What Is Glyphosate? Learn The Health Risks of The Most Common Herbicide

glyphosate health effects
Glyphosate, a herbicide, is correlated with many health effects. Learn about the risks of glyphosate exposure and how to avoid it.

Chemicals are all around us. Even if we try to avoid them, they still make an appearance in our lives – through our water and food, the air we breathe, and the environment we work and live in. 

Unfortunately, glyphosate is a chemical that’s nearly everywhere. Let’s look at what glyphosate is, how it impacts health, and what to do about it.

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide that kills weeds competing with crops. It’s the active ingredient used in the popular herbicide Roundup and is sprayed on genetically modified crops that are glyphosate-tolerant, such as wheat, soybeans, or canola. It’s also used as a drying out agent for wheat crops before harvesting. In urban areas, it’s used to eliminate aquatic plants in parks or marine areas. 

Glyphosate works by inhibiting an enzyme in plants that assists in the production of three amino acids – alanine,  tyrosine, and phenylalanine. These three amino acids help the plant’s defensive and regulatory functions. Without them, the plant dies.

Because of widespread use, glyphosate is detectable in food, air, and water and can even be found in human tissues and fluids, raising concern for significant health risks. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to eat organic when you can!  Organic produce is non-GMO and is not grown with any herbicides or pesticides, thus by eating organic you will be avoiding glyphosate.

Glyphosate exposure can contribute to the following health conditions

Chronic illnesses including diabetes, autism, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Liver and Kidney Effects: A two-year study showed increased symptoms similar to liver and kidney failure when rats were given water with glyphosate.

Neurodegenerative effects: Inflammation, increased free radical production, and apoptosis (cell death) from glyphosate were found, contributing to neurological disorders.

Hormone imbalance, infertility, miscarriage, and problems during pregnancy. Studies found it induces free radical production and interferes with estrogen metabolism. 

Cancer due to breaks in the double strands of DNA, oxidative damage, and gene changes. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate likely has carcinogenic effects on humans, mostly for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Inflammation and immune system dysregulation from free radicals and an upregulation of inflammation from proinflammatory cytokines.

Glyphosate exposure can occur through the air, diet, or occupational exposures such as working close to agricultural activity. The most common way for glyphosate to enter the body is through the skin, but it can also be inhaled or absorbed through the GI tract via food and water.

How To Test for Glyphosate Levels in the Body

Glyphosate levels are measured through urine testing. Great Plains Laboratory (GPL) has a reliable test for glyphosate levels. We have found this to be a great test to assess exposure levels.

How To Avoid Glyphosate Health Effects

Eat Organic 

Eating organic foods is the best way to avoid glyphosate, as organic crops are not permitted to be sprayed with this harmful pesticide. You can also choose foods and supplements with a “glyphosate residue free” certification, which verifies the product does not contain glyphosate. Certification requires three rounds of third-party testing and must have glyphosate levels below government-recognized limits or detection – generally 0.01ppm. 

Eating an organic diet is so helpful that after only several days, glyphosate levels decline significantly in the body. It’s encouraging that glyphosate levels decline five to seven days after exposure, as this means even small changes can make a difference fast.

When eating organic, there are 12 foods labeled the Dirty Dozen that should always be eaten organically because they contain the highest amount of pesticides. They include: 

  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Hot peppers and bell peppers
  • Kale, mustard, and collard greens

Filter Your Air and Water

It takes 26 seconds for chemicals in typical household products, food, or water to enter your bloodstream. Using an air purifier to clean the air in your home and a reverse-osmosis water filter to remove toxins from your water are two ways to protect yourself. Great options for indoor air filters include IQAir filters or Austin Air systems.

Support Detoxification

Assist Your Liver Detoxification for Glyphosate Removal

The main organ responsible for detoxification is your liver. It breaks down and metabolizes things. After exposure to glyphosate, we want it to leave as soon as possible. The liver helps with this. 

The liver removes toxins like glyphosate in two steps, known as phase I and phase II. 

Phase I involves cytochrome P450 enzymes changing the toxin into a more toxic metabolite. Because the intermediary metabolite is more toxic, it’s important the body moves right into Phase II to complete the detoxification process.

In Phase II, the intermediary metabolite becomes non-toxic and water-soluble so it can be excreted out of the body through stool, urine, sweat and breath. 

Phase III is elimination of these metabolites via stool, urine, sweat, and breath. This is why it is important to stay hydrated, make sure you are having good daily bowel movements, and are exercising regularly.  I also recommend adding in some infrared sauna sessions to really step up the amount of toxins released in sweat. 

Because the liver plays such a center role in detoxification, supporting liver detoxification also helps remove glyphosate.

Supporting detoxification includes:

  • Removing toxins from your diet and choosing organic foods
  • Eating potassium rich foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, and bananas
  • Drinking more filtered water
  • Sweating through exercise or sauna
  • Boosting your organic vegetable intake, such as drinking raw vegetable juice
  • Taking supportive supplements like glutathione, and Liver Support for example.

On a different note – you can also use charcoal or clay-based products to help bind glyphosate. Activated charcoal binds with toxins like glyphosate and acts like a sponge, absorbing the toxins then excreting them.  

Minimizing Glyphosate Health Effects with Arizona Wellness Medicine

Now that you’re aware of glyphosate and how it affects the body, you might be wondering where to go from here. Eating organic is the easiest way to start. But, if you’re still concerned about glyphosate exposure, getting a glyphosate test is the first step. 

At Arizona Wellness Medicine, we know exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides occur every day, even when we do our best to avoid them. That’s why we focus on you and your unique situation to create a plan to decrease glyphosate levels in your body and support detoxification. Learn more about how we can help here. 


  1. Pleiotropic Outcomes of Glyphosate Exposure: From Organ Damage to Effects on Inflammation, Cancer, Reproduction and Development
  2. The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: a review
  3. Herbicide Glyphosate: Toxicity and Microbial Degradation
  4. Glyphosate Herbicide: Reproductive Outcomes and Multigenerational Effects
  5. Glyphosate-based herbicide induces long-lasting impairment in neuronal and glial differentiation
  6. The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: a review

Extra: Interestingly, higher levels of glyphosate was found in the biofluids of children than adults, but more studies are needed to understand why.



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