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.
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. This means that the person who is a pathological detoxifier (a fast phase 1 person) has 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 or mould toxins is likely to have a glutathione issue as those block the gene experession..
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.
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.
You can also look at the specific detox genes and/or methylation genes and function in the body; they have a major impact on detoxification ability and can help you target treatment.
Both test reports will give you an idea of any issues and what to do about them.
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.
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…
I rate the Black Box from Dr Chris Shade at Quicksilver Scientific (he regularly upgrades things so that might not be the name when you come across it next!). Expensive, but very effective. 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.
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; I get a small commission which helps with all this research and free info, thanks).
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. In fact, there is a really useful overview of binders here that shows you which binders are effective for which toxins. Overall, you can’t go wrong with the Ultra Binder.
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, happy detoxing!