How the Liver Handles Toxins and What You Can Do To Help It

Note: The information on this website is presented for educational purposes and is not a substitute for the advice of and treatment by a qualified professional.

You have to ask yourself: with globalization of toxic substances, how safe is your health?

The world today is a very toxic place. We produce tons of chemicals every year with devestating consequences to the environment and our bodies. Pollutants can be found from pole to pole. There is no place on the planet that is safe from toxic chemicals. Our children are exposed to hundreds of chemical toxins even while still in the womb.

Since it is impossible to avoid all chemical toxins, what can we do?

Detoxification by the liver: metabolic detoxification
The liver is the main detoxification organ in the body. It detoxifies hormones and many manmade substances by adding chemical groups to them until they are water soluble for elimination through the sweat, urine or feces. The problem is that we lack many of the nutrients that are needed to do this.

Manmade toxins are called xenobiotics. These are chemicals that are not made by the body. They include drugs/medication, toxins from plastics, hormones that are used in livestock, pesticides and other pollutants. Many xenobiotics are eliminated by the liver in the same pathways as hormones that are no longer needed. For example, estrogens are eliminated in this way. I mention estrogens because they are the ones that cause many problems if they are not broken down completely. They are one of the main causes of cancer. Male bodies produce and eliminate estrogens too, so this is important information for everyone.

The biochemistry — not too complicated…I hope
The liver breaks down fat soluble hormones and xenobiotics in two phases. Phase one consists of two steps. Some substances only need two of these.

In the first part of phase I the substance is attached to an oxygen molecule which makes it very reactive, an oxidant. These highly oxidative substances are a major causes of cancer. Oxidative estrogens are the biggest culprit. This is one of the reasons people are encouraged to take plenty of antioxidants so these oxidative substances can be rendered harmless.

In the second step of phase I the liver adds a methyl group which is a carbon atom with three hydrogen atoms attached. This means that to eliminate the oxidative substances created in the first step, a methyl donor must be available. This is a supplement that can give up a methyl component for this process. The most common supplement needed for this is dimethylglycine or DMG. DMG is an amino acid that is available in many health food stores today.

If the detox process stops here then you still have a toxic substance left in your body. Methylated estrogens for example, cause fibroids like some women find in their breasts. These fibroids are fairly benign, but when fibroids build up in the body a painful condition called fibromyalgia can result. Also, methylated estrogens block the effectiveness of thyroid hormones leaving people and often doctors to suspect thyroid problems. Many people with chronically cold fingers and toes have this issue. And, methylated estrogens can cause prostate cancer, but it is usually benign.

Phase II has seven possible pathways. Phase II liver detoxification is called conjugation in which the toxin is combined with something else to make it water soluble for elimination. The most common and important pathway is with glutathione.

Glutathione is the master antioxidant. Not only does it detoxify directly, but it reactivates other antioxidants like vitamin C and E. It is mostly found in the lungs, kidneys and liver. Being the main detoxification organ in the body, the liver has more glutathione than any other organ. And, most glutathione is made in the liver.

Glutathione is made from amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is not readily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, so it is necessary to take supplements with the needed cofactors so it can be made by the body. The main cofactors that are missing for most people are the amino acid L-cycteine, the mineral selenium and the vitamin pyrodoxyl 5 phosphate or P5P, the enzyme activated form of B6. Another mineral that is often needed is zinc.

Another step in phase II detoxification is sulfation which combines the toxin with sulphur. This can usually be supplemented with any sulphur supplement, MSM is a good one. Vegetables that are high in sulphur are mustard greens and asparagus.

In acetylation the liver adds an acetyl group with its coenzyme or acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA can be found in supplement forms. The best is a blend from Metabolics which includes panthethine, an activated form of B5 with ATP the main energy packets that are in every cell. It also has magnesium and acetic acid.

Glucuronidation is binding a substance to glucuronic acid. The food source for glucuronic acid is from Jerusalem artichokes. Metabolics is the only good supplement source for glucuronic acid that I know of.

Not all of these supplements will be needed for Phase II. The main ones are P5P, cysteine, and selenium. Sulphur shows up sometimes, so some form of sulphur may be needed. A good one is MSM. Muscle testing can be used to find the exact supplements needed. I will post an article soon on how to do muscle testing.

Many of these supplements are lacking in our diets. Not all of them will be needed for the liver to do its job, and I didn’t list all the cofactors here. I’ll post an addendum soon.

Finally a warning for those on medication. Taking these supplements can cause the liver to detoxify your medication much more efficiently which means that you won’t be getting the same effect. I recommend that you consult with your doctor before taking any of the above supplements. This often is a major issue for insulin dependent diabetics. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar even more closely if you start taking any of the above supplements, it’s a good idea anyway.

Meet the Author


Hello and welcome to my blog! There are several reasons I decided to start writing a blog on natural self-healing. The main thing I want to do is to share information on health and healing so that people can take action to heal themselves using natural techniques. I have met so many people who couldn't afford natural health care. They may have had health insurance, but they didn't trust that model. Many people want to know how to be healthy naturally. They want to know what really works and what doesn't. They want to be health conscious and often fail because of poor information, lack of knowledge, bad science and other factors. This blog is intended to help demystify the body and its various functions and to help people understand what is really needed to obtain optimum health. One of the great things about knowledge of the body is that once you know and understand how it works it becomes easy to know what the right things to do for it. And, it is much easier to do the right things when the consequences of the wrong things are fully understood. To do this I will be drawing from the knowledge of many people that I have learned from. I will talk about biochemistry relating that to what is needed to obtain optimum health. There will be information about the physical structure of the body and how to keep that aligned and functioning well. A major part of yoga has to do with health, so information about yogic techniques will be included. Mental and emotional health are important for the health of the body/mind, so articles about these topics will be included. And, there will be an occasional article about me and what I am up to. Hopefully I can relate that back to some health issue as well. The title Self Adjusting Technique comes from my technique for self-adjusting the structural part of the body, that is adjusting the body's various vertebrae and joints. For this blog it will include the idea of how to adjust health issues for yourself and those you care about. With a little knowledge there is a lot people can do to help heal themselves and stay healthy. I want to explain complex information about the body in a way that is easy to understand and useful. The comments section will help in that goal as people can ask for clarification if there is something they don't understand. And maybe we can get some helpful input from people smarter than me that will benefit us all. I hope you find information that can help you with your health issues. Kalidasa

6 comments… add one
  • Namrata Nov 1, 2007, 5:03 pm

    Hi Kalidas
    I found this quite helpful. I have hot flashes and cold feet and hands and no amount of liver detox has changed it . I also do very well on antioxidants. I am not over weight, eat well and have for many years do not take any allopathic drugs, do not drink. So I was in a quandary.I have noticed fruit ( or some sweets) can set it of too interestingly which seems to relate to insulin hormone management in this cycle. I also wanted to suggest that you talk about nutrients except when you specifically want to talk about recommending supplements. I like your writing style I find it straight forward and very readable.


  • Kalidasa Nov 2, 2007, 12:21 am

    Thank you Namrata, I hope you get some help from the information. I will post all the cofactors for each phase of liver detoxification soon. And, it is my goal to write in such a way that most anyone could understand it. It takes time, but it is worth it if it can help someone.

  • claire ledig Aug 12, 2008, 11:54 pm

    Thank you. I know that I need pyrodoxyl 5, and every time I try to buy it they try to sell me b 6. Know I know the mechanism. thanks again.


  • Kalidasa Aug 13, 2008, 12:02 am

    Enzyme activated B6 is a big need for a lot of people. Glad to help.

  • danielle Nov 23, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Can I take these supplements safely if I am breastfeeding? Thanks!

    I really need to detoxify my body! Its a mess!

  • Kalidasa Nov 23, 2010, 7:41 pm

    Yes, they would be fine for both of you. The only thing they could possibly do is reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, because the liver would detox the medication faster than normal.

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