C. Ingram, D.O.
With dietary supplements there is a presumption of safety. This can prove somewhat dangerous for those who take them with impunity and/or who fail to scrutinize the source. Even so, by no means are such supplements as dangerous as pharmaceutical drugs. Let us keep this in perspective. Drugs are responsible for countless cases of extreme illness, including organ failure, in fact, in North America alone millions of such disastrous cases occur each year. Plus, standard drugs are a major source of premature death. In hospitals alone some 110,000 people die from toxic reactions to prescription drugs – and this is yearly, making such medications far more toxic than illegal drugs. Then, too, vaccinations are highly poisonous, sickening tens of thousands of Americans yearly but also causing cases of outright fatality.
In contrast, on a yearly basis botanical medicines do not cause such fatalities. Yet, no toxin should be given a free pass, even if found in the natural medicine industry. This is why it is so crucial to outline safety issues. Here is the critical element. Dietary supplements are deemed inherently safe. There’s sense of trust involved that at a minimum in it could only help and never harm them. It is from a plant, after all. In contrast, drugs are presumed toxic. Thus, only rarely do people take more than the prescribed or minimum dose. With supplements, people may take extra or even massive doses. Yet, should they do so if they are solvent-tainted?
Solvent corruption is a major issue, and it should never be understated. The typical solvents used for botanical extraction include ethanol, ethyl acetate, acetone, hexane, isopropyl alcohol, and 1, 2 dichloroethane, the latter being a chlorinated hydrocarbon (Note: hexane is rarely used, today, as a primary solvent for curcumin extraction). Many of these solvents are deliberate carcinogens. All are poisonous to the liver, although the most noxious of all are the petrochemical sources. Ethyl alcohol is the least toxic and, if fully driven off, does not cause any untoward effects. Regardless, how can an herbal medicine aid bodily function, while it is intoxicating the cells with petrochemical residues, including liver cells?
Per GoogleBooks via the text, Sweet Smell of Success there is the following report:
Dichloroethane is particularly poisonous. It’s a monster of a chemical, the formula and structure as follows:
What a heavily chlorinated hydrocarbon it is, noxious beyond measure. Yet, not uncommonly, it is being used for herbal extracts. However, now, because of its known carcinogenic properties its use is restricted, at least officially. Here is a summary of the degree of its toxicity from the chemical industry literature:
It truly is noxious, being a published carcinogen in animals as well as humans, notably a significant factor in lymphoma:
Even so, it has been said, although this is published unofficially, that batches of certain herbs are tainted, notably solvent extracted curcumin:
Curcumin Extract containing 34ppm of 1,2 Dichloroethane Purchased from a large US supplier that claims very high quality. Material was made in India. Supplier claims the only solvent used to make this extract was acetone. We rejected it and sent it back.
Note: this is an anecdotal report and has yet to be verified, published by a group which is also in the turmeric business. Even so, regardless, solvent extraction is hardly ideal. It is an aggressive chemical process. How can delicate plant medicines withstand such processes without being severely corrupted?
This is the typical solvent extraction apparatus. The apparatus is used to drive the solvents off through distillation through the application of great heat. No one can find this reasonable to any degree for making a truly natural, and effective, botanical medicine. Moreover, despite such vigorous attempts to drive off these toxins levels do remain and are often measurable: above so-called safety limits.
A person might ask, “Why use such harsh chemicals?” It is largely for convenience as an efficient means to extract highly biologically active components. It is also done for financial considerations, that is to create a patentable and isolated ‘herbal drug,’ which can then be sold to the highest bidder. Solvent extract herbs are comparatively easy to make and duplicate, and this is the reason it is done. In contrast, naturalistic methods are more labor intensive and cannot be done on a mass scale. Therefore, the raw material may be more expensive to produce.
Industry agencies have represented concerns about such solvent residues and their toxicity as a result of human consumption, for instance, this evaluation by the American Botanical Council:
Methanol is highly poisonous and is particularly toxic to the nerves, especially the optic nerve. It is the moonshine poison, known as wood alcohol, that causes permanent blindness. See the levels, though, that are allowed as acceptable in the botanical industry. They are excessive, some 10 to 15 times higher than that allowed in food:
Curcumin and turmeric: today’s herbal medicine craze
No doubt, there is great value in turmeric as a natural medicine. Yet, how much value is offered when the spice is harshly and chemically treated? Would a person not be better off to consume it in a whole, natural form without all the man-made manipulation or at least without heat- and solvent-based extraction? The process of subjecting turmeric to chemical extraction is nothing other than a chemical process, which is aggressive and harsh:
It’s washed with hexane and other petrochemicals, that is gasoline? If not these, then, acetone, which is similar to fingernail polish fluid? No one would want to take an herbal medicine based on this.
Then, what are the options? A person can consume high-grade whole, ground turmeric, ideally organic in source. There is also the fresh root, itself a medicine. As well, there are a relatively few supplements which are never solvent extracted and which are not subjected to harsh procedures. This will be covered in detail in the forthcoming book, The Turmeric Cure. For now, a few sound recommendations can be made:
The top, clean, non-solvent-extracted supplement available is North American Herb & Spice’s Turmerol, which is supercritically extracted. It is the only turmeric supplement containing wild turmeric. Plus, it is certified organic, a status just received. Only the oil drops are currently available, as the gelcaps are out of stock. The new name for the gelcaps and oil will be Turmeric-Plus, which is fortified with additional amounts of CO2/supercritical ginger plus P73 wild oregano and wild rosemary oil. This is highly potent, far more so than standard turmeric supplements. Furthermore, such a supplement is in an oil base, not a pressed pill form, and this facilitates absorption.
The supplement was written up by D. Wich in his blog, Toxinless:
There may be a few other acceptable brand where harsh approaches are never used. If they are discovered, they will be added to this post.
The top whole food turmeric powder is Cha’s Organic’s Turmeric Curcuma. A ground powder, it is FairTrade and OrganicBiologic, best quality. The source is Sri Lanka. A Canadian company, this may be difficult to procure. However, efforts are being made by www.americanwildfoods.com to stock it. Stay tuned.
The top root is to purchase organic, raw turmeric root, using it in a wide variety of recipes. The commercial root is usually tainted with pesticides and herbicides.
So, do use turmeric and/or its extracts, as long as these are free of noxious chemicals, which may compromise overall health.
Wild Red Palm Oil Turmeric Eggs
After cooking this up in my kitchen, I will never make regular scrambled eggs again.
3 organic eggs, the eggs removed and placed into a bowl, whipped
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 or three green onions, minced
a few florettes organic broccoli, chopped fine
three to five drops of Turmerol (for extra potency)
heaping tsp. Cha’s Turmeric Curcuma
heaping tsp. red palm oil or for even better taste, CocaPalm (if these are unavailable, use butter or ghee)
sea salt to taste plus black pepper to taste, if desired
In a skillet heat the red palm oil or CocaPalm, adding in turmeric powder and Turmerol oil, if desired; mix till blended; you can use an extra tsp. of the oil, if desired. Saute yellow and green onions, along with broccoli. When tender, pour in the eggs, adding salt and also pepper, if desired. Serve when done to the desired degree. Addition: you may make hot, butter whole grain toast, sprinkling this with the Cha’s powder.
The question must be asked; traditionally, turmeric has been used successfully for inflammation and joint disorders. The tradition has been to consume it in a fat base, even in whole milk. Are solvent-extracted turmeric supplements any better?
Note: will have someone put links for you. For now, search for all items on the net. Also, see www.americanwildfoods.com.
Dangerous Solvents in Curcumin and Other Supplements – Evidence
C. Ingram, D.O.