AKA: Butylated hydroxytoluene.

A food preservative added to prevent oxidation and reduce rancidity in oil-containing foods.

Effects: An anti-oxidant. According to Jane Brody, BHT has been proven to protect the body against certain carcinogens, to inactive some viruses, and provide some protection against carbon tetrachloride poisoning. According to Pearson and Shaw, it can also extend life and be used as a treatment for herpes.

Precautions: The few studies conducted have yielded contradictory results or have had flaws. It is considered a possible carcinogen and, for that reason, most nutritionists warn that it should be avoided. It is not to be taken by those with a diseased or damaged liver, or who have had a liver test that is abnormal. Those taking it have follow-up tests for liver function, serum lipids, and a complete blood count.

An initial side effect is hypotension and lightheadedness when getting out of bed in the morning, which goes away after a few days. This problem can usually be avoided if a quarter gram is taken at bedtime, with the dosage slowly increased over time. It may cause a mild dermatitis due to an allergic reaction, which maybe avoided if nutrition is adequate, particularly vitamins A and C.

It can intensify the effects of barbiturates, other downers, or alcohol when combined with these drugs. There may be possible harmful interactions with steroid hormones or oral contraceptives. It works synergistically with most other anti-oxidants, but some research suggests that when BHT and vitamin E are taken together in very high doses, their life extension properties are severely curtailed.

Dosage: Pearson and Shaw take 2 to 6 g/day for its free radical-fighting and life-extending properties, though Joseph G. Llaurado, M.D., Ph.D., of the Nuclear Medicine Service at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Hospital and the

Loma Linda University School of Medicine asserts that 2 grams is very close to the lethal dose. John Mann recommends 200 mg/day. When taken in gelatin form, it may not be fully assimilated by the body and could irritate the stomach. Mann recommends lightly warming 16 ounces of safflower oil in a pan and stirring in 2 level teaspoons until all the crystals have dissolved. After cooling for a few minutes, the oil is returned to the refrigerator until needed. The oil is used within a week or two so that it does not become oxidized. It is not used for frying.

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