When the body cannot effectively rid itself of toxins, the risk of cancers and other medical problems goes up. Supplementation with calcium D-glucarate (CDG), the calcium salt of D-glucaric acid, may be one way to keep the detoxification process working properly[i].
Detoxification is a multi-step biochemical process conducted by the liver. In Phase II of this process, lipid-soluble toxins, including those produced by the body itself, such as certain types of hormones, are bound, or “conjugated,” with glucuronic acid so they can be excreted in the bile. Another substance, beta-glucuronidase, can undo conjugation, allowing toxins to escape back into the body and possibly cause cancer or other health problems. Supplementation with CDG may reduce this “undoing,” so it is being studied as a possible treatment or preventative for a number of illnesses.
The human body, like the bodies of all other mammals, makes small quantities of D-glucaric acid. The substance is also available in the diet through fruits and vegetables, especially lemons, grapefuit, apples, cabbage, broccoli, and brusselsprouts. However, a person with an unusually large toxin load, or a diet poor in fruits and vegetables, might find themselves with too little D-glucaric acid to do the job. Supplementation with CDG (as well as improving the diet) could be the answer. CDG can be synthesized from glucose and corn starch and is commercially available in easy-to-swallow pills[ii].
It’s important to recognize that CDG treatment is still being researched. While there is evidence to suggest it might help with certain issues, there is a lot we still don’t know about how CDG works and how best to use it. Using CDG therefore depends on some educated guesswork involving less information than would be ideal—but the public is able to try it for themselves, and some practitioners are developing treatment protocols based on their own judgment and experience.
CDG is being investigated as a possible treatment for or preventative agent of the following issues[iii]
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Skin cancer
- High cholesterol
Since much of CDG’s anti-cancer potential depends on its ability to regulate estrogen metabolism (excess estrogen causes or exacerbates many forms of breast cancer), its possible CDG treatment could help other estrogen-related problems as well, such as endometriosis.
Breast Cancer Prevention
Many—though not all—forms of breast cancer are estrogen-dependent, meaning they grow when estrogen levels in the body are high. This is one reason why women have higher rates of breast cancer than men do; men do have breasts and can get breast cancer, but they typically have much lower levels of estrogen than most women do. Some risk factors for breast cancer (early menarche, late menopause, fewer children, exposure to high levels of estrogen-like chemicals found in soy products and certain plastics) are problematic precisely because they increase a person’s lifetime dose of estrogen. Several existing treatments for estrogen-dependent cancers involve reducing hormone levels—but some of these, such as Tamoxifen, have unwanted side effects. CDG treatment could be safer.
Most of the CDG research so far has been done on rats (a species often used in breast cancer research) or on human cell samples. Typically, researchers attempt to induce breast cancer in the rats, or cancerous changes in the human cells. Those rats or cell samples given CDG get cancer less often. High dose-treatment with retinoids (vitamin A) has a similar effect, but it is too toxic to continue use for long periods. CDG, alone or in combination with low-dose retinoid treatment, shows potential as as a safe but equally effective alternative.
Limited human trials of CDG treatment as a preventative are in progress at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and the Texas and AMC Cancer Research Center in Denver, Colorado. Preliminary results are very incouraging.
CDG’s role in detoxification means it can reduce levels of various carcinogenic substances, and is being studied (again, mostly in rats or mice), either alone or in combination with other treatments, as a preventative for lung, colon, skin, and liver cancers. Few of these studies have been published yet, but initial results are very encouraging.
Prostate cancer, like colon and breast cancers, often has a hormonal component. Although CDG treatment is for prostate cancer is not yet being studied, it may also someday prove effective.
An Important Note:
Many people think of cancer as a single illness that can occur in multiple parts of the body, but researchers have learned that cancer is actually a family of very different illnesses. Even cancers that originate in the same part of the body (say, the breast) sometimes require very different treatments. So while preliminary research suggests CDG could be very useful in reducing the risk of some cancers, that does not automatically mean that it can prevent all cancers.
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Preliminary studies in humans have shown CDG can lower total cholesterol by up to 12%, LDL-cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) by up to 28%, and triglicerides by up to 43%. Although other treatments for high cholesterol are already on the market, they do have side effects. CDG treatment appears much safer. The exact mechanism involved is not entirely clear, but increased liver health and increased bile secretion may lead to reduced cholesterol production.
Cholesterol, while available through the diet in meat, dairy, and eggs, is also produced by the human body. Dietary changes can help, but lowering cholesterol levels sometimes depends on reducing cholesterol production.
Estrogen-related Issues: Acne, PCOS, Endometriosis
Hormone levels play a role in many health issues, including uterine fibroids, PCOS, endometriosis, gynecomastia, acne, and even weight gain. CDG is sometimes recommended[iv] for all such problems because of its ability to remove excess estrogen, or estrogen-like chemicals from plants or plastics, from the body.
Such recommendations vary in their reliability. For example, while acne in adult women can indeed be caused by changes in hormone balance, outbreaks occur when estrogen in low, not high[v], so it’s hard to see how supplementation with CDG could help—although users do sometimes report success in product reviews. Similarly, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) does involve high levels of estrogen, but the extra estrogen does not cause the symptoms of PCOS[vi]. Nevertheless, chronically high estrogen can cause other health problems (including cancer), so CDG might not be a bad idea for women with PCOS.
Men with low testosterone sometimes take CDG as well, not because the supplement increases testosterone levels—it doesn’t—but because low testosterone allows a man’s natural estrogen to have a greater effect on his body, as if he were taking extra estrogen. CDG has the potential to lower the estrogen level enough to bring it back into balance with the low testosterone.
Inflammation, though essentially a protective process the body uses to heal itself, can cause a whole range of physical problems if it continues too long[vii]. Illnesses that are either caused by or exacerbated by include cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, obesity, arthritis, allergies, and diabetes.
CDG supplementation is being researched as a possible preventative for lung cancer as mentioned earlier, however the exact mechanism appears to involve a suppression of chronic inflammation in the lungs caused by smoking and other inhaled toxins[viii]. While CDG is not currently being investigated as a treatment for other conditions related to inflammation, it does have potential.
Currently, most experts recommend adults consume between 1500 mg and 3000 mg of CDG every day. However, the optimal dose for medical purposes is currently unknown[ix].
So far, CDG appears safe. Mice and rats have both been fed high doses of CDG for extended periods without any ill effects, and preliminary results of human studies also suggest no side effects[x]. However, it is too soon to be absolutely certain no adverse effects will ever appear.
Allergies seem unlikely, since humans produce our own D-glucaric acid. Low doses are unlikely to interfere with pregnancy or lactation for the same reason. Whether CDG supplementation at high doses is entirely safe for pregnant or nursing mothers or babies may still be unclear. As always, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional with any questions.
While there are no known drug interactions with CDG, there is reason to suspect some exist; many drugs and hormones ultimately leave the body through the glucuronidation process, so increasing the availability of D-glucaric acid is therefore likely to make these substances leave the body faster[xi]. The basic action of such drugs is unlikely to change with CDG treatment, but patients could require higher or more closely-spaced doses. Again, consult a healthcare professional with any questions.
[i] (2002). “Calcium-D-Glucarate Monograph.” Alternative Medicine Review. 7 (4): 336-339.
[ii] Pure Encapsulations. Retrieved on 25 July 2019.
[iii] (2002). “Calcium-D-Glucarate Monograph.” Alternative Medicine Review. 7 (4): 336-339.
[iv] Wszelaki, M. (2019). “Role of Calcium D-Glucarate in Hormone Balance.” Hormones and Balance. Retrieved on 21 July 2019.
[v] Zeichner J. A., Baldwin H. E., Cook-Bolden F. E., Eichenfield L. F., Friedlander S. F., Rodriguez D.A. (2017). “Emerging Issues in Adult Female Acne.” Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 10 (1): 37-46.
[vi] Penn Medicine. (2018) “5 Myths About Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS).” Fertility Blog. Retrieved on 25 July 2019.
[vii] Pahwa R., Jialal, I. (2019). Chronic Inflammation. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.
[viii] Zoltaszek R., Kowalczyk P., Kowalczyk M. C., Hanausek M., Kilianska Z. M., Slaga T. J., Walaszek Z. (2011). “Dietary D-glucarate Effects on the Biomarkers of Inflammation During Early Post-initiation Stages of Benzo[a]pureme-induced Lung Tumorigenesis in A/J Mice.” Oncology Letters. 2(1): 145-154.
[ix] (2002). “Calcium-D-Glucarate Monograph.” Alternative Medicine Review. 7 (4): 336-339.