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A Canary's Eye View — Metabolic Basis
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Detoxification – General Outline

Liver Phase I: functionalization (oxidation, reduction or hydrolysis reactions, increasing solubility of the substrate)

  • P450 Enzymes use oxygen to process many endogenous and exogenous substances, adding a reactive group, such as hydroxyl radical, to the molecule being processed in order to enable Phase II to deal with it.
  • Pathological detoxifiers / Liver backlog - when Phase II can't keep up with Phase I. Intermediates formed may be more toxic than the original substance acted on by Phase I.

Liver Phase II – Conjugation (biotransformation of a lipophilic compound, by combining it with another substance, to a water-soluble compound able to be excreted)

  • Processes (Cofactors must be replenished through dietary sources)
    • Sulfation
    • Acetylation
    • Glucuronidation
    • Acylation (peptide conjugation)
      The amino acids glycine, taurine, glutamine, arginine, and ornithine combine with toxins to neutralize and eliminate them.
    • Glutathione conjugation (mercapturic acid synthesis)

  • Multi-Functional Induction: substances inducing multiple Phase II processes (Mono-functional induction is listed with the process it induces)
    • rosemary (provokes a reaction)
    • soy (provokes a reaction)
    • cabbage (can't eat much
    • brussels sprouts (can't eat much)
    • Garlic oil (provokes a reaction)
    • acetaminophen (provokes a reaction) See Acetaminophen Poisoning.

Methylation - takes place in every cell in the body


  • Sulfation and glucuronidation go on here too. Some xenoestrogens inhibit these processes.
  • Useful enzymes at tip of villi
    • "Phase III" anti-porter activity: an energy-dependent efflux pump, which pumps xenobiotics out of a cell, thereby decreasing the intracellular concentration of xenobiotics. See reference 15 at Liska
    • Cyp3A4
  • Counterproductive process: enterohepatic recirculation. Beta-glucoronidase bacteria remove conjugation moiety — glocuronosyl side chain — converting estrogens back to their original form and allowing them to reenter circulation.


General Detox Info:

  • Conditions
  • Treatments
    • Herbs (These are mostly specific for the liver)
      • Silymarin - has been helping me
      • Artichoke (related to Silymarin) stimultes bile
      • Burdock
      • Dandelion (I believe I reacted to this when I tried it in '97.)
    • NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) "not everybody tolerates NAC well."— Steven Shackel
    • Flavonoids?
      • "Scientists at the University of Minnesota have found that the two primary chemical components in lupulin [from hops] — humulone and lupulune — stimulate the production of liver enzymes that metabolize toxins." Bobbi A. McRaie, "Hops: Food, Shade, Flavoring and a Pillow for Your Head." The Herb Companion, April/May 1992, p. 62. (I have found similar statements around the Web but no documentation as yet.)


  • Many of the liver functions are measured in the GSDL Detoxification Profile. See my results from that test on 28 November 2001.
  • In addition, the Genovations DetoxiGenomic Profile identifies polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes responsible for some detox functions. I had this test performed 22 June 2006; see my results from the DetoxiGenomic Profile.
  • [other one B. ordered?]


copyright © 2000 by Catherine Holmes Clark. Last updated 1 November 2005