Harmful or Harmless: Magnesium Stearate

Woman checking food labellingOne of the benefits of ancestral eating is that you avoid potentially harmful food additives like artificial colors, MSG, and artificial sweeteners. But even on a Paleo diet, it can be hard to avoid some fillers, thickeners, and additives. In fact, many common Paleo foods contain more additives than their Neolithic counterparts! For instance, commercial nut milks and coconut milk often contain thickeners like gums or carrageenan, while your run-of-the-mill grocery store whole cow’s milk is additive-free.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll review the science on some of the most common additives, and let you know whether you should be concerned about consuming them. First up – magnesium stearate!

Is magnesium stearate a harmless additive or dangerous chemical? Tweet This

What is magnesium stearate?

Magnesium stearate is a salt that is produced when a magnesium ion bonds with two stearate molecules. Stearate is just the anion form of stearic acid, which you’ve most likely heard of before. Stearic acid is a long-chain saturated fat that is abundant in beef, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and other natural foods. As I mentioned in my red meat article, it’s also the only long-chain saturated fat that scientists and medical practitioners agree doesn’t raise cholesterol levels, and doesn’t increase risk of heart disease.

Magnesium stearate is most commonly used in supplement manufacturing as a ‘flow agent,’ which helps ensure that the equipment runs smoothly and the ingredients stay blended together in the correct proportions.

Given the seemingly benign components of this additive, it’s a little surprising how controversial it is. There are a lot of misconceptions and inaccurate statements about it floating around the internet, and while I wouldn’t recommend consuming vats of the stuff (not that you’d want to), I think the concern over magnesium stearate is largely overblown.

Effect on immune cells

One study that many people have used as evidence against magnesium stearate is a 1990 experiment entitled “Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells.” This baffles me, and I suspect that anyone using this study to indict magnesium stearate hasn’t actually read it.

In the experiment, scientists isolated T-cells and B-cells from mice, put them in a Petri dish, and bathed them in a solution containing stearic acid (along with some other components). They observed that the T-cells incorporated the stearic acid into their cell membrane, eventually de-stabilizing the membrane enough that the cell died.

First of all, this study has nothing to do with magnesium stearate. They just used the plain old stearic acid that you’d find in your beef, chocolate, or coconut oil, so this study could just as easily be used against those foods. If you’re going to be concerned about this study (which you shouldn’t be), you’d have much bigger sources of stearic acid to worry about than the magnesium stearate in your supplements.

Second, the study has nothing to do with stearic acid consumed in the diet. Under normal conditions, your T-cells are not bathed in stearic acid, even if you consume superhuman amounts of coconut oil, tallow, and cocoa butter.

Finally, the researchers used T-cells from mice, and in this case, the results cannot be applied to humans. The mouse cells incorporated stearic acid into their membranes because they lacked the ability to de-saturate fatty acids. However, human T-cells do have the ability to de-saturate fatty acids, so even if you did bathe your T-cells in stearic acid, they would be able to maintain their membrane function. (1)

In case you got lost, here’s a summary: this study has no relevance whatsoever to human consumption of magnesium stearate, I have no idea why the study is being referenced in this manner, and you shouldn’t be concerned about it.

Concerns about pesticides and GMOs

Another criticism is that because stearate is often derived from cottonseed oil, it can be contaminated with pesticides. Keep in mind that magnesium stearate is a highly purified substance, and goes through an intensive refining process before appearing in your supplements. So far, I haven’t come across any reports indicating that magnesium stearate retains substantial amounts of pesticide residue.

As for the concern that cottonseed oil is often genetically modified, the source of crude fat shouldn’t make a difference in the final form of the stearate. Stearic acid is an 18-carbon molecule with a specific chemical structure that will be the same whether the stearic acid is from a genetically modified cotton plant, a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, or a grass-fed ribeye steak.

Effect on nutrient and drug absorption

Another criticism is that magnesium stearate might inhibit nutrient absorption. One in vitro study conducted in 2007 found that tablets containing magnesium stearate dissolved more slowly than tablets without magnesium stearate when placed in artificial gastric juice. (2) The study authors concluded that in vivo studies are needed to determine whether this finding has any practical significance. However, an earlier study found that although magnesium stearate increased the time it took for a drug to dissolve, it had no effect on overall bioavailability, as evidenced by blood levels of the drug in test subjects. (3) Further, another study found that levels of magnesium stearate didn’t affect tablet dissolution at all. (4)

All of this indicates that although magnesium stearate might affect the rate of tablet dissolution in some circumstances, it doesn’t affect the overall bioavailability of the drug or supplement.

Biofilms

I’ve seen this claim pop up in a few places around the internet, so I’ll address it briefly. Some critics of magnesium stearate claim that it can induce formation of harmful biofilms in the intestine. This assertion appears to be based on the fact that soap scum contains magnesium and calcium stearate, so they insist that just as soap scum creates films on your sink or shower, magnesium stearate creates films on your intestines.

It should be pretty obvious that the intestinal lumen is a vastly different environment from a shower door, but some people still seem to be concerned. Rest assured, there is no conceivable reason why this would take place, and I haven’t seen a single scientific article that even hints at this possibility.

Allergies

A 2012 study entitled “Magnesium stearate: an underestimated allergen” reported on a 28-year-old woman who had an allergic reaction to magnesium stearate, resulting in hives. I’m very curious about this, because an allergy to either magnesium or stearate seems highly unlikely, but unfortunately I don’t have full-text access to that study. But needless to say, if you develop hives (or another allergic response) after consuming magnesium stearate, you should probably avoid it in the future.

As a final note, a rat study determined that you’d have to take 2500mg of magnesium stearate per kilogram of bodyweight per day to start seeing toxic effects. (5) That means a 150lb person would have to consume 170,000 mg per day, which is so far beyond any amount you would encounter in supplements that it’s a non-issue.

Overall, I haven’t found scientific evidence to substantiate the claims against magnesium stearate, and the small amounts found in supplements shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of the population.

Now I want to hear from you. Were you concerned about magnesium stearate? Are you still concerned? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

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    • Robin says

      As a Cardiac RN, I would have to say no. Low magnesium levels would be of far greater concern. If mag levels go too high, they are excreted via the gastrointestinal tract.

    • Mark M says

      I believe YES!!
      I have been in an out of the hospital with tachycardia in excess of 200bpm. Without any good explanation I have been keeping track of everything I have been around. This last episode after returning from the doctors I have taken stock of everything I had taken in recent days. I purchased the typical generic ibuprofen, ant-acids, and other sundries but I bought them at a different store. A few days later a began feeling fatigued and finally breathless feeling, Heart rate was 155 so I took xanax, that I was prescribed but rarely ever take. I felt better but symptoms were still there just less concerning the following day I was feeling really bad, resting heart rate of 160bpm took more xanax and called doctor, he said come in. I did and took another half xanax and a couple ibuprofen for headache. When I arrived at the doctors I was feeling much better and a lot less concerned. When the doctor began to exam me I noticed he was really listening to my hear and promptly ordered up ecg my heart rate was romping 189 and I felt no anxiety just tired, of course I had a couple mg’s of xanax in me which I am not used to, so I was feeling happy. Anyway I have been dealing with this on and off for 2 years. My average resting heart rate over the 2 years was 110bpm. After all this I went home on beta blockers and began to investigate everything I ate drank was around and I could only find one common thread. Magnesium stearate was in the ant-acids, ibuprofen, and even in the xanax. All of which I picked up 3 days prior from a different store than I normally frequent, and NO it was not in the old ant-acids, or ibuprofen. So yeah I am currently pointing the finger towards magnesium stearate. Its a frightening thing dealing with something the doctors have no idea why its happening. I was one of those guys that never thought twice about an allergy or any reactions to anything.

      • Leander says

        Let me see if I have this straight. You claim to have been having heart troubles. After a doctor’s visit you then claim you decided to go home and check medications you claim came from a different source than usual and they contained magnesium stearate. You do not indicate whether or not the previous medications contained magnesium stearate but it seems we are supposed to assume by the exclusion of it’s mention. You then claim to have made the connection to magnesium stearate as the guilty party and came to a web page that talks about how magnesium stearate is harmless. …and you want us to believe this entire thread actually happened by chance. I’m sorry, but this is all to scripted for me. I believe NO! Because I am pointing my finger at the fact you are making this up to make up for your poor health, poor exercise habits and bad eating habits.

        • Mark M says

          LOL
          I’m sorry if my story has offended you. Yes I eat fast food and other garbage, I’m 5’10″ 170lbs and Look quite fit. I did comment that it was NOT in my previous meds. I don’t know for sure what is causing my health issues but if it was eating fast food and drinking soda I believe it would be an epidemic in America. When my problem first reared its head 2 years ago, and I came to believe it was the magnesium stearate I researched the web for info, and found little to none!! I was looking again and found this article and thought I would post my story and maybe if I am right, and someone else is having problems they could read my story and feel a little less alone. I had a follow up appointment yesterday and a mountain of blood work and was told I’m perfectly healthy. Being that there is no test for magnesium stearate sensitivity you can only try to avoid it and see what results come of it.

          • Laura says

            Mark,
            I, too, have reactions to magnesium stearate and I believe to other forms of magnesium supplementation as well. For me, I noticed over the course of a few years that any time I consumed any type of multivitamin or protein drink or other supplements to try to stay healthy I usually ended up feeling poorly. The worst was when I took a calcium/magnesium supplement and one time I took a large dose which landed me in the hospital. I started feeling over all just really awful so I called my doctor who said “Oh, I think you should just try to calm down. You are probably just anxious about something”. I hung up the phone, still very worried, knowing that the doctor was wrong. When evening arrived I told my husband, “I need to go to the hospital – I don’t feel like I’m going to make it through the night!”. At the hospital they ran and ekg and all sorts of tests and then admitted me because there was something in the results which looked like I had had a heart attack. After that they took a blood sample which showed that I had not had a heart attack. A few weeks after that I did a stress test at the cardiologist which showed a perfectly healthy heart. At the time I was a 39 year old female (still am female :), 5’2″ and 130 lbs.
            I can attest that it is possible to have reactions to magenesium stearate. Recently I took an antibiotic and a probiotic to balance it out which BOTH had magnesium stearate in them. I realized this after feeling poorly for several days while taking them which prompted me to look carefully at the labels. I discontinued using them both immediately and quickly felt better. Hope this somehow helps your understanding of your own story. I’m sure it’s not in your head – many doctors often just like to say that it is when they don’t really know what’s wrong. It’s frustrating.
            -Laura

        • bohnney says

          @ Leander
          Try rereading what Mark said when he DID state that the previous meds did NOT have the stearate in them..

          “Magnesium stearate was in the ant-acids, ibuprofen, and even in the xanax. All of which I picked up 3 days prior from a different store than I normally frequent, and NO it was not in the old ant-acids, or ibuprofen. So yeah I am currently pointing the finger towards magnesium stearate.”

      • Cathy says

        Mark, your tachycardia should be checked out by a Cardiologist but more importantly a Cardiac Electrophysiologist. I had that too for 15 years as a young adult and regular doctors told me I was just having panic attacks…wrong. It was extra electrical circuits in the heart that can be fixed.

      • rjsvan says

        Check your vitamins, capsules and tablet. They have magnesium stearate. I had severe irregular heartbeats, skipped beats, weakness in my heart. I eliminated all my supplements that had this poison in them. And guess what the symptoms disappeared. I have had these problems for years, been to doctor after doctor, hospital emergency rooms wasting thousands of dollars to be told its all in my head. Also, MSG does the same thing to me. Several months ago I started a food journal and recorded everything I consumed. All processed foods have msg disguised under names, natural flavor, spices, anything hydrolized. Contact me for more information if you have any questions.

      • Sandy says

        I had the same effects from it. My doctor even went as far as testing me for Rheumatoid Arthritis. After about five days of taking over the counter stomach acid reducer, I felt like I was getting the Flu. Deep muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue. After not taking the medicine for a few days, I would start to feel better. I even experimented by starting again, same effects after just a few days.

  1. Nancy says

    Hi Chris, my naturopath had warned me about selecting supplements with magnesium stearate and this has caused me a lot of grief as so many supplements do contain it. I was worried maybe I was doing more harm than good in taking these supplements so this is a bit of a relief to know that it’s safer than I thought. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lionel says

      Don’t change everything about your life just because one guy tells you one thing or another, and I wouldn’t take this article at face value.

        • Shawn says

          Chris backs up everything he says with copious research. I found that 95% of the reputable sources regarding Magnesium Stearate came to the same conclusions So, in this case I will certify that you can take this article at face value. (that being said, it is still good advice to do your research before accepting the advice of a single source)

    • John R says

      In her book “Primal Body,Primal Mind” Ms Gedgaudas at p. 317 regards Magnesium Stearate as an unnecessary additive as well as a toxic excipient.
      Another Supplement additive often found in vitamins and possibly with carcinogenic effects on humans is Titanium Dioxide(p.317).
      Thus, read labels carefully, especially other ingredients, and whenever possible avoid these and other additives until long term studies on humans prove them safe.

    • Carmen says

      Hey Chris! Every time I take herbs or vitamins in pills or powder form I break out in eczema all around my lips. When I take raw herbs and liquid tinctures and liquid supplements like floradix my mouth doesn’t break out. I am definitely reacting to something in the pills and powders and I believe it could be the magensium stearate or stearic acid. Every pill and powder that breaks me out has one of those listed in the ingredients. By the way, I’m a student at AIMC Berkeley and have been following you since my nutrition teacher required us to subscribe to your newsletter. Thanks for keeping us informed!

      • Hedles says

        Carmen,

        You could try a test to see if it might be stearic acid, by just eating a tiny bit of cocoa butter or shea butter . Both are mainly composed of a triglyceride made up partly of stearic acid. I stongly suspect that there may be some free stearic acid in them both, but I don’t know for sure.

        If you get any similar reaction from these it might corroborate your suspicions if not it would probably suggest it is not the stearic acid.

  2. Glenn says

    Hi,

    You write about Magnesium Stearate above.. I take Magnesium Citrate.. I once read that it will help with constipation. I do have that. (1) Is there anything wrong with Magnesium Citrate ? (2) What is the best Paleo Solution for constipation. I would like not to have that anymore

    I signed up to hear when your new book will be available, so I look forward to that

    • MR PALEO says

      Glenn,

      There are several ways to deal with constipation, but it would come down to WHAT is causing your constipation… vegetable juicing and coconut oil are two simple ways that would be of benefit regardless of the cause of your constipation….

      • Glenn says

        Ok. good point.
        I eat veggies (salads and cooked veggies -> broccolisk Cauliflower, squase, carrod…..raw veggie, carrot, celery, pepper, cucumber, tomatoe, cilantro….. my protein sources in order of eaten, chicken breast, salmon, walnuts, sour cream). Now would you please be able to inform what is the food causing the constripation ? This has been very helpful !

        cc: Allysa.. I will check the site for input. thanks much also !
        Thanks Much.

        • Alice says

          If you take calcium supplements and or consume milk products daily (consume calcium in excess of magnesium), too much calcium can cause issues such as constipation and calcium build-up in the body. I mean, one can consume too much calcium in milk products alone and then taking calcium supplements on top of that would cause magnesium to be deficient and constipation results. Magnesium deficiency causes huge problems (goggle magnesium deficiency symptoms/health problems) and since calcium and magnesium work together, too much calcium will make one deficient in magnesium.

          • MR PALEO says

            Alice,

            Yes, that is one possibility, but there are many potential causes that will create a magnesium imbalance, such as excessive potassium, etc.

    • says

      Hey Glenn! Chris has a lot of info about constipation and magnesium on his site already, so I’d recommend looking at some of his past articles and podcast transcripts. You could always search the site for ‘constipation,’ but since the search function on his website doesn’t always work that well, you could also google ‘constipation chris kresser.’

      Here are a couple to get you started: http://chriskresser.com/overcoming-low-stomach-acid-asthma-and-night-time-depression
      http://chriskresser.com/the-healthy-skeptic-podcast-episode-12 (in this one he mentions that magnesium citrate isn’t really the best choice; magnesium glycinate is better)

    • Bet says

      Glenn, I got great relief from constipation adding Magnesium Glycinate and probiotics (both on Chris’ suggestion). Make sure you get the one that says Glycinate.

  3. Suresh says

    I read an article where Dr. Mercola stated that magnesium stearate is very annoying ingredient and it may interfere with active ingredient and may reduce the bioavailability of that ingredient. I got so worried and checked all my supplements and to my horror almost every supplement contains that ingredient. But I cannot afford to stop them and at the same time, I could not find a product that does not contain that magnesium stearate…so I continued taking my supplements with a concern in my mind :(. Now, after reading your article…I feel super happy and I pledged myself not to read Dr. Mercola’s blogs again. :D

    • MR PALEO says

      Suresh,

      No one is infallible… Dr. Mercola is one of the most dedicated physicians out there… and his site has a tremendous amount of valuable information… “don’t cut your nose of to spite your face” !!!

        • MR PALEO says

          Suresh,

          (LOL) Anyone who has ever been at the forefront of functional medicine has been considered “controversial”. If you think that Chris isn’t controversial, think again…. and “theories” are just that, theories… no one is perfect, not even Chris…. or me…. or you….

        • Shawn says

          Dr. Mercola is a self promoting nut job. He is all about promoting his products and makes claims like the ones involving Magnesium Stearate in order to do this. It only took me a few hours reading his stuff before I realized this. Because I research everything thoroughly, I still read what he has to say, but find that most of it is just self promoting garbage.

      • Maynard James Keller says

        I’d take EVERYTHING questionable that Dr. Mercola posts with two two grains of sale, except then I’d have a way too high sodium intake.

        A classic self-promoting, product-pushing pimp, who happens to leaven enough accurate info among his nostrums to make his mongering sound plausible.

        And not that all the products on his site are awful (tho’ I’m not paying $130 for a 90 day supply of a “whole food multi-vitamin” when I can get virtually the same product from a trusted source for much less), rather the issue is that the site’s goal (IMO) is much more your wallet than your unbiased education on matters of health, nutrition, supplementation, etc..

        I’m much more impressed with this site’s common-sense, more truly science-based approach – with open forums where Chris’ assertions can be questioned, fleshed out and debated – and where he takes the time to participate IN the forums as well.

        • Ed Propst says

          Hi James,
          I’ve been evaluating supplements by comparing opinions from sites like this and Mercola. Could you give more specifics about areas where you think Mercola is mis-guided? I also started evaluating his products and The People’s Chemist. My feeling is that these guys are at least trying to provide supplements that they believe in, (although their pricing is really high), but are not as misleading as the bigger public vitamin/supplement companies who allow more dangerous ingredients and poorer quality in their products.

          My intent is not to discredit but to find the truth and better yet, where to get the best supplements that really promote health! So my question is — what are the primary resources you use from a research perspective in evaluating these products, and who sells the best products for the best price?
          Thanks!

          • Maynard James Keller says

            Consumer Reports did a study of what’s actually in supplements sold by a number of “natural” brands – including pricey ones sold in health food stores and others. This was some years ago, btw.

            The company I’ve been buying from from for several decades, is Puritan’s Pride (online and catalog sales). They also produces under other brand names – often for re-sale in other outlets – so one of the largest with the greatest “economies of scale.”

            The company came out to be closer to what’s stated on their labels than nearly all of the others – while often charging a fraction of what the “prestige” and “boutique” brands ask.

            In general, I’m a belt and suspenders guy. I read what the mainstream press/web science guys are saying – the Web MD’s, MSN healths and others – and also graze many of the natural oriented sites (focusing on those who publish more and sell less or no products themselves – lessening the inherent conflict of interest that hangs over the Dr. Mercolas of the world).

            And keep studying nutrition in general. There are many great sites.

            So the larger the mental (and other) databases of info you have for context, the more you can begin to make sense out of all the claims running around out there – but understand the state of knowledge will continue to evolve at a fairly rapid pace, even about the things that have been accepted wisdom for centuries or longer.

            Also one site/publication that’s even more conservative about this than I – the Nutrition Action Newsletter put out by the Center for Science in the Public interest is an excellent resource.

            I don’t want to post links here – but the info here is easily “googleable” – except maybe the CR Report since it’s older. I have the hard copy stored in another state, so can’t cite it here.

            And I’ll grant that Dr. Mercola may not be entirely motivated by his bottom line, but I saw him on a national TV show last week saying a few things I know were ridiculous on their face.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I will avoid it with sensitive patients, but even taking 100 pills a day wouldn’t get you close to a level that causes harm—as I mentioned in the article.

  4. says

    I appreciate your addressing this issue as I was concerned and I do believe I got the initial concern from Dr. Mercola’s website. I do have quite a few supplements that contain magnesium stearate and have been hesitant to take them. I shall no longer worry. I will anxiously await your report on carrageenan as I love coconut and nut milks but am not loving the additives.

    • Diana says

      I have only found one brand of coconut milk that only contains coconut and water. I would prefer to get it full fat, but I’m happy that it contains NO carrageenan. Since the cost is inexpensive, I usually use about 3/4 of the can. If you don’t shake it first, the last portion is the water and you can toss it if desired.
      The brand is Trader Joe’s light coconut milk, with the green and black label. On the downside, the can does appear to have a plastic film liner and doesn’t state that it is BPA-free, so it probably is not BPA-free, unfortunately.

      • Renee says

        Diana, You may be happy to learn Trader Joe’s is somewhat tuned in to the issue of BPA and has been working to create BPA free cans for its beans – and now most are. In fact, I was there tonite, I asked them about it — and the baked beans are now BPA free.
        If you go to their site and voice your concerns as an interested consumer, and let them know what you want that helps build a fire under them to respond to consumer requests.
        JUST THINK — If we ALL took a couple minutes to communicate out concerns to those who supply our food products — how powerful an effect we would have!

      • Elliott S. says

        “Natural Value” brand makes full-fat coconut milk, no additives, and uses BPA-free cans. To my knowledge, there’s only one store in Los Angeles that carries it, so you’d have to go exploring wherever you are.

  5. Laurel says

    Thanks for addressing this, Chris. I remember that the issue of magnesium stearate came up in my Nutritional Therapy training program. Gray Graham did a presentation for our class about Biotics Research supplements (because they were the sponsor of the training program), and he had basically the same view you have on magnesium stearate, although he didn’t go into as much detail. But I remember him saying that based on the studies available, you would have to eat an insane amount to get any toxic effect. Of course, he works for Biotics, so I didn’t want to take what he said as definite fact. And then you have folks like Dr. Ron, who claim that it’s a toxic substance, but of course he is also using that claim as a selling point for his supplements, which don’t contain magnesium stearate. I always figured it was no big deal, because magnesium is obviously fine and so is stearic acid, so why would they present a problem when bonded together? Thanks again.

    • MR PALEO says

      Laurel,

      Two (or more) “non-toxic” substances can combine to create a toxic substance…. there are numerous examples in organic chemistry… and “toxicity” can be a misleading term, as ANY chemical compound can be “toxic” to humans at sufficient dosage.

    • Hedles says

      Exactly, Mr Paleo! The most screaming example is the three simple elements, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. The first you drink in large quantities in every drop of water, the second you eat more of in every food than any other element, the third, you breath in, four times as much of as oxygen in ever breath, but one of each atom combined as a simple molecule of HCN and you have one of the most toxic substances known – hydrogen cyanide!

  6. Robert Jacobs says

    Thank you for this item. The magnesium stearate issue just does not seem to go away. Misinformation travels fast and is hard to overcome. I am much more concerned with items like di-calcium phosphate, microcrystalline cellulose and carrageenan. Hope you also review the safety of titanium dioxide, which I understand is also a relatively safe item used in supplements.

    • Honora says

      Yes, regarding microcrystalline cellulose there was an issue with Eltroxin (levothyroxine) a few years ago when they changed the formula in New Zealand. The doctors are still denying it (hysterical) but the Pharmacy took the issue very seriously after 1300 notifications vs only 5 and 9 for the rival brands and conducted their own study. Absorbtion was delayed and reduced.

      http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/hot/alerts/EltroxinInfo.asp

  7. says

    You are right, it may not be that big of an issue. But it is becoming easier to purchase supplements without magnesium stearate, as many “food-based” products are on the market. The consumer may pay a little extra, but the quality is generally better (MegaFood comes to mind).

    Thanks for keeping up with the research!

  8. Norma says

    Thanks so much for a sensible even-keeled, non-alarmist approach to this article. With wild claims being made by so many, I’m grateful for this well-researched and written piece. Thanks!

    • says

      “It should be pretty obvious that the intestinal lumen is a vastly different environment from a shower door…”

      — Absolutely classic. I could not agree more, Norma.

    • Chris Kresser says

      It is possible to manufacture supplements without these binders and fillers, and companies like Klaire, Pure Encapsulations, etc. do that. But it costs more, and you’ll see that reflected in their prices.

      • Mike Mutzel says

        They still use a fat for flow. Look at every Pure label, they use palmitic acid instead of stearic acid (every product has 10-20 mg ascorbyl palmitate per dose). Blends don’t mix well and hard to make a slug if you don’t have fat. People still use it. They just list it in other ways (vitamin C claim).

  9. Jeff says

    Thanks a lot for this, Chris. I had my doubts about how unsafe magnesium stearate it. I’ve found some quality products with the additive, and am glad I have one less thing to worry about. Excellent work as always!

  10. says

    Hi,
    I think that the use of magnesium stearate as a flowing agent when producing supplements or drugs is purely a financial issue. Using it apparently prevents machines from clogging and makes the production faster and cheaper. I choose supplements without magnesium stearate because of this financial aspect. I believe companies who make a greater effort in not using any unnecessary ingredients probably have a higher standard in general. So I think it’s worth to pay a little more for a high quality product that will dissolve better when I use it. Of course, when you want to create a product with delayed release then I suppose magnesium stearate would be great for that.

    • Doreen says

      I agree with you. I don’t want extra stuff in my supplements. Its obvious they can make the supplements without it so who needs it. I choose to use supplements made by companies that go to the extra mile to make them without extra unwanted additives, like you said they probably have a higher standards. Pure Encapsulation doesn’t use it either as well as some of the others mentioned above. I usually do a lot of searching to find what I need without additives but occasionally I cant find certain supplements without it so I take a few that do contain it but mostly not.

      • says

        Hi Sylvia-

        Have you ever toured a manufacturing facility? Stearic acid is the most prevalent fatty acid in the entire plant and animal kingdom. So when it’s complexed the most widely used mineral in the body, magnesium, it’s suddenly bad? Flowing agents are a MUST in manufacturing. If you don’t use flowing agents, you’ll have inconsistent dosing and capsules won’t make a slug. Every manufacturer uses them. You can use MCT oil, fat soluble vitamin C (asc. palmitate), laureate or Stearate. Leucine too can be used. In all honestly, the type excipient used is commensurate with the physical properties of the material being encapsulated. Betaine for example is hard to work with. Any manufacturer that tells you they don’t use fillers is fibbing.

      • Mike Mutzel says

        They still use a fat for flow. Look at every Pure label, they use palmitic acid instead of stearic acid (every product has 10-20 mg ascorbyl palmitate per dose). Blends don’t mix well and hard to make a slug if you don’t have fat. People still use it. They just list it in other ways (vitamin C claim).

  11. stephanie maricich says

    Could you make a comment or address if possible, the benefits and/or any contraindications of bathing in epsom salt? It appears to us to be beneficial, a couple of times a week, for muscle aches, pain, athletic exertion etc. I’d be grateful for your thoughts. Thank you

    • MR PALEO says

      Stephanie,

      Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) has a fairly good safety record, when used externally.. If it works for you, you might consider using magnesium oil (mag chloride solution), which does not require the facility to soak, but I would discuss this with your personal health care provider…

      http://www.misterpaleo.blogspot.com

  12. says

    Thanks for this research and all the research you do. Magnesium stearate was on my list of things to research but you answered all my questions and provided me with some great studies and background. Thanks again!

  13. says

    Great article! This is consistent with the research I’ve done on magnesium stearate too – although, I haven’t had the chance to write anything up on it. Thanks for all of the writing you do! Honestly, I have no idea how you have the time to do it, but I’m glad you do! I’ll make sure to send my clients/readers over to this great resource. Thanks!

  14. Adrienne says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! I have been MOSTLY avoiding this additive but even so, there are some suppliments that I love that aren’t available from another manufacturer that contain magnesium stearate. Thank you for your level headed approach to research, I look forward to reading your research on the other additives! :)

  15. Jane says

    Thank you for addressing this issue. You are always so level-headed and I feel I can always trust your thoughts, research and opinions.Thank you so much.

  16. Jennifer Lehr says

    Thanks for this article. I take a lot of supplements and magensium stearate is in almost everything so I’ve wondered about it but didn’t know.

  17. J says

    Thanks for addressing this topic with a good dose of thoroughness. Always appreciate reading your educational and informative contributions. I realize health information shouldn’t live in a static state.
    Is important to continually review and present the next evolutions of information destine to maintain balance of health, in this ever increasing toxic place we inhabit.

  18. Nilofer says

    On the topic of magnesium, my neurologist, who is a headache specialist, recommends magnesium glycinate because it apparently absorbs well and does not cause diarrhea generally. The main ingredient is magnesium glycinate, in the “other ingredients” section, stearic acid and magnesium stearate are listed which must be in negligible amounts.

  19. Alice says

    IF someone is gluten intolerant with inflamed gut/digestive issues, magnesium stearate CAN cause huge problems. IT DID for me. Why??? The possibilities are could be a number of things. It could be Processing agent contamination, OR it could be high in histamines (like most food additives such as dyes, preservatives, etc.), OR may affect an inflamed gut as a sugar/starch which can create huge problems for fructose/sugar intolerance, OR the oil base of it may not be digestible as often oils are for gluten intolerant inflamed guts and for other unknown reasons.
    I can say it affected me terribly when a compounding pharmacy ‘sunk’ it into my compounded meds. I got horrible digestive and constipation issues as well as labored breathing problems and increased heart beat. (the same symptoms I get from histamine intolerance – which I know all too well as a histamine intolerant person). I really thought I would die as my symptoms were so severe. I am also someone who had to be rushed to the ER with shock from a fire ant sting. Since this is a histamine reaction, I feel that mag stearate could be high in histamines and there are a lot of allergy and asthma people who cannot stand any more histamines in their system. So whatever it is, Mag stearate is an ADDED variable that can cause harm for a good percentage of the population especially since it has no known benefit EXCEPT for the capsule/pill machines to be oiled so they perform optimally in making pills/capsules. So it should not have a place in meds/supplements that one is generally taking to overcome or prevent health issues.
    Lastly, it is in about EVERY pill/capsule of supplements & meds. People easily consume half to a dozen and more capsules/pills in one setting and more than three times that in taking 3 times a day doses. So the DAILY amounts will add up through the months/years/decades of ingesting a substance that is a highly processed item that has uncertain side effects. Bottom line, it is a processed, man-made ingredient that could affect people in negatives ways that are not established. I KNOW it does create huge problems for me.

    • MR PALEO says

      Alice,

      How did you determine that it was the magnesium stearate ? There are MANY causes of severe histamine reaction…

      • Alice says

        I had figured it out from taking supplements. Like, I had vitamin C and added mag stearate and I had histamine reaction symptoms, then got it without mag stearate and did not have that problem. I learned it through trial and error with a number of supplements over time.

        • Alice says

          I should have also added that experiences like when the pharmacy unbeknownst to me, put it in a compounded med on the refill and I suddenly reacted terribly, and when I asked what was added that was different and was told mag stearate but the pharmacist quickly stated that mag stearate was an inert ingredient and would not cause this problem. Goes to show how much is known about this man-made processed ingredient and what it can do to some people.

        • says

          I’ve read that vitamin C suppresses histamines. If true, it’s possible in this case that the magnesium stearate didn’t provoke elevated histamines but that it prevented the vitamin C from having that effect… or that the quality of the supplement varied between the two manufacturers. Just tossing out ideas….

          • Alice says

            No, vitamin C was just one of the too many (wasted money) products I tried until through trial and error, I came to realize that it was the mag stearate in ANY supplement that caused me to have digestive issues, heat/lung reactions, disrupted sleep and mood problems. About the worst reaction I had was to a compounded med refill (no problems with previous batch) & when I asked pharmacist what was different he admitted mag stearate had been added to the refill.

            I have come to realize that one can not just go off of gluten when gluten intolerance is diagnosed. One has to do what it takes to heal the inflamed digestive system that gluten caused. For me that meant going off of all grains and fruits but no one told me that so I limped along doing so much better off of gluten until I hit that bump in the road. Like a fractured wrist for me, even though surgery was not complicated since it was a clean break and only needed to be moved 10 degrees back into place, the antibiotics/pain meds caused me to have such severe histamine reactions that eating and sleeping became impossible. I was now reacting to about everything, even smelling organic coconut oil gave me horrible headaches. (thankfully I am past that severe part now and gaining weight back and what a relief) Bottom line, processed foods are full of additives like mag stearate, dyes, preservatives, flavorings; so people in general are getting their mag stearate type food additives in daily “NOT” so small doses WITH added doses every time they take a supplement and then add the many drugs so many people take with that type of additive. So the end daily dose of food additives does not end up small for the average SAD (standard American diet) people consume. For those of us who do not eat processed foods, and need to heal back our digestive system from once eating SAD, that mag stearate can be an added addition to the obstacle course of healing the digestive system/gut/long tube from mouth to other end; in other words, that entire part needs to be fixed and I now know that for sure. No grains, no fruits, no processed foods, even few supplements, and those I do take have been sought out to be in powder form or free of additives. Eating very selectively paleo diet until I heal enough to add more of it. Now, no high histamine/amine foods on that list but I am slowly improving. I learned that I will never take antibiotics again except, well probably never.

            • Kelly says

              I’m not saying that magnesium stearate didn’t cause your problems, but I’m wondering if the pain meds you were/are taking exacerbated the integrity of your gut. Many pain meds like aspirin and NSAIDS are known to cause intestinal permeability.

              Glad to hear you’re improving.

              • Alice says

                I was given 2 big pills of ibuprofen when I was coming out of my surgery sleep, didn’t realize or even remember swallowing them. The stupid nurse gave them to me even though I had written on my surgery instruction to follow, NO aspirin type meds as I am allergic to them. No question that made my reaction worse as well as the dye in the pills and I know they also had mag stearate in them. Needless to say, I reacted horribly to those two pills. I could not eat anything that day, just wretched up bitter vomit and battled nausea from late morning way up to nearly midnight. If I had it to do over, I would have let my fractured distal radius wrist bone heal up the 8 degrees it was off and keep my gut. I could have lived with a hand that didn’t work the best but a gut that does not work is deadly.

              • Rachelle Harris says

                Interesting. My gut issues took on a whole new meaning when I had surgery and took copious amounts of Ibuprofen. I then had 12 courses of antibiotics in the space of one year. I have seriously never been quite the same. I have developed sensitivities that I was not previously aware of over the years, making my management more complicated.

    • Doreen says

      I am histamine intolerant too and I agree that it can have a negative effect on digestive health. So many supplements cause me problems that I am super careful about only getting those with out any additives. When I do that I can usually tolerate them.
      I wanted to mention one thing to you off topic. I recently learned that taking a Claritin or other anti histamine daily can be quite helpful and also taking something callee Histame as well. I learned this from the Microscopic Colitis website. I decided to try them and they have made a huge huge difference to me, I cant tell you how huge. I feel they are helping my gut to heal as well.
      BTW Histame is an enzyme supplement that breaks down histamine in your system from food or from excess that your body produces.

      • Amber says

        I’ve suffered from chronic non-allergic vaso-motor rhinitis for 15 years. I’ve taken a daily dose of anti-histamine (neoclarityn or levocetirizine) for the last 7 years and my symptoms are massively improved. I’ve also gone dairy-free and this really helps too.

      • Alice says

        Histamine is something I could look into. I also wonder about Deerland enzymes. They actually customize enzymes so I would have to have some help in which ones to include in my formula. They also do probiotics so I would have to look up which specific probiotics to take AND be sure not to take for histamine intolerance. I just learned of this company and plan to look into a customized formula.

    • Adam Stark says

      Mag stearate is not high in histamine. Mag stearate is only mag stearate. The only thing it is “high” in is itself. If your mag stearate is high in histamines, or creates a histamine response, then it is contaminated. This does not mean mag stearate is toxic. It means that the contaminant is toxic.

      As an analogy, if I give you water downstream from an outhouse, and you get giardia, that does not mean that “water is infectious.”

    • Susan says

      Thank you for this. I too have histamine intolerance. I sometimes get severe allergies – this time expressed through a really bad eczema outbreak on my skin. I started taking Culturelle Lacto. GG and Nature’s Way Primadophilus Reuteri because they are supposed to be histamin-lowering bacteria strains… and the eczema which was contained to my neck and above started spreading to the rest of my body, and I started getting constipation. I asked Culturelle about the magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide in their supplements, and got one of those company schpiel responses. They said if I want to avoid titanium dioxide, I could open the capsule and just consume the contents inside. I wish someone knew a lot more about histamine intolerance and how to heal yourself of it.

      • Alice says

        I can say without doubt that when I consume something with magnesium stearate, one of the bad effects for me is constipation. Since constipation is also an effect of having too much histamine, I know somehow that mag stearate causes histamine issues. It is either high in histamine OR it causes gut/stomach inflamation which then causes the body to produce histamine. For people dealing with histamine issues, this puts histamine over the top for us and thus the reactions. From what I have read about histamine intolerance, everyone with asthma is dealing with histamine reactions. Histamine intolerance is becoming common but the medical field does not see it. Instead they treat the symptoms it causes. A good book that explains this is ‘The Plot Against Asthma and Allergy Patients’. Another book that explains what one can do to heal from histamine intolerance is ‘What HIT me? Living with Histamine Intolerance’.

        • Hedles says

          Alice,Barbara

          Happily for me, I have never suffered from either asthma nor any severe allergic reaction as you do, so I have no personal testimony. However, I remember listening to a lecture some years ago – given, if my memory is accurate, by Barbara Wren, then, Principal of the College of Natural Nutrition , in which she stated that Histamine reactions cannot occur unless the body is dehydrated.

          So asthma is frequently related to a habit of drinking dehydrating sugary and carbonated beverages and asthma attacks can often be reduced in severity by drinking a glass of water. Again, this is all from memory of about a decade ago, so it might be good to check up exactly what she did say! There may still be tapes of the talk available.

          I also remember her saying that hydration is a complex issue and not simply a question of how much water you drink – every cell in the body needs to be supplied with the appropriate amount of water, not just the alimentary canal, and achieving this frequently requires taking in water in the form of ‘gloopy fluids’ such as ‘linseed tea’ which can hold water in the gut, not just pure water which is quickly removed to the bladder.

          Her mantra seemed to be: “Stress equals dehydration, dehydration equals stress”. I have often remembered this when my body is reacting to some external circumstance (like an impending deadline) which is causing me to panic and preventing me from being able to focus – drinking a glass of water has often helped me to calm down and stick to the task.

        • Hedles says

          Alice,

          I just read this and thought it may be of help to you to try when you get histamine reaction:

          “Dr. Batman in his book, ABC of Asthma, Allergies and Lupus on pages 144-150:
          Salt is a powerful natural antihistamine. The next time you get a runny nose or watery eyes from allergies, try drinking a glass of plain water, then put a pinch of salt on the end of your tongue and let it dissolve.”

          It is quoted at about half way down the page under the heading, “What salt does for you”.

          Bear in mind that the page is about the benefits of natural sea salt compared with the dis-benefits of commercial “table salt”.

  20. Linda Rivera says

    Thank you so much for this very important article! Unfortunately, because Dr. Mercola said how dangerous magnesium stearate was, I threw away big supermarket bags full of expensive supplements which I am now unable to purchase at this time (because of finances), but I definitely need them!

  21. Linda Ries says

    I must be “sensitive” to magnesium stearate and avoid it . If I happen to take a pill with it as an ingredient, I usually have some shortness of breath within 3 days. I’m not saying that I’m allergic because I know there would be an immediate reaction. It’s very difficult finding supplements without it!

    • Alice says

      You react as I do, with histamine reactions. Histamine reactions are not immediate but can easily come 8 to 24 hours after ingestion. You might check out high histamine foods and avoid them and also freeze leftover proteins (meat and egg foods) as they make histamine in regular fridge temps. That made a huge difference for me!

      • Susan says

        Good to know! I cook a lot of meats at home. I noticed I would my skin/ eczema would get worse after eating leftover duck this time.

  22. says

    Read the article, which I found interesting, but what really hit home with me was the comments by Alice. I take thyroid medication for an auto immune illness and, for people who understand anything about auto immune illness they will also know that it can have a big inpact on the gut. I have been struggling with my thyroid medication due to the fillers (the main culprit, I think, being magnesium sterate) but cannot get my GP or endocrinologist to take me seriously so reading what Allice had to say was a light bulb moment for me.

    I was also a little alarmed as to how easily the GM element of this product was dismissed. GM is an unproven entity and we will not know the full inpact of what GM does or does not do to us for years to come.

    • Kelly says

      Yes, good point about how Chris avoided the discussion of the safety (or not) of genetically modified sources of excipients…

      Chris? :)

    • Alice says

      What is insane about adding mag stearate to everything is that no real information is known about it. It could be an allergen as bad as shell fish or peanuts and so on. Many people would be horrified if they had to avoid supplements because they contained shellfish or peanuts and such, yet a probable allergy ingredient is put in about everything because the capsule machine needs it. Bottom line, mag stearate is a completely processed, man made product that causes problems for a number of people and probably many more people who don’t realize what is causing their issues.

    • Hedles says

      Linda, you are right that no-one yet knows all the effects that GM foods are going to have on humans (or other animals) – although there is already a growing catalogue of harmful effects that are linked to them.
      However, Mg stearate is a very simple chemical – orders of magnitude smaller and less complex than a section of DNA (a gene). The raw chemical absolutely cannot suffer any effect whatsoever from the genetic modification of the plant from which it was extracted. As Chris says, “Stearic acid is an 18-carbon molecule with a specific chemical structure that will be the same whether the stearic acid is from a genetically modified cotton plant, a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, or a grass-fed ribeye steak.” In short, magnesium stearate is magnesium stearate is magnesium stearate. The only possibility, therefore, of genetic influence from the source would be if the stearic acid from the source were not filtered/separated carefully from the other constituents in the source leaving some of the genetic material in the stearic acid before it were converted to magnesium stearate.
      The manufacturing process is likely to be:
      1. extraction of fats (triglycerides) from source material (cotton seed)
      2. separation of different fats, by distillation
      3 ‘saponification’ of the separated stearic triester
      4. extraction of the ‘soap’ product
      5. substitution of sodium by magnesium
      6. extraction and purification of the product.

      Step 3, above, “saponification”, involves reacting the triglycerides with sodium hydroxide (‘caustic soda’). This is such an aggressive chemical that even if the previous separation process were not at all thorough and some genetic material did succeed in reaching the reaction vessel, the chances of any of this delicate genetic chemical remaining in any condition that could be recognised as a gene by any DNA-controlled organism after being stirred in a vat with large quantities of caustic soda are as good as negligible, not to mention the two further extraction and cleaning processes before the final product is delivered.

      Chris is not being at all cavalier in ‘dismissing’ “the GM element of this product”. It is just a question of the chemical realities of the product and its production process.

  23. Pamela says

    What about people whose gastric pH is higher than normal? There are a lot of people like that walking around who don’t realize it.

  24. NevadaSmith says

    I had previously read about the concerns re: magnesium stearate but what I read did not strike me as being an issue so I was not all that concerned.

  25. Amy says

    Hi Chris, Interesting article. I was never concerned about magnesium stearate until I did some lab testing on myself that showed an immune response to this substance. This did explain why I just was not feeling well/not getting better while taking some very high quality supplements.

  26. Chris Saunders says

    Thanks Chris,

    I’m a little less concerned now, but I feel you missed the biggest issue. My understanding is that these substances become trans fats, and that there is no safe level of trans fats. They can stay in you body for 2 years doing damage. Now when you may take 20 or 30 supplements a day it could really add up.

    • Alice says

      This is exactly a concern of mine too, even if I didn’t react to mag stearate, I would not want to take a trans fat every time I swallowed a capsule.

    • Hedles says

      Stearic acid is a saturated fat. There is no such thing as a saturated trans fat.

      ‘Trans’ and ‘cis’ refer to the orientation of two carbon atoms either side of a double bond – cis orientation introduces a bend into the carbon chain – a geometric property which is important for many of the roles played by saturated fats in cell membranes etc.

      Trans orientation keeps the chain straight – so the trans version of the specific fat the body seeks for cell construction material will not do the job properly. This can lead, for example, to breakdown of electrical insulation of the myelin sheath around a nerve.

      Saturated fats have no double bonds between adjacent carbon atoms in the chain so cannot be either trans or cis.

      The meaning of “saturated”, in this context, is that all the available carbon bonds have been ‘saturated’ with hydrogen atoms – a double or triple bond is ‘unsaturated’ because, instead of linking to more hydrogen atoms, at least one pair of adjacent carbon atoms each link to the other with two (or three) of their bonds.

      The human body can convert stearic acid into an unsaturated fat (oleic acid – also the main component of olive oil) , but not into the important ‘omega-3′ and ‘omega-6′ “essential fatty acids” – which is why they are essential.

      ['Omega-3' and 'omega-6' oils are all unsaturated - the 'omega-3' or 'omega-6' nomenclature refers to the number of carbon atoms from the 'omega' end of the chain to the first double bond.]

      However, the biochemical pathways available in the body for creating unsaturated acids can usually be trusted to make only chemicals that the body needs – not the ones that will injure it!

      • Hedles says

        Correction: 2nd paragraph above should read, “a geometric property which is important for many of the roles played by UNsaturated fats in cell membranes etc.”

  27. Jay says

    Chris, I found this article after I read about claims from Dr Mercola. My wife has gone through a bout of diverticulitus and was treated with antibiotics. I was taking a probiotic that I thought might be good for her. Then I read the ingredients listing both Stearic Acid and Magnesium Stearate. OK, I must admit I got scared. I think your article put it into perspective, but with so much information out there, I don’t know who to believe. Thoughts?

  28. vizeet says

    I think MSG should be also not harmful. Glutamate is natural occurring compound. “Monosodium glutamate (MSG), also known as sodium glutamate, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids” –wikipedia

      • Kamasand Bakhurat says

        While I avoid the use of MSG at all costs, it is rather hypocritical of you to criticise another user of basing their facts off of Wikipedia (apparently it’s unreliable), and then you go on to base your facts off of an anti-MSG website, which is hardly going to be impartial than Wikipedia.

        • MR PALEO says

          KB,

          I try to avoid being “critical” in my comments…
          I was suggesting that Wikipedia is perhaps the “least reliable” source out there… Anyone who has been in this business as long as I have, knows about MSG. I am not “basing my facts” on a particular website or study, but on thirty plus years experience. I don’t have all day to find sources to quote, as I am busy trying to help seriously ill people. If you feel so inclined, I am sure you can find numerous sources yourself… instead of criticizing someone trying to help. And just for your information, I recommend against MSG consumption not because it is a “neurotoxin”, but because it is a KNOWN food allergy or food sensitivity that can be avoided, everything else aside.

  29. says

    Thank you for your summary and analysis of some of the research. As a nutritionist who uses a lot of supplements in practice the subject of excipients interests me. I have always explained to clients that since magnesium is an essential mineral and stearate a dietary fatty acid, this excipient has nutritional value–unlike the cellulose fillers. It seems however that some of the professional brands like Thorne have used the claim ‘no magnesium stearate’ as a marketing tool, and now Metagenics is phasing it out. It does seem strange because these two companies really do their research! I will be following up with Metagenics to find out what gives.

  30. Tom CHHC says

    In my mind there are enough concerns (scientific and testimonial) that have been raised about magnesium stearate that I try to avoid it. I advise my clients to choose additive-free supplements whenever there is a choice– these are almost always the highest quality anyway.

    The fact that magnesium stearate does not occur anywhere in nature but is man made through a high heat process bothers me. One could argue that man made trans fats ingested in minute amounts are also safe, but hopefully all of us here are smart enough to avoid consuming those at all. I place magnesium stearate in that same category.

  31. Joanne says

    I came to this site because I have two overlapping auto immune diseases both of which cause a lot of pain. I do not take pain medicine on a regular basis but when I do I have noticed that if I take Hydrocodone I get mouth sores and gum boils. This does not happen if I take the same dosage of Oxycodone. I researched the ingredients of both meds, active and inactive, and compared. The only thing I found different is that Magnesium Stearate is used in the Hydrocodone pills and not the Oxycodone. I am wondering if this could be the cause of the mouth sores and gum boils. I have not found anything referencing this side effect.

  32. michaelzz says

    My #1 question is “does Mr. Kresser have an axe to grind regarding magnesium stearate”?

    Additionally, in reading his article, one must be aware of the #1 greatest human frailty, i.e., tending to believe what one wants and needs to believe.

    mz

  33. Adam Stark says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a voice of sanity and intellectual rigor in this wilderness of self-proclaimed “experts” and alarmists and wanna-be natural med celebrities. I read your piece on mag stearate, and I’ve skimmed another few now. There aren’t that many of us out there who are doing what you do. Keep up the good work.

  34. Kay says

    I spent a long time writing about my own research and opinion about magnesium stearate and it suddenly disappeared.
    So here’s the short version: Just do an online search for the MSDS (manufacturer’s safety data sheet) and you will see that it is considered a skin and liver toxin.

  35. Paul E. Ryan says

    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis of magnesium stearate. However your article fails to discuss the only issue that really matters when it comes to magnesium stearate — namely, is the magnesium stearate made from hydrogenated oil?

    • Alice says

      manufacturer’s safety data sheet, brilliant Kay to look at this AND it is not good. (skin & liver toxin) Also, Paul, YES, is it a hydrogenated oil? That is what I said a number of times, why would we put a little bit of hydrogenated oil into our body every time we take a capsule for nutrition or supplement. Over the weeks/years, a little ends up as a lot. And for some reason, I get heart/lung reactions from it.
      Why is this not said about it or is it really a hydrogenated oil or what???

      • Hedles says

        If the magnesium stearate is made from stearic acid extracted from a vegetable or animal source, then it is NOT hydrogenated.

        Hydrogenation is a process for saturating (or partially saturating) unsaturated fats.

        Stearic acid is a saturated fat. There would be absolutely no point in trying to saturate it, because it is already saturated.

        If you made stearic acid from an unsaturated fat, by hydrogenating it – unlikely because it is readily available direct, it would still result in a saturated fat (stearic acid) and as I wrote in one of my other replies, stearic acid is stearic acid is stearic acid.

        The danger of hydrogenation is not in the word ‘hydrogenation’ or in the fact that certain products have been made by hydrogenation. The danger is in the damaged fats (e.g. trans fats) that can be produced by the process. However, if the product you seek is a (fully) saturated fat such as stearic acid, it matters not a jot whether it was made by hydrogenation or extraction from a ‘natural’ vegetable or animal source or otherwise, because there is no trans or other damaged form of stearic acid. Stearic acid is stearic acid is stearic acid.

        [There is some chance that a small amount of damaged fat that had not been fully saturated could be left in the stearic acid product after hydrogenation then separation, but since it is likely that there will be at least two further extraction/filtration/separation processes following that after hydrogenation, it is very unlikely more than an insignificant amount would contaminate the Mg stearate. Then consider that the amount of Mg stearate actually used in tablets is tiny and all you will get is a very tiny percentage of extremely small.]

        • Adam Stark says

          Thankyou, Hedles! Always a pleasure to have someone address issues of fact…. er — how do I put this? — FACTUALLY! :)

  36. JR says

    I dare say, there is one common denominator that is not being given the attention it so richly deserves, and that CD is GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). If what you are consuming contains ANY ingredients derived from GMO products, then you can expect gastric upset, amongst other repercussions. Cottonseed Oil was originally used as machine oil. I consider myself to be much more than a mere machine. At last finding from those in the agricultural “know”, all cotton grown in the US is GMO. So if what you are eating contains cottonseed oil, you are most likely getting all the wonderful benefits or should I say side effects of eating GMO products, which are too numerous to recount here, but one of which is gastric upset. I do maintain a belief that GERD is caused by ingesting GMO products, due to my own personal experience. Take all GMO products out of your diet, or go 100% Organic, and see how much your own health will improve, first of all your digestion. And yes, if you have been taking antibiotics, replace the beneficial flora in your digestive tract with pre- and pro-biotics, and include digestive enzymes for your stomach. GMO’s were designed to destroy the digestive tract. Destroy the digestive tract, and you destroy the organism. For future reference, check out Super Natural Silver Sol(ution), to use instead of antibiotics. Silver Sol has no known side effects, including argyria, and kills bacteria, viruses, fungus, mold, and pathogens like malaria, which are parasites. Surgeons are spraying it on surgical masks, and finding the solution to be as effective dry as it is when wet, killing pathogens on contact. Silver Sol does NOT promote the growth of candida. I will have to agree with Alice, as I no longer see any benefit to antibiotics as long as I have Silver Sol, which is also available under the Natures Sunshine label. This solution taken via nebulizer, is the best way to get the silver into your system, and as an added bonus, it will clear up respiratory infections. In the gel form, when applied to moles and warts, the skin lesions eventually fall off. These conditions are caused by viruses, and this silver solution kills them most effectively. (A word to the wise, this is not ionic or colloidal silver, and it is produced under a patented process, making it the only one of it’s kind). Awesome! After all, YOU are the only one ultimately responsible for your own health, as you will be the one who will pay the ultimate consequential price if you don’t practice due diligence on your own behalf. Carpe Diem!

    • Rudy says

      Well said JR, I was going to make a similar point. The author merely glosses over the GMO aspect and instead was concentrating on the pesticide residue. This stuff is built right into the plant’s genetics itself, and I find this glossing over and nonchalant dismissal of the GMO aspect to be alarming, given what we know about GMO’s from true independent studies.

      • Hedles says

        Assuming you accept that the fundamental picture of modern chemistry and atomic physics – for all practical purposes – accurately represents the world we live in (but don’t get me started on philosophy of science!), then whether the raw stearic acid is derived from GM cotton seed or any other source has almost nothing to do with this debate.

        For a short explanation, please see my reply above, beginning, “Linda, you are right that no-one yet knows all the effects that GM …”.

        In short, there is only one form of stearic acid and all molecules of this are identical, no matter where they are sourced from. Only in the unlikely event of some genetic material or other contaminants such as glyphosate making it through the extraction and manufacturing process into the final magnesium stearate product could this have any effect. See my above referenced comment for the reasons why this is very unlikely.

        • Rudy says

          Would have to disagree. Some say synthetic vitamins are the same, structurally, as natural vitamins. Even though mainstream science believes this, I do not. Some have argued that all fluoride is the same because it is the fluorine ion that makes it so. I would argue that the toxic waste they dump in our water supply is far different than that occurring naturally. Mainstream science is limited and much of it is used for propagandistic purposes.

        • Rudy says

          And there is a big component that your missing. There is a nonphysical component to reality that most people leave out and which is very difficult to prove because we do not have equipment to measure it yet. Example: We all have the same components that make up our DNA, yet some people have extraordinary abilities, while others do not. Wim Hof is able to raise his body core temperature at will. Science cannot explain it, yet there it is. Perhaps it goes beyond what we can perceive physically.

          • Adam Stark says

            We all have the same components that make up our DNA. Sure, why not say it that way? In the same sense, my reply has the same components that make up your reply: letters, punctuation, spaces. Yet they say very different things! This does not mean that the meaning and content of one piece of writing vs. another transcends words and grammar…

            • Rudy says

              The point I was trying to make is that there are anomalies that are verifiable that science cannot explain….yet. Just because things “seem” to be that way now “scientifically” doesn’t mean they always will. And mainstream science is limited. We are all made up of the same building blocks…more or less…yet some possess abilities that are far beyond others or “impossible”. Just because things look the same from a mainstream science point of view doesn’t mean they are. I used the example of Wim Hof earlier who can raise his core body temperature even when submerged in near freezing water. Science can’t explain it, yet how much different is his physical, scientific make-up?

          • Hedles says

            Rudy,

            I agree with a lot of your ‘sentiment’, but I would express it differently.

            I did issue a warning not to get me started on the philosophy of science, but there is really no other alternative to reasonably address some of the issues you have raised in all your posts to date – not just the one above.

            “Science” means knowledge. What do we actually ‘know’, and what components of ‘science’ are actually knowledge as opposed to opinion, guesswork, theory or (political) propaganda?

            I would argue that the only components of what is commonly understood as ‘science’ that can reasonably be regarded as true knowledge are the data that are the results of scientific observation and measurement and the mathematical relationships between those data.

            Everything else is ‘theory’ or ‘working hypothesis’ or just pure guesswork or wishful thinking or propaganda.

            Every time a scientist draws a conclusion about the nature of physical reality from experimental data, s/he is doing one of three things: either extrapolating (or interpolating) from the actual results to a larger domain than the results can prove, or proposing a picture or an image of reality that we can visualise, or proposing a mathematical model of that picture which can be used to predict the results of further experiment. Normally these three activities follow in approximately that sequence but with a great deal of feedback from later to earlier stages that modifies the earlier output. All three of them can be classified as scientific theory.

            Once a mathematical model has been proposed, it can be tested – first, to see if it is self-consistent, second to see if it correctly predicts the results of previously untried experiments.

            Once it has passed these tests for a reasonable length of time without failure, confidence grows in the model and it can become elevated to the status of an accepted scientific theory.

            In my opinion, a big problem is that once a theory has been accepted for a good length of time, many people, sadly including many scientists, begin to confuse the theory with reality.

            In fact, the theory is only ever a model of reality – one that usually expresses much of the knowledge (experimental data) that we have collected so far.

            So when you say that there are some observations that science cannot explain, I agree with you completely. “Science” is a work in progress and biological science is particularly complex and ‘never-ending’, so perhaps at some point science will catch up with some of these unexplained observations and incorporate them into its model.

            This is precisely why I began my first post with, “assuming you accept that the fundamental picture of modern chemistry and atomic physics … accurately represents the world we live in”.

            That accuracy is a big assumption! But there is very good reason to make it. Much of the scientific model we currently work with has been exhaustively tested over many decades for compliance with reality – not just by direct scientific experimentation, but by engineering applications from the construction of skyscrapers to the manufacture and use of electronic devices – and it is able to correctly predict many experimental results as accurately as we are able to measure them.

            However, none of that means that the model is complete or that there are no future results that will cause us to revise the model. Nor does it mean that there might not be some completely different model that predicts as well as or better than the currently accepted model.

            Even, for example, the atomic model of reality could be challenged. Nobody has ever seen
            an atom with their naked eye, nor heard one, smelt one, felt one or tasted one. We have seen pictures of atoms, generated by scientific instruments. But I could easily create an image of what I imagine an atom looks like and that would not prove that the atom exists. The difference is that these so-called ‘images of atoms’ are generated by an instrument that is supposed to be sensing the atomic structure of some piece of matter. However, the logical flaw is that the instrument is constructed and the image generated based on many layers of theory that assume the existence of the atoms being imaged.

            Nothing in science or logic can prove that atoms must exist. So, logically, it is entirely possible that some day an alternative mathematical model not invoking atoms might be constructed that delivers results as or more accurate and consistent to reality as the atomic model we have today.

            For the time being, however, the atomic model is extremely successful and it is the only model we have that fits so widely into our intuitive understanding of reality.

            - – - – -

            Some synthetic vitamins may have the exact same structure as the naturally occurring, others definitely do not – and any biologist who has knowledge of the subject would agree. What is often different, however, between vitamin supplements and vitamins in their natural context, is precisely that – the chemical context – the soup of other enzymes, proteins and chemicals of all kinds that are part of the natural package.

            Naturally fluoride is not the same as “the toxic waste they dump in our water supply”. There is no question about that. Anybody who says otherwise is suffering from an overdose of propaganda.

            You speak of “a nonphysical component to reality” and then cite as an example “Wim Hof is able to raise his body core temperature at will.”

            To me this does not sound like a nonphysical component to reality. Body temperature, is surely a physically measurable value. If Hof has found a way to control his bodily control system by application of his decision making power, then there is some prospect that scientific observation of his feat might be able to understand the physical processes involved and even eventually be able to teach others to do the same.

            However, I do not dismiss your suggestion that there are nonphysical components of reality. It is certainly possible that there is a spiritual world ‘within’, ‘around’, ‘above’ and ‘beyond’ the physical realm. To me nothing else could explain the existence of the physical universe. Big bang or no big bang, the universe is not a logical necessity.

            However, the difficulty for scientific exploration of such metaphysical reality is that what we cannot observe and measure repeatedly and reproducibly cannot form the basis of scientific data – certainly in the sense of modern science since Galileo. Where the spiritual impinges upon the physical with a measurable physical impact we might begin to investigate, but where there is no such impact science cannot begin.

  37. Angiw says

    I was told by my holistic doctor that it is converted into a trans fat (hydrogenation process)…and trans fats are bad so I am confused..is it trans fat or isn’t it? Thanks!

    • says

      There are statements of “prediction” and “interpretation” (i.e. “mag stearate is good for you/bad for you”). Then there are statements of irrefutable fact, i.e. regarding the chemical structure of a substance. This is an issue of FACT. Simply put, a fatty acid may be a trans-fat; it may be a saturated fat; but it cannot be both. Period.

      Hydrogenation is a process which can turn polyunsaturated fats into both trans-fats and saturated fats. But the same process can have different results.

      And let’s not forget, even if we were talking trans-fats, 2% pill weight of a 500 mg capsule is 10 mg, of which about 70% is stearic acid, or around 7 mg. 1,000 mg in a gram. 28 grams in an ounce…. You do the math! :)

  38. Nurse says

    WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T. For many years, most of the supplements I purchased have contained stearic acid and/or magnesium stearate. Having done my own research on these two additives, I will definitely be switching to organic whole food supplements from now on. One report stated that the presence of these particular stearates in a formula reduces the absorption rate of the supplement to only 25% – 30%. No more for me. Yes, it will cost me more initially, but not as much as I have already spent on products that have done me very little good and may have even harmed my system, thanks to these two culprits that I assumed were safe for consumption.

    • MR PALEO says

      Lora,

      As I have stated previously, Chris may (or may not) be omniscient, but, in my opinion, he does know his biochemistry, and practices due diligence when analyzing and reviewing a given subject. Just because one does not understand something does not mean it is necessarily appropriate to criticize the messenger… but it is your choice…

      • Alice says

        Did you open the website??? WOW, THERE this is said:

        “Magnesium stearate affects the respiratory system as well. When someone inhales the powder or fumes of magnesium stearate side effect, he may get some of the structures of the respiratory system inflamed. He is most likely to develop asphyxia, which is physiological condition wherein there is either no or insufficient oxygen and carbon dioxide available to the body. It may result in unconsciousness or even death. It may trigger allergic reaction in people. Such people mostly include those who are sensitive to food additives.”

        Now that is exactly the reaction I get, not when I inhale it of course, but when I ingest it. While I Love Chris, my EXPERIENCE says he, as a messenger, didn’t realize the ill health effects including possible dangerous reactions to the heart and air pathways of our body. The fact that mag stearate is added solely for the machines, just CHUCK IT. I believe IF the research was done, mag stearate would be found to affect many people.

        • MR PALEO says

          Alice,

          Yes, I reviewed what was presented, however, there were several misleading statements which, for me, cause concern about the accuracy of the material presented.
          Let’s just take the one you emphasized, ok ?
          Just about ANY “powdered” material can cause the symptoms described if inhaled, this is not necessarily due to the chemical nature of the material, but rather the lungs reaction to an irritant… many persons who are “sensitive” to inhaled irritants, such as asthmatics, would react this way. All I am saying is that Chris is not perfect, you are not perfect, I am not perfect, no “one” is perfect, none of us “know it all”. So one must pick and choose their sources based on a certain level of proficiency… and for me, Chris meets that required minimum. Now, as an addendum, BECAUSE of what has transpired on this particular blog, I now make it a point to recommend supplements which DO NOT contain Mag stearate, just to be on the “safe” side…

          • Alice says

            Mr Paleo, Your statement:

            “Just because one does not understand something does not mean it is necessarily appropriate to criticize the messenger… but it is your choice…”

            THAT statement made by you shows inability to discuss. If an opinion does not fit with you, then it is me or us that do not understand. Those of US who have had horrible lung reactions NOT FROM INHALING but from INGESTING mag stearate, we have EMPIRICAL evidence so we DO FULLY understand. IT is people/doctors like you who are CLOSE minded and think they found the ONE RIGHT answer that can make life miserable and even deadly for some people. Just look at the statistics of how many people die from dyes in contrast exams. Yet the medical system continues to use them. Attitudes that say just because some SO called experts say it is OK cause this end result. Same goes for mag stearate, a group of people (probably much larger than imagined) DO react very negatively with digestive issues and lung issues and fast pulse/heart palpitations. Just cuz you don’t react negatively to mag stearate does not mean you found the ONE right answer or the ONE right person that shows mag stearate is safe. BOTTOM LINE, a USELESS MAN-MADE QUESTIONABLE ingredient should not be a ubiquitous ingredient in supplements and drugs. To say it appears naturally in foods is as crazy as saying that processed junk food is as good as the apple. Something chemically processed is not the same as the apple. Ingredients that are chemically processed to BECOME an ingredient found naturally in a food are not the same as eating the apple with that ingredient in its natural form in context with whole apple. Chemically made stuff is not the same as the natural food. As Nurse said
            January 24, 2014 at 9:23 pm,
            “WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T.” There is NO room in a discussion like this to tell us we just do not understand cuz our opinion/EXPERIENCE differs from yours. I perceive you as the one who does not understand this one. While I do appreciate all that you do understand in your position, this one I feel you missed the boat. AND let me also reiterate, I admire Chris and believe in his work and FULLY appreciate his knowledge but we are ALL continually learning and by coming to a conclusion along my path that differs from a conclusion he made along his path in not way degrades Chris in my eyes. It is only when one is so close-minded that they have to be right just because their evidence worked for their experience that I loose faith in them. That IS NOT Chris for sure. I follow him because he is so open-minded and presents cutting edge knowledge.

            • Shawn says

              I have spent hours researching this subject, and discussing it on various forums. The simple fact is that every single objective breakdown of the “controversy” surrounding magnesium stearate concludes that there is absolutely no reason to believe that it presents any danger. I brought up some of the studies I found, and was pointed to many reasonable arguments why the studies were not relevant to this discussion. I am sorry for those few people on this forum who feel they suffer one malady or another that they blame on magnesium stearate. It is important to note that even if they could be sure, it doesn’t mean the other 99.9% of the population needs to get worked up over their issues. The protestations a few of you are “loudly” adding to this discussion are not made valid just because their .1% of the population claims “empirical” evidence.
              Note: definition of empirical? “relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory.” Your choice of words, not mine. That leads back to the point by the more reasoned responses that are informing the public that ignorance of the facts does not strengthen your argument. Instead it demonstrates that you refuse to face up to the FACTS we have available to us and prefer to judge using conjecture instead.

            • Shawn says

              Another important point. The stearate molecule is the same regardless of it’s origin. You can call it crazy all you want, but it is an immutable fact. When the facts don’t square with your hysterics you tend to fall back on unsupportable arguments like this one.

              • Alice says

                YES Shawn, You don’t have true empirical experience, you just have some SO CALLED BOOK evidence, which is someone deducting something about how a particular thing is OK. No true study has been done, just deductions of how mag stearate is OK cuz it is natural in veggie/fruits. You can ingest it, I never said you could not have it. LAP it up but don’t sit on your high horse and say it is OK cuz it works for you. MAYBE it does not work for you and you just don’t realize it. Anyway, I don’t care who ingests it, I will continue to say that some ingredient that is chemically processed and used only for a MACHINE should not be in everything. Empirical experience is real, your way of someone just making deductions without any study is not real. You can research yourself stupid (that is what really must have happened) by reading deductions made by various authors. Now you are a slave to those authors who seem to have said what you want to hear. NO where is there an actual double blind type study on mag stearage, just deductions. It is people like you who statistic around with 1 Percent and such do react that makes our products full of junk and with risk. Are you not able to think of things like WHY has asthma suddenly jumped up to epidemic rates. For all you know, everyone of these asthma patients may react to mag stearate but so what according to you. Since it does not bother you, just let them ALL suffer. I am not going to say more here as money is at the heart of this issue. MOney matters and not how many people could be hurt, just sell those supplements How many times have things come around to be changed cuz some study brought to light how a particular thing really is very harmful after all. Well, along with “oleo” and all the rest, mag stearate could join those ranks as really open-minded intelligent people do real studies instead of so called research of opinions.

                • Shawn says

                  Alice:

                  So, simply insulting me and dismissing all of the logical data on the safety of magnesium stearate is now going to be your approach. You are operating on multiple fallacies, and believe that a few people who think magnesium stearate may be causing them problems (none of you can actually prove it). You slam, so called deductions made on logic, but consider “empirical” evidence to be the end all on the subject. Your narrow-minded way of deciding your course of action on this subject may work in your mind, but anyone using logic would give it the attention it deserves… very little. At no time in the discussion have you presented a single bit of creditable evidence that magnesium stearate is anything but harmless. You have attempted, and failed to tie it to other supposed health scares, but they are not relevant. The only way that money matters in this discussion is that the few people who claim magnesium stearate is harmful are doing so to sell their overpriced, and sometimes inferior products. You present “empirical” evidence, which by it’s very nature is biased, as being superior to actually researching the facts regarding this subject. I’m sorry, but that makes me much more open-minded than you. Get over it. Logic trumps your biased opinion every time
                  You have the ability to choose the products that do not include magnesium stearate and the rest of the world can safely choose from the thousands of products containing magnesium stearate if they so desire. Just let it go at that. You are beating the proverbial dead horse here.
                  P.S. Calling me stupid does not make you any smarter. I am quite confident in my intelligence.

  39. Susan says

    I’m skeptical of that study on rats. Let’s examine who funded the study. Also, did they use just one form of mag stearate? Can’t it be made up of different things? Instinctively, I would not feel comfortable nor feel it justified to take supplements on a regular basis that were made from cottonseed oil or corn (knowing that the source was probably GMO), no matter what ‘study’ proved it harmless at those amounts.

    • Alice says

      Susan, well said. I think when it is all done and said, the ones here who are making money from the sale of supplements/drugs, they will find the ‘so called’ studies to support the use of what makes them the most money. It is almost funny listening to drug commercials on TV. They show people having the most wonderful time cuz they took a drug WHILE the drug side effects are softly stated in song like voices. MY GOSH, The side effects are always worse than the symptom the drug is supposed to relieve. That’s what it comes down to with additives like mag stearate in supplements and drugs. If some real research was done and the bad side effects were discovered, supplement and drug producers would just get some sing/song language and even make it sound positive like, if you get an erection that lasts for 4 or more hours, go to the ER. (What a backwards way to advertise) If nothing else in that ad convinces the man that this is what he needs, that so called ‘bad side effect’ will get him running to get the drug. Bottom line, I don’t take drugs, stay away from doctors. If one eats right, don’t need them. I also don’t take supplements excepts for a few that I seek out in pure powders. IF one eats right, don’t need them. Side effects from additives in supplements will continue to be denied by the makers of them cuz money talks.

      • Shawn says

        Aha Alice! Gotcha!!!

        You state:

        “Bottom line, I don’t take drugs, stay away from doctors. If one eats right, don’t need them. I also don’t take supplements excepts for a few that I seek out in pure powders.”

        You are here telling everyone else how to live their lives when you state that it minimally affects yours. You claim to be disease free and that we could all be disease free if we “eat right.” That my dear is the ultimate in hubris and hypocrisy. Of course, given your posts here, I should not be surprised.

        Chris Kessler wrote a well reasoned article, which Mr. Paleo, Hedles, and others like myself, defended in the face of specious empirical evidence and total falsehoods.

        Your best course of action is the advice found under this heading:

        MR PALEO
        FEBRUARY 4, 2014 AT 11:56 AM

  40. sonya young says

    I don’t know about tests or anything on magnesium stearate. However, I cannot take it period. This is curious because I took it all last year after developing A fib and BUT I took Natural Calm for a year or more and all of a sudden one dose gave me hives forever. I was miserable. I told my nutritionist and he gave me some Standard Process mag. Same reaction. SO after stopping all supplements and adding back one at a time, doing mag last, it was absolute confirmation. I have since been using magnesium chloride brine transdermal and it works fine.
    Having a little adrenal problem this past week, my nutritionist gave me some Standard Process Adrenal Complex. I did not look at the ingredients as he and I agreed no mag stearate. After taking 3 pills, the reaction came just like the magnesium. Looked at the ingredients and sure enough mag stearate. It is a puzzle. All I know is, my body is rejecting it big time and I have no idea why.

  41. MR PALEO says

    To everyone,

    I have spent a serious amount of time researching this topic, primarily because I want to know… all I find is article after article like this… http://www.nleducation.co.uk/resources/reviews/magnesium-stearate-hypothesis-nocebo-and-adverse-halo-effect-a-critical-review/#
    All touting the safety of magnesium stearate, with several exceptions that were not “scientific” studies, but personal commentaries.
    I think that those of you who have had “negative” experiences should get together and start a blog or website, and gather all the personal stories you can, and then present this to the general scientific community, and see if there is interest in actually determining the truth…
    Just my opinion…

    • Shawn says

      Hear, hear!!! These folks with all of their “empirical” evidence are convinced they are RIGHT, and will holler to the rooftops until people give in and admit they are RIGHT!!!!

      It would make sense for them to gather on a site of “like-minded” people where they can trumpet their “beliefs” to each other.

      Then, once a large consensus of information has been compiled, hopefully someone in the scientific community can be convinced to perform peer reviewed testing that can help settle the matter once and for all.

      • Cali says

        Shawn, Alice and others are not presenting “empirical” evidence. They are presenting “anecdotal” evidence. Empirical evidence is scientifically-based. Anecdotal evidence is based on personal experience.

        • Shawn says

          ROTFLMAO!!!! I let her crap get me so worked up that she managed to confuse me. Naturally I know the difference. I just let her screwy reasoning mess with my thought processes. Hey at least it was good for a laugh, eh?

          • hedles says

            Hey Shawn,

            You were right, though, in what you clearly meant. Anecdotal evidence is nearly always the precursor to the gathering of empirical data by scientifically designed studies.

            Once the empirical data is in, we can dispense with the anecdotal – unless the research fails to account for the anecdotal evidence AND it continues to present, unexplained, in the light of new understanding gained by the empirical studies.

            In this case we simply need more studies to examine other possible causes for the unexplained.

            • Shawn says

              Thank you Hedles. I have a ton of stuff going on in real life, so that post was not well thought out. On top of the normal stuff, I went and let the extremely dysfunctional Home Owners Association here make me the President. I hate bickering and whining but as I read my posts here, I have not been very charitable while making my points. In acting that way, I have allowed myself to drop to the very levels I so detest. Fortunately, I now realize I have been letting the stress get to me and can take action to alleviate it.

              Again, thank you for your kind response.

              Shawn

  42. says

    You mentioned that a young woman developed hives taking magnesium stearate in her vitamins. I have been itching all over ever since I changed my vitamins to ones containing this product. I have been searching for the cause for a month. Thanks for sharing her story. I plan to discontinue this brand to see if the itching stops

  43. Ronnie says

    Wow thanks so much to the guy who blogged this! I recently saw enough of these alarmist claims about the supposed dangers of magnesium stearate to finally become worried. If I hadn’t finally clicked this page in my search results (it seems to be the only non-alarmist result btw) I’d probably would’ve started obsessing about it! I’m really glad someone has taken the time to get to the real truth of the matter.

  44. sophie says

    If I can recall my basic chemistry lessons from school accurately, magnesium stearate isn’t a water soluble salt. Yes it is derived out of Mg and stearic acid but magnesium stearate itself is a different animal than either of its precursors and it will behave differently than stearic acid which is found in the aforementioned beef, chocolate and coconut oil. Mg stearate does not readily break down into Mg and stearic acid as soon as it is ingested simply because it is not soluble in water. So please people, A+B = C and C is neither A nor B!

  45. sophie says

    To further prove my point, HCL (hydrocholoric acid) does not have the properties of either of its components hydrogen and chlorine both of which are gases. This is very basic science/chemistry. It scares me to think that most people on here, including the author believe that magnesium stearate should be harmless because hey, magnesium is a necessary nutrient and stearic acid sure enough is a part of beef fat! Stearic acid is also an ingredient in soap but that doesn’t make soap harmless if ingested, does it?

    • Susan says

      Can you tell us any more about Mag Stearate? Or give us any links to understand it further. It’s in quite a lot of supplements that my family is taking. Kind of hard to avoid.

        • Susan says

          I take the info on Wikipedia with a grain of salt. I was interested in her perspective. Thanks though.

          • hedles says

            One ought to take ALL information that someone tells one or writes for one with the proverbial grain of salt. Due diligence is always required. Compare one source with another.

            To be sure about anything you need to confirm it yourself. However, most of us don’t have the time, hence we rely upon culture and the preserved records of others’ work.

            As a science-educated individual I would express the opinion that at least as far as science goes on Wikipedia it is nearly always accurate and consistent with current scientific understanding.

            That’s because of it’s editorial policy and because the vast number of well-educated editors who constantly check the writings of others. The policy is that everything written must be not simply the opinion of the writer but must be sourced and referenced from some other attested published material. Of course, this does not always happen – some people write just anything – but you can always check the references to confirm or otherwise what is written. (If there are no reference to support as statement, treat it like that – an unsupported statement.)

            When it comes to something that is contentious or in dispute – such as the current debate about harmful health effects of Mg Stearate – you can expect Wikipedia to be conservative and in line with general scientific opinion and it probably won’t contain any contentious statements such as the current assertions of negative health effects, precisely because these have not yet had any amount of scientific research applied to them and therefore there is no such published scientific literature to reference.

            Thus Wikipedia (as any encyclopaedia) will always be behind the cutting edge. But as far as the basic science of Magnesium Stearate is concerned, it is very likely to contain exactly that (and not much else). But check against any other material you can find.

      • johnnyw says

        Check out Paradise Herbs website. I’m not hyping the company, but their stance on Mag Stearate is revealed in an article about it. Good info about it, better than here.

    • Alice says

      Sophie, So agree. What is Science??? It is some person PICKING/CHOOSING variables to work with. Quite subjective if one really, really looks at this with a true open-minded mind, a mind that can see beyond the chains of those CHOSEN variables. (in fact, the big criticism with science is that a so called scientist can handpick variables to result in his/her particular DESIRED outcome. Just look at all the so called scientifically produced products that result in injury and lawsuits. For example, it is ironic that when a drug is ‘studied’, participants must be a selected group of people. That would leave out those with allergies to peanuts, dyes and such who may react terribly to the product. At any rate, if SOME people react to mag stearate, it is not an OK ingredient for ALL people, yet it is on the books as being nonreactive or inert or harmless. To the people who say it should be science over empirical, in plain words, reality instead of hand-picked variables, I don’t even respond back to them. I have a right to say that our very negative empirical evidence should be evidence that mag stearate is not an inert ingredient. The number of responses to this article alone that indicate bad reactions to mag stearate indicate a problem with mag stearate so it just should not be some ubiquitous ingredient in foods/supplements/drugs ESPECIALLY since it has NO nutrient value at all. It’s just used for the machines to be oiled so they don’t wear out processing the stuff.

    • Shawn says

      Sophie:

      There are thousands and thousands of examples of harmless man made chemicals. I will grant that there are good examples of where the combinations did not work out so well, but you cannot condemn the entire practice because of a small percentage of failures. BTW, HCL is a necessary chemical combination used by our own bodies. It is not a great example as CL gas is extremely dangerous on it’s own. H2O is just as good an example of gases that form something else… only the most important substance on our planet.

      Magnesium Stearate has been used in medicines, foods, and cosmetics for decades. It is used in over 2,500 medications and is by far the most common excipient found in the top 200 medications used today. Just because a few whiners have made an anecdotal link to it as a problem for them is not enough to write it off as a safe compound. I am amazed at the irrational lengths some of you will jump to in your attempts to demonize this longtime safe compound.

      No Alice, you have anecdotal evidence that proves nothing. The only empirical evidence available on Magnesium Stearate indicates that it is perfectly safe. The hubris you display when you snub your nose at good solid science in favor of your subjective guess that MS is the root of your problems is ludicrous. Even if you were right, it does not make it a problem for billions of others. I would recommend that you avoid it, if you feel you must, and let the rest of the world make their own judgments. Every argument you have thrown at this wall has failed to stick.

      You need to get a hobby… or a life.

  46. Colin says

    The stress that some of you are working yourselves up with will cause more damage to your body then the trace amounts of Magnesium Stearate that you consume.

  47. says

    I’ve been reading a lot about excipients and I’ve determined to remove as many of them from my diet/supplements as possible. While the jury is out on Magnesium stearate I am scanning labels on the many supplements I take, just like I scan labels on packaged foods. Although I’m not discarding supplements that I have already purchased, I am upgrading them as I run out of old and buy new. I will only buy ones that do not contain Magnesium stearate and other excipients. For me there is peace of mind in buying pure powder supplements and putting them in capsules myself. I look forward to the day I can stop taking supplements. When my gut is healed I believe my diet will provide most if not all the nutrients I need.

  48. says

    Thank you so much for writing up this article alaying the alarm I just had reading Mercola’s opinion on the subject and finding 85 percent of my affordable supplements have it in them. You present a reasonable arguement that supports what my intuition hinted at!

  49. says

    I have been taking vitamins and supplements for years without any problems, until recently. It now seems that whenever I take any supplement or even an OTC medication that contains magnesium stearate, I get serious stomach problems.

    My stomach gets a bloated feeling, gassy feeling and just sick feeling. After switching between different supplements, I am now certain it is the magnesium stearate that is causing the stomach problems.

    Any idea why?

  50. maria says

    Dr. Mercola says magnesium stearate should be avoided as it is a source of aluminum. Do you agree? Also, if the magnesium stearate is “derived from vegetables” does that make it any less harmful?

  51. johnnyw says

    Very surprised Chris K is defending, no–apologizing for this crud. Some of it comes from cottonseed oil, and that’s OK with Chris–who hasn’t seen any info that the highly refined product retains residues of the inevitable pesticides in cotton and it’s products. Very hypocritical. Take a stand, Chris, get on the good foot, the stuff is junk and requires bodily resources to process in exchange for yet more entropy. No good comes from it.

    • Shawn says

      You should really read a thread before commenting in it. Your cottonseed oil/pesticides angle has already been thoroughly debunked.

      • JohnnyW says

        I read the thread. Yer off the truth if yer defending this chemical only a step or two above hydrogenated fat. Matter of fact, it’s a substitute for hydrogenated fat. Find and use whatever supps you can without this junk Shawn. It’s not always possible, but it’s the way to go Best of health to you.

  52. gracie says

    I have been suffering miserably with acid reflux for the past several months and know it’s not being caused by food intake. Lying in bed last night I was making a mental inventory of what I do consume and it hit me that many of the supplements I take contain magnesium stearate. Is anyone else having a similar problem that can be related to this?

  53. Terri says

    I have a family member who is a Nutritionist and continually giving us feed back on the safety implications of certain things. Magnesium Stearate being the most recent. She likens it to degreasers because it is in solvents? So I investigate her comments and more often end up debunking them. With all of the misinformation going around the internet, how do we know we are reading a trusted article?

    • says

      Terri,

      Mg stearate is used as a “flow control agent” (lubricant) in supplement production… it also has other uses in other industries… I am now recommending my clients avoid it, if at all possible, simply because it MAY be problematic…
      MR PALEO

      • Shawn says

        LOL! So they finally wore you down. It’s exactly the kind of crap that causes some supplement companies to give in. A few loud voices keep making unprovable claims over and over again. Meanwhile the millions who are unaffected don’t even know the prices of their supplements are about to get more expensive solely because a small percentage of the population claims they have problems with “certain” ingredients.

        • MR PALEO says

          @Shawn, et al…
          As a caregiver, I have a responsibility to my clients to err on the side of caution… if YOU have read the entire thread, then you would know I am still questioning people with respect to their assumptions and/or conclusions…. and I would advise you to be careful about being so arrogant about your assumed knowledge as to slander people, e.g., Dr Mercola… whatever you may think about him, personally or professionally, and while I do not recommend his supplements, his website has made a positive impact on advancing nutritional awareness in the “general” population, and much of what he reports nowadays is accurate… especially since coming around to the “PALEO/PRIMAL” approach… just my “opinion”…

          • hedles says

            Well said, Mr. Paleo.

            We need to exercise caution in assessing the complex truth and not jump to conclusions where more understanding is required to explain and deal with symptoms that some – but clearly a significant few – are experiencing.

            Individuals who are not professional scientists can only experiment on themselves and generate their own theories based upon their own (and possibly others’) anecdotal evidence together with whatever scientific data *can* tell us already.

            If a significant number are experiencing negative health effects and their self-experimentation leads them to associate those symptoms with certain products or ingredients, it calls for further scientifically-based studies NOT mere assertion of what is and what is not.

            IMHO, the jury is still out on this one, until a cause has been found for the negative symptoms that are being experienced – even if only by a few – and an effective remedy that demonstrates its accuracy.

            • Alice says

              As a reading Disabilities teacher, I worked with students in 7th through 10 grades (many old for their grade due to being “flunked”). I actually worked with students at this age level who didn’t know anything about reading, (had no knowledge of what sounds letters stood for or even knew the alphabet). One particular 7th grade guy, I’ll call John Doe, had a genius IQ level but was a struggling reader. When my program took this John Doe out of the Basal Reader, one “Shawn” teacher was horrified, saying how could you dump the Basal reader when it has come through years and years of structured reading for students. My reply, it didn’t work for my John Doe or the numbers of other John & Jane Does I have worked with through the years. AND I WILL say my system WORKED as I turned non-readers and very poor readers into readers and good readers. (the result/end experience didn’t lie) This is life. We are not the same in many, many ways and to stick to close-minded ways that one calls science because they work for the majority leaves a significant number behind. Everybody is not histamine intolerant or gluten intolerant or has asthma or can eat peanuts and on and on. So it makes sense that not everyone can tolerate mag stearate. Just as some people do not tolerate aspirin or penicillin or peanuts/nuts and so on. Where is the science behind such things? Medical forms acknowledge such intolerances in individual medical records. Generally the so called science behind it is that the patient reacted to the substance so it is not prescribed for that person again and again only to experience the negative reactions over and over or to end in death. There are insane/wrong ‘scientific’ studies that show that heart disease is caused by Cholesterol and many people live by that standard but in actuality, die early by adhering to the science behind that standard. What about the thousands of people who die each year from prescription drugs or food allergies or the thousands who have bad reactions to a drug or substance such as MAG STEARATE. Why is mag stearate in such a different category as penicillin and all the rest of those “common” substances that cause Many people to have bad reactions or death??? Where has Common Sense gone? I can guarantee you that my Common Sense works where science has it all wrong. To cry like a baby because you don’t get YOUR way says one is functioning somewhere at the 2 year old level. That’s those who name call/say they know it all and Mercola does not know…that’s supposed to be a science minded person??? Well, I will rely on my Common Sense instead. Maybe the philosophy of “I think, therefore I am” comes into play here!

              • Shawn says

                LOL! I cannot believe you went there. You really have become desperate because you can’t be right. I will take my education, intelligence and science above your “common” sense any time. You have tried one failed theory after another, trying to prove a scientific link and had them all debunked. Now all it takes is “common” sense?

                Your incessant whining has been a childish cry because you can’t be right. You have been wrong, over and over again. Get over it and get a life.

                • hedles says

                  Hey Shawn,

                  You are really letting yourself down by being so dismissive and acidic to people.

                  If people are experiencing negative symptoms that they find seem to be associated with preparations including Mg stearate but don’t occur when they substitute other preparations without Mg stearate, how is it you know that it isn’t anything to do with the Mg stearate without a proper study to find out what actually is causing those symptoms?

                  At least a handful of people have found their way here who are apparently experiencing this.

                  That would imply that “out there” there are more than a handful of people who are also experiencing such.

                  Without a study of some of those particular people and their symptoms, you simply cannot say that it has nothing to do with Mg stearate in their tablets or, to be more accurate, the specific Mg stearate product used in their manufacture – its possible contaminants, its provenance or its mode of manufacture, etc.

                  There are just dozens of variables that cannot be known without investigation.

  54. Susan says

    Depends on if they changed what mag stearate is made of. What is its base?
    There are things that used to be harmless that are now harmful because the something in the ingredients changed.

  55. Shawn says

    Hedles:

    I appreciate your point, and have repeatedly said that if those few people experiencing problems want to avoid any substance, then they should. My problem is with people who come onto an informational blog like this one and try over and over again to convince the general public that their problems mean that no one should take anything containing something. Peanuts are deadly to some people, you don’t hear any outcry that peanuts should be banned and people are not whining that because they have a problem with them then everyone should avoid them.
    As I have pointed out, Magnesium Stearate has been used for decades, in many thousands of medications, foods, cosmetics and supplements. If there was a serious problem, then I am quite certain it would have come to light.
    Lactose is the second most common excipient, and there are a lot of people who cannot process it, but those people are free to check the label and avoid it. The rest of the population should be free to use it if they want.
    Yes, I can be blunt when addressing those who make clearly wrong statements in an attempt to convince the rest of the world that their difficulty constitutes one for everyone. It is absurd and they should just give it up.
    Chris wrote a very good, fact based, blog and the fake claims have been clearly debunked, so these people need to find something else to do.

  56. suzanne says

    i take amphetamine salts for ADD. i began taking them 6 years ago.

    now, 6 years later, i’ve been diagnosed with ALS.

    i was also diagnosed with celiac disease 3 years ago so i need to be gluten free. was checking the ingredients and a questionable one is magnesium stearate.

    any thoughts, please?

    • MR PALEO says

      Suzanne,

      Without more information (your age, medical history, test results, etc.) it is difficult to ascertain the cause of your problems, but all three of your “conditions” have a dietary component… you appear to have a “biological cascade” in effect… that is, in plain English, it would appear your body is breaking down, probably due to gastrointestinal concerns, and possibly to other factors as well… and Mag stearate would probably be the least of your problems… paleo works to improve some of these conditions, but you may need both genetic and methylation pathway testing, as well as B-vitamin analysis, and possibly a few other tests to ascertain what exactly is occurring, and to determine the correct treatment. I can recommend several qualified physicians, if you like…

  57. says

    “Stearic acid is an 18-carbon molecule with a specific chemical structure that will be the same whether the stearic acid is from a genetically modified cotton plant, a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, or a grass-fed ribeye steak.”

    I really liked this point. A misconception that most in the holistic nutrition industry have is that anything that is not 100% naturally found in nature has a harmful effect to it, and that is simply not true.

    Good article!

    • MR PALEO says

      BB,

      While I may agree with your basic premise, you are overlooking one small, but very important point… we do not live in a perfect world…
      There is no such thing as 100% purity. Contamination IS a factor in food, health, etc… as for 100% “natural”, that doesn’t really mean much.. You can easily get some “100% natural” arsenic, for instance… Also, one cannot discount INDIVIDUAL susceptibility. SCIENCE often appears “cut & dried”, but rarely is… what is “knowledge” today may become tomorrow’s faulty “information”… dogma, as it were, is a very ornery beast !

      • Shawn says

        You are forgetting that Magnesium Stearate has been safely used in medications, supplements, foods and cosmetics for decades. It is a very specific molecule that study after study has shown not to be a danger and is without contamination. It is used in over 2,500 medications, and is found in almost all of the top 200 prescription medications. The number two most used excipient? Lactose! Now that is a natural chemical that is a known problem for a significant number of people. Of course, as in the example of Magnesium Stearate, it makes up such an insignificant amount of the final product that people sensitive to it do not even know it is in their medications because they have no reaction to it.

        Magnesium Stearate is a vegetable source lubricant produced by a precipitation process with tight control over particle physical properties. Certified to meet NF/EP/JP and FDA specifications. It is known for:

        High purity
         Well-defined crystalline state
         Consistent physical properties
         Particle size distribution
         Surface area
         Morphology
         Consistent performance

        This is easily verifiable and very basic testing can be used to do so.

        If there were problems with purity, they would have been when Magnesium Stearate was first brought into use. Decades later, the standard for Magnesium Stearate is a pure substance without any contamination. That said, the possibility always exists that, like the Japanese company that produced a contaminated version of Tryptophan, a batch from a less than stellar company could happen. The FDA overreacted and took a valuable supplement totally off the market as a result. I have dealt with a number of supplement companies who randomly assay their products, and no contamination of magnesium stearate was ever found. Sure contaminated batches are possible, but this scenario could play out in any supplement, not just those with Magnesium Stearate in them. Even then, it would not account for those who claim all contact with Magnesium Stearate gives them problems.

        The detractors in this thread have tried to label Magnesium Stearate as a “heavy metal,” a trans fat and/or a hydrogenated fat, and the product of a GMO (thus inferring danger). Each of these misconceptions were clearly and definitively refuted.

        I usually find myself on the other side of these discussions, and find it interesting that I am actually defending two industries I have major problems with (prescription medications and the supplement industry). I guess it comes down to my extreme dislike of those self serving individuals who take a stand that is as indefensible as the one some on this thread have taken.

        I do not discount the possibility that the few people on this thread who are braying the loudest may actually have some reaction to Magnesium Stearate. I have no objection to those who wish to bring it to the public’s attention that they have experienced difficulties. If there is a problem for them, it is quite possible there are others. When they decide to attack someone who is doing great work clearing up misconceptions, and do it with one falsehood after another, well that I have a problem with.

        • MR PALEO says

          Shawn,

          I am not arguing the “science”, I think Chris is doing a great job, and, if you have been following this post from the beginning, I clearly have stated that I have not encountered this particular problem, either personally or professionally, however, since “science” is a “work in progress”, and factors such as repeat exposure can have long-term effects that may not make themselves evident for years, I have to at least take note that there MAY be a potential problem… as I have said, repeatedly, I think it is wiser to err on the side of caution… but this is just my opinion.

          • Alice says

            And Mr. Paleo, Good! that’s what this is all about, having an opinion based on your thoughts and experiences. I must say you are very professional too about taking things into account as we go along here. In fact, Chris started this whole thread by giving his opinion and then asking for opinions from us. This is supposed to be a healthy discussion with diverse opinions and experiences. My opinion and experience is that mag stearate does not work for me, Of course, there are a number of so called allergens that do not work for a number of people. When I gave some examples such as no one would agree that peanuts or Penicillin should be in everything because some people are known to react to them, and then to have someone go WAY off topic about how peanuts have not been outlawed, so why am I saying mag stearate should be outlawed, this is NOT a discussion. It is off topic to say the least and twisting my statement to say that I want mag stearate outlawed is just wrong. I should be able to say that the doctor who ‘snuck’ mag stearate into my compounded med that caused me to have labored breathing and fast pulse had no right to do that to me. I stated that I would never take mag stearate and I won’t but that should not be twisted into my declaring it should be outlawed. It is like those of us that have had very adverse experiences are not allowed to say it because ‘someone’ here does not want to hear anything but what he believes. AND to say that mag stearate has been used for years with no problem, well maybe he has not had a problem or he chooses to be oblivious to any problems it may cause, that does not mean it has not been a problem for some people. When we see how “FDA Approved Prescription Drugs Kill Hundreds of Thousands of People Annually”, I can safely say that something is NOT working well with drugs/supplements. I mean, those are “JUST A FEW” people who would not agree that all has been well through the years with drugs/supplements. This statistic does not include all the people who had negative reactions to drugs/supplements. Just maybe drugs/supplements should be looked into a little closer for impurities/allergens and the so called inert ingredients instead of doggedly insisting no changes have to be made, nothing needs looking into, all is well because that’s the way it has always been done AND it makes good money for those not so few people in that business.

            http://www.undergroundhealth.com/fda-approved-prescription-drugs-kill-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-annually/

  58. Shawn says

    Mr. Paleo:

    If you type Dr. Mercola into Google, the second most popular search that comes up is:

    Dr. Mercola Quack

    Following that link, you find page after page of respected people and organizations (such as Quackwatch) who have labeled him a Quack. I read about 20 of them, and it is extremely clear he truly is a quack.

    You mention the “good” information on his site, and I agree. I too found information of merit. Then I started running into obviously false information.

    Mercola’s distrust-heavy spin seems to have hit a particular nerve. “That’s the fundamental sales hook,” says Barrett (of Quackwatch). “That you can’t trust the government, and because I don’t trust the government, you can trust me. And a lot of people don’t trust the government for a lot of reasons.” So the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    To be honest, it’s what originally drew me to his website. Soon the skeptic in me became more and more irritated as I read one ridiculous claim after another, often for the sole purpose of selling his overpriced products. I always try to be as objective as possible and grant that you can find good information on his site, but it means wading through the BS and being knowledgeable on the subjects to avoid being misled. He supports the idea that all cancers are actually fungus and can be healed by injecting baking soda into them for crying out loud!! Ironically, one of the most influential sources of information in the “Natural” treatments and cures is the Health Sciences Institute, and they promote a number of cures and treatments for cancer that involve mushrooms (a fungus).

    Unlike Chris, he posts a lot of information that is downright dangerous and unsupportable. His only high ground is his self-proclaimed battle with “Big-Pharma.” He rarely supports his claims with actual facts. I give HSI credit for at least quoting actual double blind studies to support many of their claims. Of course, as some have pointed out, many of these studies are flawed and often the researchers find what they set out to find, regardless of the science in their studies that could just as easily lead to completely different outcomes. They produce a very thick “Anthology of Underground Cures” titled “Miracles From the Vault.” It is full of interesting ideas, supported in various ways with the primary intent of selling one or more products in each chapter.

    The book, and their site (like Mercola’s) make many claims that are absurd to anyone with any intelligence and not in “wishful thinking” mode. I know I was there at one time, and actually exhibited side-effects to some of the substances they rail loudly against. Since educating myself, I have gone back and exposed myself to these same substances and noticed no ill effect, despite being much older and more susceptible to negative effects of things like alcohol (which I have learned to live without).

    Quackery on the level of Joe Mercola and the HSI has become pervasive as they align themselves as anti-government crusaders and appeal to the baser instincts found in human beings. It’s really a shame, because in my lifetime I have visited 39 different countries and logged 127 different places, and my experience is that people just want to be happy. Those who prey on our fears with falsehoods and half-truths are robbing many of their happiness. Yes, there are apparently small numbers of people who have legitimate difficulties with some substances, but there is no need to drag the rest of us down with their alarmist propaganda.

    I really appreciate and value the good work people like Chris do to help us recognize what is really worth being concerned about, and what we can safely ignore. The handful of people who believe Magnesium Stearate is a problem for them should report it, so the rest of us can watch for these sensitivities. The fear mongering that some on this thread, and elsewhere, engage in is destructive and of no positive value to us or our society. Stick to the facts because all of the falsehoods that have been perpetrated by these people, trying to be “right,” does more harm than good. They feel they are strengthening their argument, but anyone of even average intelligence can see through the garbage when presented with solid facts as provided by those who have opposed them here.

    For those of you who wish to believe in the negative hype, I suggest checking out a way these folks insist you can use to identify substances that are harmful to you:

    http://truthinlabeling.org/KinesiologyPractice.htm.doc

    Maybe, while your at their site, you can convince them to take up your cause with regard to Magnesium Stearate. They have a pretty effective site with regard to pointing fingers at all sorts of possible causality.

    Peace and happiness to you all.

  59. The Bus Driver says

    Something is being missed in this debate overall. The main problem with this substance is that it goes into your soft tissue and causes much havoc (joints, organs etc.) Any inorganic mineral outside of the food chain does this including calcium carbonate. I know this from a lifetime of personal experience and experimentation. I believe these unnecessary substances are a leading cause of joint problems and circulatory issues, strokes/heart attacks. Please avoid!

    • Shawn says

      Interesting view. I will agree that there is evidence that supplementing with calcium has been shown to (detrimentally) penetrate muscle tissue but I have not seen anything to indicate this is true with other minerals. I don’t imagine you pulled that statement out of thin air, so I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide a source, or sources for that information.
      I would however repeat what Chris said, that you would have to take massive amounts of products containing Magnesium Stearate because it makes up such a miniscule amount of each product.
      Thank you in advance for sharing your concern and I look forward to the references.

  60. Susan says

    Shawn, who are you?
    If you think Quackwatch is a respectable site, I feel sorry for you. You’re obviously VERY opinionated and have already made conclusions.
    While I might not buy everything on Mercola’s site, he does a great job in informing people of things they would otherwise not have known. It’s kind of nasty to knock someone else down who is doing a service for people. I learned about GMOs, amalgams and all that from Mercola, not Chris, maybe because he is newer on the scene.

    • Hedles says

      Susan,

      I think that ‘Shawn’ has written enough on this forum to demonstrate that he is not interested in discussing the issue or sharing useful information. Rather, he is intent on shoving his own dogmatic view down everybody else’s throat – and quite aggressively, at that.

      I guess that you are forming the same idea that I am – that he is probably a ‘plant’ from some company that uses Mg Stearate in its products and wants to rubbish the genuine concerns that some people have.

      If anybody disagrees with my opinion, it is their prerogative to do so. I would simply suggest that they read every one of his posts here and make up there own mind about the question.

      As for me, I shall, more than likely, simply ignore any further posts he makes. I’d invite anybody who shares my opinion to do the same. If nothing else, it might teach him to be better mannered!

      • Shawn says

        Hedles:

        Are you kidding me?!?

        My problem is with people that take very unscientific claims (or scientific claims that have been disproved), provided by people with a vested financial interest in convincing people that it is dangerous attack anyone who disagrees with them. 98% of the information I have researched in the past seven months or so clearly indicate it is totally safe. I started this journey, worried because I take meds and supplements that do not offer a Magnesium Stearate free option. If you could read my posts in other threads, I am often the one recommending avoiding certain meds and supplements. I only do so when there is scientific evidence supporting my statements though. This thread is actually a bit ironic where my beliefs are concerned.

      • Shawn says

        Wow! Hedles post was very disturbing to me. I immediately went back and read the entire thread. On one hand, I think this judgment of me is rather harsh. On the other hand, I made a surprising discovery. As I said before, I came to this site, and many others expecting to find supporting evidence for claims made by people like Mercola. No one could have been more surprised than me to find irrefutable evidence, over and over that clears the name of Magnesium Stearate. During this time, I have also been debating this subject on another forum where those who are against Magnesium Stearate have been very ugly, calling people names, and making totally unsupportable and blatantly false claims. I feel that after reading this forum from top to bottom that I have been a bit harsher than I knew, in consideration of the posts who disagree with me (I was reacting to the tone from the other forum here without realizing I was doing it). I truly apologize for that unintentional cross-posting. I have never meant to make anyone feel like I discounted their “personal experiences.” If I have done that, then I apologize for that as well. The only thing I will not apologize for is for standing behind the truth that Magnesium Stearate is not Hydrochloric Acid, a heavy metal, or any of the ridiculous comparisons and accusations that have been levelled at it. In fact, Hedles has made statements supporting my view where the information was new to me. I researched them and found them to be true and they actually helped immensely with my discussion on the other forum.

        I hope this clarifies things a bit. I have never had such surprising accusations levelled at me, so it was an unpleasant shock. I can assure you that my intentions have always been the best. I can see that my delivery suffered, so I have apologized for that.

        Shawn

  61. I_Fortuna says

    I have read most of the comments on this page and most of the people disturbed by the use of magnesium sterate are people with, what seems to be, multiple medical conditions. It is possible that certain supplements as well as medications and the mixture of the two could trigger various physiological reactions.
    However, I think it is absurd for most people to experiment on themselves and draw conclusions that cannot be proved. If one is taking perscription medicastions even some herbs can react badly with them.
    That said, I feel better now than I ever did taking supplements in moderation than I ever did without them and many contain magnesium sterate. I make my own kefir in order to maintain a healthier digestive system too. easy
    Also, since doctors literally saved my life more than twice, I will admire and keep them close and continue to avail myself of their great medical knowledge as it vastly exceeds mine. Doctors and science know a lot more than the untrained and uneducated, this should go without saying. Are they perfect? No.
    As a diabetic, I wish I could throw out the meds and doctors but that would be suicidal as diabetes cannot be controlled by diet alone. To suggest that it could be is very dangerous.
    I would like to say, though, that I wish the pharmacy attendant on a recent visit had known what a boil is.
    When I asked her where the meds were for this she pointed me to the foot care department. I asked her if she knew what a boil was and she said she did. I guess she thought I said bunion. LOL I can’t wait for her to fill my next perscription!

    • Honora says

      Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by diet alone. Here’s the link to a study showing a calorific restriction of 500 kcals/day normalised the beta cells of the pancreas by the end of the week by clearing out fat from first the liver, then the pancreas: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21656330

      Surprising at the lack of interest shown in this amazing cure for T2DM. I guess the prospect of going hungry for a week is pretty frightening to some but then blindness, kidney failure and amputations sound pretty frightening to me.

  62. MR PALEO says

    I_Fortuna,

    Functional nutritionists are trained to complement, and work with physicians. The “best” physicians are those that work with nutritionists. This is the best of both worlds…
    FYI, diabetes (both types I and II) ARE treatable, in many cases without meds or with withdrawal of meds over a period of time. I have had several clients completely symptom free for good, as long as they followed their individualized protocol… and this holds for MANY conditions. Nutrition is the basis of health…

  63. says

    I understand what you are saying that many of those with adverse reactions to magnesium stearate also have some other medical issues. I have been taking supplements my entire adult life and I have never had any kind of problem with magnesium stearate until recently. I also have no medical problems.

    For me, this started last year when I bought a vitamin D3 I had never used before and my stomach really became a mess with bloating, dark bowel movement and diarrhea. At first I thought it was the D3 because it was a different brand and a different type of D3 than I was used to taking. This D3 was made from lanolin, which I had never taken before. I thought it was the lanoline causing my stomach problems and finally stopped taking those and went back to the D3 I was used to. End of stomach problems.

    I then bought an L-Arginine supplement from NOW and my stomach problems returned exactly as before. I looked at both supplements and they contained magnesium stearate.

    I stopped using the NOW L-Arginine and my stomach problems went away. I bought the GNC brand of L-Arginine that does not contain magnesium stearate and no stomach problems.

    I recently got a bad chest cold and I took Muccinex and sure enough my stomach problems came back again, just like before. And looking at the Muccinex, it contains magnesium stearate. When I stopped taking them, the stomach problems went away.

    I have no idea what changed in me last summer when I first noticed the problem between my stomach and magnesium stearate, but I have never had this problem before and I certainly would have taken supplements with magnesium stearate in the past.

    This is why I originally came to this thread, wondering why magnesium stearate would suddenly start bothering my stomach. I would rather it didn’t since finding many supplements without it is a hassle sometimes.

    • Shawn says

      Sam:

      I am sorry to hear about your troubles with Magnesium Stearate. The comments on this blog have led me to believe there are definitely people who have problems with the substance. It makes no scientific sense whatsoever, but people need to know that some people have problems.

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