Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nutrient-Tailored Detoxification: Battling the Toxins that Make us Sick

It was the first week of December and I was overdue in putting the finishing touches on the painting I had begun months before. In a swell of motivation, I decided to get all the work done in one weekend, taking down all the doors in the house and transporting them to my garage. Since it was December it was cold outside, and being the manly man that I am (smirk) I didn’t give any thought to the possible damage that breathing the noxious fumes of oil-based paint might cause. I feverishly painted and sanded and painted some more for two straight days, proud of all that I had accomplished when the doors were re-hung.

At first I felt fine, but in a few days I began having severe flu symptoms. Because of the delayed reaction, I did not attribute my sickness to the paint, but thought I had simply come down with a winter flu. I pounded my stash of immune-support herbs and vitamins that usually work so wonderfully, but this time nothing happened. A week went by and I was no better, and curiously there was no fever and no swollen glands. But I had the same aches, pains, and fatigue that are usually associated with influenza.

Six weeks went by and my symptoms persisted. I sought advice from several practitioners but nothing was helping until a doctor friend of mine examined me and suggested that I was toxic. I knew how I ate and took care of myself, so his suggested surprised me….until I remembered my weekend of painting with no ventilation. Dumb!

My friend suggested a four-product detoxification program for me that almost immediately began to affect my symptoms. The first day I was slightly better. By the fourth day I was feeling significantly better, and by the eighth day I was symptom free. While I didn’t enjoy my sickness, it was great to personally experience the power of the same nutrient-tailored detoxification regime that I had been detailing my clients on for so many years.

A Brief Biochemistry Lesson…Just to Refresh Your Memory
One of the body’s primary methods of getting rid of toxins is through a conversion process in the liver. This is how it works:

Upon exposure the Phase 1 liver pathway, known as the Cytochrome P-450, goes to work to convert the fat-soluble toxin into an intermediate metabolite. I’ll spare you the specific chemical reactions, but substances that are fat soluble cannot be eliminated in that form. The liver’s job is to convert them into molecules that can be excreted. After the first step is complete, the phase 2 enzyme pathways kick in to further convert the newly-created intermediate into a water soluble substance. This process is known as biotransformation.

Overload Leads to Imbalanced Pathway Activity
In order for biotransformation to work properly, the two pathways have to work in concert. The primary reason is that the intermediate metabolites created by the Cytochrome P-450 pathways are actually MORE toxic than the original substance. So the Phase 2 pathways must be able to keep up so that these noxious chemicals can be readily excreted.

Therein lies the rub.

Because of massive amounts of toxic insults that people living in industrialized nations absorb, the system of biotransformation cannot keep up. The Phase 1 pathways stay locked in overdrive transforming all the toxins into intermediates, but the Phase 2 pathways bog down attempting to make the necessary conversions for excretion. And because of the log jam of intermediate metabolites that ensues, a huge amount of oxidative stress sets in because of the toxic nature of these metabolites that are not getting excreted. The toxins, however, have to go somewhere, so the body tries to hide them away in the fat cells in an attempt to protect the vital tissues and organs. In doing so, the neurological system is often affected because of the large amount of fatty tissue in the brain and nerves.

It has been proven that there is often a link between toxic exposures and neurological impairments. Just as compelling, though, are the studies proving that if caught in time, neurological impairment is reversible with nutrient-tailored detoxification therapy.

In the next post I'll go into more detail about specific condition applications, protocols, etc. So stay tuned.