I’m always fascinated when modern research and science explain things that traditional cultures have intuitively known for years. For instance, modern science is uncovering the many important roles that Vitamin K2 plays in the body and how it supports oral health, and many traditional cultures have eaten K2 rich foods like raw dairy and natto for years.
Another area where science seems to be starting to understand traditional wisdom is the role of probiotics (especially soil based probiotics) for health. Researching is showing how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soap is creating an overly-sterile environment and depriving the body of beneficial organisms.
We live in a world where everything is sanitized, food is irradiated and we are so removed from our food supply that we never interact with the soil. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? Turns out, it is a really big deal!
Importance of Soil-Based Organisms
I wrote before about how gardeners live longer, and one of the reasons is their interaction with the wide variety of beneficial organisms in the soil (which is very much alive).
This is also the reason that children need to interact with dirt. Why? From that post:
What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her book, Why Dirt Is Good: “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”
After a study found that kids who grew up on farms or with a dog in the house had fewer allergies, research started to explore the importance of the organisms found in these less-than-sanitized environments and how they impacted health.
“Children raised in an ultra clean environment,” he added, “are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.
We may never fully understand the complex micro-system that occurs in the soil, just like we may never understand the human body fully, but one area of fascinating research is the presence of fulvic acid and humic substances in the soil.
Fulvic Acid and Humic Substances?
Ever heard of fulvic acids or humic substances? I hadn’t either until a few months ago:
Fulvic acid is defined as a “humic substance,” meaning that it is a major component of organic matter. A component of soil, fulvic acid is released as organic matter decomposes. During the process, millions of beneficial microbes are released, enhancing the healthful components of this substance.
Fulvic acid is considered one of the most chemically active compounds in soil as it contains a variety of beneficial nutrients. The compound contains an assortment of hormones, fatty acids, ketones, flavonoids, and vitamins and minerals. (source)
Fulvic minerals and humic minerals are similar but different:
Humic and fulvic acids (fulvic acids are humic acids of lower molecular weight and higher oxygen content than other humic acids) are commonly used as a soil supplement in agriculture, and less commonly as a human nutritional supplement. As a nutrition supplement, fulvic acid can be found in a liquid form as a component of mineral colloids. Fulvic acids are poly-electrolytes and are unique colloids that diffuse easily through membranes whereas all other colloids do not. (source)
Benefits of Fulvic Acids
Research is only starting to uncover the important role that fulvic minerals play and the information is amazing! Fulvic acids support the body in a variety of ways including digestion, cell health, brain health and more!
Fulvic Acid and Digestion
Fulvic acid benefits digestion and helps the body absorb nutrients from food. In a perfect world, our food would naturally contain high levels of fulvic minerals from the soil, but this is not usually the case with our modern food supply.
Consequently, a majority of Americans (and many others in the developed world) are deficient in a variety of minerals, and the epidemic of gut problems makes it difficult for many people to properly assimilate nutrients, even if those readily available in food.
Fulvic acid is naturally high in electrolytes and antioxidants, which also explains how it helps nutrient assimilation. There is also some evidence that these substances can be helpful in helping the body fight SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) since they are a source of native probiotics and prebiotics that remain in the digestive system and help the body maintain a beneficial bacterial balance. (Many strains of probiotics are temporary and are eliminated in the stool.
Native probiotics, since they stay in the gut, can be taken in smaller doses and often lead to rapid change in gut bacteria.
Fulvic Acid and Cellular Health
Fulvic acid helps water enter cells at a faster rate, leading to balanced hydration and mineral levels. Its unique balance of chelated minerals (over 70!) helps fulvic acid enter cells quickly and increases enzyme activity.
Consuming fulvic acid helps support proper biochemical reactions in plants and animals and optimizes cell response. Research is still developing on this and I’m fascinated to see what we will uncover in coming years.
Fulvic and Humic Acids for Brain Health and Energy
Though research is still emerging, there seem to be brain and energy supporting properties in fulvic and humic acids:
Moreover, fulvic acid “actively takes part in the transportation of nutrients into deep tissues and helps to overcome tiredness, lethargy, and chronic fatigue. It also works effectively as a tonic for cardiac, gastric, and nervous systems, adaptogen and anti-stress agent.” Fulvic acid has been shown to discourage age-related cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, jaundice, bronchitis and anemia as well. Dr. Susan Lark, MD, a foremost authority in clinical nutrition and preventative medicine, recounts numerous testimonials from individuals using fulvic acid who believe it encouraged the healing of cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, wounds, autism and chronic pain.
And a study in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that fulvic acid is effective in curbing diabetes mellitus by reducing blood glucose levels and improving lipid profiles in laboratory animals. (source)
How to Get Humic and Fulvic Minerals
In a perfect world, we could (and would) get all of our vitamins and minerals from food alone. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is not usually possible- at least not in the developed world.
I’ve been experimenting with fulvic acid supplementation lately, since even though we eat (almost) completely organic, buy food from local farmers (whenever possible) and make sure to consume a wide variety of foods, I still had several deficiencies. I wrote about my experimentation with supplementing with these minerals and my results here. I’ve taken two different forms and would recommend both of them: probiotics (capsules- more expensive) and Black Mineral Powder (powder- less expensive). (Note: I wanted these to be affordable to anyone who needs them, so if you decide to try black mineral powder, use the code “wellnessmama” for 50% off!)
Again, this is a new area of research and I believe science is just starting to scratch the surface of how these substances affect the body.
A Word of Caution
Since fulvic and humic minerals are so potent, they should be taken carefully and with high quality water that is free of chlorine and other contaminants:
Some of nature’s most valuable and essential anti-cancer and anti-disease phytochemical nutrients which are commonly found in food have been discovered to form deadly cancer causing substances when consumed or combined with chlorinated tap water. This discovery includes familiar foods including soy, fruits, vegetables, tea, many health products, and even some vitamins. Research has proven that these essential nutrients are the exact same families of compounds, that even in infinitesimal amounts have been tormenting the water treatment and chlorine industries for years.
Recently, a joint study was undertaken in Japan by research scientists at the National Institute of Health Sciences and Shizuoka Prefectural University. They determined that natural organic substances originating from foods, including fruits, soy, and green or black tea, react when tap water is chlorinated, forming dangerous cancer causing compounds. These deadly compounds have been named MX, which stands for “unknown mutagen”, and are similar to the already well-known and more easily detected cancer causing THMs (trihalomethanes). (source)
This is also the reason why we filter our drinking water and shower water.
Have you ever heard of fulvic or humic minerals? What do you think of them?
Cornejo A, Jiménez JM, Caballero L, Melo F, Maccioni RB. Fulvic acid inhibits aggregation and promotes disassembly of tau fibrils associated with Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;27(1):143-53. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2011-110623.
Carlos Carrasco-Gallardo, Leonardo Guzmán, and Ricardo B. Maccioni Shilajit: A Natural Phytocomplex with Potential Procognitive Activity. Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2012; 2012: 674142.
Strathmann TJ, Myneni SC. Effect of soil fulvic acid on nickel(II) sorption and bonding at the aqueous-boehmite (gamma-AIOOH) interface. Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Jun 1;39(11):4027-34.
Gamble, D.S., & Schnitzer, M. (1974). Trace Metals and Metal-Organic Interactions in Natural Waters. Ann Arbor, Mi: Ann Arbor Science.
Oxidation reduction – Senesi, N., Chen, Y., & Schnitzer, M. (1977b). The role of humic acids in extracellular electron transport and chemical determination of pH in natural waters. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 9, 397-403.
Fulvic and enzymes – Pardoe, H.L., Townshend, A., Clerc, J.T., VenderLinden (Eds.), 1990, May 1). Analytica Chimica Acts, Special Issue, Humic and Fulvic Compounds, 232 (1), 1-235. (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers).