Glyphosate: A Root Cause of Chronic Inflammation?
By Zach Bush, MD
The weed killer Glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp®, was first patented and introduced by Monsanto for agricultural use in 1974. Later, it was marketed to consumers as a household herbicide. It is also sprayed in staggering quantities on most commercially-grown staple crops, including wheat, corn, soybeans, beets, cotton, canola, and alfalfa. Since last year, when the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen," there has been a lot of media coverage on the potential health risks associated with the use of this herbicide.
Glyphosate as a Desiccant
What many people do not know is that since 1992, glyphosate has been widely used as a "ripening agent" or desiccant on wheat and many other grains. This application stresses or kills the plants, which accelerates drying and speeds the ripening of the grain immediately before harvest.
Safer than Salt? Not!
In 1996, New York's attorney general sued Monsanto over the company's use of "false and misleading advertising" about RoundUp®. That case resulted in Monsanto agreeing to stop calling Roundup "biodegradable" and to pull ads claiming that Roundup was "safer than table salt", "practically nontoxic", and "stayed where you put it".
According to a recent report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization's France-based cancer research arm, Glyphosate was "classified as probably carcinogenic to humans". The state of California has also moved to classify the herbicide as a probable carcinogen. A growing body of research is documenting the detrimental effect of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor.
Glyphosate is dumped on us at the rate of 300 million pounds per year, almost one pound for every person in the US, according to an article in Newsweek. Estimates are that 75% of rainwater is contaminated by glyphosate, as reported by EcoWatch. The US Geological Service reports that more than 88,000 tons of glyphosate was used in the US in 2007, which is an enormous increase from the 11,000 tons used in 1992. Since the advent of "super weeds," the use of glyphosate has risen significantly. Reuters reported that researchers found glyphosate residue in an astounding 41 out of 69 honey samples, 10 out of 28 samples of soy sauce, 3 out of 18 breast milk samples, and 6 out of 40 infant formula samples.
In the intestines, glyphosate is a profound zonulin stimulator. It damages the epithelial tight-junction tissue on contact, weakening the barriers that protect us on the inside from the barrage of other environmental toxins that we are exposed to. Injury to the tight-junction membrane in the gut can lead to intestinal permeability—also known as "leaky gut".
The zonulin production initiated by glyphosate exposure quickly becomes systemic; injury to the tight-junction membrane in the brain can result in a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and a host of neurological symptoms. With the collapse of the tight-junction firewalls, toxins leak out through the gut wall, the immune system breaks down, and the toxins can attack every organ in the body.
Just behind that microscopically thin layer of protection of the endothelial cells that separate you from the outside world is the gastrointestinal lymphatic tissue (GALT). The GALT is a layer of immune cells that are vigilantly standing guard to address any breach in your firewall. It is estimated that 60%-70% of the immune system and more than 80% of antibodies that the immune system produces originate in the GALT.
The acute inflammatory response becomes chronic inflammation as the system is overwhelmed with toxins from the outside world. The gliadin protein in gluten also stimulates release of zonulin. William Davis, MD, author of Wheat Belly, claims that, "When gliadin triggers zonulin release, intestinal tight junctions are disrupted, and unwanted proteins…gain entry to the bloodstream. Immune-activating lymphocytes, such as T-cells, are then triggered to begin an inflammatory process against various 'self' proteins, thus initiating…conditions such as celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases, and asthma."
Glyphosate & GMOs
Genetically-engineered or geneticallymodified organisms (GMOs) are live organisms whose genetic components have been artificially manipulated through creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and even viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
In the US, 88% of the corn crop, 93% of the soybean crop, 90% of sugar beets (accounting for 54% of US sugar production), and 94% of cotton are genetically-engineered to be able to survive the application of glyphosate. Consequently, they can be sprayed heavily with glyphosate to control weeds and simplify harvest.
How to Best Avoid Glyphosate
Here are some recommendations I give to my patients for avoiding exposure to glyphosate:
• Eat as low on the food chain as possible: This is good advice for a number of reasons; avoiding glyphosate is a big one!
• Obviously, avoid all GMO foods: including processed and packaged foods containing non-organic corn, soybean, and sugar in all their myriad varieties. Organic means non-GMO. There are many non-organic packaged foods now bearing the non-GMO certification.
• Choose vinegar as a home weed killer: Don't use RoundUp®!
Restoring Tight-Junction Integrity
To counterbalance the consequences of glyphosate, Biomic Sciences has developed a product called Restore™, a liquid mineral supplement that supports tight-junction integrity. This scientifically-proven, plant-derived mineral supplement was designed to provide support and protection to the intestinal walls. We have been conducting a number of interesting studies on the effects of glyphosate. One of them, which will be published later this year in a peer-reviewed journal, shows that glyphosate and the gliadin protein found in gluten appear to have a synergistic negative effect.
Previously, our team had been thinking glyphosate had the same effect on epithelial tissue as gliadin, only more severe. It now appears that the combination of gliadin and glyphosate does much more damage than either one alone. Our lab results have shown that the synergy between gluten and glyphosate decrease the efficacy of the tight-junction barrier by an additional 52% versus either gluten or glyphosate alone.
Restore is a new generation, earthderived supplement that promotes an optimal gut environment. It is not a probiotic or a prebiotic; rather, it is a carbon-rich, alkaline liquid, with lignite derived trace organics and essential trace amino acids. Prebiotics also provide support to the injured gut, but they do not work directly on the "tightjunctions" in the gut wall that lead to leaking toxins. Restore™ actually strengthens the protective wall in the gut lining to ensure that damaging toxins do not leak through and harm the immune system. Restore has great potential to improve tight-junction integrity and has produced medicallysignificant outcomes. Restore™ your gut and digestive health with Biomic Sciences!
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Samsel A, Seneff S. Entropy. 2013: 15(4): 1416-1463.