There is clear scientific evidence that hypothyroidism can alter liver detoxification pathways and bile drainage leading to elevated liver enzymes (SGOT / SGPT). (1) The liver enzyme elevations are not commonly seen, but poor liver clearance leading to “Feeling Toxic” is commonly seen in my practice.
The liver is our main detoxification organ. There is a two step process by which detoxification occurs – Phase I and Phase II. Low thyroid function can substantively decrease the livers ability to function in both Phase I and Phase II.
Symptoms of Toxicity:
- Bitter, metallic taste
- Brain fog
- Circles under the eyes
- Digestive problems
- Excessive mucous production
- Gas, bloating
- Headaches or Migraines
- Joint and muscle aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Poor concentration
- Ringing in the ears
- Skin rashes
- Strong body odor or bad breath
- Weight gain
Health Issues Related to Toxicity:
- Chronic fatigue
- Leaky Gut
- Multiple chemical sensitivity
How Does The Body Detoxify?
A good 80% of detoxification is done by the liver. Many chemicals and toxins are fat soluble so they need to go through a process of detoxification to make them water soluble so the body can excrete them through the kidneys, lungs, skin, etc. Phase I is the first process and actually makes most chemicals more toxic while creating free radicals. The next step, Phase II, is critical so these highly toxic intermediate chemicals can be conjugated (bound up and packaged) for elimination from the body.
If Phase I is too fast then Phase II may not be able to keep up with the demand and the excess toxins can re-enter circulation leading to symptoms. If Phase I is too slow then we continue to have various chemicals / toxins continue to circulate leading to symptoms mentioned above. Hypothyroidism is known to slow down Phase I but can also slow down Phase II processes.
Certain foods can improve detoxification: sulfur containing foods (cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs); vitamins B6 (avocado); zine (shellfish); and protein (meat and legumes).
The detoxification process is a high energy business requiring large supplies of all the necessary nutrients and vast amounts of energy to process the never ending toxic load that comes out way each day.
Addressing liver detoxification health is an important part of our thyroid program. The liver is also liable for converting ~ 60% of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone). If the liver is compromised or burdened by poor detoxification ability that can make handling the thyroid hormone conversion difficult as well.
Liver health is a pivotal player in how we feel. It plays a key role in the 10 steps of thyroid metabolism and must not be looked when helping support thyroid patients.
1. Saha B & Maity C. Alternation of serum enzymes in primary hypothyroidism. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2002; 40: 609-611.