The liver is our largest internal organ and its roles include detoxification, immune support, and metabolic regulation. The liver is really important when it comes to detoxing excess estrogen. This is because it works to remove excess hormones, toxins, metabolic wastes, etc., through two phases of detoxification in the liver. This is what each phase is responsible for doing:
- Phase I is where oxidation takes place. This means adding an oxygen molecule to metabolites such as toxins and processed hormones.
- Phase II is where conjugation takes place. This is where the liver makes the waste products less dangerous so they can be easily removed by making them water soluble.
- Phase III is where the detox products are moved into the biliary system, requiring optimal bile flow.
In phase I, estrogen is broken down into metabolites that are more dangerous than the estrogen was at the beginning. Then, in phase II, it’s combined with another compound that makes it less toxic.
If phase II isn’t working as well as it should, then the highly toxic chemicals formed in phase I can’t be combined with other compounds and sent down the next pathway. This results in excess hormones, such as inflammatory estrogens, that recirculate in the bloodstream, instead of being eliminated. The result is hormonal imbalances, including estrogen. Phase II loves amino acids such as methionine and taurine. Vitamins B2, B5, B6, B12, magnesium, SAMe, glutathione, calcium d-glucarate, and methylfolate.
This can also happen for phase I. If the P450 enzyme isn’t activated with the presence of important nutrients like B vitamins, choline, magnesium, vitamin C, and the master antioxidant, glutathione, these excess hormones and metabolites will recirculate and contribute to ongoing hormone imbalances. Foods that can assist phase I include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Actually oranges can help increase phase I activity. However, grapefruit, curcumin, and quercetin can slow it down!
Phase III is supported with nutrients such as phosphatidyl choline, calcium d-glucarate, peppermint, artichoke, and dandelion.
As you can see, our liver has a huge job when it comes to clearing not only toxins, but also hormones. If any of these phases is hindered, through lack of nutrients, stress, liquid sugar aka alcohol; you can expect the liver to fall short of its abilities to do its job well.