Detoxification (“detox”) has broad connotations ranging from the spiritual to the scientific, and has been used to describe practices and protocols that embrace both complementary (fasting, colonic cleaning) and conventional (chelation or antitoxin therapy) schools of medical thought—as well as some that push the boundaries of scientific plausibility (such as ionic foot detoxification).
In the context of human biochemistry (and this protocol), detoxification can be described with much more precision; here it refers to a specific metabolic pathway, active throughout the human body, that processes unwanted chemicals for elimination. This pathway (which will be referred to as metabolic detoxification) involves a series of enzymatic reactions that neutralize and solubilize toxins, and transport them to secretory organs (like the liver or kidneys), so that they can be excreted from the body. This type of detoxification is sometimes called xenobiotic metabolism, because it is the primary mechanism for ridding the body of xenobiotics (foreign chemicals); however, detoxification reactions are frequently used to prepare unneeded endobiotics (endogenously-produced chemicals) for excretion from the body.
Excess hormones, vitamins, inflammatory molecules, and signaling compounds, amongst others, are typically eliminated from the body by the same enzymatic detoxification systems that protect the body from environmental toxins, or clear prescription drugs from circulation. Metabolic detoxification reactions, therefore, are not only important for protection from the environment, but central to homeostatic balance in the body.
This protocol describes nutritional approaches for general optimization of metabolic detoxification; it is designed to provide a foundation for proper function of this critical system. Specific health concerns may require supplementary detoxification “intervention” protocols (such as “Heavy Metal Detoxification” or “Alcohol: Reducing the Risks”).