In my opinion, the term “detoxing” is thrown around way too much. (Especially liver detox!)
It seems like every other product released into the marketplace is detoxing something.
Your lymphatic system…
The list goes on and on.
But one thing has become quite clear to me → the general public has no idea what it really means to detoxify anything. Nor are most people aware of their body’s innate capability to detoxify on its own.
Two questions come to my mind!
Why are we so obsessed with pushing the detoxification process harder?
And is forcing detoxification faster even a good thing?
Let’s take a deeper look!
Detoxing — Why It Might Be Overkill
I think we can all agree that the world we live in is filled with too many harsh chemicals to count. And you’re constantly bombarded by fuels, off-gassing, hidden toxins, xenohormones, byproducts, heavy metals, all sorts of drugs, and the list goes on.
I understand your concern… I truly do.
And I know what it’s like to have a personal mandate about reclaiming your sense of wellness.
But in the hurry to jump on the next detox bandwagon, you should ask yourself → is it appropriate for me to push my body harder right now?
For most people listening, the answer is likely a resounding NO.
The process of detoxifying your body can add even more stress that may leave you feeling worse off than before.
What most of us don’t need is MORE stress heaped on top of everything else that’s going on.
There are other paths back to wellness that don’t involve the need to detoxify anything. I say this because I’ve seen the effects of how doing detoxes can totally backfire.
Recently I’ve had a number of chronic skin rash clients confide that they did some candida detox available online and ended up getting much worse.
Naturally, they felt embarrassed and upset that in making the choice to detox, they caused more harm than good (and are now living with the consequences).
So that’s why I personally believe that it is often wiser (and kinder) to support your natural detoxification pathways rather than push them harder.
Understanding Your Liver Detox Pathways
If you’ve been sick (or even just moderately unwell) for some time, detoxing is probably not the next best step.
First of all, it fails to truly pinpoint what is actually going wrong. Thus it is not a root cause approach. (While this totally is.)
Second, I’d argue that forcing your body to detox isn’t taking care of your best self. Nor is it some act of self-love (no matter what all the Instagram gurus say).
Third, it fails to acknowledge the science and biology of your liver’s detox system.
So let’s take a moment and break your natural liver detoxification system down. That way, you can make better choices moving forward.
Before we go any further, here are some things that liver detox is responsible for…
- It helps activate and deactivate certain hormones (ie. Vitamin D, estrogen).
- It makes toxic chemicals less toxic and easier to remove through urine.
- It metabolizes drugs that you’re exposed to and can determine how long those drugs last in your system.
So you can see from this short and incomplete list that your liver does more than you probably realize.
And not everything your liver deals with is toxic.
In order for your liver to move substances through its natural detox system, your body must have certain ingredients on hand (like glycine) to keep the process going. Without a supply of those ingredients, your liver’s actual detoxification capacity drops.
That creates a situation where your liver becomes overwhelmed and you begin to feel not so hot.
How Your Liver Detox Pathways Work
I think now is a good time to explain how the liver detox pathways work.
You’ll see exactly how your liver can become overwhelmed when detoxification is pushed too hard. And why I believe that supporting your liver should be your first priority.
I recently shared the role that your mitochondria play in producing energy and that they need an ample supply of certain nutrients or else they can’t function optimally. (Read more about it here.)
The same is true for your liver.
These detoxification pathways require specific non-negotiable “ingredients” in order to handle whatever is going on. Should you be exposed to more of something (like a pesticide, drug, or toxin), your liver’s need for said ingredients will increase in order to detoxify properly.
Your liver detox system is broken into two phases →
- Phase 1 (also known as the P450 Cytochrome Detoxification)
- Phase 2 (which includes multiple pathways)
Phase 1 happens before Phase 2, but not all things headed for your liver require Phase 1 detox.
Some can head straight through to Phase 2 as they are.
The purpose of Phase 1 is to prepare chemicals for Phase 2 detoxification, but often the products of Phase 1 are more toxic than they were beforehand. And this is an important point that I’ll explain more of in a moment.
Lastly, Phase 1 detox can be increased (or upregulated) by certain exposures like caffeine, alcohol, hormones, high protein diets, high intake of cruciferous veggies, and acetaminophen (or Tylenol).
Increasing Phase 1 means you increase the amount of products that are spit out on the other side waiting to go through Phase 2.
Phase 2 detoxification has different pathways that require ingredients like glycine (an amino acid), glutathione, and other biochemical ingredients that you’ve probably not heard of.
I don’t want to get too nerdy here… so the point is that for Phase 2 to detox properly, your liver MUST have the necessary ingredients available to get the job done.
Learning About Liver Detox From “I Love Lucy”
To make this incredibly simple for you to understand, I want you to think back to the episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel go to work in the chocolate factory.
Their funny skit is something very similar to Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detox!
Phase 1 would be when the chocolates are being made.
Meanwhile, Phase 2 is illustrated by the failed attempt on Lucy and Ethel’s part to wrap all of the chocolates coming down the conveyor belt.
Initially, the ladies are able to keep up with the flow. But when the chocolate line speeds up, we witness a huge back up of chocolates filling their mouths and blouses!
The point is when Phase 1 detox is pushed too hard OR if Phase 2 doesn’t have enough ingredients to move things through, a backup of toxic material will occur.
And that’s why it’s important to properly support your liver rather than fixate on detoxifying it (especially if you’re not working with a practitioner). It also underscores the deep connection that your liver has to other systems in your body.
No matter what type of protocol I create, I always have to consider if the client’s liver needs support.
This explains why people often have heightened reactions and feel lousy doing detoxes and cleanses! Some call it a Herxheimer reaction or even a “die off” reaction.
The bottom line is that if you feel awful, your liver isn’t properly supported to handle the added toxic burden.
And yes, this certainly can happen when you attempt one of those DIY candida cleanses.
The amplified symptoms you experience aren’t necessarily something to muscle through. Often it’s your liver’s way of saying (or maybe screaming) that it needs more support and possibly a slower pace.
If you’ve got any questions, please leave them below as I’m happy to answer them!