Using this overview and framework of principal mechanisms of liver detoxification, it is wise to focus on essentials for therapeutic intervention, ensuring that the proper balance between phases 1 and 2 detoxification stages is maintained. It is believed that up to 90% of cancer cases arise from the effects of exposure to environmental chemicals, such as those found in air pollution, tobacco, chemically contaminated food, and antimetabolites that deplete nutrients that are essential for proper detoxifyication.16,17 Therefore, choosing nutrients and botanical medicines to support detoxification can improve quality of life, alleviate acute signs and symptoms of excess toxic load, and confer protection over the course of a patient's life. The next sections cover key botanicals, nutrients, and dietary constituents that represent potential clinical interventions for treating acute or chronic cases of toxicity, depending on each patient's condition.
This common herb, used frequently in the form of turmeric (Curcuma longa), has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to help inhibit the carcinogenic effects of benzopyrene that arise from the consumption of charbroiled meat. This herb has been shown to modulate phase 1 detoxification while inducing phase 2 of the process. When 1.5 g of turmeric was given to 16 smokers and 6 nonsmokers (control subjects), it was shown that, after 30 days of consuming turmeric, urinary excretion of mutagens in smokers was nearly equivalent to that of nonsmokers. This study demonstrated that turmeric is an effective inhibitor of phase 1 detoxification, preventing the excess accumulation of toxic metabolite conversion of smoke by-products, which have been linked as major contributors to increased risks of cancer development.18
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