028-My Interview with Dr Crinnion on Environmental Toxicity and our Mitochondria Part 1


Dr. CrinnionOn this podcast, I am delighted to have my friend and colleague Dr. Walter Crinnion, ND,  back to talk about how environmental toxicants actually do their damage to the body.

This podcast is about our mitochondria, the little organelles which are the energy factories of our cells.

In this show I’m going to be asking Dr. Crinnion the following questions:

1. What are mitochondria and what do they do for us?

2. How can I tell if my mitochondria are working or are not working?

3. Are there certain diseases that are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction?

4. What kinds of things “poison” my mitochondria?

In preparation for this interview I reread Dr. Crinnion’s excellent book called Clean, Green and Lean, which I encourage all of you to get and read. It tells you the practical steps to help keep your own body clean, and to keep the environment where you live and work, clean. This is especially important for people who already have a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. It is also very important for young families who are starting to have children which can be more easily affected by the chemicals in our environment.

You can get the hard back version of the book here

or the Kindle version here

In his book, Dr. Crinnion gives excellent suggestions for practical things you can do without needing to necessarily see a doctor. There are a few cases when it would be best to see a doctor who is experienced in integrative medicine and he clearly delineates those cases.

Dr. Crinnions ‘s website is located at Crinnion Medical

I really encourage you to read his recent articles about pesticides and their and the effects on child development.

Also mentioned in the podcast is the Endocrine Disruptor website (TEDX ), which shows how endocrine disruptors that are in our environment affect the development of the fetus in the womb. This is a most informative site. Please note it takes a few minutes to load as it is a very sophisticated site.

Also the dirty dozen list that we talked about-the fruits and vegetables with the MOST pesticides is here:


I’m delighted to announce that I am now starting to get my podcasts transcribed! I found an excellent transcription service and starting with this podcast, as you’ll see below, all my podcasts will be available for you to read if you prefer that way of getting the information. At this time I’m not doing PDFs of the interviews. If you are interested in the PDF’s please do let me know.

 As I’ve mentioned, leave comments below (you’ll need to scroll past the transcript) and/or you can contact me at my voicemail hotline 310-499-0275 or by e-mail at questions@askdrsoram.com 



Dr. Soram Khalsa – Dr. Crinnion Podcast on Mitochondria, Part 1

Well, greetings everyone. I am so happy to have my longtime colleague and dear friend Dr. Walter Crinnion, back with us today, to talk about a new subject. Dr. Crinnion is a professor at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. He is the chairman of the Environmental Medicine Department there. He’s been on TV. many times; he practiced for many years in the upper Seattle area and has tremendous experience with chemically poisoned individuals and detoxing people to improve their health and well-being.

Most recently, he is the author of the wonderful book , “Clean, Green and Lean – Get Rid of Toxins that make you fat”. And today, we are going to be talking about another aspect of Environmental Toxicity and I am going to let Dr. Crinnion tell you about that:

Dr. Khalsa: So, Walter, welcome back to my podcast Dr. Crinnion. I am so honored to have you here.

Dr. Crinnion: Soram, it’s always such a joy to talk with you, and especially fun on these podcasts.

DR. KHALSA: I love it! So, today, Walter, we are going to talk about mitochondria, and can you tell us what mitochondria are? What do they do for us?

DR. CRINNION: Well, mitochondria are actually the little furnaces or engines in every cell of our body. They are the things that take our nutrients from the food we eat, the sugar and the fat, and take that and make it into energy.  So each cell in our body can do its job.  Then, we as a body, as a whole being, has energy, our brains work right, everything in our body works right when the mitochondria in the cells are able to reduce the energy so that everything works.

DR. KHALSA; Perfect, excellent explanation, and so why, since we are talking about Environmental Medicine, have you chosen to talk with us today about mitochondria? How does that affect us in regards to our exposure to environmental chemicals and toxicants? Where does that fit in?

DR. CRINNION: Well, you know Soram, we know that the Environmental toxicants pose a whole host of medical and health problems in people and over the last 10 or so years, a great amount of information has come out pointing to the fact that these environmental toxicants that are in the air, food, and water cause their damage to a great extent by poisoning the mitochondria.

DR. KHALSA: Oh wow, ok.

DR. CRINNION: So, solvents for instance, you know, kids sniff glue. It makes them high. Well, what is the mechanism there? It’s the mitochondrial damage in the neurons. So, the neurons in the brain do not work so they get this high. So, working with the mitochondria, understanding that and ways to protect it all becomes crucial in helping us protect ourselves from the classic health problems that our environmental toxicant load provides to us.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, and remind us what are the spectrum of health problems we see that are related to our exposure to environmental toxicants.

DR. CRINNION; Well the major systems in the body that are damaged by the toxicants are first the brain. So a lot of neurologic things, like mood swings, the classic one are brain fog, where you cognitive abilities just don’t work like they used to, ability to think, understand, to remember. It can also lead to neurological diseases; Parkinson’s is a classic one associated with a lot of environmental toxicants. The immune system is also damaged, where you get a lot of allergies, asthma, and auto-immunity, can’t fight off infections, so you get chronic infections, chronic viruses, chronic fungi. The endocrinal/hormonal system lots of problems with that. Low thyroid, adrenaline balance, infertility is a big one, and diabetes is the new one so strongly associated with it. And overall the big symptoms that show up are fatigue, and mood problems.  These are very, very common. So, those are like the big deals that go on. I guess we can mention some of the bone marrow cancers as well.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, yes there have been a number of articles which I have been accumulating which I hope that you and I can talk with on future podcasts  about the role specifically of mercury with respect to damage to the auto-immune system. Recent studies showed within the Haynes evaluation the connection of mercury with auto-immune thyroiditis and also with anti-nuclear antibodies and anti-nuclear clear antibodies which are the hallmarks of lupus.

DR. CRINNION: Hmm, yes.

DR. KHALSA: So, these are becoming more and more visible to the general population now with these studies coming out. So, to go back to our mitochondria, how can I tell if my mitochondria are working or not working?

DR. CRINNION: Well, let me give you one example. Many people have probably experienced low blood sugar at some point…

DR. KHALSA: Yes, hypoglycemia.

DR. CRINNION: So, when you have hypoglycemia/low blood sugar you know, your brain doesn’t work right, you don’t have energy, you’re really tired, you’re cranky and all that. Well, that is the mitochondria in your brain cells, not able to function because they don’t have enough sugar to make energy.  Well, it’s those kinds of symptoms, and the big ones that people complain of is fatigue. I don’t have enough energy. Well, what makes energy? The mitochondria are what make energy. And people who are obese, they have a lot of fuel, but they are not able to burn it.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, right.

DR. CRINNION: Why is stored instead of burned. The mitochondria are what burn it up. IF the mitochondria are not working, you are going to be overweight.

DR. KHALSA: That is so interesting.

DR. CRINNION: If you are having these kind of problems and there are some of the classic illnesses that are in epidemic proportions now, that are strongly associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Obesity being one of them, and chronic fatigue, diabetes, is known to be mitochondria dysfunction. Parkinsonism is known to be mitochondrial dysfunction. In heart failure, the mitochondria in the heart is not working right.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, yes, it’s interesting.

DR. CRINNION: So, these are some classic presentations.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, and that’s why, for example, in Parkinson’s we know that if we give them intravenous glutathione, literally, their tremors stop for several days, or markedly reduced and glutathione is like one of the fuels that the mitochondria is using.

DR. CRINNION: It’s actually one of the few, I guess you would call it a nutrient that’s actually inside the mitochondria. It’s the only antioxidant present inside the mitochondria and it’s critical for the functioning of the mitochondria. Now the other nutrient in mitochondria is Coenzyme Q10 and that dosing Co-Q10 has also been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

DR. KHALSA: yes, indeed. High doses used.

DR. CRINNION: So, it’s mitochondria.

DR. KHALSA: yes, yes. And I don’t think that conventional medicine understands the ideology of why Co-Q10 helps in Parkinson’s but this certainly explains it. I think it is just used empirically by conventional neurologists. Great. So those are some good ways for us to be aware. Fatigue is certainly rampant in our society and everybody attributes it to stress but of course stress can affect our mitochondria as well.


DR. KHALSA: So, you’ve mentioned certain diseases that are associated with mitochondria dysfunction. What kinds of things poison the mitochondria?

DR. CRINNION: Well, the whole host of environmental toxicants that we’re exposed to, you know the CDR, the Center for Disease Control, has been doing ongoing studies about what are the toxicants that are in all of us. They are up to their fourth report now. It’s available right on the web at drcrinnion.gov


DR. CRINNION: And so what I did with the last report, Soram, the fourth report, is I just sat down and looked at all the toxicants that they are finding in basically everybody and I just go to Pub Med, the National Library of Medicine, the National Institute of Health, a database of all published articles and I would just put in the search. I’d do whatever the toxicant was that CDR found in everybody and then I would do AND mitochondria!

DR. KHALSA; Laughs

DR. CRINNION: And literally, all the ones that are in all of us have been shown in scientific laboratory studies that poison mitochondria.

DR. KHALSA: Wow! Wow, wow, wow. So all that is in the medical literature?

DR. CRINNION: Yes, the mitochondrial damaging these things is an overwhelming burden. We don’t have just one mitochondria poison in our body. We’ve got literally hundreds!


DR. CRINNION: The weight is overwhelming.

DR. KHALSA: Indeed, and we know from the environmental working group study that newborns are born with 280 of these chemicals in their bodies already that have been flowing through their system, while the mother was pregnant.

DR. CRINNION: Yes, yes! Leading to a whole host of problems. And knowing that the mitochondria prevent proper functioning of all our cells – immune cells, brain cells, the hormonal producing cells. Problems in those areas are what bring 90%-95% of your patients to you. When you are out driving and you’re wondering why people are driving so strange, well, they are loaded with solvents. They’re neuro-toxins. Their mitochondria are damaged.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, yes. That’s very interesting. To just divert for a second on newborns, I’m just thinking out loud with you for your perspective, so the babies do not have a formed blood-brain barrier in the womb or for the first six months of their life. So, all these toxicants that are affecting the mitochondria, can be affecting the mitochondria in the neurological tissue. That’s…

DR. CRINNION: Oh clearly are. The research has clearly shown that. I just did a little blog on my website, drcrinnion.com

DR. KHALSA: Good, I will put that in the show notes, Walter

DR. CRINNION: There was, the great journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, that I love so much,

DR. KHALSA: Yes, me too.

DR. CRINNION: they had three articles in a recent edition, all about exposure to a growing fetus, of organophosphate pesticides. Now, these are what we all have, when we don’t eat all organic foods.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, right.

DR. CRINNION; SO, if we are eating commercial apples, a peach, lettuce, potatoes, celery, spinach; their mom’s got organophosphate pesticides, which were developed in Germany, after WWI, for a nerve gas warfare agent.

DR. KHALSA: That’s interesting

DR. CRINNION: And these kids, these three studies in Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that the kids, who are exposed, inside mom, to levels that are commonly found, according to the CDR. CRINNION data, in US residents, come out with ADHD, lower IQ, mood disorders. And that’s just from mom eating an apple a day!

DR. KHALSA: From my point of view, that’s what’s been documented so far. And I am hoping that someday, they can take a look at that exposure, it’s called the expososome now. It actually has a name now, the amount of exposure we get from the environment, and if it has a relationship with the epidemic of autism.

DR. CRINNION: Mhmm, yeah.

DR. KHALSA: Because, I am very suspicious that there is a connection there. But, are you aware of any literature that has looked at that? I don’t think they have. It is harder to study autism.

DR. CRINNION: Yeah, I have not seen any articles about that yet that I remember. But, Theo Colburn,  the great doctor who wrote the book , “ Our Stolen Future”, he’s got a new website, called TEDx, it’s for endocrine disruption,  it’ll show you, it has a little interactive thing on there, it takes a while to load because it has a lot of information on there. It will show you prenatal exposure to a variety of compounds, and some of the end results. I have not looked on that site yet, for autism.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, yeah.

DR. CRINNION: So, I have not really looked at that.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, I don’t think that the literature supports that. But certainly, with this epidemic, and the recently announced market increase, 1 in 88 children, were born, are getting autism. There should be some forthcoming research. But it won’t surprise me if it’s tied in with the same mechanism.

DR. CRINNION: Oh, yeah, yeah.


DR. CRINNION: Not at all.

DR. KHALSA: So, now, we are getting exposed to these poisons, our mitochondria are getting affected. Are there ways to protect our mitochondria?

DR. CRINNION: And that is an excellent question. And the answer is thankfully, yes. Again, it’s natural medicine to the rescue.

DR. KHALSA: Yes. Great.

DR. CRINNION: We talked a little bit about CO-Q10, and Glutathione being molecules that are in the mitochondria. There has been a tremendous amount to show that Glutathione replacement is one of the real big deals in helping mitochondria work right.

DR. KHALSA: Hmm mmm

DR. CRINNION: And protect them against this toxicant damage. So, that’s typically supplementing either the nutrient NAC enacetolcysteine or whey protein.

DR. KHALSA: Hmm mm

DR. CRINNION: Those are the two sources of amino acid cysteine, which you need, to make glutathione.

DR. KHALSA; Yes, it’s a precursor.

DR. CRINNION: Yes, if you have been around a lot of environmental toxicants then you have probably depleted your glutathione store. And so, you will have to make sure that you have an extra source of that. NAC is not that expensive.

DR. KHALSA: I know.

DR. CRINNION: If you are going to do that whey protein, you will have to do the higher quality, higher cost whey proteins that are manufactured under high pressure rather than higher temperature.

DR. KHALSA: Great and what dose of NAC and N-acetyl cysteine would you suggest?

DR. CRINNION: You know, in a lot of the studies they are using around 1500mg.

DR. KHALSA: Hmm mm, yes, that is what I have seen as well. And this is easily available at health food stores.


DR. KHALSA: and, also, for our listeners to know there are new companies now that are making lypospheric glutathione.

DR. CRINNION: Yes, yes, yes. And prior to these liposomal glutathione molecules, all the studies where people have taken reduced glutathione from the health food store doesn’t work. It doesn’t raise your glutathione. Your body has to break the glutathione back down to cysteine and so, then after the cysteine rises, and then you get glutathione. It’s cheaper just to take the cysteine. These new liposomal forms are looking very, very promising,.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, indeed. I have been using them in my practice for patients that have need for this and they are very, very effective. Maybe, Walter, why don’t you tell our audience what is liposomal.

DR. CRINNION: Well, I can’t tell you the actual stereo-chemistry of it, but it binds the anacetolcysteine within a lipid soluble or fat soluble sphere and that’s the best I can say.

DR. KHALSA: And they use Phosphatidyl Choline for that.

DR. CRINNION: Yes, and I don’t know how they make it.

DR. KHALSA: Laughs

DR. CRINNION: How they plug it in there that I do not know.

DR. KHALSA: And I am just going to correct you said, NAC. Actually, they are putting in a glutathione molecule.

DR. CRINNION: Oh yes, I am sorry. They also have a liposomal NAC; they have done it with Vitamin C. But yes, I think we were talking about glutathione. Thank you for the correction.


DR. CRINNION: And that gets picked up with fat and your intestines are very good at sucking fat out of the intestinal lining, and that way it gets picked up intact. Otherwise, the reduced glutathione you have been taking is going get broken down because that is how you absorb amino acids. You don’t absorb whole amino acid combinations which are, in larger forms, called proteins. You break them down in to the component amino acid.

DR. KHALSA: Yeah. The way I explain it to my patients is the way you did. The glutathione is captured inside a little fat globule and these are all microscopic.

DR. CRINNION: That’s a great way to say it.

DR. KHALSA: And then the intestine sends it directly right to the liver because it is a fat molecule. The liver strips off the fat coating and bingo, the glutathione goes shooting in to our bloodstream.

DR. CRINNION: And the liver is the main place where the glutathione really gets made, put together the cysteine and other amino acids and the released in to the bloodstream for the rest of the body to grab and utilize and pull in to the cell.

DR. KHALSA: Yes, exactly, exactly.

About Dr. Soram Khalsa

As an MD, Dr Soram specializes in Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition. Visit Dr Soram’s Healthy Living Store where you’ll find high-quality nutritional supplements: