Liver "cleanses" and thyroid

I started seeing an naturopath for some advice on improving my immune system and energy levels. I have Type 1 and hypothyroidism and he suggested I do a liver cleanse to ensure that my thyroid hormones are being converted properly (something about T4 to T3). He wants me to start an even stricter diet than I'm on as Type 1 -- no butter, eggs or dairy, geez! -- and to take laxative-like "liver cleansing pills."

I wrote him back and said I had concerns about taking a laxative when I'm on insulin because I'm very sensitive to insulin -- 1 unit drops my bgs 5 mmols or 90 md/gL, not exaggareting -- so if I eat carbs that are passed too quickly, I risk a super low bg.

Here's his response. What do you guys think?

"Hi Kelly,
As you know, nothing in the body operates in isolation. Everything you take into your body, including food, will impact all of your metabolic pathways to some extent. There is the potential that by supporting your liver, there will be a change in your liver's metabolism of the injected insulin as well as glycolysis...I think that the impact will will low, however the prudent thing to do will be to watch your sugars should you choose to do this.

You've added a hormone (insulin) out of necessity into the system, which causes compensation by the body. You've come to an equilibrium with the new addition by now. You are going to have to come to a new equilibrium with any medication addition...this would theoretically include herbals as well. The chances that there will be a significant re-adjustment in equilibrium is low based upon what we are doing, however not out of the realm of possibility.

What we know for sure is that unless we deal with the digestive and liver issues present, we are not going to get anywhere with the immune system or the thyroid issues. This prescription is very gentle, however if you do not feel comfortable with what we are doing, you need to listen to that. I am here to support you when you are ready to move forward."

He sounds very nice & supportive.

Dairy & eggs are avoided when doing a cleanse because they’re supposedly mucus forming & some people have these foods.

What’s in the liver pills? Do you have to take them on an empty stomach, or with food? Perhaps if you can take them far from meals it will minimize the potential effect. I’d try it to see how you react. Maybe take the half the dose to see how you do. They may be laxative in the cleansing sense, but not enough to give you a real problem.

Hope the naturopath’s guidance helps! Keep us posted.


There are certain situations in which “fatty liver”, cirrhosis, and hepatitis… may impair t4 to get converted into t3…

The conversion of T4 to T3 happens in extrathyroidal tissue and occurs through a rapidly equilibrating pool via the D1 enzyme system and a slowly equilibrating pool via the D2 system. The type 1 deiodinase is mainly found in the liver and kidney,and accounts for approximately 30–40% of extrathyroidal production of T3 (12 nmol). The type 2 deiodinase is found in the pituitary, the CNS, and skeletal muscle and contributes 60–70% of the extrathyroidal production of T3 (30 nmol).

It isn’t entirely produced because of the liver… but like I said, some conditions can impair production a bit. I think some of these detox cleansing treatments try to get as much fat out of the liver as possible… I am guessing that’s what they’re trying to do. (

It is nearly impossible, though, to clear yourself of a fatty liver with just removing dairy… As it’s not dietary fat itself that causes a fatty liver, but the high blood glucose that gets stored as fat in the midsection… (Here’s a nice blog about it……).

Beware of lots of people claiming that they never drink or have any more dairy, and their whole thyroid problems went away… (Not that this person is claiming that, but I have seen that, even within this group. )


The treatment he wants me to take is Livton. He did explain to me that there may be a problem if my liver is not converting T4 into T3 but I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism last October, and had no symptoms before then (and good test results). So is this something I really need?

Well, if there were to be a problem converting T4 into T3… There would need to be labwork done to see your levels of free T3 and reverse T3, and a change in your Thyroid medication would be needed. T3 needs to be supplemented, just as T4 is. Synthroid is T4 only, but meds such as Armour Thyroid are both T4 and T3. There is no way of curing or improving T3 conversion with a supplement. This supplement seems to support the liver and digestive system… but I don’t know that there’s any research to back that up. It also seems to have a few counterindications that, maybe you may want to research if it could counteract with any conditions you may have:

I would suggest that since this medicine has calcium, to not take it at the same time as your Thyroid medication or it will interfere with it’s absorption. It seems that, in Australia, you can’t even get it without a prescription from a GP. According to these people, though, it seems to do a lot of good things for the liver… and support bile production, and increase the sense of fullness when eating, etc…

If you want to try it, I’d say do so, and from a reputable supplement manufacturer because… how these things are manufactured is another issue, too. Sometimes they put hormones in there, without people knowing, since it’s not regulated by the FDA. Just know that it would never cure T3 or improve T3 production… but it could, perhaps, help the liver stay strong and maintain it’s good health.

“Liver cleanses” or any type of cleanse can be very dangerous. Its far safer to take a milder approach through diet alone and skip the cleanse tablets or liquids or other so called liver remedies that are being marketed by your naturopath or over the internet.

If you want a herb that helps, you could consider milk thistle on its own, but only in very small doses and only for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. You shouldn’t really need it though, as the liver is self cleansing. (click link).

If you happen to have gallstones, liver cleanses can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening, as they can cause stones to be become lodged in the gall ducts, leading to acute pancreatitis. This can be fatal. It killed my aunt a few years ago. She was into liver cleanses, and its probably what caused her untimely death.

I’m not a fan of Dr Weil, (click link for article) but even he says liver cleanses are pretty much a waste of time and money, and a form of quackery.

IF you have fatty liver, there is some recent evidence that fatty liver can be aided by taking more Vitamin E. , (see link) but even this should be approached with caution. I’m using a total of 400 units per day, but I worked my way up to that slowly. It takes time too, but that’s safer than dosing yourself with “cleansing solutions”. You should of course have indisputable proof that you actually have fatty liver first. This can be determined by an ultrasound, which a doctor can order.

If you eat more fresh greens, drink pure water (reverse osmosis water is fairly pure and not too expensive), eat a wholesome diet, and walk in the fresh air, you’ll probably do yourself more good, with far less risk than any type of cleanse. The water is especially important, as it helps your kidneys and liver clear toxins from the body in a natural and safe way. It can also help reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones.

In my experience, cleanses are a crock, including those under supervision of a chiropractor/naturopath/ whatever.

If you want to reduce insulin, then work on only one at a time, under your doctor’s supervision. If your morning blood sugar is too low, reduce your basal insulin, SLOWLY. One unit, every four days until it gets to where it should be. This is best done under supervision of a doctor or diabetic nurse, at your doctor’s orders. If the drops are after meals, then you could try reducing your mealtime insulin, but again, your doctor should be supervising or at least advising you on this. Try to find a doctor you can work with, or at minimum, a diabetes nurse.