Chris masterjohn

How to keep your energy chain maintained. Protective compounds.

How to keep your (electron transport) chain-2.png

How to keep your energy chain ( electron transport or ETC) running might not be something you think about, but if you are concerned about being healthier, this is an often overlooked area of maintaining health. It came as a huge disappointment to find out that the historical use of a false tooth compartment to hide cyanide tablets (for soldiers and spies) to commit suicide was pure fantasy. Although cyanide hidden in glasses appears to be more likely, the role of cyanide to induce rapid death is indisputable. We are at a time where industrial pollutants are at an all time high and cyanide being one of those pollutants, might not induce a theatrical foaming of the lips and contorted last throws of life (as seen in many an old war movie); it may induce a slower, less dramatic affect on cell function and efficient biology over time.

Cyanide is certainly ubiquitous in the industrialised environment but unknowingly for many, trying to achieve a ‘healthier’ balanced diet, cyanides are present in many foods favoured by the health conscious.

There are more than 2500 plants associated with cyanide content, these include almonds, millet, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other natural compounds. Cassava consumption (especially so in poorer countries) is associated with the neurological, irreversible disease called Konzo (Nzwalo & Cliff, 2011). Some other major sources of cyanide are:

Seeds/kernels of apples, apricots, plums, peach and nectarine, millet, almonds, flax seed, , spinach, sorghum gluten free flour like cassava often used to replace normal flours. Simply type in cassava poisoning into a search engine and you'll see some cases where dozens of people from the same meal have died from a so called bad cassava. Most likely it was the poor preparation and failure to remove the cyanide from the cassava that lead to these numerous deaths. In one case in the Philippines in 2005, 27 children died in such a manner.

Other cyanide sources include vehicle exhaust, releases from chemical industries, burning of municipal waste, and use of cyanide-containing pesticides (Jaszczak et al 2017) and the more obvious smoking.

Excess cyanide (ions) is able to disrupt the efficient production of energy that is produced through the electron transport chain/mitochondria (energy producing cells) where water, carbon dioxide and energy are end products. The loss of this function often creates a decreased ability to utilise carbohydrate effectively and the result can be an excess of lactate, which diminishes cell function further and creates hypoxia. Lactic acid seems to be getting some praise of late but it is the hallmark of inefficient energy production, as observed in the so called Warburg state seen in cancer (5). As cyanide levels increase cellular death occurs through increased lactic acidosis. This is the death throw that you see our actors who have crunched down on that mythical hydrogen cyanide capsule. It's also observed as a cause of death to the unlucky Private Santiago in A Few Good Men, where he has a rag with cleaning fluid, stuffed into his mouth creating a not to dissimilar occurrence.


You want the truth? You can't handle the truth but it might be that a combination of dietary cyanide and pollutants might not be as healthy as you think.

If there’s a ubiquitous source of cyanide and other pollutants in the environment does it make sense to have plenty of cyanide containing foods? Let’s not take this out of context. Here and there - having foods that have some levels of cyanide in should pose no problem to a healthy individual but what if your diet contains a regular supply and also contains plenty of vegetables that contain goitregens or foods that slow down thyroid function (and also contain cyanide) it may be problematic. Many people seem to promote a diet high in raw green vegetables, nuts, seeds, often low in adequate protein and often deficient in adequate energy/carbohydrate. In this instance the so-called healthy diet, in a highly polluted area becomes a burden not a provider of energy to promote optimal thyroid health, energy and liver enhancer (energy, detox, hormones etc.).

Chris Masterjohn’s report - Thyroid toxins, highlights the out of context suggestions of nutritional science evaluation of compounds in a test tube compared to a real world scenario.

The line that divides nutrients from toxins is often thin and equivocal. Since any given chemical may react in any number of ways in a test tube depending on the other chemicals with which it is combined, it is often possible to prove such a chemical to be both a nutrient and a toxin.

If a diet is to be considered healthy, it should meet the body’s energetic demands without reducing its function. A healthy energy chain ensures that carbohydrate is metabolised efficiently without an excess of lactic acid production.

The abundance of glucosinolates found in broccoli, cauliflower (and other brassica vegetables) and other cyanide like food sources combined with other environmental pollutants may pose substantial problems over time. Heavy metals like mercury, which are also increasing environmentally can decrease selenium and iodine uptake creating another algorithm for decreased function.

cell enhancers

cell enhancers

Caffeine can be considered a useful compound for preventing excess uptake of metals and may go someway to explain the anti-oxidant and other positive effects observed in neurological degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia (Liu et al., 2016). Other compounds like methylene blue can be seen in the next diagram that promote a better energy chain.

" As I have shown in my earlier days , one can knock out the whole respiratory chain by cyanide and then restore oxygen uptake by adding methylene blue  which takes the whole electron transport chain over between dehydrogenases and  O2 ."   Albert Szent Györgi

You can also reduce the risk of excess cyanides in foods through heating, boiling and other forms of processing but given that the zeitgeist is as raw, wholesome and as gluten free as one can be, it’s unlikely that this occurs in the upwardly mobile food neurotic.


  1. Jaszczak, E., Polkowska, Ż., Narkowicz, S., & Namieśnik, J. (2017). Cyanides in the environment—analysis—problems and challenges. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(19), 15929–15948.

  2. Liu, Q.-P., Wu, Y.-F., Cheng, H.-Y., Xia, T., Ding, H., Wang, H., … Xu, Y. (2016). Habitual coffee consumption and risk of cognitive decline/dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition, 32(6), 628–636.

  3. Nzwalo, H., & Cliff, J. (2011). Konzo: From poverty, cassava, and cyanogen intake to toxico-nutritional neurological disease. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

  4. Masterjohn, C. Thyroid Toxins Report. 2007


  6. Szent Györgi, A. Introduction to a Submolecular Biology. Academic Press. 1960.

Are probiotics essential for optimal gut health?

Probiotics are often being recommended to deal with a variety of digestive health complaints today. I have been intrigued for many years of the role of the digestive system; it’s functions and ultimately how bacteria can contribute to improved or decreased health. Recently, the last two newsletters from Ray Peat PhD have quoted studies, where animals that were born into sterile environments had improved metabolic rates. He also alluded to the increased lifespan of animals with higher metabolic rate in his book, Generative Energy. Probiotics have been touted for many years to assist with optimal gut function but like many products these days have swiftly been elevated to cult status, with their miraculous, cure all capacity suggested by those that sell them. But what does the science say? A summary of The Cochrane database provides plenty of research that shows that probiotics do have a positive impact in the short term, decreasing acute diarrheal like symptoms; however it’s impact on issues such as IBS remain inconclusive and controversial.

The gut flora and microbial mass is suggested to weigh up to 7kgs, second only in weight to the skin as the largest mass found in the human body. There exist over four hundred different species of bacteria with a predominance of anaerobic bacteria found mostly in the lower bowel. The problem with anaerobic bacteria is that the by-product of these species is the production of lactic acid and other metabolites that are damaging to cellular function.

Bacteria are often classified as pathogenic or disease causing or ‘friendly’ whose role can assist in production of Vitamin K2, biotin and B vitamins amongst other compounds. Bacteria can also increase the production of nitric oxide and endotoxin ( a compound well known to disrupt the mucosal barrier and enzymatic process of the bowel) is known to increase it further. An intriguing question would be whether an increase of certain bacteria predominate when we have a lower intake of certain foods

It is clear that metabolites from all bacteria do pose a challenge to cellular function and certainly when there is an overgrowth or dysbiosis they produce increased compounds that can create health issues dependant on the host’s immune and metabolic status. Probiotics like other supplements are often recommended long term but even the so-called friendly bacteria have the capacity to cause metabolic disturbances. Some species of lactobacilli in excess, cause a condition called D-Lactate acidosis, which disrupts metabolism and has significant impact on mood, digestion and energy. I can recall a three-year-old client who presented with anger and constipation ( 1 bowel movement per week) whose mother thought she was doing the right thing by feeding plenty of fermented foods and yoghurts with natural bacteria. Within a week of removing these foods the issues had stopped.

Chis Masterjohn PhD suggests, ‘Not every fermented food is good for every person, and some people don't tolerate fermented foods well at all. I think this is largely mediated by the biogenic amine content.’

A common diagnosis clients have been told is one of fructose or carbohydrate malabsorption. When carbohydrate in the diet is high in the absence of a healthy bowel this may be an issue. However if Lactobacillus levels have not been checked, we cannot rule out the possibility of fermentation of carbohydrate due to the action of increased Lactobacilli.

E.E. Metchnikoff’s view that disease starts in the colon is a widely accepted statement. Reducing the amount of bacterial agents in the bowel and increasing protective factors such as decreased adrenalin and improved thyroid function can complete elevating the biological status of a person. A stressed digestive system that does fails to produce adequate stomach acid (Achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria) often increases the amount of bacteria in the lumen of the bowel. Partially undigested food accumulates and elevates lipopolysaccharides from increased endotoxin, damaging the bowel. An increase in adrenaline and decreased thyroid hormone can contribute to decreased stomach acid production via stress pathways. Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that buries into the stomach wall may also contribute to this issue.

High protein diets have the capacity to increase bacterial action in the bowel and a metabolite of tryptophan degradation is indole. This increases ammonia and is problematic to the function of the bowel. This is often the reason for practitioners often suggesting an alkalinising type of diet. Alkaline environments pose just as much a problem as acidic environments. To decrease the bacterial actions of tryptophan, increasing the amount of gelatin like substances may be more beneficial than trying to restrict protein. The amino acids glycine, arginine and proline, found in gelatin do not have the carcinogenic properties associated with tryptophan, which is high when consuming muscle meats alone. Metchnikoff's theory of putrefactive dysbiosis  would fit better here but fermentive dysbiosis of grains and carbohydrates is prevalent in the poor performing bowel also.

Whilst antibiotics have gotten a bad rep over the last twenty years there can still be much use for them especially when there are stubborn gastrointestinal infections. Antibiotics seems to also work well in reducing the impact of endotoxemia

Testing the bowel can be completed with a CDSA (comprehensive stool analysis) or to accurately assess metabolite an organic acid urine analysis. These tests often cost £250-400 and present a considerable expense to clients. I personally think these tests should be completed after you have tried to optimise the bowel with optimal foods that digest well and support hormonal function. A caveat to that would be, when a client presents with parasitic infections or autoimmune type systems that may need further investigation

To summarise, I think probiotics can be useful in the short term to people with acute problems, primarily due to restricting proliferation of problematic bacteria but in many cases long term use is unwarranted and may even contribute to health issues.



  1. Lord, R.S and Bralley, J.A. Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine. Metametrix Institute. 2nd 2008.
  2. Peat, R. Generative Energy. Restoring the Wholeness of Life. 1994.
  3. Chris Masterjohns Blog
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  6. Ray Peat Newsletters: Directing Epigenetic Adaptation/Imprinting and Aging