Detoxification Simplified – Phase 6 through 0:
Dr. Kevin Conners
When we discuss the Phases of Detoxification, we are usually talking about the three phases of liver detoxification. However, if the ultimate purpose is to remove toxins from the body, we need to expand upon these steps. I like to talk about seven phases of detoxification (Phase 0 – 6) and tell patients they had better begin with phase 6 and work backwards. Let me explain:
Phase 6: Proper Elimination
Daily bowel movements and healthy urinary habits are the final step in removing toxins from the body. It is one of our cardinal rules that health depends on eliminating wastes and we want everyone to be having a regular bowel movement on a daily basis. It is even better to be having several daily bowel movements. If this isn’t happening for you, see the steps below. These are in order of what to try first, second and so on. It is fine to do more than one of these at the same time. For each approach listed below, try for a day or two. If you have little or no success, add another approach:
- Fiber – taking SunFiber or SunSpectrum (the products we usually recommend because they contain the best non-digestible fiber) can be a big help. Also, eating whole fruits and vegetables is so important. Find those products here:
Sunfiber: Start with one scoop per day in a smoothie or drink
SunSpectrum: This is SunFiber with curcumin, a probiotic and the best form of CoQ10
- Magnesium and Vitamin C – take 500-700 mg Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Malate with 1000-1500 mg Vitamin C one to two times per day will loosen the stools. Most people are already deficient in magnesium anyways so taking magnesium can benefit nearly every metabolic pathway. If on takes excess magnesium (as in this approach), you tend to dump it in the bowel, drawing water with it thereby loosening the stool. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water to make this happen.
MagnaClear: Start with 2-3 before bed
- Prune juice – drinking some good old-fashioned prune juice everyday can often do the trick.
- Senna Tea – Senna is an herb. Celestial Seasons makes a Smooth Move tea that works well. The longer you steep it, the stronger it is, so be aware of this. Drinking one glass or more before bed usually helps by morning. There are many products on the market with Senna as well. The negative and positive about Senna is in its mechanism of action. It stimulates peristaltic contractions of the intestinal smooth muscles. This is great to create a bowel movement but can be fairly uncomfortable as it gives you a strong cramping. Try it once or twice, everyone is a bit different on how they react.
- Dr. Schultz Formula One – this is an herbal formula that works very well to produce a healthy bowel movement. Start with one or two before bed and play with the dosage so you don’t get diarrhea.
- Coffee Enemas – even if you are already doing these, increasing the number per day can really help. Coffee enemas help cleanse the liver and stimulate the vagal nerve and colon function. You can also do an enema with probiotics, warm water, Epsom salts, and olive oil.
Info on coffee enemas here:
- Colonics – visiting a clinic that specializes in colonic therapy can be beneficial to help clean out the gut. However, beware of doing more than just a few sessions regardless of what they are trying to sell you as you can flush your good flora with high colonics as well. Stick to 3-4 sessions to start.
Healthy kidney function is the second part of phase 6. One needs to be drinking enough water to be flushing out the kidneys and bladder. If you are not eliminating urine completely (as in prostate, kidney, bladder or urethral cancer), a catheter may be necessary. Kidney function testing can reveal a need for increased water intake as well. Products like our Kidney Korrect have herbs that help.
Sweating, i.e. detoxifying through one’s skin, is a helpful way to take pressure off the liver and kidneys. This is one reason that saunas are so beneficial. Doing a sauna several times per week aides in detoxification and can even raise the core body temperature to help kill cancers that are close to the skin surface. Doing foot bath detoxification and things like skin brushing can also help the process.
Phase 5 – Add a GUT “binder”
Binders, in nutritional-speak, are nutraceuticals that have a tendency to bind to toxins to aide their removal. They are chelators that don’t absorb, staying in the GUT to grab onto toxins and escort them into the toilet.
One major problem in clearing toxins is the fact that they tend to reabsorb in the GUT and recirculate again. One reason this happens is an excessive intestinal transit time (food takes too long to get through the GUT). Going back to phase 6 helps with this. Another reason is an imbalance in hormones. Estrogens, especially “bad estrogens” (quinone estrogens, 4-hydroxy catechol estrogens) are easily reabsorbed in the large intestine, which is never a good thing. Using DIM can help prevent this as well as one or more of the binders listed below.
Some of our favorite products include:
Zeolite Complex Binder – Start by adding 1/8 teaspoon to a smoothie per day
Detox Accelerator – Take 1 per meal
GastroMycin – Take 1 per meal
Phase 3 Complete – Take 1-2 per day
Phase 4 – Flushing the Gallbladder
The gallbladder is a pocket where your body stores bile. Bile is made in the liver and serves several purposes. It carries the excreted toxins from the liver to the intestinal tract and it is the main way we breakdown fat in the intestine. The reason we have a gallbladder to hold the bile is because of bile’s second function. Digestion of fats consumed is extremely important so bile needs to be in the intestinal lumen when fats are present. The gallbladder holds the bile until we eat fat thereby causing a contraction of the gallbladder, which squirts the majority of stored bile into the first part of the small intestine.
When we have sluggish bile or stones in the gallbladder, this process is not working efficiently. Less bile is present for fat digestion and worse, there exists a backup of toxins exiting the liver. The liver becomes congested and a cascade of problems can ensue including less liver uptake of toxins from the blood that causes toxins to be stored throughout the cells of the body. The liver may increase production of lower density cholesterol to help lubricate the process, which can contribute to other health issues.
Supporting gallbladder function is essential. One can get clues to gallbladder problems by seeing an elevated bilirubin on blood work, but functional issues can be present long before this occurs. We suggest doing a mild gallbladder flush on a regular basis and supporting its function with products like our Gallbladder ND.
Phase 3 – Support Bile Excretion from the Liver (FLOW)
As you can see, we are working our way backwards. Toxins enter the body through absorption through the GUT, skin or lungs, circulate through the bloodstream and hopefully head out liver through the bile to the gallbladder to the GUT and to the toilet. Our purpose is to aide this process.
Bile exits the liver through the right and left hepatic ducts that then form the common bile duct. Bile leaving the gallbladder exits into the common bile duct as well as does enzymes excreted by the pancreas. Cancers of the pancreas and/or bile duct and liver can interfere with this flow as can sluggish production of bile by the liver.
One helpful way to support bile FLOW is to use heat over the liver / gallbladder area. Castor oil packs with heat can even be more helpful.
Phase 2.5 – Bile Production
Phase 2.5 is a term coined by Dr. Kelly Halderman to describe the movement of conjugated toxins from phase 2 into the bile, coupled with the movement of bile salts and phosphatidylcholine. This requires adequate production of bile and necessary substrates present for the liver to do so. Often times this process is not functioning properly due to inflammation, endotoxins from pathogenic intestinal flora, and hormone imbalances. Toxins will then be forced to be excreted back into the blood where they may cause further damage and increase stress on the kidneys.
To support the production of bile, an all-important step in clearing the liver, our favorite products include:
Phosphatidylcholine – Take 1-3 per day
Phase 2.5 Complete – Take 1-3 per day
Phase 2 – Conjugation
Phase 2 enzymes in the liver are regulated by a transcription factor called Nrf2 [nuclear factor erythroid 2 (NF-E2) p45-related factor 2]. Nrf2 is key to regulating the body’s detoxification and antioxidant system in other cells as well. When activated, Nrf2 dissociates from the cytosolic protein, Keap1 (we talk about this when we look at a person’s genes), and “turns on” the genes associated with phase II detoxification.
Nrf2-modulation by curcumin, sulforaphane, garlic, catechins (EGCg form green tea extract), resveratrol, ginger, coffee, rosemary, blueberry, pomegranate, ellagic acid, and Astaxanthin has proven to be great nutrients to stimulate phase 2 detoxification.
For example, Sulfur transferase is a phase 2 enzyme that adds sulfur groups to compounds in order to make them more water soluble and less reactive. This process is used on a wide variety of toxic molecules including phenols, amines, acetaminophen, and food dyes. Many chemicals that are able to become airborne are sulfated. Patients with autism have been found to have impaired sulfation ability, which will make these individuals more sensitive to toxins.
Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) is an enzyme that is able to perform paraoxonase activity on substrates. This enzyme is able to hydrolyze and detoxify many different types of organophosphate molecules. PON1 is one of the major pathways that protect people from these types of compounds. Mutations to PON1 could lead someone to be more sensitive to pesticides and increase one’s risk for cancer. Infants do not have a lot of PON1 activity.
Phase 1 – The P450s
There are numerous enzymes and processes in the phase 1 family but the 58 known cytochrome P450 enzymes are most important. While many things happen, we could summarize the process into their ability to take a toxin from the blood and make it able to be processed to get them out of the body.
For example, one P450, Cyp2C9, is involved with the metabolism of a large number of medications including NSAIDs, warfarin, and tamoxifen. Cyp2E1 is involved with the detoxification of many industrial pollutants, as well as carcinogens. Cyp2e1 also metabolizes ethanol to acetaldehyde and acetate. Cyp2e1 is also responsible for bioactivating a number of carcinogens, including cigarette smoke.
Supporting Phase 1 and 2 liver pathways – this is where understanding one’s genetic pathway issues come into play. CYP and PON1 defects help guide product use, but, in general, here are some ideas:
PON1 Assist – Take 1-3 per day
Liver Health – This is a liquid – add 1-3 teaspoons to a smoothie per day or swallow and chase with a juice
Liver ND – This is a liquid – add 1-3 teaspoons to a smoothie per day or swallow and chase with a juice
CleansXym – Take 1-3 per day
Nrf2 Accelerator – Take 1-3 per day
HM-ND – This is a liquid – add 1-3 teaspoons to a smoothie per day or swallow and chase with a juice
Phase 0 – Pulling Garbage OUT of the Cells and Intracellular Spaces
Unfortunately, this is where many people want to start when they think they need to detoxify. It’s understandable, we want to ‘get rid of the mercury from our dental fillings’ or detoxify chemicals we were just exposed to’ but starting here can be very dangerous.
It’s true that we are all toxic. Every day the above phases of detoxification are happening to one degree or another and to the extent they are hindered is the extent we become toxic.
We are what we eat. Well, we are what we absorb. Better stated, we are what we don’t detoxify! In a magical fairyland everything you absorb is quickly dumped into the toilet and all is well. In real life, endless events hinder this and cells gather poisons to store them away. Hopefully, they stay there until we die at age 120 but this isn’t always so. If they happen to interrupt normal cell death apoptosis pathways or worse, affect the replication rate of the nucleus, they are causes of cancer.
The way we pull junk out of our cells and tissues is by using a chelator. A chelator is simply a nutrient that tends to grab onto toxins and escorts them back to the blood where they can circulate to the liver and start phase 1. However, I hope you’ve come to appreciate the need to make sure phase 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, and 1 are working well FIRST before we start pulling garbage from the cells or we will just re-deposit them elsewhere!
I rank chelators from mild to strong and believe that one should NOT use strong chelators if one has mercury fillings in their teeth (silver fillings) or metal implants.
Mild chelators (okay for most people):
Chlora-Xyme – Take 1-3 per day
PectaSol-C – This is a powder – add 1-3 scoops to orange juice to dissolve and drink
Homeopathic chelators – These we make specifically for the toxin we are trying to detoxify
Metal-X Synergy – Take 1-3 per day
IP-6 – Take 1-3 per day
Strong chelators (do NOT use if you have silver fillings):
ChelaClear – Start with only 1 per day
Note: While all 5 steps can be done at the same time, it may be best to START with phase 6 and working backwards just as I listed them, progressing slowly over multiple weeks. And, as always, it is best to have a qualified practitioner help you along the way.
Dr. Conners graduated with his doctorate from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1986 and has been studying alternative cancer care for over 20 years. He holds AMA Fellowships in Regenerative & Functional Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapy.
He is the author of numerous books including, Stop Fighting Cancer and Start Treating the Cause, Cancer Can’t Kill You if You’re Already Dead, Help, My Body is Killing Me, Chronic Lyme, 3 Phases of Lyme, 23 Steps to Freedom, and many more you can download for FREE on our books page.