The detoxification enzyme systems

Altern Med Rev. 1998 Jun;3(3):187-98.


The human body is exposed to a wide array of xenobiotics in one s lifetime, from food components to environmental toxins to pharmaceuticals, and has developed complex enzymatic mechanisms to detoxify these substances. These mechanisms exhibit significant individual variability, and are affected by environment, lifestyle, and genetic influences. The scientific literature suggests an association between impaired detoxification and certain diseases, including cancer, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue/immune dysfunction syndrome. Data regarding these hepatic detoxification enzyme systems and the body s mechanisms of regulating them suggests the ability to efficiently detoxify and remove xenobiotics can affect these and other chronic disease processes. This article reviews the myriad detoxification enzyme systems, their regulatory mechanisms, and the dietary, lifestyle, and genetic factors influencing their activities, as well as laboratory tests available to assess their functioning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic*
  • Intestines / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacokinetics*


  • Enzymes
  • Xenobiotics