Glyphosate: Trying to Roundup where Your Toxicity is Coming From

Welcome back to the GPL Blog.  This month we’ve discussed the analytes that have been added to GPL-TOX since it launched last year, and we’ve discussed the nine new analytes that we’ve added just this month.   This week I want to discuss another test you can add onto GPL-TOX and that is our Glyphosate Test.  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup© (there is some controversy on this, but glyphosate tracks with all of the other ingredients).   Roundup© is the most widely used herbicide on the planet (1).   The most recent numbers indicate that over 180 million pounds of it were used in the US in 2007 (followed by Atrazine, one of our new analytes).   

The Great Plains Laboratory Glyphosate Test can be performed on the same urine sample from an Organic Acid Test (OAT) or GPL-TOX. To simplify this process and because we think these tests work well together, we have packaged them into our Enviro-TOX panel, which provides all three tests at a discount. 

So why is measuring glyphosate important?  First of all, there are data indicating that glyphosate is tied to a number of chronic medical conditions (I will expand of this point later).  Second, not everyone has high glyphosate.  Now, I’m not saying that not everyone is contaminated with glyphosate, because I have not seen one patient with an immeasurable amount, but this is t just evidence of how sensitive our test is.  The lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) for our test is 0.38 μg/g of creatinine, so we have a very sensitive test.  Here is an example of our report (Figure 1).

Figure 1

What you will notice from this report is the amount of glyphosate found normalized to creatinine, and then three values.  We have the LLOQ, the 75th percentile, and the 95th percentile.  These percentiles were produced from our own studies, but I have received confirmation from several other scientists that these values seem correct.  If your value is in the 75th percentile this means that 75 out of 100 people would have a value lower than yours.  I generally tell patients that they may want to start a detoxification regimen if their value is higher than 1.8 μg/g creatinine (the 75th percentile). 

Why is testing for glyphosate important?  A recent scientific paper listed Roundup© as one of the most toxic herbicides or insecticides tested (2).  Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, cancer, depression, fatigue, gluten sensitivity, inflammation and Parkinson’s (3,4).  The causes for these disorders have been linked to glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria, metal chelation, and P450 inactivation (5, 6).   

Glyphosate works by inhibiting the synthesis of tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine in plants. This pathway (called the shikimate pathway) is also how bacteria, algae, and fungi produce the same amino acids. This pathway is not present in humans. So, manufactures of glypohsate claim this compound is “non-toxic” to humans. Evidence is showing that there are human consequences to the wide spread use of this product. The first should be obvious. Humans need to obtain these amino acids from food sources. When food sources have scarce amounts of these amino acids, due to glyphosate use , humans are at risk for deficiency too. Humans also require bacteria to maintain a healthy immune system. Research indicates that glyphosate decreases the amount of good bacteria in the gut such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and allows for the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as campylobacter and C. difficile (7).  Our lab actually has observed this in patients.  We had a female patient who was suffering from depression who did a Glyphosate Test and an OAT.  Here glyphosate results where 2.99 (figure 2), which was over the 95th percentile.

Figure 2

Upon analyzing her OAT we noticed two things.  The first was that her 4-cresol was extremely high (Figure 3).  As I mentioned above, glyphosate exposure decreases the good bacteria and allows C. difficile to invade.

Figure 3

C. difficile produces a toxin called 4-cresol, which we measure in the OAT.  Research has shown that 4-cresol inhibits dopamine beta-hydroxylase (8).  Dopamine beta-hydroxylase converts dopamine to norepinephrine.  In the OAT we measure both homovanillic acid (dopamine metabolite) and vanilymandelic acid (norepinephrine metabolite).  We have observed patients with a high 4-cresol value have elevated homovanillic acid, which indicates an inability to convert dopamine to norepinephrine. The results from our patient mentioned above were consistent with these results (Figure 4). The recommendations for this patient were to treat her glyphosate exposure and to treat her C. difficile infection.   

Figure 4

These results are indicative of why using the OAT and Glyphosate Test together is so valuable.  I hope this information was helpful and that our testing helps you find the best treatment for you or your patients.

Email if you have any questions about this blog post.


2. Mesnage R et al. (2014) Biomed Res Int.  2014:  179691
3. Samsel A and Seneff S. (2013).  Interdiscip Toxicol.  6:  159-184.
4. Samel A and Seneff S. (2015).  Surg Neurol Int.  6:  45. 
5. ShehataAA et al. (2013) Curr. Microbiol.  66:  350-358. 
6. Larsen K. et al. (2014) Int J Toxicol.  33:  307-318. 
7. Clair E. et al. (2012) Curr Microbiol.  64:  486-491. 
8. DeWolf WE jr. (1988)  Biochemistry.  27:  9093-9101.