Glyphosate is a common herbicide used to kill specific plants, weeds, and grass, but how does it impact health? Here’s what you need to know about glyphosate and how to limit your exposure.
Glyphosate has rapidly become one of agriculture’s most used herbicides. Since this compound is highly soluble, it quickly absorbs into the ground when used on crops, yet it contaminates the soil and groundwater in the process . Unfortunately, this contamination also negatively impacts the quality of our air, drinking water, and even organic foods, which can then affect digestive and neurological health and possibly increasing cancer risks [2,3]. So, what can be done to avoid exposure to glyphosate, and how can we rid it from the body? Before covering some ways to reduce your exposure, let’s first understand what glyphosate is and how we are affected by it.
What is glyphosate?
Glyphosate is an herbicide that is used to kill specific plants, weeds and grasses. It was first used as a herbicide in the 1970s, and since has rapidly grown into one of the most common ones used today .
Glyphosate’s impact on the body
Studies indicate that glyphosate may affect reproduction in animals, and cause neurotoxicity and an unbalanced microbiome (which is important for digestion, immune health, and more) in humans [1,3,7]. Let’s break each of these down a bit more to understand what science has to say about this compound.
- Neurological health. Research suggests that exposure to high levels of glyphosate can cause a breakdown of the blood brain barrier, which is a protective layer surrounding the brain and protecting it from toxic substances . When this is broken down, it’s possible to develop neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, stroke, and epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Microbiome. Glyphosate is known for disrupting the shikimate pathway, which can be found in the microbiome . When this pathway is exposed to glyphosate, the microbiome becomes unbalanced, which may lead to digestive issues, a compromised immune system, and the development of an autoimmune disease, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis .
9 ways to reduce your glyphosate exposure
Although exposure to glyphosate can not be completely avoided, you can limit it by implementing new habits. Here are 9 ways to reduce your glyphosate exposure.
- Eat organic food.
- Drink filtered water.
- Wash and peel your fruits and vegetables (especially if they aren’t organic).
- Start your own garden.
- Use detox binders such as fulvic/humic acid or chlorella to bind to the toxins in the gut and help remove them through stool .
- Choose more antioxidant-rich foods to help inhibit the formation of free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
- Try sauna therapy.
- Eat more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kefir to help populate the gut with good bacteria .
- Choose grasses native to your specific area to cut back on maintenance and herbicides .
Glyphosate has rapidly become one of the most used herbicides, even though research suggests it has a negative impact on health. This exposure affects our neurological health and microbiome, which can cause negative health issues along the way. Although glyphosate exposure cannot necessarily be completely avoided, it can be greatly reduced by carefully choosing organic food, gardening, trying sauna therapy, and filtering the water you drink.
Special thanks to Grace Curtis, our summer intern, for her contributions to this blog!
For other health and wellness content, check out these other blogs:
- AJ;, Martinez A;Al-Ahmad. “Effects of Glyphosate and Aminomethylphosphonic Acid on an ISOGENEIC Model of the Human Blood-Brain Barrier.” Toxicology Letters, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Dec. 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30605748/.
- Henderson, A. M.; Gervais, J. A.; Luukinen, B.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D.; Cross, A.; Jenkins, J. 2010. Glyphosate General Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html.
- Hamilton, Dr. Debby. “The Health Impact of Glyphosate and How to Detoxify.” Researched Nutritionals, 4 Jan. 2022, https://www.researchednutritionals.com/the-health-impact-of-glyphosate-and-how-to-detoxify/.
- Morr, Madeline. “Imbalanced Microbiome Related to Symptoms of Pain and Mood.” Clinical Advisor, 25 June 2019, https://www.clinicaladvisor.com/home/meeting-coverage/aanp-2019-annual-meeting/imbalanced-microbiome-related-to-symptoms-of-pain-and-mood/.
- Summer, Simi, et al. “Glyphosate Blues.” WholeFoods Magazine, 7 May 2018, https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/blog/glyphosate-blues/.
- “Ten Tips for Avoiding Glyphosate Exposure and Why.” MADE SAFE, 18 Dec. 2020, https://www.madesafe.org/10-tips-for-avoiding-glyphosate-exposure-why/.
- Jarrell ZR, Ahammad MU, Benson AP. Glyphosate-based herbicide formulations and reproductive toxicity in animals. Vet Anim Sci. 2020;10:100126. Published 2020 Jun 24. doi:10.1016/j.vas.2020.100126