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Glyphosate: What it is, how it works, and what it’s really doing to your body

by Dr. David Minkoff August 30, 2018 9 min read 0 Comments

Glyphosate: What it is, how it works, and what it’s really doing to your body


“Of the 1000 or so people I tested, 100% of them tested positive for glyphosate”

-Dr. David Minkoff

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of the herbicide RoundUp, iseverywhere.

It is in our soil. It is in our water. It is in our food.

In the wake of the landmark $289 million lawsuit ruling that glyphosate gave a man cancer, we are just beginning to get a glimpse of what may be the single greatest health crisis of our time.

However, to fully understand the health implications of glyphosate, we need to start with the basics.

We need to look at why it is such a potent herbicide so we can clearly see how it affects our own biology.


What is Glyphosate

Glyphosate is essentially a variation on the amino acid glycine.

Its name is derived from its structure. The “Gly” comes from “glycine” and the “phosate” comes from an extra “phosphonomethyl” group that gets attached on to the end.

BodyHealth - Glycine vs. Glyphosate - Why Glyphosate is so dangerous in our bodiesGlycine is the smallest, simplest amino acid.

This matters because amino acids are the building blocks of all protein.

And protein is just about everything in biology.

Your muscles are protein, so is all your connective tissue, and your cellular structures, digestive enzymes, detoxification enzymes, smooth muscle, organs, cellular receptors, and the bonds between cells that keep toxins and pathogens out.

Your cells are little protein factories, and quality control is far from perfect. Sometimes the wrong amino acid gets put in the wrong place. Usually when this happens, the protein misfolds and gets marked for destruction.

Glyphosate looks like an amino acid, so cells use it like an amino acid. It’s called a “glycine-glyphosate substitution.”

It gets incorporated into proteins. According to Monsanto’s unpublished internal studies released through the Freedom of Information Act, mammals metabolize glyphosate and incorporate into their proteins [1].

The problem is because glyphosate is so similar to glycine, the protein doesn’t misfold, therefore is not discarded into the cellular garbage can.

To your cell, the glyphosate proteinlooks fine…  it just doesn’t function properly.


How the World’s Most Powerful Weed Killer Works

Glyphosate’s weed-killing action is entirely due to the disruption of a single enzyme.

Just one.

All the millions and millions of gallons of RoundUpflooding the world every single year are all to stop one enzyme: 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate synthase, or EPSP-Synthase.

This enzyme is essential to a plant’s survival.

It is the critical link in a biochemical process that creates the “aromatic amino acids” (amino acids with a ring attached): phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. [2]

Every plant dies without the ability to make these 3 critical amino acids.


How Monsanto Can Claim RoundUp is “Safe”

What’s interesting about these 3 amino acids, is that humans can’t make them. We call them “essential amino acids,” meaning we have to get them from our diet––mostly from plants.

Therefore Monsanto claims that because humans don’t have this particular enzyme, glyphosate is safe for use.

But there is one glaring problem here:

Humans are made of amino acids. The same glycine-glyphosate substitution happens in our bodies.

But before we get into details of how this is a problem, let’s look a little deeper at how glyphosate works.


Why does glyphosate affect the EPSP-S enzyme?

Enzymes work by creating an “active site” that catalyzes a chemical reaction

For EPSP-Synthase the active site is a small “pocket” created by glycine. Glycine’s small size makes the space for the biochemical magic to happen.

However, if a cell accidentally uses a glyphosate molecule instead of glycine, that extra “phosate” group fills up the pocket and blocks the active site.

Without an active site, the reaction cannot happen. It’s like someone changing the lock on your door; the key just won’t fit.

When this happens to the EPSP-Synthase enzyme, the plant (or bacteria or fungi) cannot make the amino acids it needs to function and the organism dies [2].

This raises a new question:  if cells really use glyphosate like glycine, wouldn't we see it in other places also?

Wouldn’t it cause more problems in other areas associated with glycine?

The anwer points to some of the most mysterious and tragic epidemics of our time. 

J-E-L-L-Uh Oh...

Giant Agribusinesses spray millions of pounds of RoundUp on corn and soy intended for livestock.

The glyphosate in the feed accumulates in the animal tissue and bones.

This same connective tissue is used to makegelatin, a key ingredient in processed foods, cream cheese, frosting, non-dairy creamer, baked goods, candy, cosmetics, gelcaps of capsules, “low fat” food products, and even “health products” like conventional bone broth and glucosamine.

Glyphosate contamination goes far beyond agriculture.


Glyphosate, Collagen and Chronic Pain

Collagen contains the highest concentration of glycine of any protein: nearly 35% glycine by weight.

And what do we see with glyphosate?

Again, Monsanto’s internal studies reveal glyphosate accumulates the most in connective tissue and bones [1].

Collagen is the single most abundant protein in our body. It makes the fascia between your internal organs, makes your skin supple, protects your joints, and forms your ligaments.

Its structure forms a tight, springy helix, which holds water as a cushion.

When glyphosate is substituted for glycine, the structure loses its shape. The elasticity and strength become compromised. The joints lose their cushion.

This is very likely to create chronic joint pain––one of the core drivers of the opioid epidemic in the U.S. [4]

Collagen is also a critical player in gut issues, including inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. If collagen is malformed, gut function is also likely to be disrupted [3].


Microbiome Dysbiosis

A healthy gut is a thriving ecosystem of trillions of bacteria. These bacteria perform thousands of critical functions for your health. Everything from digesting food to making neurotransmitters, to keeping pathogens in check and regulating your immune system.

And many of these bacteria have the exact same enzyme as plants: EPSP-Synthase.

Glyphosate kills these beneficial bacteria the same way it kills plants.

Once these bacteria die off, the delicate balance of the microbiome is disrupted and pathogens like candida andsalmonella begin to take over [5].

Once the microbiome is out of balance, immunity, brain function, and energy levels are all compromised.


Glyphopho-Food and Food Allergies

Much like EPSP-Synthase, certain digestive enzymes also have glycine in a critical site for their action.

This includes a digestive enzyme calledtrypsin, which has a special structure called a “glycine hinge.”

Trypsin helps break down large globular proteins like casein in milk and gluten in wheat.

When trypsin malfunctions, these proteins pass into the lower digestive tract undigested, where they cause intestinal inflammation. [6] This leads to the release of a compound called zonulin. Zonulin breaks down the tight junction between intestinal cells––normally a strong barrier between the digestive tract and the rest of your body.

Not only is zonulin released, but a new study showed that glyphosate itself breaks down the tight junctions of the intestinal wall [7].

This breakdown is also known as “leaky gut.”

Leaky gut, in turn, leads to a systemic immune response that can create a confusing variety of symptoms. Some of them include food allergies, autoimmune conditions,and many other health problems.


Gut Peristalsis and Myosin Sabotage

Myosin is the movement protein.

It is at the core of muscle contraction and is essential forgut peristalsis.This is the slow, automatic contractions of the gut that move food and waste through the digestive tract.

And glycine sits at a very important location in this protein.

One study demonstrated if glycine is substituted with the amino acid alanine, myosin stops working [8]. They also found that if only 2% of myosin proteins in a muscle fiber are altered with alanine, the muscle fiber loses 50% of it’s contracting capacity.

If glyphosate made the same substitution, the peristalsis would be severely compromised, resulting in constipation and further dysbiosis symptoms, potentially including SIBO.


The Autism Connection

Many of the issues described above are often present in autistic children. [9]

50-80% of autistic individuals have a “paralyzed gut.” The normal mechanisms of peristalsis simply don’t function.

It is also common for them to experience muscle wasting: their muscles don’t work.

Both of these are functions of myosin.

Also, their gut flora often lack many of the most beneficial bacteria strains, especially bifididiumstrains.

Many leading researchers, including MIT researcher Dr. Stephanie Seneff, now point to glyphosate as the common connection between dysfunctional myosin, gut paralysis, microbiome dysbiosis, autism and other cognitive impairments [10].


Impaired Detox and Digestion

Another class of enzymes that depend on glycine are called CYP enzymes, also known as cytochrome P 450 enzymes [12]. These enzymes are mostly present in the liver where they help the body breakdown toxins and harmful chemicals.

Glyphosate inhibits CYP [13].

Losing function of these enzymes amplifies effects of other environmental toxins. The long term negative effects of impaired detox range from obesity to cancer to autoimmunity to neurodegenerative disease [12,13]


The Tip of the Iceberg

This is only the beginning. If we look for other potential health issues with glycine-dependent proteins, glyphosate may be implicated in the massive increase in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune conditions, infertility, and cancer.

Glyphosate is the most used pesticide in the history of the world. Agribusinesses and farmers sprayed 300 million pounds of RoundUp in 2016 alone. Over 8.6 billion pounds worldwide since it was introduced in 1974––nearly 75% of that in just the last 10 years.

The bioaccumulation in our food supply, in our soil, in our water, is pervasive.

Looking for more answers?

Read this in depth article here >>


What can you do?

The effects of glyphosate take time to show, but are immensely toxic. And this chemical iseverywhere, including inside your body.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

The best option is prevention by avoiding exposure as much as possible. Here are 4 steps you can take to minimize your exposure to glyphosate:

  1. Eat only organic fruits, and vegetables.Because RoundUp uses special chemicals called “surfactants” to help glyphosate penetrate the plant’s cell wall, you cannot wash glyphosate off of conventionally grown produce. The glyphosate isinside the food. The only way to avoid it is to not eat it.
  2. Avoid all inorganic wheat and sugar products. RoundUp is used as an artificial “ripener” on wheat and sugar crops. A dying plant uses its last resources to ripen it’s seeds in hopes of procreating. Agribusinesses noticed this and now use RoundUp as the finishing touch on ALL wheat and sugar. Again, the glyphosate is incorporated into the plant. It is not washed off or processed away. The only way to protect yourself is to not consume it.
  3. Eat only organic grass fed meat. Glyphosate drenches the corn and soy fed to factory farm animals. This means all inorganic meat is contaminated with glyphosate. All of it. If you eat meat, the only way to protect yourself is to buy meat that has been fed an organic grass diet.

  4. Avoid processed foods made with gelatin. Animal gelatin is one of the most common additives to processed foods, especially anything gummy or “reduced fat.” Gelatin is derived from collagen and bone tissue, which is guaranteed to be contaminated with glyphosate. 

Glyphosate is already in our bodies. It’s unavoidable. To help mitigate the toxic effects here are 4 proactive steps you can take to detoxify and protect itself:

  1. Fasting and Intermittent Fasting activates cellular cleansing processes that can clear out accumulated garbage like misfolded, dysfunctional proteins resulting from glyphosate substitution. 
  2. Sauna also triggers cellular cleansing processes as well as inducing the activation of a protein called Hsp72, which helps untangle and sort out misfolded proteins and help your body find potential cancerous cells. 
  3. Detox Supplements boost your body’s ability to handle extra toxic load. Milk thistle, dandelion root, and chicory are detoxifying herbs. BodyHealth’s Body Detox is also an exceptionally potent detox product created by a collaboration between BodyHealth founder Dr. Minkoff and a brilliant biochemist.

  4. Healthy Protein and Amino Acids give your body the resources it needs to rebuild itself and replace dysfunctional, toxic proteins. Your entire detox system works on amino acids. Glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant, is made from amino acids. BodyHealth’s PerfectAmino is a complete, balanced essential amino acid formula designed for 99% utilization. This means everything you take goes right to building the happy, healthy protein you need to stay strong, healthy, and free from the effects of glyphosate toxicity. 


  1. Ridley, W.P. & Mirly, K. The metabolism of glyphosate in Sprague   Dawley rats. Part I. Excretion and tissue distribution of glyphosate and its metabolites following intravenous and oral administration (unpublished study MSL-7215  conducted by Monsanto’s Environmental Health Laboratory and submitted to the EPA July 1988)(MRID#407671-01) (1988)
  7. Protective effects of lignite extract supplement on intestinal barrier function in glyphosate-mediated tight junction injury, JJ Gildea, DA Roberts, Z Bush - J Cin Nutr Diet, 2017
    Dr. David Minkoff
    Dr. David Minkoff

    Dr. Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then worked as an attending physician in infectious disease, co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine until 1995. In 1997, his interest in alternative and complementary medicine led him to open LifeWorks Wellness Center, which has become one of the foremost alternative medicine clinics in the U.S. His search to find a source of the highest quality nutritional supplements led him to establish BodyHealth in 2000, a resource that could provide doctors with the best possible supplementation and education for their patients. Today, the BodyHealth products are used by hundreds of practitioners and individual consumers who seek all-natural wellness and detoxification supplements with a demonstrated high level of quality and effectiveness. In addition to their use by patients looking to heal disease, the BodyHealth products are also used by sports enthusiasts interested in achieving and maintaining optimal performance. As a 42-time Ironman triathlon finisher, (including 8 appearances at the Ironman World Championships) Dr. Minkoff has first-hand experience to help athletes achieve optimum conditioning. His expertise in protein synthesis, detoxification, and nutrition allow them to run, swim, and bike faster and longer. Today, Dr. Minkoff is an alternative healthcare expert, guest lecturer, writer, tv and radio show guest. He also authors two weekly newsletters, the BodyHealth Fitness Newsletter and the Optimum Health Report.

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