Food Toxin Additions: Saponins, Salicylates, Phytic Acid & Goitrogens. Their Symptoms and How to Evaluate using Applied Kinesiology


Dr. Michael Lebowitz




Previous submissions to the collected papers of the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) brought forth the concept of “food toxin testing”. This showed that testing individual foods in their whole form often yielded up to 80% false negatives while testing toxic components within the foods such as alpha solanine, gliadin, etc. would eliminate these false negatives. Avoidance of the foods brought symptomatic relief to many patients. Four new “food toxins” are examined with results on testing 50 random patients.





In 2011 Dr. Michael Lebowitz published a paper on food toxin testing (1). It examined testing of the following substances: alpha-solanine, gliadin, zein, lactose, casein, lactose, caffeine, paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline. When testing a facilitated muscle for either inhibition or hypertonicity he found that using the toxins as test substances yielded up to 600% more positive finding than testing whole foods with those substances in them. To find out the significance of the difference they had people avoid the foods that contained the substances regardless if the whole food itself yielded a positive test. The results often were dramatic in terms of symptom relief. Subsequent papers on lectins and oxalates yielded similar impressive results with oxalates (tested in the suggested way the paper stated) having an 800% difference between testing oxalic acid itself as compared to high oxalic acid foods such as spinach.

With this in mind we decided to explore 4 other potential food toxins: saponins, salicylates, phytic acid and goitrogens.


Saponins: Saponins are compounds produced by some plants for self- protection. The saponins are secondary metabolic compounds produced in healthy plants with anti-microbial activity and thus serve as potential chemical barriers against pathogens. Saponins are classified into two major groups; the steroidal and terpenoid saponins. Saponins are present in both cultivated plants (chili peppers, spinach, soybeans and most other legumes, quinoa, onion, oat, millet, tea, etc.) and as certain non-cultivated “wild” plants (Mojave yucca ( Yucca schidigera ), licorice (Glycyrrhiza species), ginseng (Panax species), fenugreek (Trigonellafoenumgraceum ), alfalfa (Medicago sativa ,etc). In susceptible individuals they can cause increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), bloating, gas, diarrhea, as well as many other negative effects depending on genetics, nutritional status, toxic load, etc. (2,3).


Salicylates are naturally occurring compounds with pesticidal properties which plants produce to protect against insects, fungus, and bacterial infection. In humans, they can cause a wide range of symptoms from tinnitus to ulcers. High concentrations are found in avocados, berries, grapes, almonds, orange, olives, coffee, sweet potato, nightshades, peanuts, mint, and many spices, etc. Salicylates can alter or interfere with or alter prostaglandin and leukotriene metabolism. Salicylates can also be found in many medicationsperfumes and preservatives.

The most common symptoms of salicylate sensitivity are:

·         Stomach discomfort or diarrhea

·         Itchy skin, hives or rashes

·         Asthma and other breathing difficulties

·         Rhinitissinusitisnasal polyps

·         Angioedema

·         Headaches

·         Bed wetting or urgency to urinate

·         Changes in skin color/skin discoloration

·         Fatigue

·         Sore, itchy, puffy or burning eyes

·         Hyperactivity

·         Memory loss and poor concentration

·         Depression

·         Tinnitus ringing of the ears (4)


Phytic Acid is a natural substance found in plant seeds (including grains and legumes, nuts, etc.). This compound is known as an "antinutrient" for its ability to bind to minerals. Phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and other minerals and can promote mineral deficiencies. Phytic acid has been shown to inhibit digestive enzymes such as trypsin, pepsin, α-amylase, and ß-glucosidase (5) thus potentially compromising protein and carbohydrate absorption. Phytic acid is found in bran and germ of many plant seeds and in grains, legumes and nuts. It is a simple sugar (myo-inositol) containing six phosphate sidechains, and as such, is a dietary source of phosphorus and an effective chelator of zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. Studies indicate that phytate-mineral complexes are insoluble in the intestinal tract, reducing mineral bioavailability. Vegetarians consuming large amounts of tofu and bean curd are particularly at risk of mineral deficiencies due to phytate consumption. In our practice we have seen many correlations between osteopenia and osteoporotic patients and an inhibition response when manually muscle testing phytic acid.



Goitrogens are compounds that can reduce iodine uptake in the thyroid gland and slow the production of thyroid hormones. The result can be an enlarged thyroid (goiter) and a host of metabolic disturbances. The most common plant goitrogens are compounds known as glucosinolates found in broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, arugula, radishes, turnips, collard greens, bok choy, etc (6).


Goiters are usually the most obvious sign of iodine deficiency though they do not occur in the majority of patients who are deficient. Brain damage, mental retardation, reproductive failure, and childhood mortality are more serious consequences of toxicity.




Through much trial and error we found that each toxin above had certain muscles which yielded the most positive results possibly due to the most effected organs similar to what we previously found when testing oxalates (7).

The correlations are as follows:

Saponins best tested with the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle test.

Salicylates best tested with pectoralis major clavicular and sternal divisions.

Phytic acid best tested with pectoralis clavicular and sternal divisions.

Goitrogens best tested with teres minor muscle.


Sometimes the substances would show on the right side, other times the left side, and sometimes both. Due to this we found evaluating each side is important.


The muscles above were evaluated by exposing the patient to the substance in a glass vial under the south pole of a 2x5 magnet over GV-20 (8).


Inhibition of a strong indicator muscle or hyper facilitation (muscles used are the ones listed above) of it was considered a positive test. We first made sure the muscles exhibited a normal response (no inhibition or hyper facilitation) without exposure to the vial.




For saponins 7 of 50 patients or 14% exhibited a positive test. Six were positive on a left TFL muscle and one was bilateral.


Salicylates were positive in 10 or 50 patients or 20% (5 right pectoralis clavicular, 2 left pectoralis clavicular, 2 bilateral pectoralis clavicular, 1 left pectoralis sternal).


Phytic acid was positive in 13 of 50 patients or 26% (6 left pectoralis major clavicular, 4 right pectoralis major clavicular, 2 bilateral pectoralis major clavicular, 1 left pectoralis major sternal).


Goitrogens were positive in 8 of 50 patients or 16% (5 left teres minor, 3 bilateral teres minor)


Chart type: Clustered Column. 'Field2'

Description automatically generated

Figure 1. Results of percentage of patient’s positive on food toxins


Patients were told to avoid the foods. The vast majority of patients returned 2 weeks later with significant improvement of symptoms but because they were simultaneously treated for dysbiosis, other foods and supplemented as needed, we cannot say for certain that avoidance of these substances was critical. On the phytic acid we will do repeat bone scans on appropriate patients in the future.




Saponins, salicylates, phytic acid and goitrogens are vegetable components that in a significant minority of patients needs to be considered as potential causes of your patient’s symptoms if they are not totally responding to correcting dysbiosis, more significant food toxins (gliadin, alpha solanine, casein, lactose, zein, albumin, caffeine and its breakdown products), individual sensitivities, etc.




1 Lebowitz, Michael. Food Toxin Survey. Collected Papers of the International College of Applied Kinesiolgy – USA. 2011


2 Zaynab M, Sharif Y, Abbas S, Afzal MZ, Qasim M, Khalofah A, Ansari MJ, Khan KA, Tao L, Li S. Saponin toxicity as key player in plant defense against pathogens. Toxicon. 2021 Apr 15;193:21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2021.01.009. Epub 2021 Jan 26. PMID: 33508310.


3 Johnson IT, Gee JM, Price K, Curl C, Fenwick GR. Influence of saponins on gut permeability and active nutrient transport in vitro. J Nutr. 1986 Nov;116(11):2270-7. doi: 10.1093/jn/116.11.2270. PMID: 3794833.


4 Hanns-Wolf Baenkler (2008). "Salicylate Intolerance: Pathophysiology, Clinical Spectrum, Diagnosis and Treatment". Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 105 (8): 137–142. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2008.0137. PMC 2696737. PMID 19633779


5 Dolan LC, Matulka RA, Burdock GA. Naturally occurring food toxins. Toxins (Basel). 2010 Sep;2(9):2289-332. doi: 10.3390/toxins2092289. Epub 2010 Sep 20. PMID: 22069686; PMCID: PMC3153292.


6 Chandra, Amar. (2010). Goitrogen in Food. 10.1016/B978-0-12-374628-3.00042-6.


7 Lebowitz M, Lebowitz N. (2022). Oxalic Acid Bioaccumulation & Intolerance- A Novel Test and Solution. Collected Papers of the International College of Applied Kinesiolgy – USA. 2011


8 Lebowitz M, Lebowitz N – Lebowitz Protocol Seminar