Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Antioxidants | Joe Rogan Experience

Electron Reducing Equivalents; Reactive Oxygen Species

(Episode 459) 27:56 – DNA repair enzymes. Mitocondria generate electron reducing equivalents during the Krebs cycle. These electron reducing equivalents have hydrogen (1 electron and 1 proton). The electrons get passed around and with the addition of oxygen you are creating superoxide anon (a reactive oxygen species). We are constantly doing this. These reactive oxygen species damage things around it include lipids and DNA.

(Episode 459) 28:58 – reactive oxygen species reacting with DNA. DNA gets damaged; but must nevertheless be replicated. When there is a break (caused by the reactive oxygen species), the replication process may place a nucleotide that isn’t supposed to be there. You can really screw something up.


(Episode 459) 30:02 – Prevention. We have DNA repair enzymes; they repair the mistake caused by replication. These repair enzymes require Magnesium. DNA damage is not something that makes itself known in the short term. If it continues then you may get damage in an important part of DNA (like tumor suppression genes). You might be lacking in magnesium but the really detrimental affects wont make themselves known until much later, but the process is happening right now.

(Episode 459) 32:42 – Folate. Folate is an essential B vitamin and is used to make new DNA (it’s needed to make thymine). A lack of folate can increase the problem caused by a break because now we are lacking another nucleotide base [I assume based on what I heard] .

(Episode 459) 33:31 – If you have cancer, things good for you can also be good for the cancerous growth. The cancer cells love folate because it allows them to propagate with less problems.


(Episode 568) 1:00:30 – Glutathione. This is a major antioxidant in the brain. It has been linked with many positive benefits, including reducing the risk of alzheimer’s. Our cells produce glutathione but the genes responsible for production become less active as our bodies age. Oral intake of glutathione is pointless because there are no transport mechanisms for getting the compound into the cell (remember it is made inside of the cell). There is liposomal glutathione (glutathione covered by a phospholipid layer), which can be transported into the cell. However, the enzymes that will end up using glutathione decrease in quantity as time goes on. These enzymes are important because they render the glutathione effective an an antioxidant. [not much was discussed about these enzymes – I believe the enzymes are glutathione peroxidase and glutathione peroxidase]

(Episode 568) 1:06:51 – Mouse study about traumatic brain injury and glutathione application. A mouse with a brain injury was given glutathione applied topically (placed on top of the crack in the skull), and 70% of the cell death was prevented. The question remains; can this be done to humans? Can the glutathione be useful if directly applied to the brain?

Blueberries; NRF2

(Episode 773) 1:31:07 – Blueberries. Blueberries are known to contain anthocyanin, another plant insecticide. Anthocyanin can recognize a sequence of DNA called NRF2 and activate it. NRF2 produces a large number of proteins responsible for DNA repair, antioxidation, and anti-inflammation. Dr. Patrick has studied obese individuals, one group of which was given a blueberry powder (containing anthocyanin) equivalent to 2 cups of blueberries and the other group, a placebo. Joe derails the explanation.

Dark Chocolate

(Episode 773) 2:05:20 – Dark chocolate benefits. There is EGCG which is what is in green tea. Dark chocolate has been shown to grow brain cells and kill cancer cells. It’s also good for your skin by preventing collagen from being broken down. And on top of all these benefits, dark chocolate also produces a hormedic response, activating genes responsible for anti-oxidation. 


(Episode 773) 2:10:39 – Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy inhibits the enzyme that break down collagen, known as collagenase. It helps with arthritis and keeps the skin in good condition. Cold exposure in general has been shown to increase norepinephrine 2 fold. Norepinephrine, in addition to learning benefits and feeling good, is a potent anti-inflammatory as it inhibits the production of TNF alpha, which is a signaling molecule to your immune cells indicating an infection. When signaled, the immune system responds with an increase in hypochlorite which causes tissue damage and pain. Norepinephrine quiets this down. It has been shown that 10 days of cryotherapy (one session per day) in a row increases the expression of glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase by 68%. These enzymes work with the glutathione we produce and take in to provide a number of benefits [more on glutathione in other summaries].


(Episode 901) 32:34 – Sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables. Plant tissue must be broken in order for sulforaphane to form; it is stored as a precursor first and as the tissue is broken sulforaphane is formed. It is one of the plant’s insecticide mechanisms. When we ingest it, it is “really really really” good for us. Sulforaphane is very high in broccoli sprouts; it is probably the best source of sulforaphane out there. Dr. Patrick has become convinced that sulforaphane has significant anti-aging properties and nootropic benefits. If you freeze the broccoli sprouts, you can up to double the amount of sulforaphane; this will make the broccoli sprouts very pungent. It has been shown that if you give a small amount (7-30mg) of sulforaphane a day to young adults with autism, it improved their autism scores by 34%. The brain functions better when introduced to sulforaphane. It has been shown to help with depression and neurodegenerative diseases.

(Episode 901) 37:23 – Where the benefit of sulforaphane comes from. The compound has a profound effect on inflamation. As mentioned before, sulforaphane activates those genes that we evolved to have activated; in particular the NRF2 pathway. NRF2 is composed of over 200 genes. Sulforaphane is the most potent naturally occurring compound that activates this pathway. NRF2 has also been shown in many studies to slow aging through lowering inflammation and increasing the production of antioxidants through glutathione related pathways.

(Episode 901) 39:00 –  Cancer prevention and sulforaphane. Men with prostate cancer were given 60mg of sulphoraphane a day for a month, and the doubling rate of a tumor biomarker called PSA slowed by 87%. There are generally lower risks of cancer associated with consumption of cruciferous vegetables.

Air Pollution; Benzene

(Episode 901) 40:12 – Compounds in air pollution. Things like benzene and acrolein are being breathed in and they have been shown to cause cancer (particularly linked to Leukemia). Cigarette smokers take in a large amount of benzene. A study involving people being given 40mg of sulforaphane a day for a week in the form of a broccoli sprout drink showed that even on day one they excreted 61% of the benzene through the urine.

More on Sulforaphane

(Episode 901) 41:37 – Inflammatory benefits from sulforaphane. The compound has been shown to lower inflammatory markers like C-Reactive protein by 20%.

(Episode 901) 42:00 – Sulforaphane has also been shown to affect cardiovascular health. Type II diabetics were given a daily dose of sulforaphane and it lowered their triglycerides by 20%, lowered their atherogenic index by 50%, and improved blood sugar by 20%.

(Episode 901) 42:42 – Studies in animals have shown sulforaphane to delay aging. Some sulforaphane exists in kale but very little compared to the amount that exists in broccoli sprouts – Dr. Patrick says that these quantities are “next level”.

Foods Containing Sulforaphane; Preparation

(Episode 901) 44:50 -Myrosinase. This enzyme is heat sensitive and is deactivated when you eat cruciferous vegetables, to the point where the enzyme is nonexistent – the enzyme is needed to turn glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. Glucoraphanin stays intact when the vegetable is heated. The gut has some myrosinase that can turn glucoraphanin into sulferophane. An interesting note: mustard powder has active myrosinase; this can be sprinked on top of heated cruciferous vegetables like kale to retain sulferophane production. Taste the powder first and make sure it has that ‘bite’ because if it doesn’t it might be useless.powder first and make sure it has that ‘bite’ because if it doesn’t it might be useless.

(Episode 901) 47:47 – Where do you get broccoli sprouts? You can buy sprouts that have already sprouted at Whole Foods or Sprouts. The problem with buying them at the store is that they are likely contaminated with bacteria; these foods are very sensitive to E. Coli. It’s also very expensive; you can spend $20 and get a pound of seeds instead. There is a method to growing them that involve jars and constant adding and removing water for about 4 days. You have to do this in a clean environment. There is speculation that the seeds of broccoli sprouts contain myrosinase and glucoraphanin and when crushed or ground, these compounds produce sulferophane but there have been no studies using this method.

Supplements with Sulferophane

(Episode 901) 51:27 – Supplements that contain sulferophane or elements that make it. Prostaphane (only available in France) is one and when tested it showed that sulferophane was 70% bioavailable (70% of it ended up in the subject’s blood stream). Another is Avmacol (available in the US), which has glucoraphanin and myrosinase which make sulferophane; Avmacol was tested to have about 40% bioavailability. Another is Crucera by Thorne which isn’t very bioavailable because it only contained the precursor, leaving production entirely up to the myrosinase found the the gut, amounts of which are very variable from person to person.

(Episode 901) 53:14 – Research done shows that 7 out of 10 times, supplements do not contain what they say they contain. “It’s kind of disgusting” is Dr. Patrick’s take on it. Other studies show about 75% of the supplements do not contain what it said on the label.

Carcinogens from Cooking Meat

(Episode 1054) 1:50:02 – Cooking meat. When you cook meat at very high temperatures (and when charred) you produce heterocyclic amines which are known carcinogens. We have genes that have an ability to inactive these carcinogens. Some people have polymorphisms that allow them to detoxify these compounds effectively and some people don’t do it quite as well. Dr. Patrick believes that the IGF-1 that comes from meat should be a bigger concern because IGF-1 allows cancer to grow. However, eating meat coupled with regular exercise puts IGF-1 to better use so it is less of a concern.

(Episode 1054) 1:51:32 – Isothiocyanates also inactivate the heterocyclic amines found in burnt meat. These are antioxidant compounds [discussed often in pervious summaries] that are found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli sprouts, kale, cauliflower).


(Episode 1054) 1:55:52 – Dr. Ames’ discovery that a severe folate deficiency caused mice cells in a lab to show massive DNA damage, comparable to being irradiated by an x-ray machine. This changed the course this doctor’s career as he shifted from cancer research to nutrition. Folate is needed to make a precursor to DNA; a deficiency in folate can lead to breaks in the DNA. Leafy greens are a great source of folate.

PQQ; Potent Antioxidant

(Episode 1054) 2:00:14 – PQQ. PQQ is made by bacteria in the soil and it is a cofactor for their metabolic enzymes. Plants take it up from soil then we eat the plants and get it into our diet. This compound has been shown to regulate and improve mitochondrial function. To understand how powerful PQQ is, we must first understand oxidation cycles of other compounds. Vitamin C can either be oxidized or reduced. Vitamin C goes through a cycle of oxidation where it can be oxidized 4 times. This helps alleviate oxidative stress on cells and DNA. PQQ does it 20,000 times. There are large amounts found in breast milk. Dr. Patrick takes 20mg a day because that is what the two clinical trials have shown.

(Episode 1054) 2:02:54 – The supplement companies that Dr. Patrick relies on the most. Supplements are known to be risky because a lot of them either contain a fraction of what they say or none at all. Thorne is Patrick’s go-to brand. Patrick takes PQQ from Life Extension (she claims they are “pretty OK”). Some supplements have the NSF stamp; some of these supplements are probably more reliable because the NSF examines the facilities where the supplements are made.


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