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Abscisic acid is a toxic retinoid aka Poison/"Vitamin A" compound

I have recently become aware of the compound called abscisic acid, which is supposedly an analog of Poison/”Vitamin A” and therefore potentially part of the retinoid family of compounds.

Abscisic acid is also known as dormin, a plant hormone that suppresses plant growth during the fall/autumn, and causes seedlings to “go to sleep”.  There is plenty of research demonstrating that Poison/”Vitamin A” is extremely suppressive to human thyroid function, so this lines up pattern-wise.  Your thyroid runs your metabolic rate, so taking a compound that puts plant metabolism “to sleep”, could very possibly do the same to the human metabolism.

Some people are talking about how abscisic acid has research and patents on it treating cancer.  OK. There is some truth to this, but the ending of the story isn’t one that we want.  First, you should know that Accutane, aka Isotretinoin, aka 13-cis-Retinoic Acid, aka another member of the Poison/”Vitamin A” retinoid family, has already been used as chemotherapy, so there is precedent to falsely believe that Poison/”Vitamin A” related compounds can be used to “treat” cancer successfully.  However, the long-term research paints a very different picture.  Make sure to look at all the side effects on that linked page.  Toxic stuff.  Fitting the pattern of the Duration Paradox rule, which states that anything that Poison/”Vitamin A” seems to help in the short-term (even cancer), gets absolutely ruined by that same Poison/”Vitamin A” in the long-term, isotretinoin increases cancer and death rates long-term (there seems to be no exceptions to this rule).  To wit:

Mortality in the Randomized, Controlled Lung Intergroup Trial of Isotretinoin

Overall and cancer deaths increased in current smokers in the isotretinoin arm during the treatment and the extended follow-up period. No mortality endpoint increased among never smokers and former smokers taking isotretinoin, and cancer deaths decreased marginally in this combined subgroup. Isotretinoin also increased deaths from cardiovascular disease in current smokers.

Also fitting the pattern of retinoids causing early deaths, did you see my post about the study that was stopped early because giving Retin-A aka tretinoin, aka all-trans retinoic acid, aka another member of the Poison/”Vitamin A” retinoid family was stopped early due to causing an excessive number of early DEATHS?

Then, did you know that no fewer than THREE separate studies where they gave beta-carotene supplements to people have been TERMINATED EARLY due to observed increases in cancer and deaths?

Does abscisic acid act along Poison/"Vitamin A" pathways, you ask?

Abscisic-acid-induced cellular apoptosis and differentiation in glioma via the retinoid acid signaling pathway.

Retinoid acid (RA) plays critical roles in regulating differentiation and apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells. Abscisic acid (ABA) and RA are direct derivatives of carotenoids and share structural similarities. Here we proposed that ABA may also play a role in cellular differentiation and apoptosis by sharing a similar signaling pathway with RA that may be involved in glioma pathogenesis. We reported for the first time that the ABA levels were twofold higher in low-grade gliomas compared with high-grade gliomas. In glioma tissues, there was a positive correlation between the ABA levels and the transcription of cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 2 (CRABP2) and a negative correlation between the ABA levels and transcription of fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5).
These results suggest that ABA may play a role in the pathogenesis of glioma by promoting cellular apoptosis and differentiation through the RA signaling pathway.

So, they are all structurally similar (abscisic acid, retinoids, and carotenoids).  Abscisic acid likely acts through the "retinoic acid signaling pathway".  This would likely mean that the short-term and long-term effects to other Poison/"Vitamin A" compounds could be assumed to be fairly similar.  The Duration Paradox would likely be applicable here.

Using megadoses of synthetic Poison/”Vitamin A” compounds to treat cancer is nothing new.  Problem is, it didn’t work out the way they expected long-term.  I will also tell you that the research shows that the body will eventually create a DEFENSE mechanism against this, it’s called “retinoid resistance” or “retinoic acid resistance”.

Retinoids, Retinoic Acid Receptors, and Cancer

”Delivery of retinoids to patients is challenging because of the rapid metabolism of some retinoids and because epigenetic changes can render cells retinoid resistant.

Understand what the above is saying.  At a cellular level, the body is changing itself to FIGHT against the Poison/”Vitamin A” onslaught.  It does not do this against other compounds used against cancer, like high-dose Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).  Why would it fight back so much, unless it was a defense mechanism?

What about toxicity studies on abscisic acid?  Are there any of those?  Yes, there are, and they aren’t good at all.

Abscisic acid is an endogenous cytokine in human granulocytes with cyclic ADP-ribose as second messenger

Here, we provide evidence that ABA [abscisic acid] stimulates several functional activities [phagocytosis, reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide (NO) production, and chemotaxis] of human granulocytes through a signaling pathway sequentially [...] leading to an increase of the intracellular Ca2+ concentration.
The increase of free intracellular ABA
 and its release by activated human granulocytes indicate that ABA should be considered as a new pro-inflammatory cytokine in humans.

Cytokine are small proteins that are important in cell signaling.  One of the main mechanisms that Poison/"Vitamin A" causes its damage by is through causing hypercalcemia (high blood calcium).  Here are seven studies with the words "Vitamin A hypercalcemia" in the title.  Moving on.

Evalution of toxicity of abcisic acid and gibberellic acid in rats: 50 days drinking water study.

In the present study, the influence of subchronic effects of two plant growth regulators (PGRs) [Abcisic acid (ABA) and Gibberellic acid (GA3)] on antioxidant defense systems [reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione reductase (GR), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and catalase (CAT)] and lipid peroxidation level (malondialdehyde = MDA) in various tissues of the rat were investigated during treatment as a drinking water model.
But the antioxidant mechanism could not prevent the increases in lipid peroxidation in rat’s tissues. This data, along with changes, suggests that PGRs produced substantial systemic organ toxicity in the spleen, lungs, stomach, heart and kidney during a 50-day period of subchronic exposure.

Abcisic acid and gibberellic acid cause increased lipid peroxidation and fluctuated antioxidant defense systems of various tissues in rats.

The study was aimed at demonstrating changes in the antioxidant defense systems [Reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione reductase (GR), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and catalase (CAT)] forming an antioxidative barrier and oxidative stress parameter (Malondialdehyde=MDA) in the various tissues of Sprague-Dawley rats which were administrated plant growth regulators (PGRs) [Abcisic acid (ABA) and Gibberellic acid (GA(3))] during 25 days.
The observations presented led us to conclude that administration of subacute ABA and GA(3) promotes lipid peroxidation content and alters in the antioxidative systems in the rat’s various tissues. These data, along with changes, suggest that the PGRs produced oxidative stress in rats during the period of a 25-day subchronic exposure.

So, to summarize the known toxicity studies involving abscisic acid:

  1. It is pro-inflammatory (the opposite of anti-inflammatory) and raises intracellular calcium levels.  These two things naturally go together.
  2. SUBSTANTIAL systemic organ toxicity.
  3. Increased lipid peroxidation.
  4. Increased oxidative stress.

These are all bad things, if you weren’t already aware.  So, to summarize my concerns about folks trying to increase their abscisic acid production in the hopes of treating or preventing cancer:

  • Synthetic retinoids have been used in efforts to prevent and treat cancer before.  Studies on synthetic retinoids have been stopped early due to increased deaths in the treatment groups.
  • Beta-carotene supplements have been used in efforts to prevent and treat cancer before.  Multiple studies on beta-carotene supplements have been stopped early due to increased cancer and deaths in the treatment groups.
  • Treating cancer with retinoids, especially very high doses, does seem to suppress cancer in the beginning.  Remember the Duration Paradox rule I linked above.  Abscisic acid may share this pattern.  However, over time, the body becomes epigenetically resistant to them and the cancer gets worse than it was before, and then the Poison/”Vitamin A” compounds distinctly DO NOT WORK again.  Do you believe in the wisdom of the body?  If you do, the question becomes, why would the body create a defense against these compounds unless it was trying to protect itself?
  • Absiscic acid is also known as dormin, a plant hormone that is associated with plant dormancy (a period in an organism’s life cycle when growth, development, and physical activity are temporarily stopped).  Poison/”Vitamin A” is associated with suppressing thyroid function in animals and humans.  Do you think this is a coincidence?
  • If abscisic acid was so great, why is the alternative cancer community not actively using it or promoting it?  Is it because it didn’t work long-term, like other retinoid cancer treatment approaches?  Did it possibly increase cancer rates and deaths, like the other retinoids did?  Structurally similar, uses the same pathway...
  • There are several studies showing toxicity of abscisic acid at "subchronic exposure" levels (subchronic means moderate or intermediate level).

To be blunt, this is not a compound I would go experimenting with based on what I’ve presented here.  If you were to go and do this, and I’ve seen it suggested that consuming combinations of carrot juice and liver powder as a way to go about it.  This would be a quick route to Hypervitaminosis A…8 ounces of carrot juice per day ALONE could do it, much less adding liver powder to the mix.  All I can say is, I’ll be here to help fix the problem with my Poison/”Vitamin A” Detox program when it doesn’t work out.

Dr. Garrett Smith, the "Nutrition Detective"
Licensed Naturopathic Physician (NMD) in Arizona
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