As we continue to figure out next steps for the garden after the Napa fires, it makes me think of the many toxic exposures we all face every day. In the past few decades, perhaps one of the most ubiquitous and dangerous chemicals we can encounter is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other weed-killing products.
Although industry and many government regulators say that Roundup is safe for humans because it affects a biosynthetic pathway (called the Shikimate pathway) that humans don’t have, they fail to mention that the all important bacteria that normally reside in our gut do use this pathway in their normal growth and development. This makes Roundup perhaps one of the most harmful substances for the development of a healthy gut flora. The consequences are enormous, as Roundup has become the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in the history of the world, A study published last year in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe shows that 1.8 million tons of glyphosate have been used in the U.S. since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields.
Here is what one researcher had to say about the toxicity of Roundup:
“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest herbicides …. Despite its reputation Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested."*
My fellow speaker at many Weston A. Price Foundation conferences, Stephanie Seneff, Ph.d, a senior researcher at MIT, has devoted years to researching the presence and toxicity of glyphosate. She has written papers that show conclusively the presence of glyphosate in virtually all non-organically grown foods, gelatin (used in vitamin and other supplement capsules) and even in common vaccines such as the MMR (2.90 ppb) and Zostavax (0.42 ppb).*
In a recent talk she gave on the relationship between neurodevelopmental problems and glyphosate exposure, she referenced a paper that describes simple interventions (besides eating only organically grown foods) that reduce urinary levels of glyphosate. These include the regular consumption of charcoal, bentonite clay, sauerkraut juice, dandelion leaves and burdock root. Charcoal and bentonite clay bind toxins, and sauerkraut and burdock provide nutrients to help the liver detoxify.
It's a relief to discover that we have some ability, through dietary and supplement choices, to protect ourselves from the pervasiveness of this chemical. I eat sauerkraut every day, and whenever I find organic dandelion greens at the farmers market, I buy them. For more than a year now, I have made the habit of putting a small scoop of our organically grown Burdock Root Powder in my morning soup. The taste is mild (it absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients in the soup), but any help I can get or we can offer people to protect them from glyphosate seems like a good idea.
Burdock root isn’t widely available in stores or even farmers markets, so we’re gratified to be able to provide an easy way to access and use this powerfully nutritious root. A teaspoon a day of our Burdock Root Powder, in addition to one or more of the other suggested foods or supplements, would be a great start to protecting your gut and strengthening your liver.
On another note, we will keep you updated on the garden as we get more information and as we develop our strategy to recover from this devastating fire.
Tom Cowan, M.D.