causes including low progesterone which increases urination, serious liver malfunction, and inflammation abnormalities. Regarding inflammation, recall if you bang your finger, the finger swells up to heal the finger. This is the correct functioning of the inflammation system. Yet when it does not work correctly, you may have water retention.
- Night Blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiencies which may be associated with impaired liver function.
- Skin, Hair & Nails -- these are very sensitive to toxin excesses.
In the next part we will discuss solutions.
See Part 2
Healing, Protecting & Improving Liver Detoxification Function: An Ignored Goal in Medicine
To Your Health!