Johanna Budwig at work in her lab.
     You know, life if full of truths and half-truths. Most all concepts have shades of gray woven throughout, no matter how successful those concepts appear to be or not be. It is this truth that brings so much strife, bias, mayhem into our world by those that think their way is the only way or that their messiah has the only truth to all others. If you are honest with yourself, you will instinctively know that there are seldom pure truth in our world. There are only concepts that contain various volumes of truth, but never the whole truth. The Budwig Protocol and its adherents may be a good example of this. I was quickly blocked from posting on the Yahoo's popular Budwig group because, I questioned. The owner and moderators of that group could not accept ideas that contradicted or questioned Johanna Budwig's writings. They were strict scripture readers and followers. The sad part, no matter that the Budwig Protocol worked spectacularly for my dog and no matter, if the clinical statistics are correct for well over 90% of cancer patients which the good doctor treated her lifetime, it was not a perfect treatment by any stretch of the imagination. One of the major thorns that stuck in my brain was why would not the Budwig protocol work a second time on the same patient, a  patient that may have strayed from the original treatment and lost his/her remission, if it worked the first time? It is widely written and warned that successful Budwig patients be very cautious about going off the protocol because it is unlikely that it will work a second time. Why? Why would that be, if Dr. Johanna Budwig's theories are correct on how it worked, why would it not work a second time? It simply does not make physiological sense. Why are mega-dosages of anti-oxidants so warned against when the body depends on these compounds to stay healthy? Again, it doesn't make sense.

     It is widely known that Dr. Johanna Budwig warned against using antioxidants during or mixed in with her flaxseed oil & quark (cottage cheese) protocol. On this page, I would like to examine this caveat that so many current Budwig disciples consider the law of the land and which no one should ever dispute. Initially, I was equally resolved at avoiding all antioxidants when using her protocol, particularly Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).  I have long been a follower of Vitamin C, but like most good soldiers that take words at face value from their leader, I never questioned Dr. Budwig. Her warnings seemed  logical, presuming one didn't think too intently on the subject. What finally got me to questioning this antioxidant Budwig rule was when I treated my osteosarcoma dog with flax seed oil and was floored how effective it was turning around a dog that I thought I would need to put down in hours. I had purchased a bottle of Jarrow's Organic Flax Seed Oil at that time.  It was amazing! Later, I was unable to replace the Jarrow's brand after it was emptied, so I bought another organic brand which proved to not have the light pleasant, nutty taste of Jarrow's. It had a distinct off-taste which I later judged to mean it was starting to go rancid. My dog after a few weeks on this off-tasting brand soon showed a decrease in progress which made me realize how important a fresh oil was along with how insidious and  detrimental rancidity can be, no matter how slight. The kicker was that approximately six months later by chance, I happened to learn that my original Jarrow buy was not 100% pure but also contained antioxidant blends of organic sunflower oil, organic rosemary extract, mixed tocopherols, ascorbic acid and citric acid as preservatives which I had originally overlooked!  I was quite shocked that I had missed this in the description of the oil in the first place, but I wondered what was going on that it seemed so effective! According to Dr. Budwig and the prevailing thought, antioxidants added to such an oil should be counter-productive.  Yet, I had such great success? While on the other hand, my second bottle of a pure unadulterated 100% flaxseed oil without preservatives was going rancid seemed to detrimentally affect my dog's progress in days. Really,  how detrimental are antioxidants to flaxseed oil and the Budwig protocol? Are we being sold a false concept?

     Lets first examine the nomenclature of "free radicals" versus "antioxidants" in the greater scheme of medical physiology. Generally speaking, free radicals are not considered good to have much of in the body. They are oxidation by-products that are considered the root cause of inflammation by their action of capturing electrons from healthy tissues resulting in damage. They are the true electron thieves! On the other hand, antioxidants which are the body's safeguard for controlling free radicals are electron donators. Antioxidants give off electrons to neutralize the free radicals before these free radicals can steal electrons from healthy tissue resulting in damage. In short, free radicals tend to promote oxidation while the anti-oxidants' affect is as its name implies, a protective anti-oxidation one. Antioxidants act like body guards in sacrificing themselves for the good of the organism. Now lets look at food preservation of which many companies add antioxidants to help preserve foods and protect against rancidity. Rancidity is the natural oxidation of fresh fats/oils resulting in the production of free radicals which can lead to inflammation, cancers, etc.  Heat, sunlight, and oxygen in the bottle all stimulate rancidity in fresh oils. The fatty acids become rancid when they react with the oxygen in the bottle changing the fatty acid molecule into peroxides. Antioxidants added to a bottle of flax seed oil reacts with the oxygen in that bottle before the oxygen can react with the flaxseed oil. There is no chemical basis to think that antioxidants could steal electrons from the essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil or that they would denature it in any way as Dr. Budwig would have us believe. Antioxidants react with the free oxygen in the bottle, not the oil!

     What does Dr. Budwig  claim happens?    It is written in her book,  Der Tod des Tumors (The Death of the Tumor) that antioxidants added to oils are respiratory poisons. I have no idea where she gets this fact!  Without antioxidants being present in our respiratory cellular chain, respiration would never function!  Later she writes on (page 161)
: "Overdosing with isolated Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, thus it opposes the oxygen utilization in the organism."   In another book, Fotoelemente des Lebens (Photo Elements of Life),  (page 5):  "These highly unsaturated fatty acids proved to be essential for humans, necessary for life, not replaceable. Since these essential highly unsaturated fats easily take up oxygen in their "unsaturated" electron rich double bonds, it came to pass that with advancing civilization the preservation, the protection against oxygen became customary. Several methods were used which inactivate or, as the case may be, destroy this oxygen affinity, these photoactive electron systems. These methods include for example high heat, treating the fats with water, or the addition of chemical substances which are antioxidants. All this destroys the negatively charged highly active pi-electron systems. Thus the interaction in the exchange of photons and electron energy in the living substrate is largely destroyed." This is only partially true. It is true as she writes that the modern food Industry can use high heat and chemical methods other than antioxidants to destroy the essential fatty acid's affinity for oxygen. However, when antioxidants are simply added in conjunction with the oil into the bottle, it only reacts with the free oxygen that may be in that bottle, not the oil itself.   And still further on she writes: "How then do we get sick? Because we take in too many of these 'electron thieves' or in other words, because we eat foods and poisons which block cell respiration. Known electron thieves are for example margarine, animal fat, butter, nitrate, radiation and cytostatics (chemotherapy). They all prevent the uptake of electrons. Interestingly, belonging to this also are antioxidants, like for example vitamins (from a certain level on). Therefore be careful about using high doses of vitamins." Again, antioxidants do not steal electrons, they donate them!  Dr. Budwig writes in Die elementare Funktion der Atmung in ihrer Beziehung zu autoxydablen Nahrungsstoffen, (page 52): "The above-mentioned basic constituents of our food (proteins containing sulfurated amino acids, high omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates containing natural sugars, vitamin A and B) are usually found in natural unprocessed crops in well-balanced proportions.  I don't advise using isolated wheat germ but rather to presoak the entire grain and consume it that way.] Only then do you have the natural composition of the basic food elements and of the vitamins that go with it, as they naturally occur together. Because overdosing on isolated vitamin E has an antioxidant effect, i.e. works against the utilization of oxygen in the body."  Simply, no, it does not!  In her English translation, Cancer, The Problem and the Solution, she writes:  "Vitamin additives such as vit. A, B, C, D, and E do not provide any help if the respiratory enzymes are blocked by antioxidants. Vitamins follow their own laws for maintaining harmony among vitamins." Again, I say, antioxidants can not "block" the respiratory enzymes, if you study their biochemical properties. They do not steal electrons.

     To summarize her views on antioxidants, they are:

1.   antioxidants are respiratory poisons,
2.   antioxidants opposes oxygen utilization in the organism,
3.   antioxidants act similarly to industrial processes by destroying oxygen affinity,
4.   antioxidants are electron thieves like margarine, animal fat, butter, nitrates, radiation/chemotherapy,
5.   antioxidant over-dosing works against the utilization of oxygen in the body.

    Dr. Budwig claims that over-dosing on antioxidants act as "respiratory poisons",  yet she is quite comfortable with the antioxidant use that can be found in nature's foods. Just common sense will tell you that this isn't true! If antioxidants were indeed respiratory poisons then taking large doses of them would naturally cause one to become asphyxiated. Their toxicity would be readily apparent in the practical world of nutrition. Consuming large doses of vitamin C would lead to respiratory distress in a very short time. Of course, this is not true since many people commonly over-dose on Vitamin C and other antioxidants with no toxic affect whatsoever on their respiration. As far as natural antioxidants found in foods being ok while larger synthetic doses of the same chemical structure are poisonous. Not true either. Paracelsus famously wrote: "What is there that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison. Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison." This is true, but when it comes to the antioxidants, toxic levels are so high that for all practical purposes the antioxidants, particularly Vitamin C, may be considered some of the least toxic substances on earth. An antioxidant's purity and volume will not change the antioxidant inclination to donate electrons or revert them to stealing them as Dr. Budwig would have you believe.

     Right off the bat there seems to be a major discrepancy with Dr. Budwig's thoughts in labeling antioxidants as electron thieves!  Quite to the contrary, antioxidants are electron donors! Their function is to donate electrons to the true electron thief, the free radical or various reactive oxygen species (ROS) which may cause havoc in the body.  Having said all of this, there are times that it is alleged that Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can have pro-oxidant qualities, but as it would be used with flaxseed oil, it would not, even if it were true. Only the free radicals in any one reaction chain may be the subject of an inhibition by antioxidants.  This is a simple concept that is often forgotten and the essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil are not free radicals, nor are they vulnerable to such antioxidant inhibition.  They give off electrons and do not steal them like the free radicals. It is simply not their chemical nature! Accordingly, antioxidants are electron donors too, having no affect on the electron integrity of the essential fatty acids.   "Free fatty acids have a number of effects on membranes in general and on mitochondria in particular, where they can significantly affect energy coupling. On one hand, fatty acids are excellent respiratory substrates in most cell types, where they feed electrons into the mitochondrial energy-conserving respiratory chain." Note here that fatty acids feed electrons into the mitochondrial chain, similar to how antioxidants feed electrons into free radicals to neutralize them. It has been written that scientists may even label the essential fatty acids as antioxidants, themselves!  Perhaps Dr. Budwig's true views are lost in translation from the German to English or perhaps there were different semantics in her era of how antioxidants were defined? One thing is for sure as her works are now interpreted in English today, her view of antioxidant use are wrong.

     Before I go on, lets return to the alleged pro-oxidant properties of higher dosed ascorbic acid for just a bit. It is rampant on the web of the allegation that vitamin C when in the presence of metals (such as iron) can become a reducing agent to that metal by donating electrons to that metal to create free radicals. It is these said resulting free radicals that can cause damage by stealing electrons and, in theory, gives Vitamin C a pro-oxidant label via what is known as the Fenton Reaction. My view is that this is probably not a valid theory, and I support the position of the Orthomolecular  Medisearch Laboratories:
"While these arguments on the surface are alarming and appear convincing, they must of course stack-up against clinical observations to be valid. The fact is, they don't. What emerges from this is that the conclusions drawn by various researchers into the vitamin C/metal connection are largely based on flawed evidence. If a conclusion does not tie in with clinical observation, then there is something wrong. Without fail, the methods underpinning the "vitaminC-Fenton" paranoia are in vitro methods (isolated tissue cultures and blood samples exposed to the air). These methods inevitably produce results that are not necessarily related, if related at all, to in vivo conditions. There is considerable amount of in vivo research into the vitamin C-Fenton question. Without fail, in vivo research has NEVER been able to demonstrate that vitamin C is dangerous because of Fenton like reactions. Without fail, in vivo research ALWAYS demonstrates a positive effect of vitamin C on oxidative markers and damage in tissues." I won't go any deeper into this discussion here and suggest those doubters to study the Biological News article, Iron and Vitamin C for more detailed rebuttals to this widespread accusation. 

     Secondly, from the above quotes, Dr. Budwig suggests that the electron cloud of the essential fatty acids
"easily take up oxygen in their "unsaturated" electron rich double bonds".  This is very true and is exactly why flaxseed oil can so easily and rapidly go rancid!  It reacts with the free oxygen in its bottle and within itself.  Oxygen is eight times more soluble in fats than in water. This oxygen penetration results in flaxseed oil quickly oxidizing and going rancid.  It is also correct in saying that modern food preservation techniques use high heat, treating the fats with water, and fat hydrogenation,  but she also throws into these industrial preservation practices, the use of antioxidants.  The simple addition of antioxidants can not be lumped in the same category as the industrial treatments of the fats/oils themselves. In the first two processes, modern industry is chemically treating the fats directly changing their chemical structure while in the latter, the addition of antioxidants, the fats are not affected but only the oxygen dissolved in and around the fats/oils in the container. Two different process goals entirely!

     Dr. Budwig formulated her theories in the early 1950s when knowledge of cellular respiration was very rudimentary. What is most perplexing for us Budwiggers is if one studies the now accepted modern pathways of both cellular respiration and energetics, one can not find one pathway containing the Omega-6 group, Linoleic acid (LA) or the Omega-3 group,
α-Linolenic acid (ALA) specifically listed which were so highly touted by Dr. Budwig as the key to respiration. Science seems to consider an electron, an electron with Linoleic or α-Linolenic acids' electrons not being any more special than other electron donators.  Lets reexamine what is now known about cellular bioenergetics over 60 years later.  How does it jive with Dr. Budwig's principles?

      If one studies the English translations of Johanna Budwig, one gets the sense that a large portion of her work is based on the Otto Warburg' principles. This really isn't the full story. Dr. Guy Brown in his book The Energy of Life wrote that Warburg was not the only side of the story, but the biochemist, Heinrich Wieland also contributed to the better understanding of the electron transport chain of the mitochondria. Brown writes:
"The problem that bioenergeticists faced at the beginning of the twentieth century was how the electrons get from the food to the oxygen. This is not a trivial problem because electrons cannot easily travel by themselves (unless transported by a metal, such as iron or copper);  that is why most things cannot conduct electricity. However electrons can be transferred from molecule to molecule if packaged together with protons as hydrogen atoms  (remember that one electron plus one proton makes a hydrogen atom with the symbol of "H").  Wieland proposed that molecular machines (enzymes) within the cells ripped hydrogen off the food and this "activated-hydrogen" somehow reacted with oxygen (O2) to produce water (H2O).  Wieland's proposal was based on the findings by many other biochemists between 1900 and 1920 that there were indeed molecular machines in tissue that could rip hydrogen off food and the other organic molecules.  These machines were named dehydrogenases, meaning a molecular machine that removes hydrogen from things and the theory was called "Dehydrogenases theory of Respiration."

      "Otto Warburg strongly disagreed. His theory was that respiration occurs because there is an iron-containing machine within cells that binds oxygen;  oxygen takes electrons from the iron and the iron then takes electrons from food. Warburg believed that there was a single machine (respiratory enzyme) which was an oxidase--a machine that used oxygen and took electrons from other molecules and was responsible for consuming all the oxygen that  the body breathes in and uses.  Neither Wieland nor Warburg emerge victorious.  In fact, both were right and wrong;  both were looking at the opposite ends of the same chain of machines:
the electron transport chain. At the top end of that chain were the dehydrogenases which ripped electrons off the food and at the bottom end of the chain was an oxidase which contained iron and fed electrons to oxygen. Wieland and Warburg had been examining opposite ends of a great elephant.  Wieland had the trunk where the electrons went in and stated firmly that this was all there was to the elephant; while Warburg had the tail where the electrons came out and thought this was the essence of the elephant. Their apparent blindness is not surprising considering the methods available to them.  They ground up body tissue and looked for various activities of the tiny machines within, but they did not know at that time, that there were in fact about 50,000 different machines with different activities within the tissue--which was probably a good thing, since had they known, they might have never have tried."

     The opposing views of Wieland and Warburg were eventually reconciled by David Keilin. "In between the head and backside of the elephant was a chain of cytochromes--molecular machines that took electrons from the dehydrogenases and passed them on to the oxidase. Cytochrome means "cell color" and the cytochromes are indeed the constituents of cells that give them color. In fact, they change color when they gain or lose electrons and this was how Keilin discovered them and there role in respiration. He went on to isolate some of his cytochromes and show how they form a chain receiving electrons from food (through dehydrogenases) and passing the electrons on to oxygen (through cytochrome oxidase), thus forming the electron transport chain and linking the ideas of Wieland and Warburg."

     Dr. Budwig was quite obsessed with electrons and electrons are the base of her theory, but there is more to cellular respiration than just electrons. Guy Brown writes:  "The electron chain allows electrons to flow from food to oxygen, thus generating a continuos supply of electricity  within the cell. The next link in the chain of discovery was not forged until the 1960s when it was found that the electron electricity is used to generate proton electricity. The electrons flowing down the electron transport chain are used to drive machines that are part of the electron transport chain itself. These machines are the "proton pumps"and their function is to pump protons out of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are particles within cells, first isolated by Otto Warburg  and are the power stations of the cell. The pumps sit in the membrane of the mitochondria together with the electron transport chain and they take protons from the inside of the mitochondria and pump them to the outside. The protons have a positive charge;  as they are pumped out, positive charges accumulate on the outside and negative charge is left on the inside of the mitochondria, generating a voltage difference across the membrane of about 0.2 volt, and an electric field of about 40 million volts per meter. Because this electricity is based on protons rather than electrons, it  is sometimes called proticity or proton electricity. Thus, the electron electricity generated by the burning of food in the mitochondria is used by the proton pumps to generate proton electricity. Proton electricity is then used to generate further forms of energy  used by the cell--ATP or phosphate electricity. "















Under Construction with more to come!


More food for thought:

"There was limited understanding of fat metabolism in 1950 to inform Budwig's theory. While high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL) had been identified, it wasn't until the 1970's that apopeptides were discovered and their role and the role of lipoproteins in general, was more clearly understood. The discovery of the LDL receptor in 1974 (Brown and Goldstein) provided the missing link in the understanding of fatty acid transport and the potential role various fats could play in human health. In the absence of this knowledge, Budwig erroneously concluded that sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine were required for the solubility and transport of fatty acids. Sulfur atoms play a role in the formation of esters produced during fatty acid digestion and taurine from cysteine, is a component of bile salts, but these were not the mechanisms upon which Budwig's theory focused."

(from Components of an Anticancer Diet: Dietary Recommendations, Restrictions and Supplements of the Bill Henderson Protocol-----Cynthia Mannion,* Stacey Page, Laurie Heilman Bell, and Marja Verhoef----Nutrients. 2011 Jan; 3(1): 1-26.)