Before anyone considers cleansing, certain things need to be in place.
Factors to consider before starting any cleanse include the following:
- nutrient availability
- proper hydration
- current health status
- level of stress
- history of exposures
- protein intake (to prevent wasting)
- current medications
- quality of diet
- genetic differences in one’s ability to detoxify substances
This last factor is commonly overlooked, yet is vital. These genetic differences in enzymes are termed single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs), or small variations in coding sequences for genes. If one has a SNP, it will affect how one may be affected by a supplement or if they have strange symptoms when using various herbs. It is important to be aware of these variances in order to safely and comfortably cleanse and to implement the right combination of products or supplements.
Functional medicine has honed in my love for biochemical individuality and has helped to explain why no two people will react in the same way to any protocol, including “detoxifying” by introducing me to the concept of SNPs. For example, a difference in the efficacy of the “master detoxifier”, glutathione, can help determine if one gets very ill from toxin exposure or if they seem to escape symptom free.
Here are some further examples of genetic differences in enzyme function that affect what I choose when supplementing my clients for cleansing:
1. Those with a CBS (Cystathionine-β-synthase) or SUOX (sulfite oxidase) SNP will not fare well with sulfur supplements.
2. Those with a methylation variant, such as a MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) SNP, will need a specific form of folic acid. This is important, because methylation affects many health conditions beyond detoxifying, including immune issues, brain chemistry, heart health, and blood sugar regulation.
3. MS (methionine synthase), COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase), Methyl-transferases, STM1, GSTP1 (glutathione transferases), Apo E 4 (apolipoprotein E 4), and/or Impaired Metallothionein SNPs will also affect clearance and a retention in toxins.
The good news is there are specific nutritional and lifestyle modifications that can assist with making these enzymes work more effectively, even if some nutrients need to be avoided. Knowing these SNPs will help determine the forms and quantities of nutrients needed when dealing with toxins and “cleansing” protocols.
D0 You Suspect a SNP? What Now?
Some people may choose to do a SNP panel from a health care practitioner in order to obtain a truly individualized cleansing protocol. Another option is to seek out a trained functional medicine practitioner who is aware of these individual variances and can help to decode why various nutrients have or haven’t worked with you in the past. From there, an individualized and safe protocol may be implemented, although some trial and error may occur along the way if testing isn’t done.
Where to Start
For all my clients, I recommend to start with a whole food organic diet, replacing toxic products with safe personal care and cleaning products, drinking lots of filter water, and diffusing essential oils. All of these measures will decrease the negative effects of environmental exposures for those with and without significant SNPs.
For more information on SNPs and cleansing, check out some of the resources below and my previous blog:
Dr. Ben Lynch’s MTHFR.net website
Dr. Amy Yasko’s amyyasko.com website
And, don’t forget to read my latest blog on why I’m a fan of “sidekick oils” to support any wellness protocol.