Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Sniff Testing

The last step in evaluating inflammation in the body involves three challenges to the sense of smell. The three offenders used are aldehydes, bleach, and ammonia.

Aldehydes, like alcohol and perfume, are processed through both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification. Impairment in either phase can result in poor ability to process aldehydes out of the body. If you get a headache whenever you get near the perfume counter at Macys’, you probably have impairment in the aldehydes pathway. The typical hangover from excessive drinking is also an example of poor liver detoxification.

If a patient reacts to smelling bleach, this generally indicates chronic inflammatory problems. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus will cause a bleach response. Neurological problems can also stimulate this pathway.

A reaction to ammonia generally indicates problems with phase 2 liver detoxification. There are 10 pathways in phase 2 liver detoxification. Five of these require sulfur. Sulfur is stripped from sulfur bearing amino acids like methionine and cysteine. Folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 are vital to this process. Please review my early Wisdom Wednesday blogs on each of these B vitamins. The mineral molybdenum is also an important co-enzyme in this process.

Often new patients tell me they want to “do a liver detox”. If inflammation is not fully addressed prior to liver detoxification, the patient will experience lots of symptoms. Liver detoxification should not give you diarrhea, excessive gas, or flu-like symptoms. These negative responses are generally due to ramping up phase 1 liver detoxification to the extent that phase 2 can not keep up.

In general, toxins that require both phase 1 and 2 detoxification are much more toxic after they have passed through phase 1. For example spent estrogen is relatively safe and non-toxic. However, it becomes dehydroxyestrogen after phase 1, which can be carcinogenic. After phase 2, dehydroxyestrogen is water soluble and is harmlessly passed out of the body through the bowel.

Please don’t jump into any liver detoxification without first eliminating all common inflammatory pathways. If you react poorly to exposure to aldehydes, bleach, or ammonia, you have some significant inflammation at work in the body. Simple lab work consisting of a CBC (complete blood count) and homocysteine can confirm these inflammation pathways. Treatment is simply a matter of determining what nutrients are lacking and in what form must they be given.