Caffeine is solely broken down by the liver, as a result, The caffeine Clearance Test is a good quantitative measurement of how well the liver is functioning (Dancygier, H. 2010) (Lee et al.1996). The liver metabolizes caffeine to ensure that it can be safely eliminated by the kidneys and bowels. Through the detoxification process of Phase 1 and 2, it becomes more water soluble.
When you are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine (through the consumption of coffee, black tea, green tea, chocolate, coke etc.) your Phase 1 detoxification process is running too slowly. If you do not feel anything from drinking caffeinated beverages – example, you drink them right before bed and sleep like its nothing or you drink caffeinated beverages excessively throughout the day and feel as if they have little to no effect on you – your Phase 1 detoxification pathway is working too quickly (Mak, 2016).
Why is this a problem?
If Phase 1 is moving too quickly Phase 2 starts to fall behind as it cannot keep up with the demand. With Phase 1 working on overdrive it pulls more toxins from the body and begins to produce an end waste product of ‘reactive oxygen species’ – in excess (ibid). At this point, you need to improve liver function.
Think about what happens when you cut an apple and it starts to brown because of its contact with oxygen in the air, that’s what happens in the body – on a cellular level.
The oxidative damage is usually neutralized by antioxidants in the body (vitamin c is an example of an antioxidant so are berries and citrus fruit). When Phase 1 is pumping out too much reactive oxygen species, antioxidants can’t handle everything and damage to the body ensures – you can see and feel this as inflammation (ibid).
If Phase 1 is moving too slowly the body is accumulating toxins and waste. Although it does this regardless (as toxins are stored in tissues until they can be safely eliminated) some medication needs to leave the body after a specific time. If someone is taking medication twice a day for instance (once in the morning and once in the evening) it is taken far enough apart so that no residue of the medication – or in any case very little – is left within the body (Lipski, 2012) (Mak, 2016).
If Phase 1 is working to slow and there is a backlog of toxins and waste waiting to be processed it can happen that the next dose of the medication is ingested and the previous dose is still at an elevated level within the body (Kropp, 2002) (ibid).
This is also why medication has different effects on each individual. There are so many variables to be considered when dosing medication. Pay attention when you consume caffeine, write down how you feel, when you fall asleep and how long you sleep for. Bringing your liver into balance is a necessity for a detox and most importantly for a healthy body!
Dancygier, H. (2010). Clinical Hepatology, Principles and Practice of Hepatobiliary Diseases Volume 1. New York, Springer.
Krop, J.J. (2002). Healing the Planet, One Patient at a Time. Canada, KOS Publishing Inc.
Lee, S.D. Lo, K.J., Lu, R.H., Shyu, J.K., & Wang, Y.L. (1996). Caffeine clearance test: a quantitative liver function assessment in patients with liver cirrhosis. Taipei. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi, 57(5), 329-34.
Lipski, E. (2012). Digestive Wellness (4th ed). United States, McGraw-Hill.
Mak, O. (2016, January 3). What your reaction to coffee says about your liver: Why you should be concerned. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from Dr.O, http://www.olisamak.com/blog/-what-your-reaction-to-coffee-says-about-your-liver-why-you-should-be-concerned
Amanda Filipowicz is a certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) with a bachelor in environmental studies (BES) from York University. She also has certification in clinical detoxification, prenatal and postnatal care as well as nutrition for mental health. She has been working as a nutritionist since 2013 and is a lifelong proponent of eating healthy.