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Folic Acid is Hazardous to Your Health

Folic acid gets a lot of press coverage.  There are many reports that folic acid should be taken by pregnant women and may prevent birth defects.  Folic acid has also been claimed to help prevent cardio- and cerebral-vascular diseases.  Yet few reports have mentioned that folic acid is unnatural, folic acid is synthetic, and that the body cannot properly convert much folic acid into a usable folate form.  Furthermore, concerns about folic acid feeding cancer are now a real concern in the 21st Century—too much folic acid may kill you.

“Folic acid is a synthetic folate form” [1] and was not developed until the 20th Century [2].  Folic acid is chemically known as pteroylglutamic acid (PGA) and is a crystalline substance (no food vitamins are naturally crystalline in structure) [2,3].  Folate, once also known as vitamin B9, exists in foods, yet crystalline folic acid does not [1-4].  Folates also differ from folic acid “in the extent of the reduction state of the pteroyl group, the nature of the substituents on the pteridine ring and the number of glutamyl residues attached to the pteroyl group” [1].

An Irish study found that the body has trouble converting more than 266 mcg of folic acid per day [2]. “(C)onsumption of more than 266 mcg of synthetic folic acid (PGA) results in absorption of unreduced PGA, which may interfere with folate metabolism for a period of years” [2].  A 2004 paper from the British Medical Journal confirmed what many natural health professional have known all along: since folic acid is unnatural and the body cannot fully convert large amounts of it into usable folate, this artificial substance can be absorbed and may have unknown negative consequences in the human body [4].  One of the biggest scientific concerns about folic acid is that even in amounts close to official daily recommendations, some of it is absorbed in unreduced form into the bloodstream with potentially dangerous results [2,4].  Also, “(i)n vitro studies do show that PGA derivatives act to inhibit certain enzymes, including those associated with nucleotide biosynthesis” [4].  In spite of this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has required that uncooked cereal grains and flour products be fortified with folic acid [1].

A JAMA study recently concluded that “studies have suggested that folate intake decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases. However…[f]olic acid supplementation has not been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases” [5].  This is because studies using folate (the natural form) show it works, yet folic acid (the synthetic form) does not.  Food folate is clearly superior.

Since food folate is natural and is absorbed through a different pathway than folic acid [2], long-term consumption of folate does not result in an accumulation of a foreign substance in the body, but instead has many benefits. 

Initially, food folate was given for people with a pregnancy-related anemia in the form of autolyzed yeast; later the synthetic form, folic acid, was developed [2].  Folic acid, as it exists in most supplements, is not found in foods, folates are [2].  USDA reports show that broccoli and alfalfa sprouts contain food folate [6,7] and they are considered to be the best food supplement source by some.  Furthermore, “folates are ubiquitous in nature, being present in nearly all natural foods…50 to 95% of folate in food may be destroyed by protracted cooking or other processing” [2].  Yeast, dark green leafy vegetables, and oranges have the highest folate content [1,2].

Folate is an important nutrient for healthy blood; the absence of any of it can trigger various forms of anemia (especially pernicious anemia) [2,8].  Subclinical deficiencies of folate may impair cognitive function [9].  Folate deficiency is the most important determinant in high homocysteine levels [9], and supplemental folate is effective in reducing homocysteine [10,11].  (Homocysteine is highly implicated in vascular diseases such as cardiovascular and other vascular disorders.)  “The major forms of folates found in food are methylTHF and formylTHF” [12]. 

While insufficient folate can result in fatigue, depression, confusion, anemia, reduced immune function, loss of intestinal villi, and an increase in infections [1,2,8], it is not totally clear what dangers long-term consumption of folic acid will cause [2,4].  Certain scientists believe that excessive consumption of folic acid may actually interfere with folate metabolism [2]—this could be expected to worsen conditions that would have otherwise benefited from real food folate.  Furthermore, “(v)ery large amounts of folic acid in its pharmacological oxidized (PGA) form may be noxious to the nervous system…and have provoked seizures in patients otherwise under control on anticonvulsant therapy” [2].

Excessive Folic Acid is Becoming a Health Concern

A 2010 report states, “”The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England…The risk experts worry about most: colon cancer. Last year, health officials in Chile reported that hospitalization rates for colon cancer among men and women age 45 and older more than doubled in their country since fortification was introduced in 2000. In 2007, Joel Mason, MD, director of the Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory at the Tufts University School of Medicine, described a study of the United States and Canada suggesting that rates of colon cancer rose — following years of steady decline — in the late 1990s (around the time our food was being fortified)” [13].

The same report also states, “Other research links high doses to lung and prostate cancers. In one study conducted in Norway, which doesn’t fortify foods, supplementation with 800 mcg of folic acid (plus B12 and B6) daily for more than 3 years raised the risk of developing lung cancer by 21 percent. Another, in which men took either folic acid or a placebo, showed those consuming 1,000 mcg of folic acid daily had more than twice the risk of prostate cancer. And a new worry recently came to light when scientists discovered the liver has limited ability to metabolize folic acid into folate — which means any excess continues circulating in the bloodstream. “Unlike folate, folic acid isn’t found in nature, so we don’t know the effect of the excess,” says Smith. Indeed, many scientists have grown increasingly concerned about mounting research — including a study published last winter in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer” [13].

Even foods “fortified” with folic acid may cause serious neurological problems in patients deficient in vitamin B12 [12].  Furthermore, “no folic acid dose can be considered as truly safe in the presence of untreated cobalamin deficiency” [12].

Laura Bell correctly reported, “We all need the natural folate found in leafy greens, orange juice, and other foods, and diets high in these foods are perfectly healthy; many researchers, though, believe that folic acid may be both friend and foe. When cells in the body are healthy, folate helps shepherd along the normal replication of DNA. But when cells are malignant or in danger of becoming so — and as many as half of adults older than 60 could already have precancerous colon polyps, while most middle-aged men have precancerous cells in their prostates — animal studies suggest excess folate in the form of folic acid may act like gas on the fire… lowering your intake to 400 mcg won’t hurt — and might help save your life” [13].

It is clear that since folic acid is unnatural, is synthetic, is chemically different, is structurally different, and is not absorbed in the same pathways as folate, long-term folic acid consumption may be hazardous to human health.  Folate in foods is what is safe and is the preferred form of folate for human consumption. Excessive folic acid may make cancer worse. And unlike folic acid, humans have been safely consuming food folate for thousands of years. 

I have been warning people against folic acid for many years [3,14].  Now it is becoming clearer and clearer that those warnings should have been heeded by more people.  Everyone should be concerned about taking synthetic/isolated USP vitamins like those containing folic acid.

[1] Hendler SS, Rorvik D, eds.  PDR for Nutritional Supplements.  Medical Economics, Montvale (NJ), 2001
[2] Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M.  Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed.  Williams & Wilkins, Balt., 1999
[3] Thiel R.  Natural vitamins may be superior to synthetic ones.  Med Hypo, 2000;55(6):461-469
[4] Lucock M.  Is folic acid the ultimate functional food component for disease prevention?  BMJ, 2004;328:211-214
[5] Bazzano LA, Reynolds K, Holder KN, He J.  Effect of folic acid supplementation on risk of cardiovascular diseases: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  JAMA. 2006;296(22):2720-2726
[6] Broccoli, raw. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18 (2005)
[7] Alfalfa seeds, sprouted raw.  USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16-1, 2004
[8] Whitney EN, Hamilton EMN.  Understanding Nutrition, 4th ed.  West Publishing, NY, 1987
[9] Gonzalez-Gross M, Marcos A, Pietrzik K.  Nutrition and cognitive impairment in the elderly.  Br J Nutr 2001;86:313-321
[10] Verhoef P.  Homocysteine metabolism and risk of myocardial infarction: Relation with vitamin B6, B12, and Folate.  Am J Epidemiol 1996;143(9):845-859
[11] Brattstrom L.  Vitamins as homocysteine-lowering agents: A mini review.  Presentation at The Experimental Biology 1995 AIN Colloquium, April 13, 1995, Atlanta Georgia
[12] Carmel R.  Folic Acid.  In Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th ed.  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, 2006:470-481
[13] Bell L. Is your breakfast giving you cancer? Research links too much folic acid to certain cancers.  Prevention. March. 29, 2010. 
[14] Thiel R. Is Folic Acid Hazardous to Your Health?  The Original Internist, 2004;11(2):39-40

Above article is expected to be published as Thiel R.  Is Folic Acid is Hazardous to Your Health.  What About Food Folate?  The Original Internist, June 2010.
Some of these studies (or citations) may not conform to peer review standards, therefore, the results are not conclusive.  Professionals can, and often do, come to different conclusions when reviewing scientific data.  None of these statements have been reviewed by the FDA. 

Doctors’ Research, Inc.  ”Nutrition from food, what a concept!”
1248 E. Grand Avenue, Suite A, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420 WEB:   FAX: 1-805-489-0334

Call 1-805-489-7185

For folate supplementation try Vitamin B6, B12 & Folate; Vitamin-Mineral; and Vitamin-Mineral Shake.   

Some of these studies (or citations) may not conform to peer review standards. Therefore, the results are not conclusive. Professionals can, and often do, come to different conclusions when reviewing scientific data. None of these statements have been reviewed by the FDA. All products distributed by Doctors’ Research, Inc. are nutritional and are not intended for the treatment or prevention of any medical condition

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Looking for an Easy Way to Incorporate Nutrition into YOUR Practice?

As a doctor of chiropractic, you have been taught that there is a relationship, a “Chiropractic Connection”, between the spine and other body systems.

The three primary causes of vertebral subluxation complex are physical, chemical, and mental.  Adjustments treat the physical, proper nutrition treats the chemical, and feeling better can help treat the mental.

Now, here are three easy steps to combine Chiropractic with nutrition:

1)   After determining which vertebrae have problems, chiropractically treat as you normally would.

2)   Then, further help your patients by advising nutritional supplements for each problem vertebra.  Look at the Chiro Nutrition Chart™  (this link opens a window).  In general:

3)   Since most people take a synthetic multiple vitamin, it would be better for their health to take 100% Food Vita-Mineral directly from you – so consider recommending this unique 100% Food multi-vitamin.  Since it is 100% Food, Vita-Mineral does not contain toxins and unnatural compounds—is not that the type of product you should recommend?

Now, Inflam-Enzymes is the primary supplement used by many chiropractors.  It can be an excellent choice when inflammation and/or pain are present.  Inflam-Enzymes contains herbs like acerola cherry, bromelain, papain, serrapeptase, plus 100% Food manganese, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C.

Magnesium Complex is a great choice when muscle tightness is involved.  Since it is 100% Food, it is better retained in the muscles and does not cause diarrhea like the commonly-used mineral salt forms of magnesium can.

Advance Joint Complex is the best knee and hip product we know of.  Unlike other formulas, it DOES NOT CONTAIN isolated chondroitin or glucosamine, nor does it contain any mineral salts.   Advance Joint Complex contains herbs, Food minerals, and glandulars which have been shown to be beneficial for joint and connective tissue health (including knees).

Doctors’ Research, Inc.

1248 E. Grand Avenue, Suite A

Arroyo Grande, CA 93420


FAX: 1-805-489-0334         Call 1-805-489-7185

Some of these studies (or citations) may not conform to peer review standards. Therefore, the results are not conclusive. Professionals can, and often do, come to different conclusions when reviewing scientific data. None of these statements have been reviewed by the FDA. All products distributed by Doctors’ Research, Inc. are nutritional and are not intended for the treatment or prevention of any medical condition.

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Biofilm: What is it? Can enzymes or herbs help?

Biofilm: What is it? Can enzymes or herbs help?

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“Microorganisms attach to surfaces and develop biofilms … Biofilms have great importance for public health because of their role in certain infectious diseases and importance in a variety of device-related infections. A greater understanding of biofilm processes should lead to novel, effective control strategies for biofilm control and a resulting improvement in patient management …A biofilm is an assemblage of surface-associated microbial cells that is enclosed in an extracellular polymeric substance matrix … Several studies have shown that treatment of adsorbed cells with proteolytic enzymes caused a marked release of attached bacteria” [1].

“Biofilmaccounts for 65-80 % of microbial infections in humans” [2].

“Candida albicans … cells proliferate in a planktonic (suspension) state, but they also form biofilms, organized and tightly packed communities of cells attached to a solid surface. Biofilmscolonize many niches of the human body and persist on implanted medical devices, where they are a major source of new C. albicans infections” [3].

“Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most important causes of morbidity and health care spending affecting persons of all ages. Bacterial biofilms play an important role in UTIs, responsible for persistent infections leading to recurrences and relapses” [4].

Betagluconase is an enzyme that breaks down beta-glucans, a substance that has been implicated with bacterial caused biofilm plaque [5]. Furthermore, glucanaseand protease, degraded fungal cell walls to clear up biofilm [6].

Bilberry is a plant rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins and polyphenols. “Urease-producing bacteria are known to produce crystalline biofilms and encrustation on catheters” and bilberry is a plant extracted urease-inhibitor, hence can be helpful to deal with biofilm and UTIs [4].

Black Walnut hull “is widely used in traditional medicine for alleviating pain and treating skin diseases” [7]. It has antioxidant properties [7] and has also long been used in traditional medicine as a blood purifier [8] and to treat parasites.

Cellulase is anenzyme that helps break down cellulose. The cell walls of fungi, including Candida, is made of cellulose. Cellulase can “Break down harmful microbial biofilms … In vitrostudies show that the cellulase enzyme can stop the growth and increase the breakdown of biofilms produced by the bacteria Pseudomonas. This may help detoxify the intestinal tract, as well as the body’s major organ systems … Other tests found an improvement in immune function for the patients. Furthermore, when the enzyme supplement was withdrawn, the positive benefits ended” [9].

DPP IV(“DPP 4”) is the acronym for the enzyme Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV. It has been found to inhibit bacterial caused biofilm [10]. DPPIV has gluten-detoxification abilities [11].

Echinacea Echinacea purpurea can help prevent viral and other infections and seems to reduce types of biofilm [9].

Endopeptidase is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks peptide bonds other than terminal ones in a peptide chain. Exopeptidase is any peptidase that catalyzes the cleavage of the terminal (or the penultimate) peptide bond; the process releases a single amino acid or dipeptide from the peptide chain.“A peptidaseis a catalytically active protein that cleaves one or more peptide bonds in a protein or peptide by hydrolysis” [12].

GarlicAllium sativahas antimicrobial properties [9]. Allicin from garlic has been shown to inhibit infectious biofilm [13].

Glucoamylase are inverting exo-acting starch hydrolases/enzymes releasing β-glucose from the non-reducing ends of starch and related substrates. “Glucoamylase, when combined with other enzymes may ease the negative effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) … Studies show that glucoamylase combined with other enzymes can promote a normal autoimmunity response. In the case of autoimmune disorders, antigens, and antibodies, when not cleared out over time, can create tissue damage in the body” [14]. Hence, glucoamylase can help in detoxification.

Goldenseal Hydrastis Canadensiscontains berberine “Berberine has broad-spectrum antibiotic activity … and immune-enhancing properties. … Berberine has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi … Berberine, a constituent of goldenseal, when used to treat urinary tract infections, is known to reduce synthesis of Escherichia colifimbrae, thus preventing adhesion to the bladder lining” [9]. “Berberine has been … found to reduce biofilm [15].

Grapefruit Seed Extract has certain antimicrobial properties [16,17]. It seems to help prevent biofilm when used with other substances [18].

Hemicellulase is an enzyme which “breaks down hemicellulose, which is a type of cellulose and a key component of the cell wall in all plants … Some research suggests that an increase in this enzyme can help prevent and reduce yeast infestations such as Candida. This is perhaps related to the fact that the cell wall of candida is composed of hemicellulose” [19].

Lysozyme is an enzymecatalyzes the breakdown of some carbohydrates found in the cell walls of certain bacteria that can reduce biofilm [20]. Lysozyme has been shown to inhibit Candida biofilm [21].

Milk Thistle Silybin marianum “has been shown to have a positive hepatoprotective effect in the treatment of liver cirrhosis associated with alcohol or viruses” [9]. Silymarin (a constituent of Milk Thistle) seems to have inhibitory effects on bacterial biofilm [22].

Pectinase is an enzymethat breaks down pectin, a polysaccharide found in plant cell walls. It also helps inhibit bacterial biofilm [23].

Proteolytic enzymeslike various peptidases and proteases have been shown to reduce bacterial [e.g.24] and fungal biofilm [e.g. 1,3].

Serrapeptase Serratia pepitase is a proteolytic enzyme. Its use as a biofilm buster has been speculated for Lyme disease [25]. It has also been claimed to reduce toxins associated with Alzheimer’s disease [26].

Shiitake MushroomCang Er Zi has positive immune-enhancing [27] and anti biofilm properties [28].

 Wild OreganoOrganum vulgare has “antibacterial and antifungal activity” as well as antiparasitic effects [9]. Its constituent carvacral has antibiofilm effects against pathogens such as Escherichia coli [29].

Naturopathic philosophy teaches that one is susceptible to infection if one there is an accumulation of toxins that the body does not eliminate which makes an environment that infections can thrive in [30-32]. Biofilms are such an environment.

Even those not interested in natural health realize that biofilm is a major cause of infectious disease.

Herbs and enzymes are “novel approaches’ that more health care professionals may wish to try.


[1] Donlan RM. Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces. Emerg Infect Dis. 2002 Sep; 8(9): 881–89
[2] Aynapudi J, et al. Involvement of signal peptidase I in Streptococcus sanguinis biofilm formation. Microbiology. 2017 Sep;163(9):1306-1318
[3] Winter MB, et al. Global Identification of Biofilm-Specific Proteolysis in Candida albicans. MBio. 2016 Sep 13;7(5). pii: e01514-16
[4] Delcaru C, et al. Microbial Biofilms in Urinary Tract Infections and Prostatitis: Etiology, Pathogenicity, and Combating strategies. Pathogens. 2016 Dec; 5(4): 65

[5] Honma K, Ruscitto A, Sharma A. β-glucanase activity of the oral bacterium Tannerella forsythia contributes to the growth of a partner species, Fusobacterium nucleatum, in co-biofilms. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Oct 27. pii: AEM.01759-17

[6] Ni M, et al. Identification and comprehensive evaluation of a novel biocontrol agent Bacillus atrophaeus JZB120050. J Environ Sci Health B. 2018 Sep 10:1-9

[7] Meshkini A1, Tahmasbi M. Antiplatelet Aggregation Activity of Walnut Hull Extract via Suppression of Reactive Oxygen Species Generation and Caspase Activation. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2017 Jun;10(3):193-203
[8] Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenick C, eds. PDR for Herbal Medicine, 4thedition. Thomson, 2007

[9] Group E. The Health Benefits of Cellulase. Global Healing Center, June 19, 2018

[10] De A, et al. Antidiabetic “gliptins” affect biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans. Microbiol Res. 2018 Apr;209:79-85

[11] Ehren J, et al. A food-grade enzyme preparation with modest gluten detoxification properties. PLoS One. 2009 Jul 21;4(7):e6313

[12] RawlingsND, Barrett AJ. Peptidases. Wiley ELS, Published online: July 2014

[13] Ranjbar-Omid M, et al. Allicin from garlic inhibits the biofilm formation and urease activity of Proteus mirabilis in vitro. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2015 May;362(9)pii: fnv049

[14] Group E. The Health Benefits of Glucoamylase. Global Healing Center, June 19, 2018
[15] da Silva AR, et al. Berberine Antifungal Activity in Fluconazole-Resistant Pathogenic Yeasts: Action Mechanism Evaluated by Flow Cytometry and Biofilm Growth Inhibition in Candida spp. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2016 May 23;60(6):3551-7
[16] Kanmani P1, Rhim JW. Antimicrobial and physical-mechanical properties of agar-based films incorporated with grapefruit seed extract. Carbohydr Polym. 2014 Feb 15;102:708-1

[17] Choi JS, et al. Antibacterial effect of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) on Makgeolli-brewing microorganisms and its application in the preservation of fresh Makgeolli. J Food Sci. 2014 Jun;79(6):M1159-67

[18] Kim JH, Hong WS, Oh SW. Effect of layer-by-layer antimicrobial edible coating of alginate and chitosan with grapefruit seed extract for shelf-life extension of shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) stored at 4 °C. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec;120(Pt B):1468-1473

[19] Group E. The Health Benefits of Hemicellulase. Global Healing Center, October 5, 2015

[20] Hou Y, et al. Lysozyme Associated Liposomal Gentamicin Inhibits Bacteria. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Apr 9;18(4). pii: E784

[21] Sebaa S, Hizette N, Boucherit-Otmani Z, Courtois P. Dose‑dependent effect of lysozyme upon Candida albicans biofilm. Mol Med Rep. 2017 Mar;15(3):1135-1142

[22] Vimberg V, et al. Hydnocarpin-Type Flavonolignans: Semisynthesis and Inhibitory Effects on Staphylococcus aureus Biofilm Formation. J Nat Prod. 2015 Aug 28;78(8):2095-103

[23] Villa F, Secundo F, Polo A, Cappitelli F. Immobilized Hydrolytic Enzymes Exhibit Antibiofilm Activity Against Escherichia coli at Sub-Lethal Concentrations. Curr Microbiol. 2015 Jul;71(1):106-14

[24] Shukla SK, Rao TS. Staphylococcus aureus biofilm removal by targeting biofilm-associated extracellular proteins. Indian J Med Res. 2017 Jul;146(Supplement):S1-S8

[25] Lacout A. Biofilms busters to improve the detection of Borrelia using PCR. Med Hypotheses. 2018 Mar;112:4-6

[26] Fadl NN, Ahmed HH, Booles HF, Sayed AH. Serrapeptase and nattokinase intervention for relieving Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology in rat model. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2013 Jul;32(7):721-35

[27] Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014 Feb;2(2):14

[28] Papetti A, et al. Components in Lentinus edodes mushroom with anti-biofilm activity directed against bacteria involved in caries and gingivitis. Food Funct. 2018 Jun 20;9(6):3489-3499

[29] Lee JH, Kim YG, Lee J. Carvacrol-rich oregano oil and thymol-rich thyme red oil inhibit biofilm formation and the virulence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. J Appl Microbiol. 2017 Dec;123(6):1420-1428

[30] Tilden JK. Toxemia Explained. Life Science Institute reprint. Written circa 1926

[31] Cordingley EW. Principles and Practices of Naturopathy. Health Research reprint. Written 1924

[32] Thiel R. Naturopathy for the 21stCentury. Whitman Books, 2011.

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