What You Need to Know to Detoxify Safely

By on November 11, 2009
how to detoxify safely

If you have ever attempted a SAFE detoxification regimen, you know that it includes decreasing the amount of toxins coming INTO your body while INCREASING the amount of toxins going out of your body. But unless you are aware of the concepts of Phase I and Phase II detoxification, you could not only not be detoxifying, but you could actually be INCREASING toxic damage to your body.

The concepts of Phase I and Phase II detoxification are absolutely critical in detoxification, yet they are almost completely unknown to the average person who is interested in eliminating toxins. Most toxins start out as fat soluble substances, but the body is only able to excrete water soluble substances, so these toxins must be transformed before being able to be eliminated. The first part of this process, known as Phase I detoxification, transforms these toxins into ‘Intermediary Metabolites’ that need to be changed even further before elimination. Phase I detoxification is relatively ‘easy’ and doesn’t require any intense energy expenditures or nutrients, however, the intermediary metabolites that it produces can be very dangerous. In fact, the free radicals and carcinogens produced in this phase can be even MORE harmful than the original toxins!

Under ideal conditions, Phase II begins immediately after Phase I and these harmful metabolites are neutralized and excreted fairly rapidly. But in some cases, Phase II does not begin right away or it can’t keep up with the incoming metabolites produced so efficiently in Phase I. Because Phase II is energy and nutrient intensive, in someone who has fewer nutrients and enzymes than is required for Phase II needs, detoxification can become an overall DAMAGING experience! Situations that can cause high Phase I activity and slowed Phase II activity occur when someone is either sick or malnourished and simply does not have the nutritional stores in order to support Phase II nutrient demands. Other situations are when fat is lost so quickly that the sheer amount of toxins released into the bloodstream overwhelms Phase II systems. Those who water fast, too, should be cautious. Water fasting is so efficient and there are so few nutrients being ingested, that the amount of toxins produced can overwhelm Phase II nutrient requirements and allow free radical damage to occur.

These phases or detoxification are not to be taken lightly, either. The intermediate substances can be so harmful that Phase II detoxification problems have been linked to cancer, liver failure and the permanent neurologic damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Fortunately, increasing Phase II activity can be assisted with the right nutrients: the amino acids glycine, taurine, glutamine, cysteine and methionine are critical in this reaction.


Antioxidants that specifically aid Phase II pathways, like those from green tea, turmeric and red raspberries, can provide specific substances that not only help to neutralize free radicals and increase Phase II activity, but slow down Phase I activity at the same time. This can allow the body adequate time to transform these free radicals into their harmless counterparts. Dietary fiber, too, not only binds to the water soluble compounds created, but specific types of fiber have been shown to actually improve Phase II activity.

Because we live in such a contaminated environment, detoxification is nearly essential in order to stay healthy, but it is vital to understand the concepts of Phase I and Phase II detoxification before embarking on any cleansing regimen. Providing the body with substances that specifically improve Phase II reactions can not only help you to have a safer cleansing experience, but a more EFFECTIVE one as well.

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.

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