Sumac tea was a lemony drink used by Native Americans

Sumac is  a shrubby tree that grows easily in many areas of the U.S. and other countries. Types with reddish berries/seed clusters are safe for tea or use as a ground spice while a type with whitish berries is not safe. As a plant it is considered an invasive species because it grows so easily it can be difficult to remove from an area. It grows wild in patches along highways in some areas such as Iowa for example:

Sumac growing wild along U.S. Highway I-80 in Iowa during the winter season. when no leaves are present but last years seed clusters can still be observed on the top branches

Why care about Sumac? I bought a jar at a Middle Eastern grocery store of the plant prepared as a ground dried spice to sprinkle on foods during cooking or at the table. The jar I bought was imported from Lebanon. I paid $3.99 for a little less than a half pound size container so it isn’t a high profit margin spice but on the other hand I would be happy to by Sumac that was harvested in Iowa or Oklahoma or Michigan – all places where it grows wild.

One species that is safe for use is known to grow in all 48 contiguous states. Early in the spring the newly sprouted shoots can be eaten as a salad like vegetable. the lemony flavored tea can also be made into a jelly or candy: (

Research performed with the plant in other nations regarding its medicinal benefits have found the spice or extracts to have a wide range of benefits.  More information about medicinal benefits are in an earlier post on the topic and are also listed with summertime images of the red seed clusters in an article Sumac: Nutritional Properties: and one about Sumac Tea:

The spice or tea can have significant diuretic properties similar to drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages so having smaller amounts earlier in the day along with plenty of water throughout the day can help the body cleanse toxins early in the day without waking you in the middle of the night. Overly acidic urine may cause an extreme urge to urinate but then produce only a small amount – which means the body is working hard to remove acidity without adequate water to dilute it – so drink plenty of water and acidity and toxins will be readily removed in the more dilute urine. Diuretic medications are often given to patients who are retaining excess water with a goal to help the body remove the excess water and salt from edematous areas between organs and outside of blood vessels.  They are different but similar in effect to a diuretic beverage such as coffee or alcoholic beverages.

The acidic and antimicrobial properties of sumac have also been studied in food preparation of raw chicken to reduce the risk of salmonella and other food pathogens: The Effect of Water Extract of Sumac (Rhus coriariaL.) and Lactic Acid on Decontamination and Shelf Life of Raw Broiler Wings,

Gallotannins are one of the phytonutrients in sumac with medicinal benefits and is concentrated enough that the plant can be a source for extracting the substance, gallotannins and sumac. While the active phytonutrients in pomegranate peel extract and sumac extract are slightly different they both exhibit antifungal properties that may be beneficial for commercial, agricultural use: Chemical Characterization of Different Sumac and Pomegranate Extracts Effective against Botrytis cinerea Rots

To connect the dots for those who don’t see the bigger picture in the same way that I do – one easy to grow crop that grows across the nation could be used to flavor anything lemon flavored for possibly less cost that lemons cost.  The lemon flavor is from the terpene content, it contains the same type as lemon and limes: limonene. Sumac could be used for a variety of products for direct use by humans and might also be useful as a medication for humans or for animals. It also might have industrial and agricultural uses for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. One negative side effect that has become more apparent in agriculture is that pathogenic fungal strains seem more prevalent in soil that has had a buildup of Roundup/glyphosate. Hard to treat fungal illnesses in humans may also becoming more common. A lemony drink or food that treats hard to treat diseases in humans or farm animals and which can be grown very inexpensively could be useful if it was recognized as useful instead of simply an invasive weed.

The seed clusters left over from last fall could likely be harvested now, before spring growth occurs, and used for agricultural experiments this season, instead of waiting for the next new crop of seed clusters that would be ripe at the end of next summer, approximately in August.

The pomegranate peel leftover from making pomegranate juice is currently also being wasted when it might be useful as a medicine or food substance or even as an agricultural antifungal treatment.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Caring about others may mean caring about our food supply too

I care about others and that is why I worked in a very demanding job for a reasonable but not large salary for my profession and credentials, and why I shared health information online after resigning my demanding job. Good news I thought, about health being obtainable with some attention to neglected nutrients, however it was met with more difficulty than I expected or could ever have imagined, but also with an outpouring of love and support, that was more than I could ever have imagined. I realized that we are a very divided nation, and so I’ve continued to try to share the good news that health can be obtained – with a lot of effort and a very restricted diet in the current food climate.

Whether standard or “health” foods our modern food supply has too many negative chemicals and not as many nutrients as food would have contained prior to about 1950-1985. Modern humans are no longer built out of the same ingredients that we once were. Toxins have been found in most people and types of body fluids that have been sampled in some areas/some research. Many things are not tested for however and that lack of testing is not shared.

In 1983 there was concern that the rate of infertility in women of childbearing age had increased significantly from 6% to 9%. A type of birth control that was used at the time was thought to have been involved in the increased rate.

Today 12% of women aged 15-44 (the range considered of childbearing age) have sought fertility services – 7.3 million women. Of the 15-44 year old group of women 6.7% are considered infertile and 12.1% are considered to have impaired fecundity (–> dictionary “fecundity” ~ the ability of females to produce great numbers of offspring – or ideas – or for the planet’s level of fruitfulness and fertility).

The average rate of childbirth has dropped fairly rapidly and in most areas of the U.S.. Other nations are also seeing a reduction in childbirth rates and have had some success with changes in policy to be more supportive of childbearing but even those have had limited success in increasing average rate of childbirth.

Pesticide residue in produce has been linked to a reduced likelihood of becoming pregnant when using fertility treatments and a 26% lower liklihood of delivering a live birth. The study compared women who ate 2 to 6 servings of commercially grown produce with low pesticide residue produce. Increased risk was associated with increasing number of servings of the commercially grown produce. Organic produce may be a safer source of nutrients for prenatal health.

An overview of a theory regarding glyphosate, is available here: Glyphosate is an artificially produced amino acid analogue that is being used as an herbicide on many crops. It is chemically so similar to the amino acid glycine that it may be incorporated directly into protein structures in plants, animals and humans.

I share information because I’m concerned about individual and planetary fecundity. As a health professional I trusted that my recommendations were based on adequate research, however once I resigned and I had more time to look into the background information I was very dismayed to find out that much of the nutrient guidelines are based on very old research or research that seems skewed by corporate or political goals or lack of common sense. Medical research in the for-profit industry is skewed towards finding a way to hijack a step in physiology and substitute a pharmaceutical medication that modifies a symptom or lab test slightly more than a placebo.

The worse news is that the placebo isn’t necessarily no treatment but may be a comparison of the ingredients of the test substance that are considered inert/inactive, however they may not be safe either. A better comparison would be the test substance or treatment compared to no treatment or just whatever dietary and lifestyle recommendations that are part of the standard treatment for the experimental condition.

Roundup is an herbicide that contains glyphosate but it also contains other ingredients that are considered inactive/inert and safety tests are primarily only done and only required to have been performed on the glyphosate. Studies have not been required to continue for an entire animal’s lifespan in the U.S. or for a few generations. I recently learned that generational research was performed elsewhere.

“A Russian study found that feeding hamsters GMO soy resulted in complete sterility after 2 or 3 generations.”  page 35

The combination of the ingredients in Roundup may be even more harmful than the glyphosate alone and may particularly affect aquatic species, particularly amphibians.

The rate of infertility and spontaneous abortions has increased in a variety of animal species in the wild and raised domestically for the food industry. A new infectious pathogen has also been identified that is more prevalent in animals raised with more Roundup Ready GMO foods in their diet. “The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).” However that research claim has not been followed up by more substantiated work in peer reviewed journals. He mentions a specific pathogen that includes the word glycines – more recent research suggests a risk that glyphosate is being incorporated into proteins in place of glycine. That is a wild card scenario that nature never experienced in such quantity. We as humans are unlikely to have any idea what differences might occur in a pathogen that is formed with glyphosate in the place of glycine within proteins.

Tests to detect the DNA of a pathogen based on it containing glycine might not detect the pathogen if it is present but made with glyphosate in the place of glycine. The following article discusses testing for the presence of the Fusarium solani fsp glycines pathogen and failing to do so when preliminary tests suggesting that it would be found were positive. See the discussion section regarding the PCR assay that was developed for the study:

In later articles online that aim to disprove his (unpublished in peer reviewed journals) work he is asked about genetic sequencing of the organism that was discovered and he didn’t provide samples and said it didn’t have DNA and was more like a prion (a protein that can replicate like a virus but which contains no nucleus with DNA).

Prions are an infectious protein that does not contain DNA or RNA but which can infect humans and animals and be replicated by the infected cells. Brain damage can be a long term result that causes physical symptoms of loss of muscle control. An active section of the prion does contain several molecules of glycine. So in an environment/food supply where glycine was in limited supply and glyphosate was prevalent it is possible that prions might occur that are different in structure and activity because they were built with the similarly shaped molecules of glyphosate instead of glycine.

An earlier concern about unknown prion production from the GMO process as a long term potential human health hazard was expressed by a scientist who actually was working with Monsanto during development phases and who quit because of ethical concerns.

If pathogens exist that are actually other types of pathogens but which were formed with glyphosate instead of glycine, we don’t know what they might be capable of doing because they would be brand new. Canadian research suggested there is an increased risk for Fusarium infection in glyphosate crops.

If we impair the base of the food chain than all species who eat those smaller species will also be at risk of lack of food if not also being at risk of impaired health and fecundity due to the toxins in the environment. If we raise our domesticated animals who are used directly for human food on crops that contain increased amounts of a toxin than we are also increasing our own intake of the potential toxin.

Humans are intelligent but are we also wise?

/Guidance that might be helpful to avoid negative effects of glyphosate – supplemental vitamin D3, coQ10, and trace minerals may help and bathing or soaking in magnesium sulfate salt (Epsom salt) for about 20 minutes every few days. The skin’s ability to make bioactive sulfate and vitamin D may be impaired by glyphosate. To avoid the glyphosate itself – choose as much organically grown ingredients as you can afford. Organic foods used in dietary change research has shown a reduction in the body’s load of toxins before the dietary switch was made. – a summary, use at your own risk as the standard recommendation is that standard food is fine for promoting health for everyone.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./