The Liver's Role in Detox - How It Handles Toxins

The root of the word liver is, in fact, live. This is no wonder considering the importance of the work it does for us. In the liver, toxins get their chemical makeup altered so we can eliminate them. The liver acts as a bodyguard, identifying bad guys and disarming them. This process, called detoxification, happens only in the liver.

Detox has two phases. Both depend on nutrients.

Phase I, oxidation, uses over 100 special enzymes.
It turns toxins into either water-soluble molecules that can be excreted or reactive chemicals that move on to phase II. Toxins include things like caffeine, alcohol, bad fats, sulfa drugs, fumes from things like paint or exhaust, old blood cells, and hormones. There is a specific enzyme to alter each particular toxin. The liver needs fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E to make these enzymes. It also needs antioxidants to counteract the extremely toxic free radicals made by disassembling the toxins.
Phase II, conjugation, helps toxins become things of the past!
Conjugation turns the disassembled toxins into less harmful ones. These new water-soluble toxins are excreted via six major routes including urine and bile. Each pathway removes specific toxins using specific nutrients. Sulfur (which you can get in broccoli or garlic) and amino acids (such as taurine and cysteine in eggs and shellfish) activate many of the pathways.

Aside from the two-phase detoxification, another cleansing activity the liver has is producing bile.

Bile works like soap to break up and dissolve the fats you eat. It moves through the intestines like Pac-Man™, gobbling up fats, heavy metals, bad bacteria, and numerous fat-soluble chemicals—like dioxins and pesticides—that can otherwise remain and cause problems. Consumption of bitter tastes helps to get the body to make fresh bile, consequently supporting cleansing. A traditional herbal bitters tonic help greatly with this important process. If the bowels are moving well, the toxin-laden bile binds to fiber and is helped out of the body.

Clearly, your liver is very important.

I encourage you to make its job easier. One way could be to take Flor-Essence (US/CA) which supports the detoxification process on many levels. Another would be to eat your broccoli! Including nutritious foods with sufficient fiber is needed for optimum health. If you have difficulty getting enough fat-soluble vitamins or fiber in your diet, they are definitely important enough to consider supplementing. Including bitterness to stimulate bile production can be a challenge in North America. Arugula and artichokes are great ways to fit in some bitterness, but if you have difficulty including bitter tastes, Flora offers several bitter herbal elixirs, like our Alcohol-Free Swedish Bitters (US/CA), Maria's Swedish Bitters (CA), and Gallexier (US/CA).

We should thank our livers!

When you raise a toast this season, why not raise a toast to your liver? Make it even better, and toast with a shot of a bitter elixir. Your liver will thank you!
Holistic Nutritionist Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP has a passion for helping others break through their blocks to greater health, wealth, and happiness, working with transformational mind-body tools. The Vancouver-based educator and coach answers your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Specialist working in the Product Information Department at Flora, and is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog.