IC and Bladder Pain Syndrome
In my clinical nutrition practice, I have come to really appreciate the role oxalates play in Bladder Pain Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis. There are different viewpoints in the health community that debate the contribution that comes from dietary sources vs. the endogenous production. Most of the literature I have read indicate about 30-40% is dietary. The remainder of the oxalates are endogenously produced. Regardless of that exact numerical value, the general consensus is that following a low oxalate diet is important for healing from IC and Bladder Pain (and any of the comorbidities that come along with it).
Regardless, I have recently been doing some work on understanding the endogenous piece. I feel many of my patients struggle with this most. I have been able to see this time and time again, when I have patients who follow a low oxalate diet for a few months and report no improvement in their symptoms. I think these patients are dealing with a more global issue with endogenous oxalate production.
In this recent Youtube video, I discuss how oxidative stress can promote endogenous oxalate production.
Glyphosate Herbicide and Oxalate
Another recent finding, I came across is glyphosate and oxalate. I read the book Toxic Legacy by Stephanie Seneff cover to cover on a trip in the airplane which was incredibly eye opening. It is loaded with all the science, and if you are literate in medical terminology and advanced biochemistry, I strongly recommend you read it. I will try to summarize the findings here as it applies to bladder pain, glyphosate and oxalates.
Also, Elliot Overturn does a great job describing this link as well in this video.
The chemical name for it is N-phosphonomethylglycine. Stick around, you are going to be shocked about the information about this commonly used herbicide.
What is glyphosate herbicide?
It is most well known as Round up, an herbicide that is used to the foods we eat. These include foods such as GMP corn, corn, soy, wheat, canola, sugar cane, tobacco and many genetically modified plants. It is also used as a desiccant to dry out crops before they are harvested. It is sprayed on cereals, grains, barley, rice, sorghum, wheat, legumes, lentils, corn, oilseed such as canola, linseed, rapeseed, safflower, soy, potato, sugarcane, sunflower.
Glyphosate herbicide residues are found in foods we consume on a regular basis. These include bagels, breads, breakfast cereals, eggs, coffee creamer (and yes that includes organic ones!) and organic free-range eggs. Glyphosate is found in strawberries, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, lentils, rice, cereal-based foods, wheat flour, wheat, barley, bran, and oats. Basically, glyphosate is ubiquitous in our food supply.
In humans, glyphosate herbicide was in 99.6% of the studies in 2009. High levels are found in children between ages 0 and 9, and adolescents between 10 and 19 years of age. It is found to be highest in people who are raised on farms. Meat eaters who eat conventional meats have higher levels of glyphosate contamination than vegans and vegetarians. Lower levels are found in people eating organic diets vs. conventional diets.
Glyphosate herbicide is also sprayed on grains as the feed for the animals we consume, so the animals accumulate this as well. In a study of 30 dairy cows in 8 Danish farms, glyphosate was found in urine of all of them, as well as very low levels of manganese. GMO-free cows seem to have less glyphosate. Glyphosate is found in cow’s intestine, liver, muscles, spleen, lung and kidney. When these animals are fed conventional grains, they accumulate glyphosate in their bodies.
Glyphosate and your Minerals
Let’s talk about glyphosate herbicide and your minerals. I have seen manganese imbalances when I run HTMA testing as well as some urine testing that we use in our clinic. Glyphosate herbicide is a potent chelator of manganese. In fact, glyphosate herbicide can impair absorption of other minerals such as iron, potassium, and manganese. These are the top deficiencies I see in my clinical testing. In an article published in 2007, there was some alarming information that they were sharing to agricultural professionals.
What About Glyphosate-Induced
“Through its active chelation of specific mineral elements, glyphosate inhibits vital physiological functions to cause death of susceptible plants and microorganisms. Many commercial crop plants have been genetically modified to partially compensate for the physiological disruption caused by glyphosate so that they tolerate the chemical”. (Huber, 2007, The Fluid Journal)
“Although glyphosate resistance in genetically modified corn and soybeans reduces the efficiency of manganese (Mn) uptake and physiological efficiency 10 to 50 percent, depending on the genetic nutrient uptake efficiency of the particular transformed variety or hybrid, other physiological effects of glyphosate (reduced uptake and translocation of Fe, K, and Mn, physiological immobilization of Mn, reduced root nodulation and N-fixation, drought stress, early maturity, and disease increase) may go largely unnoticed in commercial practice without a near-isogenic comparison available. Glyphosate tolerant (Roundup Ready®) crops required the application of almost 50 percent more Mn to meet their physiological sufficiency than conventional soybean varieties” (Huber, 2007, The Fluid Journal)
Let me translate this. Glyphosate reduces the uptake of your minerals, such as manganese, iron and potassium. These deficiencies have serious implications in your health!
“Glyphosate-induced Mn deficiency can compromise plant resistance mechanisms mediated through the shikimate pathway so that diseases such as take-all, Fusarium head scab and root rot, Corynesporium root rot, and numerous other diseases increase after glyphosate is applied for weed control. Our research the past 15 years has been directed at developing strategies to ameliorate the deleterious effects of glyphosate on nutrient efficiency and disease susceptibility that will optimize its benefit as an herbicide” (Huber, 2007, The Fluid Journal)
If glyphosate manganese deficiency can cause disease in plants, don’t you think it can do the same in all living things? Including humans?
Glyphosate Herbicide Degradation
If living being such as animals and humans can urinate it, how are we degrading it in the first place? Evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicide can be degraded by microbes.
It can be catabolized to AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) and glyoxylate. The enzymes involved in this degradation include oxidoreductase and glycine oxidase. This is very important information, because glyoxylate can convert to oxalate.
Glyoxylate is a highly reactive aldehyde that is readily catalyzed by various dehydrogenases and oxidases, including lactate dehydrogenase. These enzymes convert it to oxalate. Oxalate then must be eliminated with the urine,and tends to precipitate as tissue damaging calcium oxalate.
Various microorganisms can degrade glyphosate herbicide as well. Some of them are soil-based probiotics. Some of these are actually available over the counter, and it is one of the first line therapy I use with all my patients.
- Bacillus cereus
- Bacillus subtillis
- Bacillus coagulans
- Achromobacter sp K6 16
- Ochrobactrum anthropic GPL3
- Moganella Morganii
- Corynebacterium kutseri
What this means is that probiotics and supporting good gut health are beneficial in our protection of both glyphosate and also oxalates.
Glyphosate and your Microbiome
Glyphosate can have detrimental effects on your gut microbiome. This is because glyphosate targets the gut bacteria and inhibits the EPSP synthase (shikimate pathway), a way bacteria produce aromatic amino acids. his is how it renders plants and bacteria dysfunctional. When this occurs, we can see an overgrowth of Clostridia and Salmonella, and a decrease in Lactobacillus, which are sensitive to glyphosate. This can have serious implications in your bladder health!
We can actually measure these in stool testing. I often seen significant imbalances when I run stool testing with my patients. The glyphosate can be then eliminated via urine, and we can measure this.
Glyphosate and Sulfur metabolism
Interesting, glyphosate can also alter sulfur homeostasis, and create a functional deficiency of sulfur in the body. This is yet another way that glyphosate herbicide can contribute to hyperoxaluria (elevated oxalates). I will not spend too much time on this at this point, except I want to mention that sulfur and oxalates exchange places. Sulfur can protect you from absorbing too much oxalate. So clearly, a sulfur deficiency induced by glyphosate herbicide could make you even more susceptible to oxalate poisoning.
Glyphosate and Metabolic Function
Glyphosate herbicide can alter your metabolic function. Studies on mice demonstrate that there was significant elevation of AMPA and glyoxylate in liver of mice. This can cause metabolic dysfunction related to deposition of liver fat and elevated triglycerides.
High intake of glyphosate can convert this to glyoxylate in the liver. So, although the probiotics are important to help you break down the glyoxylate, it is important that you reduce your exposure to it and make sure you are supporting your liver health as well. Good liver health is important so that it can continue to help you remove it out of your body. Those with lifestyle related liver dysfunction, such as alcohol or non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease, will have the most difficulty with proper detoxification of glyphosate.
I should mention that glyoxylate can be neutralized via B6 and B1 dependent enzymes. Glyoxylate can also impair lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), another B1 dependent enzyme in your blood sugar metabolism. Often, I see patients with pretty significant dysregulation in their blood sugar, such as reactive hypoglycemia, low blood sugar and chronic fatigue and low energy. When I run nutrition testing like the Nutreval, I see multiple disruptions in pathways that involve these critical nutrient cofactors in these pathways. I would propose oxalate is playing a big role with depletions of these nutrients.
High intake of glyphosate herbicide can tax vitamin B6 causing it to be depleted. This makes in unavailable to transaminase your amino acids and proteins, making it less available for your blood sugar and energy pathways, and also to be lss available for your detox pathways like the sulfation and glutathione pathways.
Who has the highest risk factor?
- People living too close to agricultural land (spraying, farming)
- People drinking contaminated water supply
- Patients with dysbiosis
- People eating a conventional diet, especially conventional meat.
What testing can you do?
- You can test using a urinary glyphosate test.
- You can also test pathway based nutrient deficiencies, detox pathways, oxalates, amino acids and fatty acids using the Nutreval.
- You can measure the mineral disruption using both an HTMA and 24-hour iodine loading test. Iodine is a very important mineral in not only your detox pathways, but also for removing excessive histamine from the body.
- . I often like to pair them up with a mycotoxin test, which I am finding is yet another strong association with bladder pain syndrome and IC.
I can run these tests and more in my clinic. Working with a knowledgeable practitioner like myself is key to optimize your pathways and use medical nutrition therapy to reduce your toxic burden.
You can learn more about me and the testing that I do here.