Italy, especially Tuscany is renowned for it’s healthy ‘Mediterranean Diet’. In fact the population of Italy is among the healthiest in the world. It is interesting to note that the foods that feature in the ‘Mediterranean diet are among the richest sources of a trace mineral called boron.
The groundwater in Tuscany is also a very rich source of boron – so much so that they are struggling to reduce the water levels of boron to comply with EU safe drinking water standard. Yet, for generations the population has never suffered or even noted any health risks.
The spotlight on boron is now shifting from from concern about boron toxicity to focus on the health benefits of this vital trace mineral. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that the incidence of rheumatism, osteoporosis, some cancers and other diseases are markedly lower in areas of high soil and water boron.
And there is evidence that boron is essential for humans. In fact, some boron compounds have almost miraculous power against inflammation, vascular disease, and cancer.
Incidentally, for centuries people have enjoyed the health benefits of mineral-rich geo-thermal springs which are now known to contain high concentrations of boron.
A limited amount of boron is absolutely essential for good health. Most people only get between 1.7 and 7 mg of boron per day, mainly from fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables. It is likely that this level represents a severe deficiency, with the deficiency being worse for people living in those areas where there is little or no boron in the soil.
Chemical fertilisers inhibit the extraction of boron from the soil by plant roots, so conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables are low in boron. In contrast, an organic apple grown in boron-rich soils may have 20 mg of boron.
Prior to 1981, boron was not considered a nutrient. It was not until 1990 that it was accepted as an essential for human health and we do not yet know it’s full range of influence.
Beneficial health effects are emerging, with hopeful implications for cancer. A 2008 study provided a comprehensive review of boron in human health referencing the positive effects of boron in human bone, brain, inflammation and hormone function.
General health enhancer
Boron may justifiably be understood as a general health enhancer. Boron helps with the correct cellular uptake of minerals and trace elements into the cells – and it also affects oestrogen and testosterone levels.
About half of the total body magnesium is found in bones and the other half inside the cells of tissues and organs. In contrast, 99% of calcium is in bones, and the rest in the fluid outside of cells.
When there is a boron deficiency too much calcium moves into the cell while magnesium cannot move inside to displace it. Muscles contract when calcium moves into the cells, and they relax when calcium is again pumped out and magnesium moves in.
So boron deficiency can cause calcium to accumulate inside the cells. This then leads to only partial relaxation of the muscles with stiffness, a tendency to cramps, and poor blood and lymph circulation.
Calcium stimulates excitotoxin activity
Magnesium prevents excitotoxin activity
A further problem is that when excess calcium damages the cell membrane the cells become handicapped in their normal functions. This makes it difficult for nutrients to move into the cells and wastes to move out of them. Low cellular energy results. And when the intracellular calcium level gets too high the cell dies.
Hormonal output keeps reducing as endocrine glands increasingly calcify. Nerve cells can also accumulate calcium, leading to faulty nerve transmission. Calcium deposition in the lens of the eye causes cataracts.
In addition, boron deficiency results in intracellular magnesium deficiency. So the symptoms of boron deficiency need to include the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Boron supplements can lower the amount of magnesium flushed out in the urine. This has a profound ripple effect on all other minerals in the human body
Magnesium itself is a major mineral with many roles in the body. For example, magnesium is needed to activate countless enzymes, and a deficiency leads to inefficient and blocked energy production. The problem gets worse the more that calcium moves from bones into soft tissue.
Boron activates enzymes
Boron has a role as a cofactor for some enzymatic reactions and has been shown to affect the activity of numerous enzymes in both plants and humans. It is considered a catalytic trace element in humans and animals.
Boron has considerable involvement in glycogen synthesis in the liver. Russian researchers emphasized the relationship of boron to adrenaline, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Boron deficiency in humans with a tendency to skin allergies can trigger eczema, acne, and enteritis.
Boron is required for the maintenance of bone and normal blood levels of oestrogen and testosterone. Within eight days of supplementing boron women lost 40 percent less calcium, 33 percent less magnesium and less phosphorus in their urine.
Some studies have shown the Boron helps in increasing the level of oestrogen hormone and this significantly reduced menstrual pain in women. Post-menopausal women receiving boron supplementation had blood levels of estradiol double the levels found in women on oestrogen replacement therapy.
Other Health Conditions Improved Naturally with Boron
Given that the chief role of boron in humans is to regulate all other essential minerals in the body, the list of conditions that boron is implicated in is long.
Arthritis: In those areas which contain good concentrations of boron in their soil and drinking water, the incidence of arthritis is found to be very low among the population. Boron plays a key role in preventing other ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, Lupus, especially in its severe form of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and other bone and connective tissue diseases such as Dupuytren’s disease. Muscle pain and Carpal Tunnel syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that causes chronic inflammation.This is an inflammatory autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own joints, causing degeneration and deformity. Boron is an effective cure. The mineral reduced more than 95% of the symptoms of arthritis in humans (however, its effect is reduced for severe arthritic conditions where the joints are completely damaged).
Osteoarthritis is a wearing away of the joints, particularly those that have been subject to trauma, infection or over-use when injured. The cartilage or tough fibrous matter around the joint wears away and the bones rub against each other, causing pain and and further permanent damage to the joint.
Osteoporosis (decalcification of the bones), brittle bones, or osteopenia.
Degenerative joint disease, weak cartilage
Swollen and receding gums or loose teeth (pyorrhoea). While joints are the most obvious sign of Rheumatoid arthritis, it is truly a multi-system disease that can cause inflammation in other parts of the body, too, including the gums. Boron-fortified mouthwashes treat pyorrhoea, arthritis of the teeth and gums.
Brain function and cognitive performance: Research has indicated that boron plays a role in brain function, and that that boron deprivation can result in memory loss, poorer task performance involving motor speed and dexterity, attention, and short-term memory. Boron supplementation can enhance brain function, eye-hand coordination, memory and concentration.
People with poor boron intake are likely to have a hard time staying focused. Boron can increase the thinking skills of an individual by boosting the level of hormones to some extent. One study that supplemented participants’ diets with 3.25 mg of boron saw them perform better at memory and hand-eye coordination tasks than people with low boron levels.
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease): Research tells us that Alzheimer’s disease is a consequence of aluminium in our food supply and in our drinking water. Aluminium depletes the body of boron, also leading to Parkinson’s syndrome. In India it is known that turmeric added to the diet of the patient can help reverse Alzheimer’s disease. It’s interesting to note that turmeric is a useful source of boron.
Cancer: Recent studies suggest that boron may be preventative for cancer, with apoptotic effects (programmed cell death) and an inhibitory effect on cell growth.
Congestive heart failure conditions: Boron can significantly alleviate the difficulties caused by congestive heart failure conditions.
Blood fat disorders (hypertension, high blood pressure, arterial diseases): Boron helps to reduce lipid accumulation and enables in the removal of cholesterol. It was found to increase excretion of cholesterol and triglyceride into the bile, which was increased in flow volume by almost 50 percent. Reabsorption of cholesterol from the intestinal tract was also reduced and boron was found to lower cholestesrol synthesis in an action comparable to statin drugs.
Allergies The improvement in calcium and magnesium metabolism alone, which much of Boron’s action is centred on, will calm the system, tending to reduce allergies and the auto-immune reactions involved in many health conditions.
Fungal infections, bladder and urinary tract infection: Boron protects the body from a host of parasitic attacks such as Candida Albicans and other fungal and bacterial infections.
Sex hormones: Loss of libido in both men and women, menopausal symptoms. Boron increases the level of natural sex hormones in the body, thereby reducing the need for hormone replacement therapy.
Gout: Boron is an effective remedy. Boron is considered to be helpful in preventing the human body from increases of uric acid levels
Aging: Boron provides nourishment to the skin and people who are having normal levels of boron in their body have glowing and fresh skin.
Vitamin D: Boron is helpful in the process of vitamin D production in the body.