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Detox Basics

Detox is easy to get wrong - even for practitioners. So here are some of the basic foundations to good, effective, ongoing detoxification.

Detoxification is important for everyone, as we discussed last week in the shocking list of things that add toxins to modern life. Unfortunately, detox is also easy to get wrong – even for practitioners. So here are some of the basic foundations to good, effective, ongoing detoxification.

You Detoxify Many Different Ways

Sweat, breath, urine, feces, even menstrual blood, everything your body excretes is a potential remover of toxins, which is great news for us. The bad news is that it isn’t as easy as move the toxin into the bladder and then the next time you go to the bathroom, you’re done. Detoxification happens in three phases, all of which involve chemical reactions. We will go into these phases in more depth next episode because this is a lot of why detox can feel bad, but the basics are this:

  • Phase I – the toxin goes through one or more chemical reactions, converting it to some kind of intermediary molecule that will bond easily with our major toxin conjugators.. This also often makes it far more toxic and dangerous to your body. This step also tends to release a lot of free radicals. Phase I detox happens largely because of the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes, mostly in the liver.
  • Phase II – The newer, often more active toxin floats around in your blood stream wreaking havoc until it can go through one of six conjugation reactions, that involve bonding it to something else that will ultimately help it be carried out of your system. These six reactions include sulphation, glucuronidation, glutathione conjugation, methylation, acetylation, glycination. These pathways need specific resources, like glutathione, sulphur, and methyl groups and there are a number of gene SNPs that interfere with these resources.
  • Phase III – This is the step that actually carries toxins into waste tissues through transport proteins and anti-porters that help to carry toxins through the blood brain barrier out of the central nervous system, out of cells and into the gut lumen, kidneys, or into the sweat. This isn’t like a filter, your body must actually expend energy to push these toxins out.
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You Can’t Detox if You Don’t Eliminate

Obviously, if you’re pushing toxins into your gut, your sweat, or your urine, then you have to actually be eliminating those substances for the detox to work. You can’t detox if you only have a bowel movement once per week – you have to fix the bowel issue before toxins will be able to effectively move out of your body in that way. Also, if you try to “do a detox” while your bowels aren’t moving then prepare to live in a world of misery. Likewise if you don’t sweat easily then that isn’t an effective method for toxins to be released. Interestingly, non-sweaters who work on their toxic burden often see an increase in their ability to sweat over time.

Also, I’m hoping it goes without saying, but your body needs a lot of water to detoxify. More, even, than the standard 64 oz or eight 8 oz glasses that are suggested daily. Coffee doesn’t count toward your water total, and if you’re trying to detoxify, then lots of water with a good source of trace minerals like himalayan salt or trace mineral concentrates, is key.

The Most Important Thing is Limiting Voluntary Toxins

The less toxin exposure you have, the more able your body is to deal with what comes in, so doing a quick clean up of the toxins in your house and body is the best way to start any kind of detoxification ambitions. Last week we touched on some of them, but the highlights include:

  • Voluntary (cosmetic) implants like breast, cheekbones, calf, pec, and gluteal implants
  • Unnecessary prescriptions and supplements (work with your doctor on this one)
  • Air freshners, artificial fragrances, and odor removers
  • Stain guards or waterproofing chemicals for fabric
  • Phthalates and parabens in personal care
  • Artificial colors, fragrances, emulsifiers, and preservatives in food
  • Pesticides and herbicides around your home and in your food
  • Plastic food storage or food preparation containers
  • Aluminum or non-stick cookware

You Need Nutrients to Detoxify

Detoxification takes a lot of energy and resources from your body. You need antioxidants to help deal with the free radicals that are released in toxin metabolism and also free radicals created by damage that the toxins are doing to your tissues. This can include vitamins like C, A, E, and D and a whole host of other compounds from fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. Also, you need the raw materials for the six types of conjugation reactions, including methyl groups, glutathione, sulphur, glycine, and the vitamins and minerals involved in cellular energy.

This means at the very least a great quality multivitamin and a clean, nutrient dense diet, but could also mean specific support if you have something like an MTHFR polymorphism in which you would need extra active B vitamins and methyl groups as well as extra glutathione to make up for any production deficiencies. This is part of why it’s important to work with a practitioner when you’re detoxifying, so that they can help you identify areas in your diet, lifestyle, and genetics that may need extra support.

What Does it Mean to Push Detox?

I want to say a bit here about pre-packaged detox kits or products, and the trouble they can cause if you aren’t ready for them. Most detoxification products PUSH detoxification, rather than supporting detoxification. They include herbs and nutrients that upregulate cytochrome P450 enzymes, meaning that you go through phase I detox extra quickly and get all these intermediary toxins and free radicals. If you don’t have phase II and phase III nutrients and substances in line and ready, then it’s all going to suck. We will dive into this problem next episode.

Thank you so much for watching or listening this week. I would love to see you in the MTHFR community Genetic Rockstars. Get two weeks free at

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MTHFR is a common genetic mutation that can contribute to anxiety, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, infertility, and more serious conditions like breast implant illness, heart attack, stroke, chronic fatigue syndrome, and some types of cancer. If you know or suspect you have an MTHFR variant, schedule a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment with MTHFR expert Dr. Amy today.

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Amy Neuzil
Amy Neuzil

Dr. Amy Neuzil, N.D. is a leading expert in MTHFR and epigenetics, and she is passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and wellness for their genetic picture. She has helped thousands of people overcome health challenges using a simple, step-by-step approach that starts with where they are today. Dr. Neuzil's unique approach to wellness has helped countless people improve their energy levels, lose weight, and feel better mentally and emotionally. If you're looking for a way to feel your best, Dr. Amy Neuzil can help. Contact her today to learn more about how she can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

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