Nature is very “in her element” when it comes to nurturing the health of her inhabitants, effortlessly providing the tools needed to foster wellness. And while she handles this enormous calling with ease and simplicity, she is also complex in her mechanisms.
Such is ION* Intelligence of Nature. ION* looks to the potential of soil for answers to modern man’s most pressing health concerns. And yet, however simple the source, when it comes to how ION* functions, it is as complex and diverse as nature herself.
Let's dig deep with Dr. Cindy Fallon, VP of Science & Innovation at ION* Intelligence of Nature, and get answers to some of the most pressing questions about ION* — what it is, how it works, and how something as simple as “dirt water” can benefit human health in so many ways.
Q: Starting with the basics, what exactly is ION*?
A: Simply put, ION* is a blend of humic extract and purified water.
Of course, this begs the question, “what is humic extract”? This is where things get a little more complex.
It starts with ancient, 60-million-year-old soil made up of naturally occurring bacterial metabolites (not bacteria). These metabolites are the breakdown products from the bacterial digestion of plants and animals during that particularly rich and diverse time in natural history.
These bacterial metabolites mix with naturally occurring trace minerals to create something like an ancient compost pile made up of largely two categories of molecules — humates and fulvates. Both fulvates and humates are molecularly diverse carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen-rich molecules (representing 1000’s of different structures!) that support plant and human life.
The humate molecules, however, are much larger than the fulvate (anywhere from 10x-100x larger). Though they perform an invaluable service in our soil, they aren’t as suited as the smaller fulvate molecules to support human health at the cellular level. It’s the fulvate molecule that lies at the heart of ION* science.
Representation of one of a thousand different variations of the fulvate molecule.
We use purified water to gently separate and isolate the smaller fulvate molecules. We then balance the minerals and electrical charges such that the fulvate is best suited to serve the electron transfer capability of both bacterial and human cells. And this electron transfer is the foundation of how ION* works to support inherent health.
Q: So how exactly does ION* work?
A: At its core, the gift of fulvate lies in its ability to both give and take. And this ability to donate and accept is how ION* works to perform at least three important functions: transfer of electrons (redox signaling), transport of minerals, and quenching of free radicals (antioxidant).
These three foundational functions allow ION* to support human health in a myriad of ways, including reinforcing the gut lining, digestion and immune support, and microbial balance to name a few.
Q: How does ION* work via redox signaling?
A: Humans communicate in various ways, most notably visually and with sound waves. But we also communicate with chemicals, like pheromones. Similarly, microbes interact in a few different ways: by passing electrons and emitting small molecules. These communications are intended to elicit a response or action in another bacterium or in the human host.
With redox signaling, or the passing of electrons, bacteria communicate longer distances via extracellular (outside the cell) electron shuttling. So, when a bacterium wants to elicit a response in something far away (say a human cell), it passes along an electron, and it has to rely on long distant partners to carry these electrons. Those long-distance partners are fulvate molecules.
Bacteria actually give an electron to a fulvate molecule which is equally able to take an electron as give one up. The fulvate molecule then passes it to another fulvate which passes it to another fulvate, and on and on until the reducing electron is carried all the way to its target, the “acceptor” of the electron. This could be another bacterium, a human cell, or some other entity within the body.
Fulvates are uniquely suited to support redox signaling because they can readily accept and donate electrons.
Q: How does ION* act as an antioxidant?
A: For that answer, we look to ION*’s ability to donate electrons.
In this highly toxic world, free radicals are everywhere — from pollution to UV rays, toxins to stress. For a quick refresher, free radicals are simply oxygen atoms that have seven electrons in their outer valence shell instead of eight, and they are so hungry for an eighth electron that they will grab it from anything within reach — our lipids, proteins, even our DNA. This can cause damage to cell membranes and biological macromolecules.
In addition to acting as a powerful antioxidant, with the power to donate electrons to free radicals, fulvate also upregulates NRF2 which is the master regulator of endogenous antioxidants (antioxidants generated by the body). So not only is ION* itself an antioxidant, it actually helps to upregulate other antioxidants, like glutathione, in the body.
This ability to scavenge free radicals is at the heart of how ION* helps to maintain the integrity of the gut. Free radicals will degrade a critical enzyme called DPP4, which is responsible for breaking down a toxic peptide in gluten that upregulates zonulin. The upregulation of zonulin causes the tight junctions between our gut cells to break down and leads to leaky gut.
Simply put, ION* quenches free radicals before they can contribute to leaky gut.
Q: How does ION* work as a carrier?
A: In the soil, minerals in the form of inorganic rocks are not transported into plants and therefore can't be consumed by humans. However, fulvate helps convert minerals in the soil to forms that can be carried up the plant roots and into the plant foliage. It does this via chelation, which is the process of bonding to metal ions. In other words, fulvate acts as a chelator in its ability to bind to metals and transport them into cells that need them.
In addition to metals, fulvate carries and delivers other nutrients — amino acids, peptides, vitamins — making them bioavailable to human cells.
Further, the fact that there are both hydrophilic (water-loving, polar) and hydrophobic (water-hating, non-polar) sites on the surface of fulvate molecules makes them very “surface active”. This means that fulvate can bind with both polar and non-polar organic pollutants in addition to chelating with inorganic pollutants such as heavy metals. And when fulvate binds with toxins, it decreases their bioavailability. This means ION* Gut + Microbiome, when used daily, supports a very gentle, natural detoxification.
This is one of the most inherently intelligent mechanisms behind ION*. Fulvate molecules are designed to bind to and carry metals and nutrients, and they work collaboratively with human cells which innately know what they need for optimal health. This is nature working at its most fundamental level. By starting with cellular function, ION* doesn’t really add anything to your body, but instead fosters an internal environment that can work as nature intended.