Ion Gut Health (Restore) is a supplement that claims it relieves leaky gut and improves digestive health. Ion Gut Health (Restore) is supposed to alleviate gluten insensitivity, leaky gut, heartburn, restore the immune system, relieve SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), renew the microbiome, and improve overall digestive health. Ion Gut Health (Restore) is well known and is even offered at your local health store. Could it contribute to improving your digestion? Is there enough research to establish its safety and efficacy? Should you try the supplement, or is it a waste of money?

What is Ion Gut Health (Restore), and How Does it Work?

Ion Gut Health (Restore) is a supplement that is manufactured by Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) (originally New Earth Dynamics) in the United States. The supplement is a liquid lignite extract (Terrahydrite), mineral amino acid complex, and purified water (previous formula also had castor oil). Lignite is technically a type of poor quality coal (low energy content); it is not traded extensively on the world coal market. Terrahydrite contains trace soil amino acids and minerals similar to a fulvic acid supplement. The supplement comes in a BPA-free (bisphenol a) plastic bottle and does not need to be refrigerated. Finally, the mineral amino acid complex used to be listed in a prior formulation as alanine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, serine, threonine, isoleucine, valine, gold, chloride, lithium, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, sulfur, zirconium, tungsten, nickel, zinc, and copper.

Well, how does the supplement help improve one’s digestive health? Here is an answer that comes from Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) website:1

“It is important for people to know that ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE) produces a significant outcome for gut health. I use it in my Virginia clinic as a foundation for helping to create a strong immune system and gut biome. Microbiome balance and tight junction integrity are widely recognized to constitute a major portion of the human immune system, and directly affect DNA transcription of human cells to promote optimal health and prevent a leaky gut, improving gut intelligence. The well-proven biology of Ion Gut Health (Restore) demonstrates its role as a foundational resource in your pursuit of optimal health,”

says Zach Bush, MD, CEO and co-founder of Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences), LLC. Dr. Bush is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Hospice Care.

“Seventy percent (70%) of our immune system is found in our gut. We need tens of thousands of different strains of probiotic gut bacteria to support a healthy immune system. Clinical experience, in addition to cell culture studies, supports the theory that ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE)’s proprietary formula creates the optimal environment in the gut to create a tight junction barrier and maintain our health and wellness. ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE) is a daily liquid supplement designed to support the protection of the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract against agricultural herbicides, antibiotics, GMOs, gluten and food-borne toxins by helping to create an environment where between 20,000-30,000 different strains of good gut bacteria thrive. Most probiotics on the market contain fewer than 24 different strains of good gut bacteria.”

Ion Gut Health (Restore) sure does sound unique, it relieves leaky gut and revitalizes the microbiome. Ok, so how does the supplement technically work to help improve your digestive health?2

“ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE) nurtures the body’s protective membranes in the gut and the blood/brain barrier, enabling these membranes to keep us healthy. A diet loaded with highly-processed foods may cause the tight junctions of the intestinal wall to open from the gut into the bloodstream. Through state-of-the-art scientific studies conducted at prestigious universities and compelling anecdotal evidence from people who use ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE), data suggest that by keeping the gut healthy and functioning optimally, one can block gut sensitivity to gluten and other chemicals and address GI health. In short, ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE) nurtures the body’s protective membranes in the gut and the blood/brain barrier, enabling them to work, to keep the body healthy.”

Notice something odd about the statement above? The statement does not give any specifics on how the supplement works to help people recover. The website does, however, provide a few studies to help us understand better how Ion Gut Health (Restore) functions and to reassure us that it is safe, but is the information accurate?

Is There any Evidence That it Works, and is it Safe?

What evidence we have is scarce at best. Ion Gut Health (Restore) states that lignite extract is composed of carbon redox molecules when are supposed to help our microbiome communicate, improve the health of our microbiome, reinforce our GALT (galt associated lymphoid tissue), and heal leaky gut by helping improve the integrity of our gut junctions. We do know that similar extracts from the Earth can enhance our overall health including humic acid, fulvic acid, and shilajit, but we have more studies to back up these extracts and their effect on our health.3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The lignite extract from what I can understand according to their trans-epithelial electrical resistance study coats the tight junctions in the gut and protects them from incoming irritants. It insulates the cells in the gut against a bombardment of electrons. Protection of the gut junctions sounds excellent in theory, but it is unknown how well it will occur from the ingestion of Ion Gut Health (Restore). The above-referenced study was performed in a controlled environment and was done in-vitro on a group of cells. Will Ion Gut Health (Restore) completely coat the intestinal tract or just the mouth, esophagus, and or stomach? The above-referenced study shows that the supplement may be able to protect our gut from the ingestion of the herbicide, glyphosate. Restore might also be able to protect the gut lining and cilia from the ingestion of gluten, for example, but not from our gut microbiome eating the wheat that we consume. So, if you are suffering from gut dysbiosis, ingestion of wheat may still cause increased endotoxin creation by Gram-negative bacteria and increased fermentation (wheat does contain fructans) in the digestive tract creating bloating and excessive gas production in people with unhealthy microbiomes. Even if your gut junctions are protected from gluten and glyphosate from taking the supplement, increased endotoxins and gas production would still be confined within the digestive tract, causing digestive issues and excessive triggering of the immune system.10

Ion Biome (Biomic Studies) in 2019 published another study. Their second study is a human blinded placebo study, which does replicate some of the early results with their in vivo study. Twenty-six people were randomly selected into two groups of twelve from one hundred and fifty healthy adult volunteers ages 18-55 years. Baseline urine samples and health questionnaires were taken. The treatment group was provided Ion Gut Health (Restore), and the placebo group was given a mixture of water, herbal tea, and mineral salt. Both the placebo and supplement were placed in identical eight-ounce HDPE plastic bottles and only marked with the research code at the bottom. The subjects were told to consume from the bottles five mL three times daily after two weeks. After two weeks, urine samples were taken, and compliance was reported by another questionnaire. Test samples were tested for TNF-a, IL-6, zonulin, and glyphosate.11

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha is a cell-signaling protein (cytokine) involved in systemic inflammation. TNF-a only so slightly reduced compared to the placebo.12

Interleukin 6 acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine in humans. IL-6 did reduce from supplementation about 17% compared to the placebo. However, since Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) did not use only purified water during the test for the placebo, it is unknown if the herbal tea in the placebo might have triggered an expression of IL-6, by upregulating the immune system.13

Glyphosate is an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. Glyphosate levels did decrease in urine expression by about 23% in the supplement group. Very interesting.14

Zonulin is a protein that relaxes the tight gut junctions. What it is upregulated leaky gut occurs. Zonulin levels decreased by about 12% in the supplement group.15

So it does appear according to this new in vivo study that Ion Gut Health (Restore) may help your body eliminate glyphosate more through your stool instead of being filtered out through your kidneys. Increased stool elimination of glyphosate may have a further unknown negative effect on the colonic microbiome since glyphosate is antimicrobial and is known to reduce probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria populations within the gut. The supplements benefits in this area might be “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in that you reduce glyphosate’s ability to be systemically absorbed and be filtered out by your kidneys (where it may cause damage over time) or reduce your probiotic microbiome in your colon. Zonulin levels are also reduced in the study, so the supplement may help protect some against leaky gut from wheat ingestion. Overall, I would love to see the study replicated with a larger sample size (twenty-six people is quite a small sample size), non funded, performed by a third party like a university, and the placebo only being reverse osmosis water before I can come to any conclusions that Ion Gut Health (Restore) is worth recommending.16

Ion Gut Health (Restore) does appear to be safe. However, concerns have been raised about the use of lignite extract and kidney problems. There are studies that some coal compounds may cause kidney damage or cancer. Possible kidney damage is why Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) tested its lignite extract on kidney cells in-vitro to see if it would cause damage. Ion Gut Health (Restore) was found to be safe in in-vitro and in-vivo tests (two week supplementation of twenty-six people) performed by Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences). Ion Gut Health (Restore) is not raw coal; it is a purified lignite extract, so a lot of the kidney-damaging and cancer-causing compounds should be removed. However, I would not use Ion Gut Health (Restore) if I suffered from kidney disease to err on the side of caution. Finally, Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) claims that other extract from the Earth may be contaminated unlike their lignite extract; therefore they may cause kidney damage, there are however no studies to show this to be as stated.17 18 19 20 21

“The active ingredient in ION GUT HEALTH (RESTORE), Terrahydrite™, is a very unique element within the complex components of the rare material mineral layer. This active ingredient is a large family of carbon molecules with oxygen-binding sites. These are produced by bacteria when they digest nutrients. The more diverse the bacterial population is, the more diversity you have in these carbon redox molecules. We extract this primary ingredient from ancient, fossilized soil that once thrived with a biodiversity that we no longer see in the diminishing ecosystems of our planet. Our raw ingredients are inert without any biologic function when they arrive in our labs. We then go through a series of biochemical procedures to balance the oxygen redox potential via the addition of trace minerals. The soil extracts are pH-controlled at a high alkaline pH at every stage of production.”

The main issue I have with Ion Gut Health (Restore) is the only studies we have currently are funded and performed by Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences). I believe this may be a conflict of interest. I wish Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) would not only perform the studies for Ion Gut Health (Restore) and instead have outsiders perform the studies non funded, like a university. I had issues with recommending Bacillus coagulans for this same reason; all the studies I could find on its use were either sponsored by Ganeden or performed by them.22 23 24 25

Finally, Ion Gut Health (Restore) might cause constipation (similar to ingestion of other soil products, clay, and activated charcoal) and very rarely might trigger an allergic reaction to the minerals in the lignite extract like nickel (causes a rash). Proper water consumption and magnesium supplementation might help constipation if you develop it from taking the supplement.

Does Fix Your Gut Recommend Ion Gut Health (Restore)?

Ion Gut Health (Restore) appears to be a supplement that is a roulette wheel with many people that try it to improve their digestive health. Most people on the SIBO Facebook group that tried the supplement found little improvement, if any, at all from using it that I have seen. I believe that people with severe digestive concerns may see no change in their issues with Ion Gut Health (Restore) because it does not fix the underlying problems, diet, microbiome dysbiosis, and motility issues. I have suggested Ion Gut Health (Restore) to a few clients here or there to see if they would get any improvement from using it, telling them upfront my concerns about the supplement. Some did, and from the ones that took it, it did not seem to be the miracle leaky gut fixer that Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences) alluded it to be.

Would it harm you to try Ion Gut Health (Restore)? Probably not, but do not use it believing Ion Gut Health (Restore) is the panacea for leaky gut it is touted to be. Fix Your Gut cannot wholeheartedly recommend Ion Gut Health (Restore) without further studies on its efficacy and safety, which are not performed by Ion Biome (Biomic Sciences).

  1. https://ionbiome.com/pages/faqs
  2. https://ionbiome.com/pages/faqs
  3. https://ionbiome.com/pages/faqs
  4. http://clinical-nutrition.imedpub.com/protective-effects-of-lignite-extract-supplement-on-intestinal-barrier-function-in-glyphosatemediated-tight-junction-injury.pdf
  5. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/files/Abstract3.pdf?1413
  6. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_BloodBrainBarrier_DigitalFile.pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3173016/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296184/
  9. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2018/5391014/
  10. https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)36302-3/pdf
  11. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  12. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  13. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  14. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  15. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29635013
  17. https://ionbiome.com/pages/faqs
  18. http://clinical-nutrition.imedpub.com/protective-effects-of-lignite-extract-supplement-on-intestinal-barrier-function-in-glyphosatemediated-tight-junction-injury.pdf
  19. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/files/Abstract3.pdf?1413
  20. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_BloodBrainBarrier_DigitalFile.pdf
  21. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
  22. http://clinical-nutrition.imedpub.com/protective-effects-of-lignite-extract-supplement-on-intestinal-barrier-function-in-glyphosatemediated-tight-junction-injury.pdf
  23. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/files/Abstract3.pdf?1413
  24. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_BloodBrainBarrier_DigitalFile.pdf
  25. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0354/2789/t/51/assets/IONBiome_Science_Paper_White_Paper_DigitalFile.pdf
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