Healing, Protecting and Improving
Liver Detoxification Function:
An Ignored Goal in Medicine
Detoxification: Part 2 of 2
If you have not read the first part of this article, you will see no real reason for the "solutions" listed below. (See also, part 1: Detoxification, The Liver and General Health:
An Ignored Major Medical Issue)
Just as a refresher, please note the liver is one of the most important organs in the body. If it is severely injured, you often die. If it is not functioning well, your ability to remove universal toxins is weakened, and it will eventually harm your health in one of dozens of ways. The liver is the site for detoxification of the body, a form of mandatory self-defense. We rarely hear commercials about pills for the liver. It is a weak area in traditional American medicine, so folks tend to think the liver is trivial. Its role is massive.
The liver processes carbohydrate, fats and proteins, stores nutrients, controls blood sugar and hormone levels. Bile is made in the liver, which is involved in elimination of various wastes. The liver has a major role in nutrition and is very sensitive to deficits. Since I have done large studies collecting poorly absorbed essential nutrients and looked at the research showing common meager nutrition in children and the elderly, the fact traditional medicine is only starting to be aware of nutrition as routine medicine is good -- yet too little too late.
Various nutrients are required in order for liver detoxification of common biological and environmental toxins, which we all have in our body, to be carried out efficiently.
If the liver acts to detoxify and does not have basic nutrients, it will have excess free radicals or "damaging sparks" which cause secondary damage to cells. An adequate supply of key antioxidants and free radical controllers or catchers is therefore essential to prevent tissue damage.
Proposed Options to Protect the Liver
The liver has two stages in removing a junk substance.
Surprisingly, often the first modification to a toxin makes it even more dangerous.
That is why the second part of the liver clean up process is so critical. In this Phase II detoxification part, both glutathione and Cal D-Glucurate are absolutely critical.
Yet my experience is that few people have optimal glutathione or Cal D-Glucurate.
Glutathione was never mentioned to me in medical school. If I am wrong, I am certain it was no more than a passing comment. But glutathione is profoundly critical and very important for both parts of liver detoxification.
Since we are all exposed to daily pollutants and have many of us have poor dietary sources of glutathione, we are on our way to chronic illness.
I believe the best way to take glutathione is sublingually, by an inhaler, or IV. Obviously, IV is annoying and expensive. Inhaled or nebulized is likely useful for a former smoker (according to J. Wright, MD), but do not overdo it or you will feel dizzy. We have been pleased with glutathione tablets or hard jelly lozenges made with natural fruit extracts and placed under the tongue.
One can take pills or capsules of reduced glutathione (ideally with some blue/purple fruit extracts which may make it work better). However, absorption through the intestines into the liver is poor with oral glutathione. Some feel N-acetylcysteine (NAC) with glutathione helps a small amount of glutathione pass into the liver.
Oral capsules of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and L-Methionine (an amino acid) probably increase glutathione in the liver. Alpha Lipoic Acid helps revitalize glutathione. Low body levels of magnesium cause decreased levels of glutathione. In my research of cells taken from under the tongue, which measure intracellular levels, I have found virtually everyone's body stores of magnesium are a joke. Also, since the bodies own inflammation chemicals have to be removed, they also likely decrease glutathione. These come from holes left in root canals, joint pain, or inflamed intestines (from irritating drug like ibuprofen or caustic bacteria, which displace good bacteria in the 30 feet of intestines, due to antibiotics, processed white flour, corn syrup or white sugar).
Also the special glucuronidation Phase II detox process can be ruined by bad bacteria excretions. So what? Well this allows toxins to simply recycle all over the body instead of being removed.
Calcium D-Glucurate keeps the glucuronidation detox system working well and removing junk. It fights the effects of the bad bacteria excretions that ruin the system like a "metal rod" in the detox gears. Cal D-Glucurate pulls out the rod and lets the liver remove junk. So Calcium D-Glucurate increases toxin removal.
Calcium D-Glucurate is not synthetic since it is in some vegetables and fruits.
The Disaster of Fast Part I and Slow Part II Detox
If you have a nutritional, environmental or genetic weakness that spikes Phase I Detoxification, which can make a toxin even more dangerous, together with a weak and impotent Phase II, you will start damaging the body.
For example, gunpowder contains harmless sulfur and charcoal. Charcoal is commonly used to help humans as a purifier and in the past for energy. Yet if you transform it, in the manner of a Phase I reaction, it becomes dangerous gunpowder and usable in cannons and guns.
We commonly manipulate this principle in a good way in American medicine.
Zinc promotes Phase I reactions.
While grapefruit juice is given to transplant patients to limit Phase I detoxification. Why? Because the tissue rejection prevention drug, cyclosporin, can stay in the body longer. . . . If you have a poorly functioning Phase II system, some grapefruit juice might be useful while you are getting your Phase II tuned up with glutathione, Cal D-Glucurate and other essential nutrients.
Also, some foods enhance the Phase I system more than the Phase II system. My impression is that these include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
If you wonder if you have a problem with the second part of your detox system, you can look at part one of this article and see the long checklist of possible signs of liver function limitations which routine laboratory blood testing does not catch.
General Nutrition for Liver Function
For the liver to remove toxins you need a wide range of nutrition. It is an insane joke to think a single pill, taken once a day, is all one needs for optimal liver function -- such comments belong on the comedy channel. I have measured blood levels of essential nutrients of many people eating wisely -- the blood levels of nutrients are often terrible.
Basically, when you are building a house it is helpful to have as many tradesman hands as possible -- carpenters, plumbers, framers etc. Ideally, you give the liver and the body wide ranging nutrients, instead of thinking you will build your home merely with the expert landscaper. Using only Vitamin E or only Vitamin C or this weeks bargain nutrient does help you a little, yet it will never be the orchestra that plays in perfect harmony. Indeed, Vitamin C, E and Alpha Lipoic acid work as a team. Alpha Lipoic acid sits in the cell membrane, and Vitamin C and E are on either side--Lipoic acid recycles both of them. See how fad nutrition does not make sense?
For example, here are other nutrients, amino acids, all used in the Phase II pathway: glycine, cysteine, glutamine, methionine, taurine, glutamic acid and aspartic acid.
The Liver and Antioxidants
Every liver cell and every cell in the body makes energy. It makes the energy in the furnace of the cell- the mitochondria. When we make energy sparks fly out of the mitochondria and slowly cause disease. Like wet wood placed in a fireplace. The wood makes a popping sound as the water in the wood expands and blows off bits of flaming wood.
Antioxidants catch flying particles that damage tissue -- including the liver. Do not expect the damage to show up in routine Liver Function Tests.
Examples of some anti-oxidants in some supplements:
- Superoxide dismutase -- an enzyme that catch's sparks which has been shown to increase animal and bug life spans.
- Beta-carotene and other carotenoids from supplements or foods (broccoli, spinach, yellow squash, sweet potato).
- Vitamin E -- natural is best and get a form which includes many forms not just cheap "alpha."
- Vitamin C -- 1,000 mg a day is good. If you are a smoker you like lose this every day, and would need higher amounts. The best form may be Ester C and it is highly absorbed.
- Selenium -- the best form is likely L-Methionine and 200 micrograms is a common dose. Few American farms have large amounts in their soil.
Other Nutrients Help Liver Enzymes Work
- B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin
- Iron -- just the right amount. Children and women with periods that last 6 days often need iron supplements. But too much increases sparking free radicals.
- Plant nutrients like indoles and quercetin from vegetables.
- Zinc -- The best form may be zinc l-monomethionine (L-OptiZinc). Anyone who drinks alcohol must have this mineral, along with a B Complex vitamin.
- Milk Thistle -- many herbs from many places in the world are may help the liver. Probably the best studies are associated with this herb. It must be standardized. Dose matters and probably should be tailored.
Final Suggestions for Liver Health
If possible consider these suggestions:
- Try eating organic, unrefined, unprocessed foods. One of the most common American weed killers creates bizarre sex organs in frogs. If you want to say you are not a frog and eat all non-organic foods, that is your choice.
- If you eat meat try not to eat burned black meat and keep the amounts to a palm size. Burned meat has a toxin.
- Drink plenty of bottled water. If you like juice consider diluting.
- Drink alcohol sparingly. If you are drinking 4 drinks in the same day, consider that 4 drinks dissolves brain tissue and is not good for the liver.
- Unsweetened cranberry juice or in pill form may help the liver.
The article is not meant to be exhaustive and complete in any way. It is merely an introduction and meant to raise reflection for long term help.
My Best to Your Health!
James L. Schaller, MD