Glyphosphate is the active ingredient found in the pesticide roundup. It is considered broad spectrum and non-toxic to humans (Williams, 2000). Recently, that assertion has come into question with a recent paper indicating glyphosphate may be implicated in Celiac, Autism, obesity, neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infertility, cancer and depression (Samsel, 2013). Specifically, the authors found glyphosphate suppresses 5-enolpyr-uvylshikimic acid-3-phosphate synthase (EPSP), which is the rate-limiting step for aromatic amino acids in the shikimate pathway of bacteria, plants and archaea. Glyphosphate appears to disrupt gut bacteria in mammals and allow a pathogenic overgrowth to occur. Also, glyphosphate may cause chelation of minerals like cobalt and iron plus suppress cytochrome P450 enzymes. Glyphosphates link with gluten intolerance appears to stem from its affects on the digestive system. Fish exposed with glyphosphate showed tremendous stress on their digestive systems and specifically the activity of amylase, proteases and lipases were inhibited in the esophagus, stomach and intestines (Senapati et al., 2009).
It was also shown “disruption of mucosal folds and disarray of microvilli structure” in the intestinal wall with exaggerated secretions of mucin throughout the gastro intestinal tract. These perturbations mimic the features of Celiac disease. Gliadin peptides are hydrophobic and resistant to degradation via gastric, pancreatic and intestine proteases (Hershko & Patz, 2008). Therefore, it appears that glyphosphates affect on the fish may inhibit normal protein breakdown and digestion in the stomach resulting in large fragments of wheat peptides in the GIT which may trigger an autoimmune disease (Samsel & Seneff, 2013). These defects to the lining of the fish’s small intestine are strongly reminiscent of Celiac disease patient’s small intestines. It has been noted that Glyphosphate usage has dramatically risen in the United States and this is in line with the burgeoning of CD and gluten intolerance (see link for diagram in scientific study – pg. 2). Gut bacteria have long been suspected in the origin of CD and NCGS. Glyphophate has been linked to inducing pathogenic bacteria growth in the gut causing the break down of tight junctions in enterocytes lining the small intestines (Samsel & Seneff, 2013). Animal models have shown overgrowth of the small bowel and subsequent inflammatory bowel disease. Pathogenic bacteria seem to activate a signaling molecule called zonulin inducing the normal tight barriers between small intestinal enterocytes to become “leaky”, or semi-permeable (Fasano, 2011). Reports have indicated between 30-65% of celiacs continue to experience gastrointestinal distress after the adoption of a gluten free diet as a result of abnormal bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (Tursi et al., 2003). Figure 3 indicates a connection between incidence of intestinal infections and the application of glyphosphate to corn and soy. Interestingly, those suffering from gluten intolerance are told to consume gluten free grains like soy and corn as a substitute for wheat, potentially continuing their exposure to glyphosphate and dysbiosis! CD is correlated to lower levels of Enterococcus, Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus with concurrent elevations in gram-negative bacteria (Bacteroides, Staphylococcus, Salmonella and Shigella) [Sanz et al., 2011]. These pathogenic bacteria have been shown in gluten intolerant patients to secrete the toxic chemicals p-Cresol and phenol, which are implicated in GIT cancer and degeneration of the central nervous system (Kelly et al., 1994). Fortunately for those diagnosed with gluten intolerance it appears specific strains of probiotics may improve symptoms and allow the GIT to heal (Smecuol et al., 2013). Probiotics with Bifidobacteria suppress pro-inflammatory mediators triggered through the interaction of gluten and the immune system (Medina et al., 2008). It appears that these beneficial bacteria are killed off by glyphosphate with an overabundance of C. difficile. Since Bifidobacteria and Lactobaciili decrease the inflammatory effects of gluten (Lindfors et al., 2008) and their presence allow some patient to tolerate low levels of gluten it would seem prudent to investigate this connection further. Although these probiotics are available for consumption most CD and NCGS patients do not understand the need to re-establish their normal, healthy GIT. I propose a double blind cross over trial with NCGS patients where they are exposed to gluten from either glyphosphate treated wheat varieties or organic and then given probiotics to establish the hypothesis of glyphosphate instigates gluten intolerance. Although it is unlikely this kind of study will occur due to cost those suffering from gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease should consider adding cultured foods or probiotics into their daily regime. If dramatic resolution of symptoms is not seen consider that many food sensitivities may co-exist with wheat intolerance, bacterial overgrowths plus nutrient deficiencies such as B12 and iron!
Contact a local functional medicine doctor who is experienced with working with gluten intolerance and they should be able to help your health soar again!
Ian really knows A LOT about thyroid problems! His knowledge and confidence convinced me to make the lifestyle changes -including no gluten, no sugar, and more exercise-that are essential to healing hormonal imbalances and to staying well. Several months later, I feel stronger, more energetic, and am happier than I have felt in a long time. Many thanks for all your help!
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