047: Will A Liver Detox Help My Skin Rashes?

I loathe the phrase “liver detox” because it’s so misunderstood by most people.

If you’re liver is struggling, it doesn’t need to be detoxed!

Got eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff and other skin issues?

Your liver MUST be on your radar, but not the way the internet gurus talk about it.

In this episode, I’m going to share with you how your liver actually detoxes on its own and what you need to do to support it. That way you can avoid those horrible “die off” symptoms that are so common when doing different detoxes you can do on your own.

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I’ve worked with too many clients who have terrible flares as a result of not keeping an eye on supporting their liver, and ended up with even worse rashes than before they started.

In this episode:

  • Stop listening to people who say your liver is like a filter or a sponge
  • What “die off” symptoms actually mean
  • Why detoxing your liver is unnecessary (and what to do instead)
  • What liver support I recommend from clinical experience
  • How to easily understand what your liver actually does

Quotes:

Anyone telling you that you just need to detox your liver doesn’t truly understand how your liver works, why it plays a role in helping rebuild healthy skin, and what it really needs in order to operate optimally. They claim that your liver acts like a sponge. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your liver isn’t a sponge. It’s not like a fish filter either. (0:25)

When Phase 1 detox is pushed too hard OR if Phase 2 doesn’t have enough ingredients (like glycine, glutathione, and magnesium) to move things through, a backup of toxic material will occur. When this happens, you can experience “die off” (also known as the Herxheimer Reaction), symptoms like rashes and even an exacerbation of symptoms. (12:45)

Woman thinking about her skin rashes and how to cure them

Will A Liver Detox Help My Skin Rashes (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode # 47 of the Healthy Skin Show!

Today I want to talk about liver detoxing because it’s a term that’s thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to chronic skin issues.

“You just need to do a liver detox and your skin will get better,” you’ll read online.

But the problem with this is that it’s not based at all on science.

In fact, anyone telling you that you just need to detox your liver doesn’t truly understand how your liver works, why it plays a role in helping rebuild healthy skin, and what it really needs in order to operate optimally.

Instead, they’re coming at your problem from the incredibly flawed position that your liver acts like a sponge.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your liver isn’t a sponge.

It’s not like a fish filter either.

And detoxing in general is NOT code for diarrhea. I could go on and on about what detox symptoms mean, but that’s for another podcast.

Just know that the term “detoxing” is thrown around way too much. You can literally find some sort of gimmicky detox products for almost any body region now like…

Your skin…

Your gut…

Your liver…

Your blood…

Your lymphatic system…

The list goes on.

But one thing has become quite clear to me → most people haven’t a clue what it really means to detoxify anything. Nor are they aware of their body’s innate capability to detoxify on its own.

Two questions come to my mind!

Why are we so obsessed with pushing the detoxification process harder?

And is forcing detoxification faster even a good thing?

Let’s take a deeper look!

Detox drink

Is Detoxing Your Liver All You Need To Do?

I think we can all agree that the world we live in is filled with too many harsh chemicals to count. And you’re constantly bombarded by fuels, off-gassing, hidden toxins, xenohormones, byproducts, heavy metals, all sorts of drugs, and the list goes on.

When your skin is a mess, we have to consider environmental exposures like detergents and allergens too!

I understand your concern… I truly do.

And I know what it’s like to have a personal mandate to take control of your health even if it means you have to basically become your own doctor.

But in the hurry to jump on the next detox bandwagon, you should ask yourself → is it appropriate for me to push my body harder right now?

For 99% of everyone listening, the answer is NO.

See, increasing detoxification can add even more stress that may leave you feeling worse off than before when it’s not balanced appropriately.

This often happens when you don’t understand what’s actually causing your liver to struggle in its functioning from a biochemical perspective.

It’s also possible to have other issues with your liver pop up which I’ve discussed on previous podcasts with Dr. Jolene Brighten and Dr. Alan Christianson that can result is physical changes to your liver.

AND you can have genetic SNPs that impair certain processes in the liver — as can be the case with sulfur metabolism and how your body deals with salicylates.

But here’s the thing, if you increase liver detoxification, are you really addressing why your liver is being overloaded or struggling in the first place?

Nope.

Your liver can become overwhelmed (and commonly does) when your gut microbiome is out of balance. This is an insight that I’ve come to learn working with so many gut problem clients over the years.

It also is a reason why poor liver function will result in “die off reactions” while you try to fix your gut.

And that’s why I’m wary about suggesting “candida detoxes” to people who randomly contact me because as I’ve shared in a podcast on candida, trouble can ensue making your rashes worse.

I’ve spoken to too many clients who’ve found out the hard way that doing gut cleanses can make cause flares and exacerbations of rashes.

One of the big reasons why is that their liver couldn’t handle what they were doing.

So before you jump in head first to doing any one thing, know that your liver is always a critical piece of the puzzle, but you’ve got to know how to appropriately support it to avoid having your rashes go nuts!

Drone in Amazon Fulfillment Center

Understanding Your Liver Detox Pathways

As you probably remember, I said in the beginning of this episode that your liver is neither a fish filter nor a sponge.

Likening it to either of them is just wrong — so run away from anyone telling you that it is.

However, it is more similar to an Amazon Fulfillment Center.

That might seem like a strange analogy, but hear me out!

When Amazon gets an order, they have to package a bunch of items and ship them out.

Similarly, your liver takes certain items and repackages them (through different biochemical processes) so that they can do what they need to elsewhere in your body.

This list includes hormones, certain vitamins, cholesterol, toxic materials that your body makes as well as what it is exposed to in the environment and more!

If you’ve been sick (or even just moderately unwell) for some time, pushing your body to detox is probably not the next best step.

It’s only band-aiding a problem, rather than coming at your entire body and array of symptoms from a root cause approach. (While this totally is.)

And it ultimately fails to acknowledge the science and biology of your liver’s detox system.

So let’s take a moment to break down your natural liver detoxification system. That way, you can make better choices moving forward.

Before we go any further, here’s some things that liver detox is responsible for…

  • It helps activate and deactivate certain hormones (ie. Vitamin D, estrogen).
  • It makes toxic chemicals even more toxic (yes, you read that correctly), and then water-soluble so that they’re easier to excrete through urine.
  • It metabolizes drugs that you’re exposed to and can determine how long those drugs last in your system.

So you can see from this short and incomplete list that your liver does more than you probably realize.

And it underscores that not everything your liver deals with is toxic.

In order for your liver to move substances through its natural detox system, your body must have an ample supply of certain ingredients on hand (like glycine) to keep the process going.

Without these ingredients, your liver’s actual detoxification capacity drops.

And this ultimately creates a situation where your liver becomes overwhelmed and you begin to feel not so hot.

Cruciferous Vegetables

How Your Liver Detox Pathways Work

I think now is a good time to explain how the liver detox pathways work.

You’ll see exactly how your liver can become overwhelmed when detoxification is pushed too hard. And why I believe that supporting your liver should be your first priority.

I recently shared the role that your mitochondria play in producing energy and that they need an ample supply of certain nutrients or else they can’t function optimally. (Read more about it here.)

The same is true for your liver.

These detoxification pathways require specific non-negotiable “ingredients” in order to handle whatever is going on. Should you be exposed to more of something (like a pesticide, drug, or toxin), your liver’s need of said ingredients will increase in order to detoxify properly.

Your liver detox system is broken into two phases →

  • Phase 1 (also known as the P450 Cytochrome Detoxification)
  • Phase 2 (which includes multiple pathways such as the Glycine pathway, Glutathione pathway, and Glucuronidation)

Phase 1 happens before Phase 2, but not all things headed for your liver require Phase 1 detox. Some can head straight through to Phase 2 as they are.

The purpose of Phase 1 is to prepare chemicals for Phase 2 detoxification, but often the products of Phase 1 end up being more toxic than they were beforehand. And this is an important point that I’ll explain more of in a moment.

Lastly, Phase 1 detox can be increased (or upregulated) by certain exposures like caffeine, alcohol, hormones, high protein diets, high intake of cruciferous veggies, and acetaminophen (or Tylenol). Increasing Phase 1 means you increase the amount of products that are spit out on the other side waiting to go through Phase 2.

Phase 2 detoxification has different pathways that require ingredients like glycine (an amino acid), glutathione, and other biochemical ingredients that you’ve probably not heard of.

I don’t want to get too nerdy here… so the point is that for Phase 2 to detox properly, your liver MUST have the necessary ingredients available to get the job done.

For the record, milk thistle (a common liver detox supplement) is not an ingredient your liver needs to support these biochemical pathways.

Vintage TV

Learning About Liver Detox From “I Love Lucy”

To make this incredibly simple for you to understand, I want you to think back to the episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel go to work in the chocolate factory. The boss told them that they had to wrap every single chocolate or else they’d be fired.

The ladies figured they’d easily take care of the job, but we all know that things didn’t go as planned!

Their funny skit is something very similar to Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detox!

Phase 1 would be when the chocolates are being made.

Meanwhile, Phase 2 is the process of wrapping the chocolate bon bons.

In this case, we see an overwhelmed Phase 2 illustrated by the failed attempt on Lucy and Ethel’s part to wrap all of the chocolate bon bons efficiently.

Ultimately the conveyor belt speeds up to the point where they begin stuffing the bon bons down their blouses, in pockets and hats, and even in their cheeks in order to prevent the boss from seeing that they couldn’t get the job done!

I hope this light-hearted visual helps you see why you can’t just “detox” your liver.

It probably doesn’t need to be detoxed!

If anything, it desperately needs the right support in order to handle what’s being sent its way while simultaneously addressing what’s creating the overload in the first place.

When Phase 1 detox is pushed too hard OR if Phase 2 doesn’t have enough ingredients (like glycine, glutathione, and magnesium) to move things through, a backup of toxic material will occur.

When this happens, you can experience “die off” (also known as the Herxheimer Reaction), symptoms like rashes and even an exacerbation of symptoms.

That’s why it’s important to properly support your liver rather than fixate on detoxifying it (especially if you’re not working with a practitioner). It also underscores the deep connection that your liver has to other systems in your body.

No matter what type of protocol I create, I always have to consider if my client’s liver needs support.

One of my favorite products is called Amino-D-Tox since it includes many of the nutrients that help keep the liver detoxification systems running.

This way, when you are working on rebalancing your gut and optimizing the way your liver converts or repackages those “chocolate bon bons”, you don’t end up flaring in the process and making things worse.

Just remember that your liver needs love and support… not necessarily to be detoxed or pushed to do more when it’s already under a lot of stress!

I hope this has been insightful — and that the next time you hear someone refer to your liver like a sponge or a filter, you run the other way.

If you’re struggling with chronic skin issues, supporting your liver in the process is paramount.

Got questions or thoughts? Leave your comments on this episode’s post. I’m happy to respond and continue the conversation with you there!

In the meantime, don’t forget to rate and review the Healthy Skin Show on your podcast platform of choice. And please… share this episode with someone you know who could use the help!

I hate seeing people with eczema, psoriasis and all sorts of other skin and health issues making things worse! All because they listened to internet gurus make uneducated claims about liver detox lacking any sort of scientific background.

Thanks so much for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you the next time!

Anyone telling you that you just need to detox your liver doesn’t truly understand how your liver works, why it plays a role in helping rebuild healthy skin, and what it really needs in order to operate optimally. They claim that your liver acts like a sponge. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your liver isn’t a sponge. It’s not like a fish filter either.


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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