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Can a Healthy Lawn and a Healthy Liver Co-Exist?

Since a popular weed-killer has been found to kill liver cells, those with chronic liver disease are advised to go old school with lawn and garden maintenance.

Lying amidst a well-manicured lawn and enjoying the fresh air may seem like a perfect, rejuvenating way to spend an afternoon, but it could also be poisonous to your liver. Particularly hazardous to those already managing chronic liver disease, the most popular weed-killer results in soft, uniform grass while simultaneously assaulting human liver cells. Although weed-killers are often the secret behind pristine landscaping, a liver-friendly lawn is still achieved the old-fashioned way – manual labor.

Affecting millions of Americans, chronic liver disease is a progressive illness. Preventing liver disease from getting worse requires being aware of the potentially toxic substances one might come in contact with. This is because the liver is primarily responsible for cleansing the blood of any impurities – and a diseased liver is at a disadvantage for performing this vital function. Unfortunately, those with liver disease who have a high level of toxin exposure unintentionally cause more liver damage, a process that will worsen a chronic liver disease prognosis.

Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup is the most widely used weed-killer in the world. Invented in 1976 by Monsanto, Roundup is a highly toxic herbicide that is detrimental to the environment, plant life, animal life and the human species. Originally marketed by Monsanto “As safe as table salt!” many people bought this product. Despite a 1990s ruling of a New York court forbidding Monsanto to describe the product as safe, non-toxic and as harmless as salt, many people continue to use Roundup for weed control today.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not outlawed Roundup, because most previous toxicity studies had been focused on Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate. The EPA claims that when used according to the instructions, glyphosate has a low level of toxicity. However, a relatively new study has revealed that the mixture of ingredients in Roundup is responsible for amplifying glyphosate’s toxicity – even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.

In a 2009 edition of the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, French researchers evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate-based herbicides in Roundup formulations of varying dilutions, on several human cell types. They found that the so-called “inerts” – the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides – added to glyphosate in Roundup may not be as harmless as previously assumed. A number of the Roundup formulations tested at very dilute concentrations were found to alter hormone actions and cause human liver cells to die within 24 hours of treatment.

One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.” “This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. The French team said its results highlight the need for health agencies to reconsider the safety of Roundup.

Inert ingredients are often less scrutinized than active pest-killing ingredients. According to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, the term “inert ingredient” is often misleading. Cox says that federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert.” Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.

The results of this study might be frustrating to those with chronic liver disease who treasure a weed-free lawn. Fortunately, there are better ways to prevent and control weeds that don’t pose a threat to an ailing liver. However, it involves more effort than periodically dispersing weed-killing chemicals. Several aspects of a liver-friendly weed control system include:

•    Tilling the garden and hoeing the topsoil
•    Mulching garden beds and covering the ground with landscape fabric
•    Pulling weeds before they go to seed

Because of the popularity of Roundup and similar weed-killers, physical contact with the average patch of weed-free grass poses a potential hazard to those with chronic liver disease. When visiting a park, experts advise lying on a blanket to form a barrier between your skin and the lawn. For healthy grass or gardens in your own yard, manual labor is the ultimate in toxin-free, liver-friendly weed control.


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http://tangergreen.com/roundup-is-toxic-stop-spraying-today/, Roundup is toxic – stop spraying today!, Retrieved August 22, 2010, TangerGreen, 2010.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/11-ways-to-control-weeds-without-chemicals.html?page=11, 11 Ways to Control Weeds without Chemicals, Chaya, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Care2.com, Inc., 2010.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/roundup-mix-more-toxic-to-liver-cells-than-glyphosate/, Popular herbicide more deadly to liver cells than its active chemical alone, Negin P. Martin, PhD, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Environmental Health Services, 2010.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients, Weed killer kills human cells. Study intensifies debate over ”˜inert’ ingredients., Crystal Gammon, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Environmental Health Services, 2010.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19105591, Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells, Seralini GE, et al, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Chemical Research in Toxicology, January 2009.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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