Roundup Linked to Depression, Alzheimer's, Autism

Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Roundup Linked to Depression, Alzheimer's, Autism
We have been discussing new findings with Roundup in the recent articles, Chemical Soup: Pesticide Adjuvants and Low Chemical Exposures Proving Dangerous and Gluten Intolerance, Gut Problems Linked with Roundup Toxicity. This article focuses on the next major finding of a critical trace mineral terribly disrupted with erratic function in the body linked with Roundup. Researchers found stunning discoveries that links many modern epidemic diseases stemming from manganese deficiency induced by plants treated with Roundup and animals fed GMO Roundup-Ready feed. Simultaneously, they found manganese excess can occur as a result of damage to detoxification enzymes and genes from Roundup exposure.

The entire study is quite lengthy. For those who are students on this topic, I encourage you to read the 42 page study and review the 328 references provided. The effects are staggering across the planet and in-depth with multiple different tissues and organs of all ages and species affected. A brief synopsis follows.

Roundup is the number one herbicide used on the planet since 2001. It is used on core food crops especially the GMO Roundup Ready corn, soy, canola, cotton, alfalfa, and sugar beets. There is an increasing rate of herbicide application, because weeds among the genetically engineered crops are developing resistance to Roundup. This would be similar to what we have been experiencing with the development of antibiotics and the superbugs that are now resistant to antibiotics, but on a much grander, global scale.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, disrupts the trace mineral manganese in the body causing low levels in the blood and sometimes high levels of it in the liver and brainstem if the liver is too toxic. Glyphosate creates a “dysbiosis” of manganese in the body. Manganese is a necessary catalyst for the shikimate pathway. This pathway is found in plants but also our gut bacteria. Our bodies depend on this gut bacteria pathway to supply us with the amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, methionine, and glycine. Serotonin, melatonin, melanin, epinephrine, dopamine, thyroid hormone, folate, coenzyme Q10, vitamin K and vitamin E depend on this pathway too. Glyphosate’s act of binding onto manganese ends up causing the shikamate pathway to be impaired which then leads to a disruption of each these elements. The end result is a domino effect on neurotransmitter, brain, gut, thyroid, bone, energy, skin, and detoxification functions.

The Role of Manganese

Manganese itself plays fundamental roles with antioxidant protections, thyroid health, bone and joint development and health, sperm motility, glutamine synthesis, impaired glucose tolerance, altered carbohydrate, fat and cholesterol metabolism, and impaired growth. It is pivotal in a number of physiological processes connecting with or activating essential enzymes and enzyme pathways.

A few years ago in Australia, dairy farmers were struggling with high levels of stillborn calves for two seasons. All of the dead calves were found to be manganese deficient. Sixty-three percent of the newborn calves were born with birth defects due to manganese deficiency. This occurred with several different farms. An investigation took place and after ruling out many possible causes, the culprit was chased back to the feed the dairy cattle were consuming, i.e. Roundup-Ready feed. The severe dietary insufficiency of manganese caused the abnormal bone and joint structure and severe birth defects.

Autism and Alzheimer’s

The authors of this extensive article found a remarkable correlation with autism and Alzheimer’s disease as the increased disease trend correlates amazing well with the increase used of glyphosate on corn and soybean crops in the U.S. They are quick to point out that correlation of statistics does not necessarily mean causation. They are also quick to point out that manganese deficiency is linked to impaired mitochondrial function.

Manganese is necessary for one of the most important antioxidant pathways known as manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). MnSOD is the principal antioxidant enzyme in the mitochondria. When mitochondria make energy/ATP they produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and are highly vulnerable to free radical damage. Impaired MnSOD protects mitochondria from damage by dampening ROS. When mitochondria are damaged from lack of MnSOD, then the risk for many things occurs including neurodegeneration in the young and old, i.e. autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Excess glutamate and ammonia in the brain that leads to the pathology presentation of autism and Alzheimer’s disease occur too as a result of the compromised manganese function. There are additional subsequent effects on nutrients like folate that are essential to prevent homocysteine from building up in the brain that leads to excitotoxicity or more inflammation in the brain.

Excess glutamate and ammonia in general can lead to trouble focusing, brain fog, brain fatigue, poor memory, sleep problems, and feeling irritated. Excess glutamate is also linked with anxiety and depression. Functional medicine tests can evaluate these metabolites. Your practitioner can help you determine what test is most appropriate.

Manganese deficiency is a predictable cause of poor thyroid function. Animal studies showed that expecting mothers who had low thyroid function and low manganese levels had a much higher risk of autism in the offspring. This does not prove that manganese depletion induced by gut disruption causes low thyroid which then leads to the development of autism, but the explanation is plausible. The authors recommend further research and exploration.

Gut Bacteria Determine Anxiety, Depression, and Chronic Pain

The researchers found a correlation with anxiety and glyphosate exposure and traced it back to how gut bacteria are directly impacted. The gut bacteria, Lactobacillus use manganese to protect itself from oxidative stress, which leads to few numbers of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Research shows that the gut flora communicates to the brain, influencing brain function and our behavior. When gut bacteria become imbalanced from insufficient beneficial bacteria, germ overgrowth (bacteria, fungal, etc.) or the use of antibiotics, it can have a powerful negative impact on the regulation of anxiety, mood, mental function, and even pain.

Animal studies also showed that glyphosate exposure causes a release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-a, which activates microglial cells in the brain. The microglial cells then lead to more inflammation and oxidative stress. The end result is high levels of glutamate in the brain which perpetuates the cycle of brain inflammation leading to mood, cognitive, and pain problems.

Dysfunction of the microbiome-brain-gut axis has been implicated in depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, and even affects early programming and how one responds to acute and chronic stress later in life. This programming and maturation affects not only the brain, but also the immune system and endocrine systems.

So, not only are there fewer numbers of beneficial Lactobacillus, higher levels of glutamate and oxidative stress, and possible heightened stress responses hard-wired into the brain from the lack of manganese, the effects are found on another neurotransmitter in the brain. One of the things that Lactobacillus rhamnosus provides the body is the production of GABA. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Without adequate GABA, there are many consequences like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, behavioral disorders, irritability, panic attacks, poor stress tolerance, trouble relaxing, heart palpitations, using cigarettes, medications, food or alcohol to relax, feeling stiff, sweaty clammy hands, trembling, shaky or jumpy and chronic pain.

Type 1 and 2 Diabetes

Animal studies show that animals with manganese deficient diets had one-third less insulin within their pancreas compared to controls. Glucose use within adipose tissue was also compromised leading to impaired glucose metabolism. The increase in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is occurring around the world at alarming rates. The authors of the large study analyzed the percentage of use glyphosate on corn and soybean crops, the percent of Roundup Ready GMO corn and soybean, and the rates of diabetes from 1980 to present. There is a very strong correlation with the increase incidence of diabetes in the U.S. with glyphosate use on corn and soybeans. Other research also shows that gut microbiota is significantly altered in type 1 diabetic children. The beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were significantly reduced, while high levels of Clostridium and Salmonella were present.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones affect approximately 1 in 11 people in the United States; this is a marked increase from nearly 20 years ago. There is evidence that the increased incidence of kidney stones (calcium oxalate crystals) is related to the gut bacteria disruption and imbalanced manganese. Gut bacteria deficient in both manganese and magnesium interferes with an enzyme that breaks down oxalate. Glyphosate interferes with both of these minerals. Obesity and diabetes were strongly associated with the history of kidney stones. Obesity and diabetes are both perpetuated with disrupted gut flora and insulin resistance. It certainly is a complex web that is being teased apart.

Other Disorders

There are several other disorders that were mentioned in this article linked with manganese disruption. These include infertility problems, hyper- and hypothyroidism, increased problems with food poisoning from Salmonella resistant bacteria strains, mitochondria problems, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, asthma, heavy metal toxicity, inflammatory bowel disease and colitis, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, arthritis, and even prion disease. Even concerns with ocean life and collapse of coral reefs are feared related to the environmental pervasive use of Roundup.

Manganese: To Supplement or Not?

While it may seem that a simple solution is to simply take in more manganese after reading information that shows links with low manganese and several disorders. This is not always the case. There can be a double-edge sword that occurs with manganese balance in the body in part due to how glyphosate affects the liver and detoxification pathways.

The authors pointed out that manganese can accumulate in the liver and in the brainstem when the body is out of balance with detoxification. This occurs when liver function is impaired leading to difficulty with transporting bile acids. Glyphosate exposure leads to accumulation of bile acids within the liver, because it stresses the cytochrome P450 enzyme detoxification pathways in the liver. Defects in several cytochrome P450 enzymes and genes, specifically CYP7A1, can cause cholesterol, bile acids, and manganese to accumulate in the liver. When the body does take in manganese, it is not able to be used as it normally would, thus increases the risk of build-up in the liver and brain. Manganese accumulation in the brainstem has been linked with Parkinson’s disease. Just like we have seen with several other disorders, Parkinson’s increase clearly correlates with glyphosate use. However, both too much and too little manganese have been both found in Parkinson’s disease patients. Liver impairment, excess glutamate gene expressions and more play a role in which direction things may turn. It’s not a complete black and white response with much yet to be learned.

To address this risk, the authors focused on the presence of beneficial bacteria within the gut to help with bile acid homeostasis and detoxification. We also know that d-limonene can help with bile acid stagnation and detoxification. Dietary spices like curcumin, red pepper, fenugreek, garlic, and onion have been shown to help prevent gall stones by improving gallbladder, bile acid, and cholesterol function.

So, what do we do?

The exposures to Roundup and glyphosate are throughout the world. Removing the harmful exposures from the food and environment needs to be a priority. Talk to your congressperson and demand action. On a more personal level, it is absolutely imperative for us all to restore our gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria as supplements and with fermented foods. Tackling any of the issues individually will be helpful, like reducing glutamate, ammonia, oxalate sources, inflammation, and improving GABA, and protecting mitochondria, etc. can certainly help fight the fire induced by Roundup formulations and glyphosate.

Restoring bile acids acid function and supporting detoxification should also be at the top of the list. Research in human cell lines found that dandelion extract, burdock root, and barberry, could in part help prevent damaging intracellular effects and to some degree restore function specifically against Roundup and glyphosate. The researchers found that prevention and protection early on was critical for reducing devastating consequences. The herbs mentioned were able to prevent Roundup induced cell death in a time-dependent manner with protection efficiency up to 89 percent within 48 hours of exposure. Thus, avoid and protect early on to avoid the long-term disruption. Ben Franklin didn’t have to deal with Roundup in his day, but his advice is still appropriate today. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure!

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