Sulfur: The Mineral that Fights Fatigue, Stress, Pain, Wrinkles

Sulfur onions garlicBy Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine who provides the most up-to-date natural health information.
Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the natural sulfur based remedy Joints and More, for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails, and more energy.
Sulfur may be referred to as a somewhat “forgotten” mineral that you don’t hear mentioned very often, but it’s very important for optimal body function. Scientists are now saying it’s possible you’re not getting enough sulfur in your diet, in spite of the fact that it’s found in so many foods.

Some of the most excellent sources are high-protein foods such as organic, pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, nuts and wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and it’s also found in leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli, as well as in onions and garlic.

Why is sulfur important? As MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) science researcher Stephanie Seneff wrote for the Weston A. Price Foundation noted:

“Sulfur is known as a healing mineral, and a sulfur deficiency often leads to pain and inflammation associated with various muscle and skeletal disorders.

Sulfur plays a role in many biological processes, one of which is metabolism. It is present in insulin, the essential hormone that promotes the utilization of sugar derived from carbohydrates for fuel in muscle and fat cells.”

Sulfur: The Third Most Abundant Mineral in Your Body

Six chemical elements — oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus — make up 99 percent of your body mass. The next five — potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium — kick in that last 1 percent in slightly varying degrees.

But while sulfur seems to be relatively inconsequential in this list, the fact is it’s the third most abundant mineral in your body. One of its most vibrant functions is as an antioxidant.

Sulfur is present in all living tissues. It’s a component in two important amino acids: methionine (mainly from egg whites and fish), which is essential, meaning your body doesn’t synthesize and must be obtained from an outside source, and cysteine, which needs sulfur at a steady rate and is synthesized by your body.

Your skin, muscles and bones contain about half the sulfur in your body. Your hair and nails, made of the sturdy protein keratin, contain a large share of sulfur, while your cartilage and connective tissues are a more flexible form, which changes and breaks down over time, leading to recognizable signs of aging.

Some of these indicators include wrinkles, sore muscles and joint pain, which may be an indication of a sulfur deficiency.

What’s so Special About Sulfur?

Sulfur plays a critical role in detoxification, as it is part of one of the most important antioxidants that your body produces: Glutathione (glutathione is the master antioxidant and it detoxifies every cell in your body). Without sulfur, glutathione is rendered ineffective. That’s significant because glutathione is your body’s built-in detoxifier.

One study explained that significance in a report about how sulfur and some of its compounds may protect against exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, X-rays and radiation, and can be used for detoxification.

Scientists concede that a sulfur deficiency may be a base cause for Alzheimer’s disease, which is growing exponentially every year. One article discussed the association between dementia and other prevalent problems and a shortage of sulfur in the body:

“Interestingly, sulfur is a very potent Aluminum Antagonist, which should satisfy those who maintain that aluminum is a significant factor with Alzheimer’s disease.

Likewise, a majority of younger and older patients who were suffering from a ‘foggy mind,’ concentration problems, and/or poor memory, showed below-normal sulfur levels, including many children or adults diagnosed with ADD / ADHD …” (from Acu-Cell Disorders).

Another article outlined reasons why sulfur and sulfate shortages within the body may explain the prevalence of heart disease. Research scientist Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D. at MIT called cholesterol sulfate a “mysterious molecule” that fluctuates in the blood and causes instability that may help cause cardiovascular disease.

Research backs up traditional remedies pointing to topical remedies using sulfur and MSM as an effective treatment for acne and other skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, scabies, seborrheic dermatitis and parasites.

The Science Behind the Healing in Sulfur-Containing Foods

Several beneficial compounds containing sulfur express themselves with healing in your body. Glucosinolates are one of them, found primarily in crucifer vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cabbage, and leafy green veggies like kale, collard greens and arugula.

When you cut or bite into cruciferous vegetables, you’ll detect a pungent odor, caused by sulfur-infused glucosinolates being released.

The George Mateljan Foundation a not-for-profit organization that studies scientific information on healthy foods and specific nutrients explained how this phenomenon has dual benefits, taste-wise and in healing:

“The cutting process may actually increase certain health benefits since some of the newly formed (and transformed) sulfur-containing molecules have been shown to have cancer-preventive properties.

This includes the sulfur-containing glucosinolates, which are formed when an enzyme called myrosinase is activated.”

Interestingly, scientists suggest that if you plan to cook your crucifer veggies you chop them, then allow them to rest for a few minutes beforehand so that the maximum benefit can be released. Cooking them too soon after cutting prevents the myrosinase enzymes from forming, so the benefits are lost.

The Significance of MSM and DMSO

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound in your body that’s well known for supporting your joints, but it’s also useful in other areas of your body. The make-up of MSM is 34 percent sulfur by weight, but it also affects sulfur metabolism.

Perhaps the best way you know if you don’t have enough MSM in your system is by symptoms that may include fatigue, prevalence in experiencing high stress, physically and psychologically, depression and even degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, arteriosclerosis, osteoarthritis and cancer.

MSM metabolizes dimethyl sulfoxide, a controversial anti-inflammatory and analgesic compound known as DMSO, which, unfortunately, is approved for use in veterinary medicine only, not in humans. One article explained that DMSO:

” … Holds promise in managing a wide range of debilitating health conditions. DMSO is an approved pharmacological agent in more than 125 countries, and its safety and therapeutic effects are backed by nearly 50 years of research and more than 10,000 scientific articles on its biological implications.”

One article discusses Dr. Stanley Jacob’s research on DMSO and its benefits in many applications, including the treatment of head trauma. According to Jacob, its ability as a free-radical scavenger and diuretic is part of the key to improving the blood supply to the brain, which reduces swelling:

“This improves blood oxygenation to brain tissue. Injured brain cells often aren’t dead. When these cells get increased blood supply and more oxygen, and when the free radicals are scavenged, dying cells can recover, and brain swelling is reduced very rapidly.”

Sulfur Deficiency in Regard to Obesity

It’s no secret that obesity has overtaken an alarming percentage of the American population, but it’s also an epidemic worldwide. One reason is because so many countries have embraced the Western diet. What does that have to do with sulfur deficiency? Again, as Seneff wrote for the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“A diet high in grains like bread and cereal is likely to be deficient in sulfur. Increasingly, whole foods such as corn and soybeans are disassembled into component parts with chemical names, and then reassembled into heavily processed foods. Sulfur is lost along the way, and so is the awareness that this loss matters.”

The problem with this type of diet is that it’s heavy on grains, such as bread, hamburger buns, and cereal, where the sulfur content is low. Developing “fast” food and convenience food was actually a brilliant marketing ploy.

But in the rush to polish off the fuel needed to keep functioning, important things like nutrition have gone by the wayside. Additionally, food manufacturers that “fortify” foods, such as breakfast cereals, with a dozen or so vitamins and minerals have misled many consumers to believe they’re feeding their children a “complete” breakfast that’s not only good for them but also convenient!

Mineral Deficiencies Sometimes Cause ‘Mystery’ Symptoms

Stephanie Seneff has a few theories:

“My extensive literature search has led me to two mysterious molecules found in the blood stream and in many other parts of the body: vitamin D3 sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. Upon exposure to the sun, the skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate, a form of vitamin D that, unlike unsulfated vitamin D3, is water-soluble.

As a consequence, it can travel freely in the blood stream rather than encapsulated inside LDL (the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) for transport. The form of vitamin D that is present in both human milk and raw cow’s milk is vitamin D3 sulfate (pasteurization destroys it in cow’s milk).”

A few other minerals that you may not be getting enough of are magnesium and sulfate (which soaking in an Epsom salts bath may help alleviate). A shortage of these could lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, high blood pressure and symptoms like leg cramps, muscle twitches or spasms.

Eating more vegetables, nuts and seafood is a good way to avoid deficiencies in these minerals, which could help you avoid developing serious diseases and disorders.

How to Increase Your Sulfur Intake Naturally

One of the most basic ways to obtain sulfur is by drinking water. In fact, you get about 10 percent of the sulfur in your body in this way. Hard tap water may contain more sulfur than soft water (however tap water should always be filtered), and studies indicate that the incidences of heart disease are greater for those who drink soft water.

If you want to increase your sulfur intake, one of the best things you can do is eat more sulfur-rich foods. Eating foods like garlic, for instance (as opposed to taking a garlic supplement), is an example; a good amount would be three cloves per day — raw and crushed or chopped before eating.

There are individuals who don’t care for garlic. If this applies to you, gazpacho and pesto are good ways to enjoy garlic in the raw, since mixing it with complementary foods dissipates the odor compounds and backs them off a bit. Another delicious and easy way to do that is to sprinkle garlic with olive oil and roast it, especially with sweet potatoes, carrots and onions.

The Allium Family of Vegetables Contain Disease-Preventing Sulfur Compounds

Clinical studies have identified organic sulfur-containing compounds (OSCs) from allium vegetables (such as garlic and onions) as potentially beneficial in preventing many diseases, including “infections, cardiovascular and metabolic affections, cancers and related indispositions.”

One study observed that garlic has been used for treating infections for thousands of years in many areas of the world, including Egypt, India, China and Greece. Its antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal benefits are due, at least in part, to the sulfur. As reported in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal:

“Garlic has historically been used to treat earaches, leprosy, deafness, severe diarrhea, constipation and parasitic infections, and to lower fever, fight infections and relieve stomach aches.

The most compelling evidence [is] that garlic and related sulfur constituents can suppress cancer risk and alter the biological behaviour of tumors. Experimentally, garlic and its associated sulfur components are reported to suppress tumor incidence in breast, colon, skin, uterine, esophagus and lung cancers.”

This article is shared with you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the natural sulfur based remedy Joints and More, for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails, and more energy.

By Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine who provides the most up-to-date natural health information.

The Top 7 Health Benefits of Garlic with Studies

health benefits of garlicIt has been said that all current drugs and medications are simply versions of herbs and foods that can be patented by the drug companies.

These herbs have been freely used throughout history for their healing benefits. The biggest jewel in the crown of all medicinal herbs is garlic. In earlier days, when antibiotics and other drugs weren’t in existence, the garlic clove stood in the place of the pharmaceutical industry for its large rainbow of potent health benefits.

Recent studies are confirming and substantiating the power of garlic. The ingredient in garlic that gives it its medicinal qualities is allicin.  Garlic is also high in sulfur and the vitamins B6, C and B1. Garlic was once known as “Russian Penicillin” because of its ability to act as a natural antibiotic against bacteria, viruses, fungus and colds, as well as its ability to strengthen the body to prevent overall disease.

1. Garlic Prevents the Common Cold – “Advances in Therapy” Journal

This study included 146 people who received either a placebo or an allicin-containing garlic supplement for 12 weeks. The participants recorded any common cold symptoms and infections in a daily diary. At the end of the study, there were 63% less colds in the garlic group and they recovered much faster when infected – in an average of 1.5 days versus 5 days.

This research also showed that those taking the placebo were much more likely to get more than one cold over the treatment period. The researchers concluded that: “An allicin-containing supplement can prevent attack by the common cold virus.”

2. Garlic Gel for Recurrent Hair Loss – “Indian Journal of Dermatology”

In order to determine the effectiveness of a garlic gel applied to the scalp for recurrent hair loss, researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group used a garlic gel for three months and the other used a placebo. In addition, both groups used a steroid cream on the scalp. The size of the patches and overall state of the hair was recorded each month.

At the end of the study, very good responses were observed in the garlic group. The study showed that the use of a garlic gel significantly added to the therapeutic benefits from the steroid cream and that it’s an effective hair loss remedy.

3. Heavy Metals in the Body Detoxified by Garlic – “Basic Clinical Toxicology” Journal

Workers at a car battery industry with chronic lead poisoning were used in this study. The workers were split into two groups: One that received allicin from garlic three times a day and the other group received the drug d-penicillamine. At the end of the four week study, the symptoms of lead poisoning were examined. The researchers reported significant improvement in the garlic group including less irritability, fewer headaches, better tendon reflexes and lower blood pressure. None of these benefits were seen in the d-penicillamine group.

4. Dietary Garlic Prevents Hip Arthritis – “Musculoskeletal Disorders” Journal

1,000 healthy female twins participated in this study. The team of researchers recorded the details of the diets of the twins and compared these with x-ray images that showed the degree of osteoarthritis development in the hips, spine and knees.

Their discovery was that a high intake of vegetables and fruits, particularly those high in sulfur such as garlic and onions, resulted in lower signs of the beginnings of osteoarthritis in the hip.

Dr Frances Williams, lead author of the study from King’s College London, said: “…These findings may point the way towards future treatments and prevention of hip osteoarthritis.”

5. Aged Garlic Extract Lowers Blood Pressure – “Maturitas” (the European Menopause Journal)

This study followed 50 patients over a 12 week treatment period. The patients were being treated with medication for high blood pressure, but it remained high and uncontrolled. The results showed that an aged garlic extract was effective in lowering blood pressure for patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

6. Garlic Enhances Exercise Tolerance – “Indian Journal of Physiology”

In a study of 30 patients with heart disease, treadmill tests were to examine their exercise capacity.  After the initial test, they were given garlic oil capsules daily for six weeks. When the test was repeated, it was shown that the garlic had greatly improved their heart rate at peak exercise and had also reduced the work load on the heart. This gave the patients better exercise tolerance and ability.

7. Garlic Lowers Risk of Lung Cancer by 44% – “Cancer Prevention Research”

In this 7-year long study, researchers at a medical center in China interviewed 1,424 lung cancer patients and also 4,543 healthy people. They were asked questions about their diet, smoking and how often they ate garlic. Raw garlic consumption of 2 times or more per week was found to be associated with a 44% prevention of lung cancer. For those in the study who smoked, the risk of lung cancer was still reduced by about 30% for those who ate the raw garlic.

How to Take Garlic

Garlic is best eaten raw. Some tasty ways to receive the benefits of garlic include adding it to homemade salsa, guacamole, salad dressings, pasta sauce, in mashed potatoes, and mixed with butter and then spread on bread. It can also be added to vegetable smoothies and hot vegetable dishes.

If raw garlic causes any stomach upset, there are many garlic supplements available that contain good amounts of allicin.

This health news is shared with you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a provider of nutrition articles and effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep remedy Sleep Minerals II, as well as Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains and stronger hair and nails.