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In this episode, you will learn about sulfur dysregulation and "The Devil in the Garlic".
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My guest for this episode is Dr. Greg Nigh. Greg Nigh, ND, LAc is a primary care physician, naturopathic oncologist, and acupuncturist. He is a 2001 graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine where he completed both the Naturopathic Doctor (ND) program and the Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) program. He is an avid researcher and has published several peer-reviewed papers covering sulfur metabolism, glyphosate, cancer, and other topics. He has been a prominent voice within the naturopathic profession. He has spoken at dozens of conferences, both nationally and internationally, on topics as diverse as hypnosis in clinical practice, cancer cell metabolism, naturopathic treatment of strokes, the use of therapeutic diets in the clinical setting, and much else. He has spoken at the Conference on the Physics, Chemistry, and Biology of Water which takes place annually in Europe, where he has educated researchers from around the world about the unique role of sulfur in the maintenance of water structure in the body. In addition to his work with cancer patients, he also works extensively with Lyme disease, mold toxicity, and related illnesses, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal symptoms including inflammatory bowel disease, and many other challenging conditions. He has received additional training in both environmental medicine and heavy metal testing and IV chelation therapies. He creates comprehensive detoxification and rebalancing programs related to all these conditions, utilizing one of the widest ranges of therapeutic modalities available. He is in practice at Immersion Health in Portland, Oregon.
- - What is the cast of characters of sulfur dysregulation?
- - What symptoms might be experienced with sulfur dysregulation?
- - Can testing be helpful when exploring sulfur imbalance?
- - What are common incoming sources of sulfur in the diet that may need to be restricted?
- - Is a vegetarian diet a better option for those with sulfur issues?
- - What is the connection between sulfur and GI conditions like SIBO, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and leaky gut?
- - What role does sulfation play in detoxification?
- - Does sulfur dysregulation lead to chronic infections?
- - Is there a connection between sulfate deficiency and connection tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
- - Is sulfate deficiency contributing to hypercoagulation?
- - Do SNPs in CBS and SUOX correlate to those with sulfur issues?
- - What is the connection between glyphosate and sulfur pathways?
- - Should certain supplements be avoided to minimize incoming sulfur?
- - How do we open the drains in the sulfur bucket?
- - How might Candida overgrowth lead to sulfur dysregulation?
- - Are Epsom salt baths generally tolerated in those with sulfur issues?
- - Can homeopathic sulfur or desensitization techniques be helpful?
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February 23, 2021
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:00.26] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:13.21] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:35.13] Scott: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode number 140 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Dr. Greg Nigh, and the topic of the show is The Devil in the Garlic. Dr. Greg Nigh is a primary care physician, naturopathic oncologist and acupuncturist.
He is a 2001 graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine, where he completed both the Naturopathic Doctor program and the Master of Science in Oriental Medicine program. He is an avid researcher and has published several peer-reviewed papers covering sulfur metabolism, glyphosate, cancer, and other topics.
He has been a prominent voice within the naturopathic profession. He's spoken at dozens of conferences both nationally and internationally on topics as diverse as hypnosis in clinical practice, cancer cell metabolism, naturopathic treatment of strokes , the use of therapeutic diets in the clinical setting, and much more.
He has spoken at the Conference on Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Water, which takes place annually in Europe, where he's educated researchers from around the world about the unique role of sulfur in the maintenance of water structure in the body.
In addition to his work with cancer patients, he also works extensively with Lyme disease, mold toxicity and related illnesses, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal symptoms including inflammatory bowel disease and many other challenging conditions. He's received additional training in both environmental medicine and heavy metal testing and IV chelation therapies.
He creates comprehensive detoxification and rebalancing programs related to all of these conditions, utilizing one of the widest ranges of therapeutic modalities available. He is in practice at Immersion Health in Portland, Oregon. And now my interview with Dr. Greg Nigh.
Sulfur sensitivity or intolerance, or dysregulation is not commonly discussed, and yet it can cause a number of symptoms and conditions in the body. I personally always do better with ongoing use of molybdenum to support my sulfur pathways.
And in fact, now, I use the specific molybdenum that I learned about from Dr. Nigh's excellent book The Devil in the Garlic. I'm excited to have him here today to shed some light on this important topic; thanks so much for being here, Dr. Nigh.
[00:03:02.20] Dr. Nigh: Oh, I'm very happy to be here, yes.
[00:03:05.00] Scott: What was your own personal journey that led you to doing the work you do today? And why did sulfur become part of that conversation?
[00:03:12.15] Dr. Nigh: Yes. And I'll try to tell in a different way because I've told this story a few times. But basically, so clinically, I worked very closely with the nutrition therapist, Maria. And we were doing a lot of different kind of diet modifications, and Maria had been trained in the GAPS diet protocol, Gut And Psychology Syndrome, and had implemented that with lots of people and had really great results with many people.
But a few people just did not do well, and they became toxic, and they just stayed toxic; they never like got over that toxicity. And so that was happening over there, and I doing, you know, just being geeky and just reading a lot of research on various things, because that's just my thing.
And I happen to read this article by Stephanie Seneff about her theory about nitric oxide or nitric oxide synthase and how this enzyme is really orchestrating this really delicate balance between sulfate and nitrate in the body.
And I was like, oh my gosh, that makes so much sense. And so, just because it's what I do, I just sent her an email and said that was a freaking great article, really like that was great. Anyway, so that launched into kind of a dialogue that led to a series of just phone conversations between us because she was very interested in my clinical side, and I wanted to pick her brain about her research side. And ultimately figured out, oh, the problem with these GAPS patients is that they're getting sulfur overload.
And so Marie and I initially, I kind of asked her if she could come up with a low sulfur diet that we could just try with people, and that ended up being like oh my gosh, it was sort of this revelation with the people that were having the gaps problem when we would do a low sulfur process.
And at that point, we were very early in it; we didn't really have it as developed as we do now. But it became clear really early on that oh, this is a significant problem for some people. And so really it was then just over time, and then Stephanie did a lot more writing about sulfur and sulfur metabolism, and then she and I ended up writing some things together about that and really diving more deeply into that whole metabolic process and how that then gets reflected over on the clinical side.
[00:05:44.04] Scott: I can imagine your conversations with Stephanie Seneff were fun ones.
[00:05:49.01] Dr. Nigh: I mean, I think we would say “fun”.
[00:05:52.25] Scott: I would find it fun too.
[00:05:54.29] Dr. Nigh: Yes, there's maybe seven people that would find that fun, but yes.
[00:05:58.27] Scott: So for people listening that don't know a lot about this topic yet, what is sulfur? Are there good sulfurs and bad sulfurs? Or maybe said differently, symptom producing sulfurs. Talk to us about the cast of characters when we're talking about sulfur?
[00:06:14.05] Dr. Nigh: Yes. So sulfur is, our body has to have it constantly; we need lots of sulfur all the time. And it's coming in dietarily; it's all coming in through the tube, essentially all of it in various forms. And so there are lots of different kinds of sulfur compounds that are packed into foods. And some large percent of that sulfur has to ultimately get converted to sulfate because that's the gold that the body needs.
Now there are other things the body needs, but we have to have a lot of sulfate being generated all the time. And so whatever form the sulfur is coming in, there are mechanisms for kind of harvesting the sulfur out of those compounds and generating sulfate through various oxidative and enzymatic processes.
And so a compound like garlic has an enormous number of sulfur compounds in it; it's not the highest concentration of sulfur, but it has the broadest range of sulfur compounds that I'm aware of, and Maria had told me about this that she had read that. And garlic, in particular, has a unique way that it gets metabolized; those compounds get metabolized in the red blood cell, which that's kind of a side. But it is unique in how it gets processed.
But all of dietary sulfur, even people drinking well water, I have a number of patients who tell me oh yes, they can smell sulfur in their water, or they know that their health got worse when they started moved into a house with the well water, and drinking the water and they found out that it was a lot of sulfur, sulfate in there. So these various sulfur compounds come in, and some of it in our food is in the form of sulfur dioxide SO2.
But the tiny bit, usually as additive, is in the form of sulfite, SO3. And then we're trying to get those to SO4. So it's an oxidation to get SO2 to SO3, and then it's an enzymatic thing involving molybdenum, as you mentioned in the intro, that gets you from SO3 to SO4.
In the process of moving down these pathways, hydrogen sulfide H2S gets kind of spit off as byproducts, and also, SO3 gets generated along those pathways. And it's in the balance of all of these things that determines whether or not we're going to be symptomatic with sulfur issues. So that's kind of an overview.
[00:09:17.27] Scott: I just try to summarize that. So sulfur itself that's coming in is more or less neutral. Sulfite is, I would say, bad, sulfate is good, and then hydrogen sulfide is kind of mixed or can be good or can be bad?
[00:09:33.22] Dr. Nigh: Yes, I think that's a good way of putting it. Yes, hydrogen sulfide is crucial for lots of really important things; it's just when it's in excess that it becomes problematic.
[00:09:44.05] Scott: And I'm glad that was a good way of putting it because I stole it from your book, so.
[00:09:48.15] Dr. Nigh: I thought it sounded familiar, yes.
[00:09:49.28] Scott: What are some of the symptoms that someone might experience when they have sulfur? What I'm going to term dysregulation? Are there hallmark symptoms that should lead someone to considering exploring this sulfur arena as a potential contributor to their condition?
[00:10:05.19] Dr. Nigh: Sure, yes. So kind of the standard picture would be brain fog and concentration issues. Often, that can be even moving into anxiety and panic attacks for some people. Skin is major, just eczema, dermatitis, things that don't get resolved on the skin or sometimes it's just itchy or feeling, you can't actually see it, but it's just itchy. Heat, so sulfur energetically is a hot compound, just volcanoes; think of volcanoes.
So eruptive, hot like acne, cystic acne, hot flashes. And again, I mean, I've mentioned this before, but it was really an accidental finding that I would have menopausal women who would come in with gut stuff or something that made me think, oh, let's do the low sulfur thing. I send them to Maria; she gets them oriented to the diet.
And then they would report back that their hot flashes were gone, and I didn't even really think that was; I just assumed that was, that's estrogen and yadda yadda. It never occurred to me that those would resolve by doing a low sulfur process. But in fact, it was and has been really striking how many women will have, if not a complete elimination, a dramatic reduction in the number of hot flashes by doing the low sulfur protocol.
[00:11:44.23] Scott: Yes. It's interesting that you bring up skin, and also the fact that it's kind of heat. Because for me, when I need more molybdenum, it's kind of a burning sensation in my forearms. It's just kind of subtle but tends to resolve when I get that dialed in a bit.
Talk to us more about the hydrogen sulfide, which appears to be healthy in the right amount, but potentially problematic when the levels rise. What are some of the positives and negatives in terms of hydrogen sulfide?
[00:12:11.15] Dr. Nigh: Yes. So hydrogen sulfide is the third now recognized gasotransmitter. And that is to say that it functions in many ways like a neurotransmitter, serotonin, dopamine etc. But as a gas, it is, so if it's produced in the gut, which it often is by sulfur-fixing bacteria, we'll talk about that more. But once it's produced, it can diffuse across the lining of the gut.
I mean, it moves anywhere in the body as a gas. It passes through the membranes. Ultimately to the brain, and it plays a role in memory formation and concentration. And it is a vasodilator, and so it helps to lower blood pressure, it helps to slow the heart rate. It plays an important role in immune regulation; I mean, it has a very broad set of roles in the body.
And the issue then, of course, is the dose is the poison. For some people, for reasons that we will get into, some people over produce. And in doing so, it causes things get exacerbated. So now it's not helping form memories; it's actually clogging the memory. It's clouding; brain fog is so common for people in this situation.
Or people have blood pressure that is too low, where they're commonly getting dizzy, and every time they stand up, they're woozy, or their heart rate is too low. I mean, I have had people with a heart rate in the 40s and 50s at just resting, and not because they're athletes.
And very commonly too, when you check-in, they say, oh yes, my mom was like that and my grandmother too. It's like there's a family tradition of having low heart rate, low blood pressure, or other skin stuff or whatever. It's commonly familial, and then that points the various genes that are potentially clogging up the system.
[00:14:26.04] Scott: So, do you see more of this sulfur dysregulation potentially in people with POTS? Or is that a different condition? I know there's other causes of POTS, but is the sulfur piece one of those puzzle pieces?
[00:14:37.03] Dr. Nigh: I'm always going to pursue the sulfur aspect. And I mean very commonly, I'm pointing out to people that I don't really, people with very complicated medical pictures. And they'll read my book, or they'll hear one of these podcasts, and they'll say, oh my god, that's me, I'm so that. And what I think is true is that many of those people do have a sulfur issue, and it is causing many of their problems. But it's usually, not always.
Usually, it's not causing all of their problems. It's just that you have to, I personally, that's where I stick my foot in the door and get it open and enter into the sort of the larger picture, I come at it via sulfur. Because I think if I don't get that figured out, the other things are not going to respond in the way they're supposed to. So, sulfur is definitely a very widespread problem, but I don't claim it explains everything; I just think you got to take care of it.
[00:15:49.16] Scott: Sure, that makes sense. Are the quote “bad sulfur compounds” like sulfite, maybe even excess hydrogen sulfide? Are those bad for everyone? Are only people that are either more sensitive to those materials or that have impairments in their sulfur pathways?
[00:16:06.07] Dr. Nigh: Well, that's a good question. I think sulfite, I think is in a little bit of a different category because there's very little that I can find that suggests that sulfite has positive biological effects. It seems pretty clear; I found like one mouse study that said it did something good for lymphocytes or something.
But other than that one mouse study, I haven't really found anything good. So with sulfite, in particular, remembering that there's just one exit for sulfite. It all has to go through sulfite oxidase, it can't be directly oxidized for some reason, and I find that curious. It has to enzymatically be oxidized.
And so absolutely, there are people with glitches on the gene that make that enzyme that will compromise its function. There are reductions in the amount of available molybdenum that will compromise its function. There are heavy metals that will displace molybdenum, that will compromise the function. So with sulfite, there are certainly some things that we encounter in our world or that happen that reduce our ability to get that sulfite detoxified. Which then leads to, probably leads to headaches, and a lot of people experience sulfite sensitivity, and with headaches are very common. But it's sort of a; it's like a sympathetic activation that happens with sulfite. With hydrogen sulfide, it is an essential component of our physiology.
We need to have hydrogen sulfide all the time. And in fact, we're making it all the time; we make it by gut bugs, we make it enzymatically in our cells. We are constantly generating hydrogen sulfide. It is a necessary gasotransmitter, plays a very important role in the body. The problem only comes in when it becomes in excess.
And again, this is, you know, I have this whacked-out idea that it is potentially adaptive for us to be making excess hydrogen sulfide. And the reason for that is that if the pathways to generate sulfate get impaired, we have to find another way to get there. And hydrogen sulfide becomes a substrate that our body can use to generate then sulfate directly in the cell.
But normally, the sulfur compounds that come in and ultimately the activation and generation of sulfate is happening in the liver. But there are various things that can happen along that route, from malabsorption or intestinal inflammation to issues in the portal vein and liver insufficiencies and all kinds of things that can throw roadblocks into that generation of sulfate that should be happening in the liver.
And if we're not doing it there, we've got to figure out a way to do it out here in the cells. And the way to do that is to create hydrogen sulfide because hydrogen sulfide in the cell can then be turned into sulfate. So it is an adaptation to generate more of that hydrogen sulfide. Unfortunately, it causes symptoms.
[00:19:41.28] Scott: In a perfect world, it sounds like the ideal would be to have incoming sulfur become sulfate. But in some people, the conversion isn't happening in an efficient manner, that we get this build-up then of hydrogen sulfide potentially that we have sulfite.
Talk to us a little bit more about how sulfur becomes either sulfite, hydrogen sulfide or sulfate? And why does it end up going down one pathway or another? That may be a more complex question than there's a short answer for, but maybe you can just talk to us a little about that mechanism.
[00:20:14.19] Dr. Nigh: Yes. Well, gosh, how do I jump into that one? The main pathway we're talking about here is the sulfation pathway. And sulfation pathway, it touches the methylation pathway, spins up here, and it's homocysteine goes to methionine and goes back to homocysteine, and it just keeps spinning.
At homocysteine, that homocysteine can either move back up to methionine or it can head down the sulfation pathway. I guess I don't know if they're oriented up and down in the cells, but I just think of it that way.
So the homocysteine can then get drawn down the sulfation pathway. And the first enzyme in that is CBS, which is one that many people are familiar with when they read a lot about sulfur. And then, so then that gets you, CBS gets you to cysteine.
And then another CBS reaction gets you to cysteine; each time it goes through that, it's spinning off a hydrogen sulfide and a sulfite. They're just the byproducts of the reactions that are happening. Now the sulfation pathway is super important.
You got to produce taurine, and you produce glutathione and produce cysteine, and produce, it's a very important pathway you need things moving down that pathway. And so these things are sort of dropping off like they're just spilling over as the compounds move enzymatically down the paths. And then as you generate them as these byproducts, these kinds of side things, the sulfite then has to get dealt with by sulfite oxidase.
So wherever this is happening, whatever cells this is happening in, you need sulfite oxidase, which is in the mitochondria, to then take care of that sulfite, getting converted to sulfate. And with hydrogen sulfide, again, it's just, our bodies have this crazy amazing way of just keeping everything in balance in the way that it needs to.
So that we're not making too much or too little. And so the hydrogen sulfide, just as a matter of course, either it's going to go do its hydrogen sulfide thing as a gasotransmitter. Or if there's more of it around that needs to be, all right, then you get it into an oxidative pathway, and you oxidize it to sulfur dioxide. And then it'll climb the stairs up to sulfate eventually.
[00:22:54.13] Scott.: What are some of the tools that we can use to test for the potential of sulfur issues in a patient? Are there specific labs? Are there some clinical things that you do? Are there urine test strips that can help identify potentially high levels of some of these compounds?
[00:23:09.22] Dr. Nigh: Yes, that's one of the most common questions, and I need to come up with a more satisfying answer, really. What I find is that I don't do much testing at all, I mean. I do blood tests, yes, just general health assessments. And there are a few blood tests that I think are meaningful regarding sulfur. So homocysteine, for example, I test that very often.
And most commonly, when people have a sulfur issue, they have low homocysteine, which I believe is because it's getting drawn down the sulfation pathway too robustly. Which means it's creating all those byproducts, sulfite and hydrogen sulfide. So homocysteine I find to be interesting. But in terms of like the sulfur testing, I use the diet and the protocol, meaning the diet and supporting supplements and home therapies, as this package, and it's a test that lasts two weeks.
Because it's just like, it's like with food allergy testing, I don't do much of it. Because if I do a food allergy test, and the result on the test says you don't have a reaction to banana, but the patient says to me, well, every time I eat a banana, I get a stomachache. Then it doesn't matter what the test said; there's a problem with bananas.
And so tests can only tell you what the test tells you. And ultimately, if in the same way with dietary testing, there's no question to me that elimination re-induction dieting is the most helpful way to identify food reactivity. Because if you react when you reintroduce a food, it doesn't matter what any test says; you've got your answer. In the same way, there would be, if somebody fits the picture of a sulfur problem, it wouldn't matter to me what any test said.
I'm going to do the sulfur protocol with them and find out how they respond to it. So I think it's like again going back to food testing; I think those tests can often give people this false sense of security because they do a food test and says, oh, I don't have a problem with dairy, I can eat so I'm good with that. But they're likely not good with that; it's just that it didn't show up on that test. But they use the test to justify, in the same way, I think the same could happen with sulfur, so I just had people do the protocol.
[00:25:57.22] Scott: That makes a lot of sense. I think with food tests particularly, you can do three or four different ones, from three or four different labs, that use three or four different approaches and not find a lot of overlap in the end result. What are the common incoming sources of sulfur that we might need to reduce? Is that a long-term reduction?
Can foods be reintroduced once there's some optimization of the sulfur pathways? Do we create some tolerance over time? I mean, it's interesting that a lot of the things that are higher sulfur are things we also consider really healthy, like broccoli and cauliflower, garlic, onions. Talk to us a little about that.
[00:26:35.17] Dr. Nigh: Yes, that's right. I titled the book the way I did just to be a little antagonistic. Of course, I don't think everybody should be avoiding garlic, because yes, these are healthy compounds, and we need dietary sulfur. So what I think is true, just from observation, is that there are at least two kinds of reactivity to sulfur compounds.
The first are the short-term reactions; these are, they're more like allergic reactions like immunologically, we would call them an IgG or IgE reaction, short-term. Now I don't know that they're IgE reactions, but they are so; I am a number of patients that if they get even a whisper of garlic in something within 10 minutes, they'll have a headache. And that to me is going beyond; that doesn't make sense to me in terms of a sulfur overload.
Because it could be just the tiniest bit of garlic. So something about their system is just sensitive to those compounds. Now garlic has so many differences in there that it's hard to know which compound it is. So there's the short-term reactivity, and the most common foods that have a short-term, that elicits a very short-term reaction would be garlic, kale and eggs.
Those are the main of the three under that umbrella of sulfur-containing foods. Those are the three that are most commonly quick reactions. Then, there's this other kind of problem, and that really is that people just fill their bucket too quickly, and it can't drain out fast enough. So, I mean, it is not uncommon to have patients who are starting their day with shoving a whole mass of kale into a smoothie, and that's their cycle, well, yes.
Or just generally, they're eating kale salads all the time. Or they're eating; I mean, there are lots of patients who are putting garlic in everything. Like they can't imagine cooking without garlic. And so what I think is true is that there's simply, so there's this inflow of sulfur compounds, and then there's the outflow which is those enzymatic or oxidative reactions that clear out to solve the compounds that are getting generated from that dietary garlic.
Some people are just putting too much in, and maybe their outflow is working fine, but at some point, it's overwhelming that system. Other people, I think they just, maybe they have issues and those genetics around sulfide oxidase, maybe CBS. There can be those kind of glitches that happen to mess things up. Some people drink a lot well; it just so happens that molybdenum that's needed over there in sulfite oxidase, it's also needed over there and aldehyde dehydrogenase to get alcohol detoxified. And so a common question that I ask everybody is people that look like a sulfur issue, how do you do with alcohol?
And very commonly, they say, oh god, I can't. I can't touch it if I have even. Usually, people with sulfur issues have a lot of problems with alcohol; they just can't tolerate it in their system. So there are lots of reasons that people might not be able to clear out the amount of sulfur compounds that are getting generated because of the level of dietary sulfur coming in.
And again, some people have it coming in their water, and they don't even know. We test people's water if that looks like it's an issue, and we found some people with very high sulfate level. So yes, it's kind of this whole collage of things that lead to any given person manifesting symptoms. And then the question everybody wants to know like, so step one is you figure out oh my god, I was just, it was kale, I feel so much better if I just don't eat kale and eggs.
My skin cleared up, and everything is oh my gosh. And then after about three weeks, they're like, well, when can I start eating this stuff again? Can I do anything to allow me to expand my diet now? And something that I really try to convey to everybody on this, and this is not just about low sulfur, about any kind of restrictive diet, is that restrictive diets are not a good thing.
I mean, I very much understand why people get themselves into restricted diets because they find that oh if I eliminate that, I feel better, and I eliminate that I feel better, and they end up backed into this corner. Where once someone is on a restricted diet for too long, they lose the diversity of their gut bugs. Which makes it very challenging to then bring new food in because they don't have the machinery in there to process the foods that come in.
And so they become more reactive over time to foods that they shouldn't be reacting to at all. So I really encourage people to keep their diet as expanded as possible without moving into symptoms. And so typically what happens is we'll get somebody eating the low sulfur diet, two weeks is really the main, the 100 percent low sulfur follow all these guidelines to a T.
Then we have a reintroduction, where we're trying to tease out short term from overload reactions. And at the end of that process, any food that did not cause a problem absolutely needs to be brought back into the diet. Really, the only foods we want kept out are the short-term reactive foods. And then with the other kinds of foods that it'll cause a problem if you eat too much of it, it's really all about figuring out how quick is your trigger on becoming symptomatic.
Somebody can eat broccoli one day and feel fine; day two, day three, they're symptomatic again. And so it is a matter of getting implemented things like maybe it's just daily molybdenum, or other Epsom salt baths or something that I have everybody doing.
The kind of therapies that help the body to be juggling these sulfur compounds in an efficient way that allows them to get their diet expanded back out. Because it's a really big deal.
[00:33:38.14] Scott: Yes, that's incredibly helpful. It is interesting that sometimes we think that healthy things we do in excess, like the kale, for example, and then you end up with thallium toxicity and don't realize that now you have a heavy metal toxicity because you've been eating something that's really healthy.
When we talk about the diet, where does protein fit in? If you have sulfur intolerance, for example, do we need to limit protein intake to reduce some of the sulfur-containing amino acids like cysteine and methionine? And is it better to think about a vegetarian diet in the early stages of sulfur intolerance?
[00:34:13.00] Dr. Nigh: Yes, it's a good question. And it's odd as well because, for people who are not vegetarian, animal products are by far and away the largest sulfur source. Meat products are the largest sulfur source.
Clinically, my experience is that very few people are reactive to meat products. So the way that the sulfur is bound up in that, clearly it doesn't seem to me as becoming accessible to the various pathways that it gets, can move down. So with the diet, as we have it set out, the first week is vegetarian, just to try to bring down the level as much as possible, just to empty the bucket.
But then, during the second week, she has recipes and stuff in her book that allow animal products come back in. Not eggs, but other animal products come back in. I have had a couple of patients, I can think of two over whatever years now, who did, I mean one thing that's unique about reacting to animal products or animal meat is that the reactions that happen were like wow, like major reactions, huge reaction.
And I know that one of those patients was an Ehlers-Danlos, and I think the other one was too. The other might have been a mast cell patient, but I was thinking they were both Ehlers-Danlos because it was a curiosity to me that those, what are the chances that two Ehlers-Danlos would have a strong reaction to animal product, animal protein like that.
But generally, I don't find that animal protein is problematic. Now Maria has definitely noted that, so there are some people using like pea protein, that's a high sulfur protein, and so that's ixnay on her list. But yes, the proteins generally don't seem to be as significant a source of, especially the short-term kind of reactivity as the vegetables. Vegetables are much more common.
[00:36:47.18] Scott: And it makes a lot of sense because I think we're seeing in the chronic illness community and chronic Lyme disease and mold illness and whatnot, a lot of people having really good response to the carnivore diet, which would have been kind of surprising to me, but they seem to do really well.
Do we need to consider dietary sources of sulfite as well and avoid those? And is that a different list than those that are bringing in the sulfur?
[00:37:11.28] Dr. Nigh: Yes, different list, and a not an intuitive list at all. Cruciferous like okay, you can say cruciferous equal’s sulfur. With sulfite, it's almost always an additive. And so, like Maria pointed out to me, like tamales, the corn husk you make tamales, they have sulfites put on them. And so I had no idea.
Or some coconut will have, so some coconut milk will have sulfite added. Or, of course, their dried fruit with sulfite added; the point is that, and often they're not listing the sulfites. And so you kind of, I mean she's just done homework on this to try to figure out; lemon concentrate and lime concentrate, the kind you buy in those little fruit shaped plastic things.
And apparently, those are like ounce for ounce are the highest sulfite concentration that we get exposed to. And we had a patient who had made a soup using a broth that ended up causing a severe headache and then realized at the bottom of the list of ingredients was lime concentrate added to it. Because nothing else about it should have been reactive, but that one had, that ingredient had slipped by. And for some people who have really high sensitivity, that'll do it.
[00:38:45.17] Scott: Talk to us a little bit about water as a source potentially of harmful sulfur that we need to either reduce or eliminate. You mentioned water having sulfate, which I thought was actually good, but maybe it's not entirely good. Talk to us about the water situation there.
[00:39:02.18] Dr. Nigh: Yes, there's a lot to say about water. So I mean in the city, I live in Portland, and there's not really sulfate in the water. But in country, there is potentially lots of sulfate in the water. Sulfate, again, it's not; sulfate in the water is not a problem for people that don't have sulfur issues. Like personally, I don't have sulfur issues; I have never found myself to be reactive to any of the stuff that I tell people that I'm not supposed to eat for this thing.
But with sulfate, there are particular bugs. There's the Bilophila wadsworthia, I think is the name of the bacteria that will turn sulfate into hydrogen sulfide. And there are a number of people who you look at the GI MAP, which I don't do a lot of GI MAPs, but a lot of people bring them to me and show me. And that's one that is commonly elevated.
So when that bug is around, and I'm sure there are others that can do this as well, but I know that one has stuck in my mind. If sulfate comes in, that sulfate before it can make its way through digestion, portal vein, liver activated to biologically active sulfate.
Before all that, the bugs can then can harvest that, harvest essentially the sulfur and create hydrogen sulfide out of it. So for some people, it's fine to take in sulfate, and it does what it's supposed to do. But for people with dysbiosis already in place, it can be problematic.
[00:40:49.27] Scott: And does that same dysbiosis that leads to sulfate being converted to hydrogen sulfide? Does that come into play when we're getting sulfate through Epsom salt baths or no?
[00:41:00.27] Dr. Nigh: No. What I love about Epsom salt bath is that it doesn't run into the bugs. So because it is coming in through the skin and direct to the bloodstream, which means that it's not going to pass through the gut at all, and it will eventually make its way to the liver, and at the liver, it can be activated into PAPs which is the organic form of sulfate, which is really the gold biologically.
So with Epsom salt baths for the vast majority of people who do them, they have pretty; I mean, I've had some pretty profound resolution of digestive symptoms by people just doing Epsom salt baths. And the only thing that makes sense to me is that it's the when you supply the body with sulfate; I mean, those bugs are not there to just annoy us; they're there to do something.
And if we supply what they were there to do in the first place, then they'll go away. And I've had just a striking number of people who have really dramatic resolution of their gut issues by doing Epsom salt bath. So I think it's just because it helps to fix the sulfate problem.
[00:42:14.03] Scott: Yes. And that's an important thing because I've heard so many people over the years say that if you have sulfur intolerance, that you shouldn't do Epsom salt baths, and it sounds like that's generally not the case, that it actually can be very helpful.
[00:42:25.05] Dr. Nigh: The one comment I'll make on that is that there have been, maybe five percent or maybe less of the people that I've recommended the Epson salt baths to who don't tolerate them. And I think there are two possibilities that come into play there.
One is that the people, I think that there are some people that actually are in some sense allergic to; I mean allergy is probably not the right word; I doubt it's an antibody thing. But their system simply doesn't tolerate; whether it's the magnesium or the sulfate, I don't know.
Most people who say, oh, I took a salt bath, and I felt terrible, most of them if you titrate them down so that they're starting maybe even like a quarter of a cup in a bath.
Or sometimes, I got to get them out of the bathroom, we just have to start with a foot bath, and so they're just doing a quarter cup and a foot bath. And typically, with them, you can titrate that up over time, and they eventually get to the place that they're tolerating the higher doses just fine. So I think it's something about initiating detoxification which both sulfate and magnesium are involved in that, so.
[00:43:38.09] Scott: Let's continue on talking a little bit about the gut, the microbiome, given that we have these sulfur-reducing bacteria in our gut that use sulfur as an energy source. Is long-term avoidance of incoming sulfur potentially harmful to the microbiome? Wondering if you can talk to us more about the sulfur-reducing or sulfur-fixing bacteria and our most sulfur-reducing bacteria friend or foe?
[00:44:01.25] Dr. Nigh: Yes, again, I don't advocate people staying on a low sulfur diet for long periods of time, except in very specific foods that get eliminated. But generally, I want to get people's diet expanded out. Realistically, there's essentially no way of eating a completely no sulfur diet unless we're just fasting. Sulfur, not only is it coming in with our food, but we also have this recycling system for sulfur in our system.
Because the mucus is, I mean, it has lots of sulfur compounds embedded in it. And so mucus is a constant supply of sulfur to our gut bugs. And again, there are specific bugs that will harvest the sulfur out of the mucus and generate hydrogen sulfide and sulfite. And that's a normal, natural process; it's not that that shouldn't be happening; that's just part of how we are recycling ourselves all the time.
It becomes an issue, so with SIBO patients in particular who are always dealing with this bloating and distended. And a question that I'm always asking, for people with that symptom, is, do you feel better the longer you are away from food? And most people will say yes. The longer they're away from food, the better it is. Eventually, they got to eat, and then it all goes bad.
There are a decent number, though, who will say no; it doesn't matter. I am always bloated. Even if I fast for 48 hours, I'll still field distention. What I think is happening there is that they have the bugs that are really generating, because I mean, what else are you going to use for fuel to generate that kind of, that gas and distension other than the sulfur that is already right there built into the wall, that can just be harvested and make those compounds.
So then that's this enzyme mucinase that is different bacteria, many bacteria have it, and will use it to, that's what they're using to generate those sulfur compounds. And so you can do therapies that will suppress the activity of that enzyme. Generally, my thing is that I'm not really trying to; I don't kill bugs very often. So because of that, I don't do a lot of stool testing. I do some. If somebody's not responding in the way I think they should; I'll do a stool test.
But anybody who's got digestive symptoms, you're going to see things are going to be out of balance in their gut. And I'm not smart enough to keep track of which bacteria are the good ones and the bad ones, but you can't have this much of that, and they're like, they're just. I think trying to manage the different populations of these bacteria; it's like trying to hurt butterflies.
You can't, they're so dynamic, and their levels are changing with every meal. We can based on the content of the meal; I mean, we'll have population changes within 20 to 30 minutes, just completely remodeling itself in our gut. So it's like looking at a single test is really such a snapshot in a dynamic range of time. So I don't focus too much on the bugs; I focus on just metabolics and getting the metabolics working the way they need to.
Now that's not to say I'm not recommending gut bugs; I do. I'll supplement with bugs, and I mean, I've heard many patients will tell me, oh, I've read you're not supposed to do probiotics, or you can only do these certain probiotics with SIBO. And that's not my experience at all. I've found people doing absolutely fine with, in fact, a lot of things that people are hearing that they're not supposed to do with SIBO. I have never found a problem with it.
But keep in mind, I've never been to a conference where I learned anything about SIBO. Meaning I don't do SIBO training like I don't go and learn SIBO protocols; I'm just doing sulfur with people. And even if they come to me with positive hydrogen or methane tests, I just treat them like a sulfur patient. And very commonly, they improve sometimes dramatically, often dramatically.
[00:48:45.12] Scott: So if we talk a little more about that gut and sulfur connection, it sounds like there is a connection between sulfur and things like SIBO or even Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, maybe even leaky gut. Isn't hydrogen sulfide now one of the newer tests that can be done for SIBO? Don't we look at that now in the realm of SIBO?
[00:49:06.14] Dr. Nigh: Yes. Pimentel has developed that, and I've had a couple of patients do it, and I've ordered it for a couple of patients who really just wanted to see what the result is. Again, I personally wouldn't, I don't think to do it because it's not going to change my plan based on what that result is. I recently had a patient who has all the symptoms of SIBO and is miserable in 27 different ways who did the test, and across the board, it's low; none of them came up positive. And so, which is not to say the test is bunk, it's just that yes, I don't know how to utilize a test like that as a way to make clinical decisions, really. Because I'm not treating the dysbiosis per se, I'm more interested in treating why someone has become dysbiotic.
And as I've said many times, I mean patients, SIBO patients in particular or other I'll talk about ulcerative colitis and stuff too, but SIBO patients, in particular, have always shocked me that they'll do like Rifaximin and other herbals, and they get themselves where they're feeling actually really good, and they take all the right probiotics, and they eat the right kind of SIBO diet.
And they do all the right things, and their symptoms come back like it doesn't make any sense? The recurrence rate for SIBO after a successful treatment is tragically high. And even with people who are being really diligent to do all the right things, to get their gut working the way, it's supposed to again, symptoms come back. The only way that makes sense to me is that the body needs those bugs for something; it is bringing them back.
And until that need is addressed, you can't, it's like whack-a-mole. You can't just smash it and make it go away, it's going to show up somewhere else; it will come back. So that's why I don't focus on killing the bugs; I don't really; the test results are not all that meaningful to me because I'm pursuing it in a different way.
And to mention just to comment about yes, the ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, all the inflammatory bowel disorders absolutely have high levels of hydrogen sulfide getting generated at the interface, at the wall of the gut which drives a great deal of that inflammatory process. We have, Marie and I, have put at least a dozen patients with some type of inflammatory bowel disease on through the low sulfur protocol.
And I mean certainly, more than half of them have had dramatic change in their gut. I mean we've had some who, for decades they have been kind of ruled by this inflammatory bowel process, that within like a week, they're symptom-free just by going through this. I mean really shocking, like life-changing. Which shocks me; I mean, I'm hoping to get some result, and sometimes it's really crazy.
[00:52:41.20] Scott: Most people with chronic illness seem to have impaired detoxification; they become bio-accumulators of toxins. And so I'm wondering how the sulfur discussion fits into a detoxification conversation. I know people think of methylation; fewer people maybe are aware that phase two also has a sulfation pathway, and it plays a role in detoxification. So how is sulfation connected to methylation and to detoxification in general?
[00:53:08.21] Dr. Nigh: Yes, they're really closely tied together. And earlier, I mentioned the homocysteine connection, which kind of is the tap point between methylation and sulfation. And so sulfation, the sulfation pathway, one of the major byproducts two important ones are taurine, which is, it's called an amino acid, technically it's not an amino acid, but it falls in that family.
Taurine, which is an essential component of the bio-salts, and bio-salts then are super important for detoxification of all the fat-soluble stuff. So there's that piece. Then also, down the sulfation pathway, you get glutathione, which is like, that's like the godfather of detoxification molecules in the body. And so, without moving down the sulfation pathways, the way that needs to happen, you don't get enough of either of those things.
But beyond that is simply the production of sulfate, which is what we've been talking about the whole time. Because sulfate is, as you mentioned in phase two, detoxification of the liver, which includes others, it's one of several kinds of phase two detoxes that happen. But it is absolutely crucial, you have to sulfate things in order to you throw a sulfate on them, and it makes them water-soluble so you can pee it out.
And so sulfation, methylation is of course certainly important in a detoxification role, because you have to methylate COMT, methylate estrogen and the neurotransmitters to help them get broken down, and MAOA, MAOB, all of these things are helping to detoxify things in a methylation.
And then sulfation was working hand in hand with those, the pathways are interrelated, and it's all; sulfation is happening, it's buried in the liver really taking care of a lot of importance stuff.
[00:55:11.17] Scott: How does the immune system's response to infection increase our demand or need for sulfur? And if we have issues or sulfur dysregulation, does that potentially lead to chronic infections that the immune system cannot respond to?
[00:55:25.29] Dr. Nigh: Yes. So yes, it's an interesting question. I was involved in a paper, Stephanie was the main author, and there were several of us, and the paper was on gout. And I really like that paper; I mean, I really like how Stephanie thinks because everything about her thinking is adaptive. Like bodies don't do anything that's not adaptive.
And so in that paper, it was looking at gout as a local inflammatory event that seeks to restore sulfate levels at the local level. Because in order to get sulfate, you have to create a highly oxidative environment so that you can turn hydrogen sulfide, for example, into sulfate. You got to get there, so you have to bring in iron and uric acid and these other kinds of compounds that help to generate. Well, the uric acid comes in can help to squelch the process.
But essentially, it establishes an inflammatory environment that allows for the restoration of sulfur balance. And once that is resolved, once that gets established, the inflammation will go away on its own. And in fact, gout is self-resolving, and nobody really understands why it resolves on its own; it just does. So in that paper, there's kind of a model for how gout is an example of a kind of inflammatory process that is intimately tied to the sulfate balance in the body.
And I think it's very well said, and she wrote a prior paper about atherosclerosis, the plaques that build up in arteries are actually these little factories that generate sulfur compounds. I mean, it really is a brilliant, it's a brilliant paper. And I think very well-argued, and essentially all of these different inflammatory processes.
She has another one about encephalitis, and even as it associates with autism. That encephalitis is an inflammatory process in the brain that helps to restore sulfate levels in the brain. Because that process in the brain, it's one of the few situations where you can actually harvest the sulfur from taurine, which doesn't like to give its sulfur up very well.
But in that inflammatory process, taurine can be used to restore sulfate levels. So I'm kind of talking around your question a little bit because there are two aspects of how sulfur is getting used or the relationship between sulfur and inflammation. One is to say that inflammatory processes in the body can be adaptations to help get sulfur restored.
And then in the other basket is the role that sulfur plays and sulfate and sulfur compounds play in the regulation of the immune system. And absolutely, those are all, it's all intimately tied there. So if you have impaired capacity to do sulfur metabolism the way you need, you're going to end up with an impairment in the immune response.
[00:58:44.19] Scott: Is there a connection between sulfate deficiency and connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos? Does sulfate deficiency have a role in connective tissue issues like tendon, ligament ruptures, tears? And how do heparan and chondroitin sulfate enter the discussion around sulfate?
[00:59:03.03] Dr. Nigh: Yes. The answer is yes, they're very intimately tied. I think that this speaks now to the issue that Stephanie first brought to the forefront, and we've written about a little bit, she's written a lot about it, and we've written a little about it together, and that is the issue of glyphosate. So glyphosate is that active ingredient in RoundUp, it is a glycine analog, so it is the amino acid glycine with a phosphate group stuck onto it.
A methyl group and a phosphate group, and I think the evidence is very compelling that glyphosate will substitute for glycine in the body. And that is horrible and tragic in so many ways. In particular, in thinking about collagen. Collagen is a tripeptide, so it's an interweaving of three different amino acids in this kind of a triple spiral. Glycine is the largest component of collagen.
And so if you substitute anything else for that glycine, you're going to weaken; in fact, you'll change the confirmation of that spiral, and that will cause a change in the strength of it. It also causes, so not only do we have these structures collagen and proteins and everything, but it is organizing the water in its immediate environment, and that water becomes structured.
And so it is the structuring of water that is really embedded within collagen that is also vital for the integrity of that tissue. And so, if you substitute in a glyphosate for any of those glycines along the way, you not only change the confirmation of the collagen itself, but you disorganize the water because of the charge very different charge that glyphosate has compared to glycine.
And so that charge difference will destructure water in the area, and it becomes like a double whammy. So I absolutely believe that glyphosate is playing a very detrimental role with our collagen, all of these connective tissue issues because glycine is so key in maintaining the integrity of all of that stuff.
[01:01:31.26] Scott: Therein the reason I've had my glycine already this morning. You talk about blood viscosity in the book, and many people with chronic Lyme disease, related conditions have a hypercoagulation component with things like elevated thrombin and fibrin. Is sulfate deficiency contributing to hyper-coagulation states?
[01:01:54.10] Dr. Nigh: Yes, I'll try to keep this from getting too boring. So blood viscosity is very tightly regulated, and again credit Stephanie, because she's really the one that I think mapped this out really well. That it is this delicate balance between sulfate and nitrate, and sulfate tends to gel the blood.
Nitrate tends to thin the blood, and so we have this lovely enzyme, nitric oxide synthase, in the red blood cells or in endothelium that is pivoting between these two, based on what needs to happen. And so the problem here is that sulfate having the appropriate amount of sulfate in the blood is important for maintaining the viscosity. If anything comes into this scene that would add more gelling effect to the blood, that would be a problem.
And if it did, you would have to stop producing so much sulfate because that would exacerbate the issue. And in fact, glyphosate is a very powerful gel to blood. In cases where people, farmers in India, one of the things they do in protest is they drink glyphosate. And one of the things that causes is coagulation, disseminated coagulation in the blood.
It just causes the blood to just all gel up. So what I think, what Stephanie and I are thinking is that when we get exposed to glyphosate, and in fact, most of that exposure is dietary. And so where is it going to go after we eat? Well, it's going to go through the portal vein. So glyphosate in the portal vein, in fact, that's going to be the biggest concentration of it in our body probably, at least in terms of the initial exposure.
So it's going to move through the portal vein from the gut to the liver. In transit, it is gel; it has a gelling effect; it sludge's the blood in the portal vein. Which not only is that impairing detoxification, but it's also a signal to the liver that you can't have more sulfate. And so it would essentially downregulate the amount of sulfate in order to not overgel the blood.
Again, this stuff ends up being really geeky, but the most recent paper that Stephanie and I wrote is about, it's in the journal water. And the title of it is something like sulfate, it's about the structuring of water in the body. The role that sulfate plays in that, and the destructive role that glyphosate plays in that. And so that's all, anything that she's an author on, she makes it mandatory that it's free access. So, anybody who wants to read it, it's available out there on the web.
[01:05:14.00] Scott: I don't want to go too much into the gene conversation because I think that epigenetics play a bigger role than genetics. But I'm wondering, in the patients you work with that have sulfur dysregulation, do you find that they're CBS and SUOX genetics, that they have more polymorphisms than average? Is there a connection there?
[01:05:33.15] Dr. Nigh: More than average. I mean, probably I'm seeing a biased sample because the people who are coming to me are people who already have the sulfury kind of problems. And then they show me the genetics.
But I would say I don't see a significant; I don't see an overly strong connection between what I see genetically happening and what I see clinically. The one exception that I've mentioned many times is in the sulfite oxidase enzyme.
And when there are glitches in that enzyme, it is almost true to every person that there's going to be; I mean, they will have sulfur symptoms. They'll have sulfite symptoms. But beyond sulphite oxidase enzyme, the CBS is, I mean, of course, I'd look at it, and I mean there's CBS, and there's CTH, which is another related in the sulfation pathway and all the others.
I mean, I'm still looking at COMT and all of those because if you mess up methylation, you're going to mess up sulfation. But I'm not in the camp that feels like I could look at somebody's genetic report and come up with a treatment plan for them because it doesn't work that way.
[01:06:48.15] Scott: In our last several minutes together, let's get into some treatment conversation. I'm wondering if sulfur sensitivity plays a role in terms of why some people may not tolerate glutathione. And are there other supplements that we also need to watch out for or limit because of the potential sulfur contribution, particularly early on in these programs?
[01:07:09.04] Dr. Nigh: Sure, yes. And the answer is yes. I remember early on when I started doing this sulfur stuff, and a patient came in and was taking a bunch of garlic every day, and lipoic acid and all these detox supplements. And I mean all the detox supplements, almost all of them are sulfur supplements, because sulfur and detox go together.
But she was just this; I mean, she was that textbook picture of a sulfur problem; she's taking all these sulfur supplements. I said I want you to stop all of that; just don't take any of that, which caused a little bit of a panic. But she did, and she felt great. Like all the stuff that she was taking that stuff to treat, none of it came back. She just stopped the supplements and her sulfur, that just allowed all that sulfur excess to get itself cleared out.
And I didn't have to do anything else, it's like it was all done at that point. And again, this is not to say that NAC and glutathione and lipoic acid are in any way inappropriate for most people. They're fine; I prescribe them for lots of people. It's just that they can be problematic. Glutathione, in particular, is kind of interesting to me.
My sense is that when people are reacting to glutathione, they're not reacting to the sulfur in there, they're reacting to it because they're toxic. Because maybe they've got mold toxicity, or they've got heavy metals or something, because it's so effective, it will start to mobilize stuff that's been hanging out that is not supposed to be there. So generally, with glutathione, if we get them scaled back on the dose, so they get them to a level they can tolerate and then titrate that up, I don't really see that being a sulfur thing.
[01:09:08.24] Scott: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Because I think when we start mobilizing toxins in the body, I think, then we have the potential to activate the mast cells and create more histamines and other inflammation and so on.
[01:09:19.20] Dr. Nigh: Sure, yes, absolutely.
[01:09:21.14] Scott: Would you put MSM and taurine in that category of things that we might need to limit early on in people with sulfur dysregulation?
[01:09:29.25] Dr. Nigh: Yes. I mean, we have, in the guide that Maria's given out with people definitely, there's a list of all the supplements that we say okay, ixnay at least for this two week period of time. And those are on there; MSM and taurine are both on there. Now I know that many times you can reintroduce those, even in people that have some sulfur sensitivities, many times, you can reintroduce one or both of those, and it's fine.
Taurine is one of my go-to's for a lot of things. I mean it's great for anxiety and for irregular heart rate, and I mean it has so many beneficial properties that it's one of those I don't want, necessarily want people avoiding it if they don't have a problem with it. So we just test it to find out.
[01:10:19.01] Scott: So if we come back to a bucket analogy, where we're essentially kind of overflowing from our sulfur burden, let's say, and that's what's creating symptoms.
We've talked about ways to reduce what's coming into the bucket, particularly by reducing the inflow of dietary sources and supplement sources. But then how do we also increase the outflow or open the drains in the bucket so that we can minimize the symptoms people have from sulfur dysregulation?
[01:10:46.19] Dr. Nigh: One of the key things that everybody has to do is that they're taking molybdenum. So we are always using this product called Mo-Zyme Forte, it's by Biotics. It is in the Forte form, it's 150 micrograms per tablet. Everybody is instructed; they need to chew it up, don't swallow it all, chew it up. It tastes a little earthy, but whatever.
Chew it up with the meal twice a day. And more recently, what I've discovered is that some people do quite dramatically better if they titrate that dose up. I mean, for years, I had people just do one twice a day. That was the thing. And then I just serendipitously found out that if you titrate the dose up, two twice a day for a little bit, maybe try three twice a day, even four twice a day. I have had some patients who have, and they'll know their level.
Like oh, I feel much better at three twice a day, but if I go to four twice a day, I start getting headaches or something. But it's not everybody. Two twice a day is the right dose. So that one goes up. So anyway, that is a major nutrient that we're using to keep the drain open at the bottom. And then, there are other kinds of therapies that can be done to just reduce the production overall of hydrogen sulfide.
So hydroxycobalamin is a form of B12 that will bind it up in the blood. Panax ginseng, Korean red ginseng, is another that will inhibit production of hydrogen sulfide. Flaxseed powder will inhibit hydrogen sulfide production. There are different ways that you can inhibit production of hydrogen sulfide while you're trying to clear out this sulfite to sulfate pathway.
So that's going on then; we got people doing Epsom salt baths, so that helps to lower the number of bugs in their gut if they are needing the sulfate. Then the gut bugs, like we talked earlier, they can reduce at least the dysbiosis and symptoms.
And I assume that bugs are going away. And other things we do, castor oil packs, and other kinds of supporting therapies that in saunas, getting people to sweat, because sulfur compounds come out through the sweat. So infrared saunas is something that we like to have people doing.
[01:13:19.04] Scott: I love that. Yes, I've been using the Biotics Mo-Zyme Forte as well. I just learned the tip to chew it, so thanks for that because I've not been doing that. I want to come back a little bit to the conversation about the aldehydes and molybdenum.
So in people that have Candida, for example, that are producing aldehydes in the body. It sounds like that can increase the demand on molybdenum, such that they then maybe have more symptoms of sulfur dysregulation. Am I understanding that correctly?
[01:13:48.07] Dr. Nigh: That's totally right, yes. And I'm glad you mentioned Candida, yes alcohol that conversion, yes. So there's the alcohol, just drinking alcohol and then candida, absolutely is generating aldehyde. So people that have that as an underlying issue, it absolutely can mess up their sulfur because of taking up all that molybdenum, because many of us are not getting much molybdenum in our diet.
Here in the northwest, again Maria told me about this, I didn't know. But apparently, the soil is quite depleted of molybdenum around here. So even people that are eating good, healthy, organic, locally grown food are not necessarily getting adequate amounts of dietary molybdenum. So it can exacerbate all of those issues.
[01:14:34.08] Scott: We know from Stephanie Seneff's work and from your work that sulfate deficiency is a major issue. We've talked about Epsom salt baths as a way to replete that sulfate.
Are there other strategies that you're using to replete sulfate, particularly in those people that are reactive to sulfur? And can we have too much? And it sounds like we can. From the earlier conversation, it sounded like we can run into a scenario where sulfate then can turn back into hydrogen sulfide.
[01:15:02.28] Dr. Nigh: Yes. So yes, I mean, I think in terms of the sources of sulfate, I mean they're not too many other tricks. I mean, certainly, the body can utilize, if something like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate, that sulfate is actually utilizable.
And in fact, there are at least one study; I think two studies that have suggested that the reason glucosamine sulfate works better than chondroitin HCL or glucosamine HCL is because of the sulfate. Because when they look at the clinical response to those two forms of glucosamine, it's the sulfate form that seems to be the best.
So any of those kind of compounds, and again it's a matter of testing. Some people will do fine with it, and some people won't. And that's true of any given type of sulfur that might be introduced. So I'm not thinking glucosamine sulfate for everybody, but somebody has irritable bowel, or they have kind of the classic kind of arthritic symptoms.
Oh, well, let's use that form. Or MSM, which again seems to work fine for a lot of people. Not for everybody, but it seems to work fine for a lot of people. So there are lots of ways of getting sulfur into people just to make sure that they're maintaining a good supply.
[01:16:26.23] Scott: You mentioned earlier that we have to be careful about the water source, that that can be a potential source of sulfate that then ends up becoming stressful. Are there particular waters that are helpful and healing in people that have sulfur dysregulation?
[01:16:42.15] Dr. Nigh: Wow, another can of worms there. There's a topic, yes, so Stephanie and I actually, we had been working on a book on this topic. We decided to write a book about it, which has to do with, is sort of a whole new model of cell physiology. But it's really built around how the cells are trafficking and managing the presence of deuterium.
And deuterium is a big deal and way larger topic than I can go into. So I do think that deuterium depleted water which is not cheap, but it is; I think it is potentially quite valuable therapeutically. And that's something that I'm only just now moving into therapeutically, it's because of the expense, it's hard to do as an ongoing thing. But what I believe is that disruption of deuterium in the body is contributing to all kinds of problems, including gut issues and cancer and all lots of other issues.
[01:17:43.23] Scott: Can homoeopathic sulfur help those with sulfur dysregulation or sulfur sensitivity?
[01:17:49.29] Dr. Nigh: I think so, yes. And in fact, I utilize one, there's one called Thio Combination made by Professional Formulas. Which is a combination; it has more than just homeopathic sulfur, which I think is there in like a 6X concentration.
But it has other homeopathic thiol compounds. And that's one that I use with not everybody, but a lot of the patients that are having sulfur issues.
[01:18:16.17] Scott: Have you found any of the desensitization tools like NAET or Bioset, can those help with sulfur intolerance?
[01:18:25.20] Dr. Nigh: I think so, yes. I have had a few patients who went through a course of the NAET, and in fact, I think it had worked well for them. Another that I have used is LDA, low-dose allergen therapy, which is an injection therapy, something that we do here for all kinds of reactivity.
Whether it's food, environmental, chemical, and that has been life-changing, I mean really astounding what it has done for some people. And I do think that it can work for sulfur reactivity, as well as all kinds of other foods.
[01:19:00.08] Scott: Is there a specific LDA mix that has the sulfurs in it? Or are you using the foods mix?
[01:19:06.04] Dr. Nigh: Yes, I just use the foods mix, it's all proprietary exactly which foods are in there. But he assures us that it's pretty much everything anybody would ever eat.
[01:19:16.05] Scott: Nice. My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:19:23.24] Dr. Nigh: Oh yes, what do I do on a daily basis? So I work out. I sit on an exercise bike, and I get to read for 30 minutes without an interruption because I'm just riding my bike. What else do I do? I take, got a whole medicinary at home of stuff that I'm taking.
And I do what I love to do, which is the job that I do and then just the research stuff that I'm involved in is it's just so freaking fun for me. So I keep myself occupied with things that I like to do. And what else do I do? Yes. I work out. When I eat, I mean I would say dietary, and this is, I could claim this as some practice that I do, but it's more just because of that's how it works for my day.
But I really don't, I am practicing intermittent fasting in the sense that my first meal of the day usually happens at around 3 or 4 pm sometimes, it's 6 pm or so. And so my eating window of the day is usually somewhere between 4 and 6 hours.
Which yes, and then there's all kinds of studies now about how that up-regulates all the good genes and turns off the bad ones. And so yes, and I know people are going to say oh, breakfast is the most important meal today. But it works for me; it keeps me feeling light and good energy.
[01:20:54.21] Scott: This has been such a great conversation. As much detail as we went into, there is so much more in the book. So I urge people to get the book The Devil in the Garlic to learn more about this topic, ways to approach treatment.
I mean it's just a beautiful book, it's not a difficult read, but there's so much great information packed into it. I want to thank you Dr. Nigh, for being generous with your time and sharing so much great information, just appreciate you and all the work that you do.
[01:21:21.10] Dr. Nigh: Yes, I really appreciate you having me here, it's been a lot of fun.
[01:21:23.25] Scott: Thanks so much.
[01:21:19.13] To learn more about today's guest, visit DevilInTheGarlic.com, that's Devil-in-the-garlic-dot-com. DevilInTheGarlic.com. Or ImmersionHealthPDX.com, that's ImmersionHealthPDX.com. ImmersionHealthPDX.com.
[01:21:46.10] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or MeWe, you can find me there as better health guy.
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The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.