Detox: Crucial in Chronic Illness

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in recent months. I have been wondering chiefly if my own detox mechanisms have gone awry, both sparking an immune dysregulation and therefore a hypersensitivity to foods/chemicals problem and being the cause of why I’m not healing as fast as I might.

Might my detox pathways be overwhelmed by some kind of toxin? Might I be genetically unable to clear those or a build up of toxins from my body, leaving them to cause neuroinflammation and a hypersensitive body? Might the mercury and possibly other toxins (like moulds, yeasts, bacterial infection) have caused a blockage in the NRF2 cellular detox activity? It turns out this is very likely, and it has a direct impact on hypersensitivity levels – which I will come back to in more depth when I have completed the research on that specifically.

So, I tested my mercury levels in hair. High. Now I need to know if that mercury is from fish or amalgams and I’ve listed this Mercury Tri-Test to help us find that out (look at the heavy metals section half way down in the Overview).

I tested my detox genes. Ah. Problem. No glutathione genes, so an inability to make the glutathione transferase enzyme needed to clear stuff out of my body. That explains a few things. I suspect there may be other issues on the acetylation and sulphation pathways (more on these below), so of course I set off to find a way to test that too. And now we have a new test to do that: the LGx Detoxification Gene Test, more on which below 🙂

First, let’s have a bit of a treatise on detoxification and what it is exactly.

What actually is detox?

Detox has become such as overused word in recent years. But, far from being a vague term, detoxification actually refers to specific metabolic processes in the body, especially the liver, responsible for the breakdown and output of waste, if you like.

If I had to choose one thing to do with a patient, it would always be a proper biochemical detox. Why? Because it is the foundational step in almost all cases.

Quite simply, if you don’t have the right nutrients in the right place at the right time for those processes to work, the body can become toxic and sluggish to say the least. You have to be able to achieve what’s called ‘conjugation’ of some pretty nasty compounds that both come into the body from the environment and food and that we make ourselves inside. Our bodies should be able to do that easily, but sometimes a person is genetically-weaker and/or exposed to more than the body can handle. We do live in a far more stressful, poor-diet, toxin-full world than we did when these body systems evolved! Sometimes we need a bit of help.

I think the best thing a body can have in the vast majority of cases is a good gut and liver MOT.  Health starts in the gut, as we are always told, and the gut and rest of the elimination systems work hand-in-hand, so it makes sense to clear the decks a bit and get a good foundation to build on. We do that by ensuring the whole detoxification system in the body – the skin, kidneys, bile, liver, gut, lymphatics etc – is working optimally.

I often advise that people do a good detox once a year; it really pays dividends for current and future health.

There are actually three main detox stages.

Image result for liver detox 3 phases quicksilver

Phase 1 is Biotransformation. This is where groups of enzymes, mainly the CYP450 family, transform a toxin (pesticides, excess oestrogens, bowel toxins, cosmetic chemicals, air toxins, alcohol, heavy metals, moulds and more) into a different form so that the body can either eliminate it in that form or pass it to phase two.

Phase 2 is Conjugation. This simply means the body attaches another molecule to the biotransformed toxin so that the body can better eliminate it. There are six main pathways through phase two, namely: acetylation, glucuronidation, sulphation, glutathione, methylation and amino acid conjugation. They each process different types of toxin so it is important that they are all working. Each can be inhibited or speeded up by various dietary and lifestyle factors. This is the keystone of good detox biochemically-speaking.

Sometimes a person can make loads of biotransformed toxins in phase 1 – many of which are even more toxic in this interim stage – but then have a slow phase 2 capacity. They are termed a pathological detoxifier (a fast phase 1 person) and have more of these transformed toxins hanging around in the body doing damage so it is important to slow phase 1 down and increase phase 2, which can be done quite simply.

Finally, Phase 3 is Elimination or Transport. This is where the body uses complex transport mechanisms to eliminate the toxins from the body, using mainly the kidneys, the gut and skin.

All of these processes are dependent on the genes that control them working well and having the right nutrients in the right place at the right time. For example, many people have problems with methylation and glutathione genes and those can mean that people are genetically weaker on those detox mechanisms. The same goes for sulphation and acetylation – often people with multiple sensitivities have issues with those two pathways especially. You can often get a clue what might be weak from the type of things people are sensitive to: chemical sensitivity or people reacting to smells can be acetylation whereas a person with migraines might be having a sulphation problem and someone with high mercury, LPSs (bacterial toxins) or mould toxins is likely to have a glutathione issue as those block the gene expression..

True detox is ensuring this complex process is able to happen efficiently.

Generally-speaking, it takes around 6-12 weeks to detox a person effectively so don’t take any notice of 3 day detoxes, for example. It’s quite simple to get the stuff to come out of tissues, cells and organs, but not so simple to get the body to break them down and actually eliminate them. In reality, a lot of people detoxing feel rough as the stuff hits the blood stream, it recirculates a bit and then pretty much goes back where it was hiding UNLESS you can achieve Phase 2 and Phase 3 detoxification processes properly.

To read and understand more about this fascinating issue, download the Detoxification Factsheet. And see the Detox page in the A-Z, which this post is based on but I will no doubt keep the factsheet there up to date as time goes by.

Detox Testing

testing icon
You can easily test to see how well your own phase 1 and 2 detoxification pathways are working. This is not the same as a liver function test that your GP does, which simply checks for enzyme activity, important as that is.

With this test, you give a first morning urine sample and then the lab looks for two markers which, together, give an assessment of your liver status and your capability of breaking toxins down. It’s a fascinating and unique way to check your status. Have a read about the Hepatic Detoxification Test here.

Many people, as we’ve said, have genetic weaknesses on certain detox pathways and this can explain a lot. For example, poor acetylators are often multiple-chemical-sensitive, poor methylators or those with absent glutathione genes are just vulnerable to toxic overload generally amongst many other things as those two are really important processes for the body, people with poor CYP450 pathways will make things more toxic and those with poor NAT transport genes will not be able to eliminate toxins as well as they might. Happily, once you are aware of any genetic predisposition or weakness, you can take steps to offset it.

You can look at the specific detox genes for all three phases using the new LGx Detoxification Gene test and this can help you target treatment. This is a simple mouth swab and I’ve put a sample report on the shop page for you so you can see what you get. I chose this one specifically because I like the practical info it gives as well as the results.

For the methylation genes, the LGx Methylation Gene test can be done separately, or you can have it at the same time as the LGx Detox Test above as an add-on for a big discount. You can test methylation in two different ways actually: genetically and functionally. You need to do both to get an accurate picture, in my view, or do the functional test. You can read more about functional testing here.

For a really thorough look at your detox ability, I would check functionally using the Hepatic Detox Profile and the DD Methylation profile, plus genetically using the LGx Detox Gene test. 

All of the Detox and Methylation tests are here, and do read the Overview about half way down the page.

OK, once we know what the issue is, what do we do about it?

Detox Treatment

There are four general principles of detoxing:
1. Reduce the toxic load coming into the body. See the Detox factsheet here for more on what I mean by toxins (I’ve updated it for you just this week) and also the Toxic House & Home Factsheet for ideas on how to reduce some of those specifically.
2. Optimise your antioxidant status. The phase 1 process especially creates a lot of what we term ‘soot’ in the body – free radicals which are what essentially ‘age’ us prematurely and cause DNA damage, setting us up for illness later on. Not good. Make sure you take a good multi with an antioxidant mix, or add one.
3. Ensure good gut health, including bile flow, as well as kidney and skin health. (See the Gut Plan below). Skin – skinbrushing, saunas, or steam rooms can help. Kidneys – enough water and by helping the gut and skin it takes the pressure off the kidneys so they can heal.
4. Improve circulation, especially lymphatic, with regular exercise and massage. Rebounding and these kind of Chi machines can really help. You can get cheaper versions but you get what you pay for with these things.
Once those general principles are in place, you can then either support the whole detox process with the nutrients it requires and/or target specifically any pathways or processes you have found are having a problem.
Gut Plan 3D
For most people…
For general overall detox (not to be underestimated as very effective!), use my Gut Plan, which includes how to use the Detox Box protocol. There is also a TGF (TrulyGlutenFree grain and dairy free) version for those who need it. I have used this for years to great effect – most people, whatever they come into clinic with – get this first as it often clears a lot of stuff just by doing it and you can then see any health issues left more clearly and target it. It includes binders, bile flow enhancers, liver phase 1 and 2 nutrients and probiotics.
For those with severe chronic health, multiple sensitivity or toxicity issues, especially heavy metals and mould…
Obviously, be led by your chosen health practitioner here; these are my thoughts on what I see as good steps to take.
I rate the Black Box from Dr Chris Shade at Quicksilver Scientific in the US (he regularly upgrades things so that might not be the name when you come across it next!). Expensive, but very comprehensive. It includes a full protocol to follow and is essentially a very complex deep detox. Most people will only need the Gut Plan above, but sometimes you need a deeper approach. Dr Shade uses liposomal and nanoparticle supplements in specific ways and stages to help the body eliminate stuff that is keeping it ill. Liposomal supplements bypass the gut so people are less likely to be sensitive to them in the same way.
Note I have not checked this for TGF status yet, although I am told by a couple of grain free peeps they have been fine with most products, just be cautious or use the master list to find alternatives where poss.
You can read about the Black Box 2 and see protocols here, but you can buy all Dr Shade’s products, including the box in the UK from here (please use my name Micki Rose to register; I get a small commission which helps with all this research and free info, thanks). And you can get it from my US shop, too if you are across the pond or nearer there. Register the first time you visit via this link using code MR425.
If you are really sensitive, my research suggests you start first with 1 pump of DIM every few days and build that up to start calming the immune system and take some L-theanine or something to increase your GABA calming neurotransmitters: this NT Complex possibly – check ingredients and use something off the TGF master list if needed. Another approach is to use some kind of binder (see below) or use something like Psyllium or Charcoal, which will naturally bring down the levels of toxins circulating in your system as they are bound up, ready for elimination.
I also think it is wise to either start with or do simultaneously a detox kit from either Heels or Pekana. I have found over the years that this works very well to support the whole detox process and it can sometimes be enough on its own for clearing and stimulating the various detox organs.
A couple of other products I think are really useful include:
Cysteine Complex – much of the pathways are dependent on an amino acid called cysteine. There is some in the detox box protocol, but this is stronger. I reckon some people do better on this instead of the Detox Support Formula in the Gut Plan, especially if they have sulphation problems. And if you do have sulphation problems, you probably need molybdenum, which is in that, or start with molybdenum only.
That said, some people can’t convert the cysteine into glutathione so sometimes it is better to take a good liposomal glutathione. Here I would recommend Dr Shade’s as the best available. (Incidentally, the ethanol in these products is from sugar cane; I checked!)
His BitterX is also fantastic for bile flow and his Ultra Binder is very clever in that it binds to most of the types of toxins in the body. You can take the Binder throughout the day when you are having a reaction to something like an allergen or to the detox process and it will help. The Colex in the Detox Box is a milder binder, still excellent but this is a more comprehensive one for complex cases.
Finally, Dr Shade’s Nanoparticle DIM is particularly useful for people who are very sensitive to taking anything! It upregulates something called NRf2, which is a detox process that is often blocked in sensitive people – especially by heavy metals, mould and bacterial toxins. It also encourages regulatory T cells so reduces TH1/TH2 imbalance (many people with allergies have a high TH2 immune response).  I can’t say if it is TGF safe, but I am told many grain-sensitive people have tolerated it.
Phew. There is an awful lot more I could say on this – maybe I need to write a new factsheet, but that should be enough to start you off.  You can get a lot more info by watching some of Dr Shade’s video series – technical, but fascinating – well, to me as I love this subject! There is also a Facebook Group run by people following his regimes.
I also really rate this Nutrigold Detox factsheet, written by Dr Plaskett who trained me all those years ago, and who devised the Detox Box in the Gut Plan.
Hope that all helps. A complex, but crucial step in any chronic illness, in my view.
I am now working on a TGF-adapted version of the Black Box (if it turns out not to be – Christine aka supplement wonder woman is checking it out for us soon), and for those of us with hypersensitivity who need a very gentle approach. I’ll be back with those soon. Meantime, do check your detox capacity out; it may indeed hold some answers for you and you can then start targeting treatment to clear any toxins triggering your illness or keeping you ill.
Phew – that research took about 4 weeks of solid work. I’m off for a lie down before I start the next bit!



3 Replies to “Detox: Crucial in Chronic Illness”

  1. Thanks for this post Micki, I did the Hepatic detox test a while ago, maybe a year, results were I have a slightly fast phase 1 and a slightly slow phase 2, when I showed my holistic practitioner this she said it was fine! makes you wonder doesn’t it, You say its pretty simple to rectify, I looked for info on how to help myself to balance this out but couldn’t find any info, if the answer is in your Detoxification fact sheet I will certainly read it! Suzanne.

    1. Hi Suzanne. Ah, the very pattern you don’t want there, although mild hopefully then.. I haven’t put too much detail on what you do for each pathway/issue in the factsheet as it would be huge if I covered all the possible ones! Generally people need to cut down on toxic intake and support phase 2 with eg. (non-TGF) or TGF: That will be very supportive but there is more to it than that, of course! I may have to do a detox factsheet with all that in next!

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