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Rethinking the Budwig Protocol

by Maggie Jones
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My plan had been to start the Budwig Protocol Dec 31 when we’re back from Thailand. As I’ve been prepping, however, I’ve begun to have second thoughts.

This morning I made a test batch of Budwig’s sulphurated protein and flaxseed oil mixture. While my long-term plan has been to make my own quark cheese from homemade organic kefir, I made this test batch from some organic cottage cheese I found at a health food store that clearly caters to Budwig enthusiasts – they had an entire shelf of dedicated to organic lowfat cottage cheese and flaxseed oil.

The mixture came together as expected and I tried a small bite. It was my first time having dairy in over two months and it just didn’t feel right or healing to to me. (I won’t lie, it was also disgusting though I hope that’s not the main reason I’m giving so much weight to my skepticism.)

The foundation of Budwig’s theory is that when the highly unsaturated fatty acids of flaxseed oil interact with the sulphydryl groups in the cheese, the fatty acids can cross the cell membrane and increase oxygen levels in the oxygen-poor environment of cancer cells. This is legit science – the combination of the sulfurated protein in the cottage cheese with the flaxseed oil create a lipoprotein and lipoproteins are the building block of the phospholipid bilayer of our cell membranes. It therefore makes sense that this mixture allows the hydrophobic oil to cross the cell membrane.

However, her belief that fatty acids can only permeate the cell membrane as part of a lipoprotein was disproven in 1974 with the discovery of the LDL receptor. The science simply wasn’t available to Budwig while she was doing her research in the 1950s. Modern science does acknowledge that sulfur atoms are important to fatty acid digestion but not in the way Budwig proposed.

As a side note, laypeople often describe the Budwig mixture as making the flaxseed oil “water soluble”. I tested this by whisking a small amount of the mixture into a cup of water. It quickly separated. I don’t question the science that the sulfurated protein will increase the solubility of the oil but my results suggest that 1) there was something wrong with my preparation or ingredients – something I don’t know I can consistently solve., and 2) a lot of Budwig proponents probably aren’t being rigorous in their evaluation of the protocol.

I still think there’s enormous value in Budwig’s research and I’m so glad that modern scientists are starting to investigate and build on her discoveries.

There’s a lot about her protocol that I’ve adopted. I’m just not read to buy in completely.

Valuable Takeaways from the Budwig Protocol that I’m Incorporating

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables; no sugar, meat, or processed food I’m already doing this and it feels fantastic.
  • Daily sauerkraut juice or other probiotic I’ve been culturing my own kefir water and eating a quarter cup of sauerkraut each day. I intend to keep at it and am excited to make my own sauerkraut to keep costs down.
  • Sunshine I’ve been hiding out away from the pollution of Hong Kong but the few times I’ve stepped out for sunshine my skin feels like parched man drinking ice water. I intend to take Budwig’s advice and get daily sun when possible – with suitable sunscreen, of course.
  • Rest No argument here. I’ve been taking it easy and letting my body rest as much as it wants.
  • More flaxseed oil Flaxseed is now my oil of choice. There were two studies from 2010 that show it increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs tamoxifen and trastuzumab and the research is just getting started.

What Isn’t Right for Me Right Now

  • The Budwig Mixture
    For all the reasons above.
  • Alcohol
    It’s not like Budwig requires drinking alcohol but her standard protocol does include a glass or two of champagne in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening. I fully intend to enjoy the occasional glass of wine someday but I can tell it does more harm than good at this point in my recovery.
  • Grains and Legumes
    Like alcohol, I intend to incorporate raw, whole grains and legumes into my diet eventually but right now I think it’s critical to keep my carbs as low as possible to starve those greedy cancer cells.

What I Need to Research More

The one aspect of the Protocol that is intriguing is Budwig’s insistence on not taking artificial supplements or antioxidants. While her primary argument seems to be that antioxidants will counteract the oxygenating mechanism of her protool, she brings up a secondary point that these man-made extracts are generally not beneficial to the body. My initial research supports this stance and has been really interesting. I’ll save it for another post.

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