What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate, also known chemically as N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine is a broad-spectrum systemic pesticide/herbicide and crop desiccant. It belongs to the organophosphorus family of compounds.
It was developed and discovered by Monsanto in 1970 1 and brought to market in 1974 under the trade-name Roundup. It is used to kill weeds that compete with crops. The crops that it is sprayed on include sugar, corn, soy and wheat, among others.
Figure 1. RoundUp(R)
More than 130 countries permit the extensive use of glyphosate which makes it the most widely used herbicide in the world today. Twenty percent of the worlds Roundup is used in the United States. Latest statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate that 280 million pounds were used in 2012 which is equivalent to about one pound per American.
Estimated Annual Agricultural Glyphosate Use in the United States for 2014 (Preliminary) (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Glyphosate as a Cause of Many Chronic Health Problems
There are a number of studies demonstrating that glyphosate exposure to humans (and all mammals) can cause serious chronic health problems. Exposure to glyphosate can include:
- absorption through the skin
- eating foods treated with glyphosate
- drinking water contaminated with glyphosate
Glyphosate exposure usually manifests slowly over time and results in obvious dysfunctions in biological systems.
- acts as an antibiotic (glyphosate was in fact patented as an antibiotic)
- chelates important minerals (iron, cobalt, manganese; glyphosate was in fact patented as a mineral chelator)
- decimates the microflora and its ability to produce essential amino acids like tryptophan that converts to serotonin
- disrupts the microbiome in the intestine, by disrupting the shikimate pathway, causing a decrease in the ratio of beneficial to harmful bacteria
- inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes
- disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport
- impairs methylation pathways
- interferes with synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, which leads to shortages in neurotransmitters and folate
- inhibition of pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone
- toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines 4
Glyphosate exposure has also been associated with the development of various cancers. The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer published a summary in March 2015 that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen in humans. 5 The possible cancers linked to glyphosate exposure include:
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- pancreatic islet-cell adenoma
- renal tubule carcinoma
- skin tumors
Determining Glyphosate Levels in Your Body by Glyphosate Testing
If you think you have been exposed to glyphosate it is probably a good idea to test the levels of glyphosate in your body. Levels of glyphosate in humans is done through a urine test. 6 There are a number of laboratories that are currently testing for glyphosate. These labs include:
Great Plains Laboratory
Great Plains Labs has developed tests that help determine a patient’s exposure to glyphosate.
Glyphosate is now commonly combined with the weed killer 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), testing for this chemical with the GPL-TOX test may wish to be considered also.
Health Research Institute
Health Research Institute’s test for glyphosate is the most sensitive and most affordable screen for glyphosate available in North America. It also screens for AMPA, a metabolite of glyphosate, at no extra cost. This is important because it is necessary to take both glyphosate and AMPA into account to more fully assess exposure to glyphosate.
Detoxifying Your Body from Glyphosate Exposure
There are a number of different studies that claim that glyphosate accumulates in the bones, intestine, spleen, liver, muscle and kidney.
If a urine test is positive for glyphosate exposure, then the first stage of detoxification is to follow these guidelines:
- avoid using Roundup and other similar products
- avoid consumption of GMO foods which are directly contaminated with glyphosate
- avoid animal products such as milk or meat for which GMO foods were used to feed the animals
- eat organic foods as much as possible
- avoid living in areas where glyphosate is applied
Specific proactive behaviors can also be implemented, as follows:
- use infrared sauna for sweating out toxins
- consume probiotic foods and probiotic supplements to repopulate the microbiota which glyphosate destroys
- eat organic foods rich in sulfur and manganese
Researchers have investigated specifically how to the detoxify glyphosate from the human body. Although there are not many of these studies to date, more interest is being dedicated to finding natural substances that may detoxify glyphosate.
A combination of natural substances have been studied for reducing the activity of glyphosate in the gastrointestinal tract. These natural substances act as binders or neutralizers that could be a solution to remove the glyphosate contamination.
A study published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology found that the oral application of certain natural substances were able effectively reduce urinary levels of glyphosate. 7 The researchers used a combination of the following substances:
- fulvic acids
- humic acids
- activated charcoal
- bentonite clay
- sauerkraut juice
The study used Schleswig Holstein cows suffering from symptoms of chronic botulism. They were fed sequentially with 400 g/animal charcoal daily for 4 weeks (weeks 1-4 of the study), 200 g/ animal charcoal (weeks 5-10 of the study), 200 g charcoal and 500 ml Sauerkraut juice/animal (weeks 11-14 of the study), 120 g/animal humic acids (weeks 15-18 of the study) 200 g charcoal and 100 mL Aquahumin/animal (weeks 19- 20 the of study), or 100 g charcoal and 50 mL Aquahumin (weeks 21-22 of the study) followed by 4 weeks without any supplementation.
There was a significant reduction of glyphosate in urine following supplementation with a combination of 200g charcoal plus either 500 mL sauerkraut juice or humic acid.
They concluded that a charcoal-sauerkraut juice combination and humic acids reduced glyphosate excretion by urine and led to the improved health of animals. 8
Another study from January 2011 published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology tested the common pathways of intoxication and detoxification in human embryonic and liver cell lines. The authors used various pollutants such as Roundup residues, Bisphenol-A and Atrazine, and five precise medicinal plant extracts called Circ1, Dig1, Dig2, Sp1, and Uro1 in order to understand whether specific molecular actions took place or not.
The analysis of underlying mechanisms revealed that plant extracts were not capable of preventing radiolabelled glyphosate from entering cells; however Dig2 did restore the CYP1A2 activity disrupted by Roundup, and had only a mild preventive effect on the CYP3A4, and no effect on the glutathione S-transferase. 9
Dig2 is a plant extract formula that is manufactured by Sevene Pharma Company. Dig2 consists of the following plant extracts:
- Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion)
- Rhamnus frangula (Alder buckthorn)
- Raphanus sativus (Radish)
- Carduus marianus (Silybum marianum; milk thistle)
An interesting study from October 2010 published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Technology investigated the mechanism of action of liver cells exposed to glyphosate and possible protection by precise medicinal plant extracts called Dig1. 10
Glyphosate, in the form of the Monsanto product Roundup, is able to provoke intracellular disruption in hepatic (liver) cell lines at different levels, but a mixture of specific medicinal plant extracts can protect to some extent human cell lines against this toxin. The researchers tested the ability of a new natural substance formula called Dig1 to protect cells from glyphosate intoxication.
Dig1 contains the following plant extracts:
- Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion)
- Arctium lappa (Burdock root)
- Berberis vulgaris (Barberry; the active ingredient in barberry is berberine)
- Chelidonium majus (Greater celandine)
Dig1 is a mixture of diluted plant extracts obtained by Sevene Pharma (Monoblet, France) and were chosen by the researchers for their digestive detoxification or hepato-protective effects. Sevene Pharma markets Dig1 under the brand name Digeodren.
Dig1, non cytotoxic and not inducing caspases by itself, is able to prevent Roundup-induced cell death in a time-dependant manner with an important efficiency of up to 89%, within 48 hours. In addition, the researchers evidenced that it prevents Caspases 3/7 activation and CYP3A4 enhancement, and not GST reduction, but in turn it slightly inhibited CYP2C9 when added before Roundup. 11
Dig1 was also used in a study published in July 2016 the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In this study, written by most of the same authors of the October 2010 study, they tested the in vivo effects of Dig1 prior to and during 8 days of glyphosate intoxication in a total of 4 groups of 40 adult Sprague-Dawley male rats each. After treatments, horizontal and vertical locomotor activities of the animals were measured. 12
Dig1 did not have any physiological or biochemical observable impact alone at 2%. Out of a total of 29 measured parameters, 8 were significantly affected by R absorption within only 8 days. On these 8 parameters, only 2 were not restored by D (GGT activity and plasmatic phosphate), 5 were totally restored (horizontal and vertical locomotor activities, CYP2D6 activity, plasmatic Na + and estradiol), and the 6th was almost restored (plasmatic K+).
Dig1, without any side effects observable in these conditions, presented strong preventive and therapeutic properties in vivo after a short-term intoxication by the widely used pesticide Roundup.
Based on the scientific studies to-date, there are a number of natural substances that have shown positive results in detoxifying and reducing the toxic effects of glyphosate exposure. Foods Probiotic foods and supplements Minerals Charcoal and Clay Herbs
Based on the scientific studies to-date, there are a number of natural substances that have shown positive results in detoxifying and reducing the toxic effects of glyphosate exposure.
Probiotic foods and supplements
Charcoal and Clay
The Health Dangers of Roundup (glyphosate) Herbicide. Jeffrey Smith & Stephanie Seneff
Stephanie Seneff, PhD on Glyphosate (RoundUp) Poisoning
Understanding Glyphosate: Presence in Foods and Potential for Influence on Human Health