Endotoxin…what the hell is that?

What is Endotoxin?

Common intestinal bacteria produce a molecule containing amino acids and fatty acids, lipopolysaccharide, LPS. This is known as “endotoxin”. Endotoxin is a structural part of the bacterium that serves as a barrier against some of the “exotoxin” produced by other microorganisms.  Our intestines and our liver were designed to efficiently destroy most present endotoxin before it reaches circulation. Bile acids have a detergent action in the intestines that protects the absorptive surfaces of the intestine from the damaging effects of endotoxin.

Ray Peat PhD: Stress and shock tend to increase our absorption of bacterial endotoxin from the intestine, and endotoxin causes the release of serotonin from platelets in the blood. Serotonin, an important mediator of stress, shock, and inflammation, is a vasoconstrictor that impairs circulation in a great variety of circumstances. Stress impairs metabolism, and serotonin suppresses mitochondrial energy production.

Under normal circumstances the liver works to keep endotoxin from entering circulation and estrogen from being retained by the cells. In malnutrition, hypothyroidism, protein deficiency and stress the liver allows estrogen to pass through without being completely inactivated.  Endotoxins inhibition of this detoxification system is just one of the ways that it increases estrogen systemically. Remember, estrogen is excitatory in all of its biological actions and in most tissues this excitatory action has been shown to cause oxidative stress.

It has been shown by Dr. Tom Brewer that a protein deficiency can and will lead to a Vit A and B deficiency, which will inhibit the liver from inactivating insulin and estrogen, leading to a build up and toxicity. Any stress will increase inflammation and inflammation increases endotoxin absorption!

How harmful is it?

1. Anything that irritates the gut will increase endotoxin absorption

2. If the liver is not detoxifying estrogen secondary to endotoxin, estrogen will stimulate prolactin, ACTH, the beta cells of the pancreas, NO, TNF, IL and the enzymes that for prostaglandins from PUFA’s.

3. It will increase intestine permeability leading auto-immunity.

4. Endotoxin is anti-thyroid, immunosuppressive and promotes increased iron retention in the GI system.

5. Intense exercise and fasting have been show to increase lactic acid and ammonia production, which can increase absorption of bacterial endotoxin in the small intestine. This has been shown in experiments with rats that are hypoglycemic.

6. Carrageenan will increase endotoxin production and absorption.

7. Endotoxin causes blood levels of estrogen to rise. Estrogen pulls albumin and water out of the blood and pushes it into the tissues leading to low blood volume, hyponatremia, edema, increased blood clotting…and more.

8. In the presence of indigestible foods such as PUFA’s, lactate will be produced through fermentation which will produce serotonin and endotoxin.

9. Endotoxin is excitotory to your cells causing them to hold onto Ca and estrogen, increasing their affinity for water and leading to many CNS  and endocrine disorders.

10. Endotoxin increase lipid peroxidation and inhibits glucose oxidation

Here are some resources to check out:


FREE downloads:

Stress Reduction Manifesto

1st chapter of The Metabolic Blueprint Cookbook

“The Benefits of Bone Broth/Gelatin”

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Victor U

    2 carrots a day!

    December 10, 2012 • 1:23 pm •
  2. […] level. •    Use carrots and/or bamboo shoots 1-2x per day to assist in absorbing estrogen and endotoxin, thus preventing re-absorption in the SI. •    Vit A is anti-estrogenic, so eat foods that […]

    July 8, 2014 • 2:59 pm •