by Jesse Davis
In 2005, a project called ‘Pollution In People’ was launched to study the accumulation of various levels of toxic substances in people’s bodies. They looked at six classes of compounds considered harmful: phthalates, PBDEs, heavy metals (lead, arsenic and mercury), pesticides, including banned PCBs and DDT, and perfluorinated chemicals (eg Teflon). What they found was considerable build-up of harmful chemicals and pollutants in their study population.
“Every person tested had at least 26 and as many as 39 of the toxic chemicals we looked for in his or her body. This pollution in people came from everyday activities and products,”1 was their ominous conclusion.
Furthermore, they found that much of this was from a host of things in our day-to-day lives. The accumulation of chemicals “came from food; everyday household dust; direct contact with products such as personal care items, consumer electronics, and stain-resistant furniture; and from contaminated soil, air, and water. Many of the chemicals do not break down or do so slowly, and therefore build up in human bodies and breast milk.”1
When referencing the breakdown of foreign chemicals, this is called xenobiotic metabolism, the removal of foreign chemicals from the body. Sometimes referred to by laypeople as detoxification, the organ most responsible in preparing chemicals for excretion from the body is the liver.
Many chemicals need to be chemically modified inside the body to be excreted. This is the case for nearly all drugs, as well as toxins. The primary goal is commonly to make the substance more water-soluble in order to excrete the substance out through the urine. To do this, the first step, referred to as phase I of detoxification (or xenometabolism), consists of enzymes within liver cells adding an additional (typically simple) chemical group onto the target. This could be most commonly oxygen, nitrogen or sulfur, making an end result that is more water-soluble.
However, this process creates what are known as metabolites, or a second set of chemicals. These metabolites often times also have harmful properties of their own, sometimes even more so. An example of this is alcohol breakdown in the liver. Ethanol is enzymatically changed into acetaldehyde, which is then quickly changed to acetate. Acetaldehyde however is a highly toxic substance that has been attributed to cause many of the harmful effects of alcohol use.2
The second phase of detoxification is commonly referred to as conjugation. This involves adding a charged molecule to the metabolite, and typically has less or little toxicity relative to its predecessor. A common addition at this stage is glutathione, a small protein critical as the body’s self-produced antioxidant. Another common pathway during phase II metabolic processes is glucuronidation, the addition of glucuronic acid. These processes can potentially be affected by things like age, smoking status, obesity, or the presence of other drugs.3
While both of these processes are complex and have a multitude of variations, they are critical as a set to eliminate toxic challenges. They may in fact be able to be used independently depending on the chemistry of the compound in question. According to the recent text Topics in Drug Metabolism “All organisms are constantly and unavoidably exposed to xenobiotics including both man–made and natural chemicals such as drugs, plant alkaloids, microorganism toxins, pollutants, pesticides, and other industrial chemicals.”4
Fortunately the body has an array of options in its enzymatic tool chest to begin working on cleaning house. For supplementation support see INNATE Response Formulas.
Dr. Jesse Davis has been a practicing doctor of chiropractic in the greater Boston area since 2006. He is a post-graduate instructor for the Gonstead Methodology Institute focused on specific chiropractic adjusting. He is a strong believer in the power of a healthy lifestyle including nutrition for achieving and maintaining health. Previously Dr. Davis was a molecular genetics researcher, published in BMC Genomics and Nucleic Acids Research, and has always enjoyed teaching and writing.

3. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: October 2001 – Volume 21 – Issue 5 – pp 500-515
4. “Topics on Drug Metabolism“, edited by James Paxton

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.**This blog was written by an outside source. This blog does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Natural Partners.