The liver is an amazing organ. It does so many things for us to keep us ‘clean’.
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of proteins for blood plasma – prothrombin, fibrinogen, and albumins
- Production of cholesterol
- Store and release glucose as needed
- Conversion of harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)
- Regulating blood clotting
- Clearance of bilirubin (if there is a build-up of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow)
- Kupffer cells play an important role by capturing and digesting bacteria, fungi, parasites, worn-out blood cells, and cellular debris
- Our liver also stores vitamins and minerals – such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, and iron and copper.
It’s major role however, is to detoxify harmful substances into forms which the body can safely eliminate.
In today’s world of processed foods and pollution, toxic substances exist almost everywhere. These toxic substances are in the food you eat, the water you drink (from fertilizers, chemicals and other additives such as colourings and preservatives), and the air you breathe (from car exhaust, pesticides and industrial pollutants). Some of the body’s own metabolites such as hormones must be detoxified as well.
Liver detoxification is known in occur in 2 phases to convert toxic substances into more water soluble molecules so they can then be metabolised and eliminated either by via intestines or the kidneys.
Phase 1 predominantly uses cytochrome P450 enzymes. If this phase is upregulated this results in an increased production of free radicals as it makes the substance more bioactive or reactive, before Phase 2 makes the substance water soluble and excreted.
Down regulation of phase 2 pathways will indicate poor metabolism and elimination of toxins within the body and may manifest in various symptoms we see in clinic such as:
- Nausea and bloating
- Weight gain
- Hormonal issues signs and symptoms
- Sensitivities to environment or foods
And of course there are times when this can get overwhelm and function can falter.
- Exposure to chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, exhaust etc. from food, water and air
- Surgery, general anaesthetic
- Medications, antibiotics, antifungals
- Alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs
- Stress, fasting, poor diet
- Chronic illness
There are standard blood tests a doctor may do to determine liver function called LFT for short.
Functional testing comes from a different perspective.
A functional Liver Detox test will give more of an idea on the metabolism or functional aspect of the liver phase 1 and phase 2 pathways such as glutathionation, sulphation, glucuronidation and glycination.
Glutathionation is dependent on glutathione and is responsible for conjugating things like paracetamol, some antibiotics, alcohol, toxic metals and pesticides.
Sulphation pathway conjugates catecholamine’s such as adrenalin, noradrenalin, some hormones and phenols groups that include histamine.
Glucuronidation is responsible for the conjugation of oestrogens, and some medications such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti inflammatories.
Glycination is predominantly involved in salicylate conjugation eg. Aspirin.
Therefore the liver detox test can show us how generally you are metabolising internally and externally derived toxins.
A functional Liver Detox profile comprises 3 tablets: a caffeine tablet, an aspirin and a paracetamol tablet.
Caffeine is to measure phase and the aspirin and paracetamol is for phase 2.
To do the test you swallow the caffeine tablets and collect a saliva specimen then later in the day they take the aspirin and paracetamol tablets and collect your urine overnight.
Both the saliva and urine samples are sent to the lab for processing.
Now you need to be mindful that the caffeine dose is 200mg. This is equivalent to 2 cups of strong coffee.
Now there are no reported contraindications for caffeine in adults and adverse reactions are uncommon; however some people are sensitive to caffeine and may have increased nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness and rapid heartbeat.
I would ensure you are not having any aspirin or paracetamol for 2 days prior and day of the test other than what is provided in the kit.
And now the really bad news….preferably no caffeine for 48 hours before test or on the day of the test! So yep, that means no coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks.
I can hear the screams of desperation now…..NOOOOOO!
Plus this test gives us some idea about how you metabolise your hormones including estrogens and thyroid.
If our liver is under the pump and our gut is sleeping on the job, we are going to have some toxicity issues.
And another thing to consider is that when many people are stressed they eat poorly and often drink more alcohol as a coping mechanism. This adds more work with fewer nutrients to the liver.
Please feel free to contact me for more information on how you can how this test can help discover if your liver health is affecting your energy levels at firstname.lastname@example.org.