Sulfur Sensitivity And How To Fix It

sulfur sensitivity

There’s no doubt the world’s full of toxins.

Chemical sanitizers, car exhaust, and even metal from the pennies you handle can get into your system and damage sensitive balances. But often unmentioned is the widespread use and abuse of sulfur compounds.

Especially recently, thousands of people in the US are diagnosed with sulfur allergies and sensitivities every year, and they don’t have anyone to turn to for advice.

Allergies in particular are treated as though they have no origin and no cure, but is that really the case?

In traditional medicine, acquired allergies and hypersensitivities have both an origin and a cure. In this article, we’ll take a look at just one of them – the sulfur sensitivity – and discuss where it came from and how it can be managed or even abolished entirely.

First ask yourself the question, “did I always have it?”

If your answer is yes, don’t immediately resign yourself to woe and defeat, because being born with an illness does not by any good logic mean you have to keep it until you die. While genetic problems might not respond to the therapies coming up, they’re also vastly over-diagnosed. Even infants can acquire disease, and new research indicates that gene expression isn’t as simple as we once thought.

True mutations in the genes responsible for sulfur metabolism are very rare, after all, so this treatment is for almost everyone with a sulfur metabolism problem.

And if you answered no to the above question… well, you’re in luck!

Following is what I’d like to call the Sulfur Control Protocol.  Natural treatment for sulfur sensitivity goes like this, in order:

  1.  Eliminate high-sulfur foods, other than meat. Even healthy foods like spinach and kale fall under this heading. A diet of staple grains like rice, oats, and quinoa is good for the time being. Most fruit is fine. Vegetables should be limited to things like corn, cilantro, parsley, Jerusalem artichoke, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams. Absolutely no fast food or restaurant food should be eaten during this time. Because of how sneaky and pervasive sulfur preservatives are, it’s also recommended to avoid packaged, processed foods in general, even organics. Molasses, gelatin, caramel color, brown sugar, “mineral water,” dried/preserved fruit, wine, and pharmaceuticals are all suspect; most of the time these contain high levels of the type of sulfur that will set you off. Other consumables that are not directly treated with sulfur may have high enough levels to cause a problem, because they’ve been packaged or processed in the same facilities.
  2. Eat high-zinc, high-copper, high-iron foods, and consider supplementing with any of these you feel are especially low. Try to buy chelated and food-derived products if you use a pill. This step is important, because molybdenum supplementation later on may affect your ability to absorb these nutrients from food temporarily. (Though I’ve yet to see a problem when the molybdenum is taken apart from meals.)
  3. Cleanse the bowels thoroughly. You can find reliable information on colon cleansing here. Avoid expensive, ineffective pill products. 
  4. Purchase a good, chelated molybdenum supplement (like this one) and a food-derived vitamin C (for example: camu-camu powder, acerola cherry powder, amalaki, or rose hip powder/decoction).
  5. For a period of 1 week, take 1,000 to 1,500mcg (1 to 1.5mg) chelated molybdenum per day, in one complete dose. At the same time, use generous amounts of your vitamin C. Drink plenty of water. At the end of the week, take a 3 day rest, eat extra, and exercise.
  6.  For a period of 2 weeks, take 1,000 to 1,500mcg (1 to 1.5mg) chelated molybdenum, twice a day, making two complete doses. Even more vitamin C should be used. Note that a high amount of vitamin C may cause bowel flushing, and this will pass eventually. If it becomes too much of a problem, lower the dose of vitamin C until your bowels can tolerate a higher dose. When two weeks are up, take a 3 day rest and assess how you feel. Most people will need to do this step several times over, but some will find complete relief even after the first week.

By following the above schedule faithfully, people with sulfur sensitivities can get relief from their symptoms. And just in case you’re not sure if this is your problem, here’s a brief “how and why” with a list of symptoms:

Do You Have A Sulfur Sensitivity?

For people with sulfur sensitivity (that is, to sulfa drugs, garlic, sulfites, etc): there are two things to cover. Sulfur toxicity can arise due to pharmaceutical drug use, sulfur poisoning, and sulfur food abuse.

If this toxicity is not corrected, your body will both suppress its handling of sulfur via excretion and use up its stores of the dietary mineral molybdenum. Molybdenum is abundantly stored in not only the kidneys and liver, but also the teeth, bones, and ultimately everywhere else.

If you have a long standing sulfur metabolism issue, you’ll likely see this reflected in your liver and kidneys, as they’re slowly poisoned by overwork and sulfur compounds that can’t be moved out properly.

You also might see signs of molybdenum deficiency in your teeth, which will be prone to pitting, discoloration, cavities, and sensitivity.

Your sleep patterns will be disturbed, possibly full of dreams but lacking in refreshment, and because your kidneys are always at work getting rid of the steady trickle of transformed sulfates, you might even notice that you need to urinate during the night, even frequently.

More symptoms:

The tops of your eyes may feel inflamed and sore, with bags or blue and black rings underneath. Headaches may also be common between the eyes (at the pinch of the brow), along with emotional disturbances that range from anger and irritation to remorse and depression. If you’re one of these people, molybdenum supplementation and high-molybdenum foods are required before you’ll make any headway with depression. As science currently understands it, your problems are due to molybdenum co-factor deficiency. The blame is often put on genetic problems, even though the disease has been developed.

Science today overlooks the fact that a simple molybdenum deficiency can be necessarily long-term, because of building deficits requiring more and more each time molybdenum is re-introduced. In other words, remedial amounts of molybdenum in a time of need will make the patient feel better, but not fix the problem, because what they actually require is a much higher dose over a longer period of time.

The problem has two faces: a severe molybdenum deficiency caused by pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and food abuse, as well as molybdenum shortage in commercially raised edibles; and a sulfur deficiency resulting from the previous, because what the body can’t control metabolically it views as a toxin. Thus the joints don’t heal properly, cells are not accepting nutrients efficiently, teeth are porous, myelin nerve tissues are incomplete, wounds heal slower, blood sugar is less stable than it should be, and small issues plague the sulfur patient.

Validating the above, Bernard Jensen, Ph.D., says: “Sulphur-deficiency symptoms resemble those of sulfur excess.”

In truth, your body needs dietary sulfur, because all tissues depend on it to maintain their structure. Much of your body is built on proteins, and they can’t form properly without sulfur. When a toxic nature depletes molybdenum, making it hard to control sulfur, proteins malfunction, metabolism of carbohydrates and fats is made more difficult, and “excess” sulfur is excreted from the body. The latter eventually results in sulfur deficiency – but you wouldn’t know it, because by all reckoning your body is averse to dietary sulfur. This isn’t truly the case, but can lead to a lot of confusion. For example, toxic, molybdenum-deficient people might experience increased sensitivity to sulfurous tastes and odors, even taking offense to them.

While this would normally be assumed as a “hypersensitive aversion,” it could also be the case that a person’s sense of smell during a sulfur sensitivity increases their ability to detect it, and they themselves make up the offense.

In Ayurvedic medicine, sulfur “heats” and “softens” the body’s tissues.

With a dietary overdose of sulfur, the body is being “burned,” and immediately cools itself down to manage the intense heat. Thus, as long as there’s sulfur intoxication, symptoms of an overly “cool” or “cold” body (like depression, congestion, sluggishness, constipation, anxiety, very deep or very light sleep, joint problems, brain fog, memory problems, and ADD) will be prevalent, with symptoms of overheating (like anger, frustration, indigestion, diarrhea, liver problems, and skin blemishes) sometimes mixed in. During sulfur deficiency, the body is overly “cool” or “cold,” but if the deficiency is being caused by molybdenum depletion, there will also be a lack of control of heating substances in the body, including sulfur, which means that slight amounts can start a metaphorical wildfire in the body, eventually resulting in symptoms of an “overheated” nature.

So as you can see – and this is the case for all toxicity and sensitivity issues – the problem is not the substance, but the body’s ability to handle it.

Sugar can feed the body or kill it. Guns are useful for hunting, though you might shoot yourself or someone else. Not unlike sulfur, fire can keep your body from freezing and cook your food, spark passion and dissipate fear, but can also burn your house to the ground.

Molybdenum – the campfire ring, the oven mitt, the torch, the furnace – is meant by your body to transport sulfur – the fire – and protect you from burning yourself.

I hope this article’s been helpful! I can’t stress enough how crucial balanced nutrition is to our health. So for those of you who didn’t know anything about trace elements or the role they play in disease prevention, now you’ve had your introduction!


-The Chemistry of Man (Bernard Jensen, Ph.D.; quote from pg. 353 “Signs of Sulfur Deficiency”)
-Charaka Samhita (Atreya, Agnivesa, Charaka, and Drdhabala; Vol. I & II translation by P.V. Sharma, edited by Gabriel Van Loon)

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Caitriona

    I just discovered I’m thiol sensitive, which explains a lot. This is the best article I’ve found on this subject. Thank you for sharing.
    One question I have is: is decreased molybdenum responsible for my intense inflammation then!? I cannot find the source no matter what I’ve done.
    Any advice welcomed. (I’ve just ordered molybdenum and I’ve already implemented diet) ?

  2. says: Colby

    Hey Caitriona! I’ve retyped this message at least five times now…! I keep making it too long and complicated. The simplest answer is that molybdenum deficiency can cause chronic inflammation, but not everyone with a molybdenum deficiency has this problem, and not everyone with thiol or sulfur sensitivities have the problem either – at least, not until later. The best advice I can give is to try the steps suggested and allow it some time – and there will be uncomfortable cleansing reactions during some steps, for most people anyway. Hopefully your inflammation is as simple a thing as molybdenum deficiency. If it is, it will begin to get better quickly with the dosage of molybdenum suggested. Maybe give it two weeks at step 6, and you should be able to tell. And don’t forget to take breaks from molybdenum, too! It shares absorption space with some other crucial minerals after all.
    Hope this helps!

    1. says: Shari

      I had severe sulfur intolerance and chronic hives. My sulfur levels are high and molybedeum in so high the lab could not measure it….I’ve had hives for 3 months now and a few years ago I had them for 9 months straight….any suggestions?

    2. says: Katherine Fischer

      This is an interesting article. I took a high dose of long term azulfidine for years for Crohn’s. Could this have caused sulfer toxicity? Plus legumes didn’t ageee with me so rarely ate them.
      Now I have severe constipation I believe from hydrogen sulfide/methane producing bacteria. Would your protocol possibly work for me?
      How do you test for molybdenum?

  3. says: Donna Clawson

    thank you for this informative article!! I have suffered with hives/intense itch from sulfur intolerance for 1 1/2 yrs, and feel like I am going crazy!!! I have tried following a low sulfur diet along with different moly suppliments with varying dosages, because I couldn’t find guidance ANYWHERE-with very little improvement. Will be trying your protocol; hopefully I will one day be ITCH-FREE!!! (being able to enjoy a cup of coffee again would be a bonus!) Thank-you!!!

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      You’re so welcome! I hope it makes a HUGE difference for you! Just know you aren’t alone. This is actually one of our more searched out articles. I’ve been surprised how many people are looking for help. Good luck! <3

    2. says: Oles

      Have you been able to tolerate such high dose of molybdenum? I’ve had hives for a year after root canal formaldehyde treatment. Thanks.

    3. says: Oles

      Donna Clawson, were you able to heal your hives? I have identical situation and would love to talk to you. Thank you.

  4. says: Colby

    You’re very welcome Donna!

    Something I may have forgotten to mention that could be of benefit for those with most types of sulfur sensitivity (Donna, you reminded me of this somehow) is… MSM! Though the explanation is round-about, MSM has definitely helped people resolve sulfur intolerance. I don’t recommend using it until after a while using molybdenum, to avoid the risk of sulfur overload (which results from sulfur intolerance and the metabolism struggling to process it). Generally speaking, after the sort of therapy I’ve described in the article, people feel drained of their vital “heat” – it is a cleanse after all, and some negatives are temporarily going to manifest as they resolve. Ideally, if the diet is adhered to, post-molybdenum MSM use is very helpful to gradually re-methylate (another complex topic) the body and boost sulfur levels without antagonizing the immune system. Like the other recommendations here, MSM will cause some negative “cleansing” effects as the body builds tolerance. You can start with very small amounts – maybe 3-5 tiny MSM crystals – and gradually work your way up to 1/8-1/4 teaspoon, or more if you’re especially tolerant. MSM absorbs through the skin and mouth very well, and mixing the crystals with water and applying topically or simply “swishing” it around in the mouth or letting it dissolve in your saliva can be helpful for those who need to avoid bowel stimulation that it causes. In the end, though, most will have to use it internally to reap the greatest benefits.

    Also, maybe I mentioned this above, but there are many systems of the body directly impacted by a sulfur metabolism issue, especially the nerves, joints, and connective tissues of the heart, digestive system, and skin – but really just about everything. After sensitivity has been mostly resolved, take a chance and try all sorts of different foods, even things considered unusual (organ meats, exotic fruit, etc). The body will need to rebuild or balance levels of copper, manganese, calcium, zinc, silicon, and many other elements, some of which strongly rely on a steady supply of sulfur. And your appetite and new knowledge of foods will help to guide you to the proper things. Your own personal instinct is the best way to stock up deficient nutrients!

    Hope this helps everyone!

  5. says: Colby

    Oops! One more thing for everyone, but especially Donna. I don’t seem to have mentioned this in the article…. Molybdenum is directly required to process common stimulants like coffee and tea; it’s used to modify methylated xanthines found in these items. Without molybdenum, xanthine oxidase (enzyme) levels are too low or underactive. The body doesn’t discriminate much between using molybdenum for sulfur metabolism, xanthine metabolism, etc. So, the more caffeine, theobromine (as in chocolate/cacao), theophylline (in drug form, or in tea), etc one consumes by using tea, coffee, guayusa, yerba mate, guarana, chocolate, kola nut, caffeinated drugs or soft drinks, the quicker molybdenum is mobilized and “used up.” The caveat here is that natural sources of methylxanthines are also usually high in molybdenum. Nature is awesome! This fun fact means that many sulfur sensitivity sufferers will be more drawn to methylxanthines (even those found in energy drinks) as part of a natural craving for molybdenum. My best advice is to keep consumption of these things as low as you can – no need to quit entirely, however – and try all varieties of natural sources to see which one treats you best. Those who don’t drink or eat these types of things need not worry about missing out, as the molybdenum content and benefits vary so much between different brands/sources.

  6. says: Denis

    Hi Colby,

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! You basically described my life.

    Since a couple of months I’m really digging deep to get a bit of my life back. I’m on a methylation protocol incl many important cofactors. One of which is Molybdenum. And I had the weirdest reaction to it.

    I took 500mg and it literally attacked me. Within seconds I had to run to the bathroom and had a high pressure colourless watery stool (tmi?). Although I felt really bad afterwards I also felt I had to keep taking it. I reduced the dose to 250mg and went on feeling sick, tired, flue like, depressed, exhausted and 24/7 on the couch. After one week I reduced to 150mg and stayed on that regime for another week slowly feeling better.

    Being ok for some time on that dose I tried raising it to 175mg but as soon as I do that I go straight back Into BIG detox. I found that 165mg is the max and I can’t go any higher for weeks now.

    What is going on here? I would really love to take 1500mg and get it all out of my system. That’s how it feels, like it would benefit me. But I’m 100% sure I would be ill for weeks and/or do some real damage.

    Also, I feel like eating foods high in sulfur start a detox, they make me feel very ill. Certain meats and animal fats form a real issue now which never was the case. They give me strong fatigue, headaches and feeling depressed.

    I feel like Yucca and once a week charcoal is helping me a bit with sulfur. But I would much rather up my Molybdenum intake and make some real progress.

    Do you have any advise?

    1. says: Denis

      Looks like Colby is no longer answering questions? 🙁

      To all other people reading this: I think you should start on a low dose of Molybdenum and slowly increase. Especially if you have a CBS mutation. If you’ve been deficient for a long time Molybdenum can be a shock to the system.

  7. says: Colby

    Hey Denis! What you’re describing is suggestive of a cleansing/detox reaction. The question is, of what? In practice, however, it only matters to a certain extent; healing takes time, especially in the face of a constant influx of environmental and dietary toxins (synthetic or even natural). In the case of the sort of protocol you’re undertaking, patience and faith in the treatment are imperative, as sometimes full resolution can only be reached over periods of months or even years. I don’t advise this lightly, as I’m very well acquainted with the symptoms you’ve listed.

    I won’t advise anything specific regarding your methylation therapies, because I don’t believe I’m experienced enough to be helpful. However, I can comment on the molybdenum and sulfur foods.

    Molybdenum has a sort of cold draining action on the liver and related organs – that is, approaching this metaphorically, it can directly cause depression, headaches, and increased pain or tissue dryness as a result of ‘draining excess fire and water.’ Molybdenum is easily eliminated from the body, and thus the effects listed above don’t last for very long after taking a break from the therapy. And still many people will not have these side effects, depending on their personal biology and background. With all strong substances, even natural, there are going to be side effects upon application, usually even in very healthy people.

    Your bowel activity is certainly a common effect of clearing toxic buildup. In ayurveda, this is termed ‘purgation,’ which can happen naturally or as a result of therapies (as a side effect or on purpose). However, breaks will be necessary – there’s a physiological limit to the effectiveness of this useful process. My recommendation is to cycle on and off anything (medicinal or dietary) that causes purgative effects that send you to the bathroom. Once or twice a week may not seem effective enough, but I warn against attempting to up-dose to speed your health progress. The most effective way to handle these reactions is first to try limiting the amount of times it happens, and second to add on things that assist ‘cleanup’ after the fact. Orange and citrus peels (boiled to reduce their harsh aromatics, if need be), stewed apples, psyllium husk (small amount, great effect), slippery elm, aloe vera, high-quality healing clays (not refined or pre-prepared bentonite, probably not zeolite either) – these are all exceptional scrubbers, astringents, and cleansers that help to neutralize and remove harmful materials to keep them from being reabsorbed into the system, or else shield the digestive organs and mucus membranes against irritants. Aromatic oils that have an affinity for the digestive system (peppermint essential oil, for example) can be useful for resolving diarrhea, applied after the fact at the start of off-cycling or taking breaking from the therapy.

    Some people will require a much more gradual approach to their therapies, despite a desire to get it over with quickly. It’s best to listen to the body and your own instinct. The logical mind can lead us into doing the wrong things just as easily as outside advice. I recommend fasting for those who wish to increase their instinctive reasoning – except for in the emaciated. Taking a step back from all therapies, powders, pills, foods, and drinks other than water is an exceptional way not only to get the body back to a baseline, but to turn up the volume on instinctual reasoning. Though I might be able to help a complicated case in person, there are too many unknown factors to consider over the internet.

    To summarize: my advice is to take it easy and cycle on and off any therapy that you can, herbal, mineral, or otherwise, and to take a step back during these times to hear the needs of your body to best understand which therapies you need and which ones you don’t, as well as to bring awareness to new ideas that might not have manifested otherwise.

    Hope this helps!

    1. says: Colby

      Not a problem, Denis! As for any health goal, keep trying and don’t get discouraged by a bum day, week, or even a bum month! These are very short time frames when it comes to healing, and there will always be rocky parts on the path to better health!

    2. says: John

      Hi Dennis,
      can you please give me your email to discuss your methylation issues? I have been on methylation protocol and have some good advices to share with you. thanks.

  8. says: Julie

    Hi, thank you for this post.

    I just stumbled across this post after getting lost in the interwebs searching SIBO, sulfur sensitivity and difficulties digesting fiber. The symptoms you describe in this post fit me to a T.

    I have been struggling with SIBO for about 3 years (at least) but was finally diagnosed last summer. I have been highly reactive to cruciferous vegetables for the same amount of time, but have also been having issues with fiber. (Aside: colon is healthy, no IBD.)

    As an experiment (due to difficulty digesting fiber), I cut out all vegetables for 1 week—just meat & broth. I added back cheese and eggs for variety after 4 days. After a few days of the added variety, I became itchy and developed small pimples on my face and upper back. The pimples & itchiness have calmed down since I reduced my egg & cheese intake (one egg one day, one piece of cheese another day, rather than 3 eggs plus a slab in 1 day). I’ve been adding oneI’ve been experimenting with 1 fiber for 3 days (1/2 cup butternut squash) to see how my GI tract does.

    I plan to try your molybdenum protocol once I return from a trip. I’ve read about molybdenum supplementation in many places but this is by far the most structured recommendation.

    My question is this: have people experienced a greater ability to tolerate sulfur in food after following this protocol?

    It is so difficult to find information on seemingly esoteric conditions, so thank you again for posting this article.

  9. says: Kim Johnson

    Hi Julie! I’m so sorry you’ve had so much trouble. But the good news is yes, many do! I’m so glad you happened upon this article and I’m praying it’s the right answer for you! =)

  10. says: Dave

    Passing through this tunnel myself in the last month. Overlooked here is a vital cofactor to the trans sulfuration pathway: vitamin b2 (riboflavin). A shortage of either Mo, b2, or sulfur at any single point in time paralyzes the pathway and prevents sulfur metabolism, the main metal excretion mechanism (Cu, Cd, Hg, etc). Key to my equation was realizing that i shed b2 very quickly. If 100mg is taken at 7am, its gone by 5 pm (anxiety, restless leg, racing unfocussed mind, insomnia). Solution: riboflavin 3 doses daily 1 hour before mealtimes. I simply divided my entire b vitamin stack into thirds and administered t.i.d. one hour before meals. The Mo dose goes right in with that stack t.i.d. I also take a full metal stack simutaneously with low amounts of vanadium, boron, manganese, chromium, selenium, and a raised amt of zinc (25 mg t.i.d.). The elephant in the room here is copper. Mo and Cu are antagonistic. A seesaw effect. Low in Mo resets Cu to high. Raising Mo resets Cu to low. Cu then excretes. Most significant replacement ion (in sheer quantity) is Zn. So raise that Zn, too.

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      Hi Dave! I know everyone who is finding this post has been really searching for some answers. So thank you for sharing your personal experience, and I hope you see the light at the end of that tunnel soon! =)

    2. says: Annette Kaedan

      Hi Dave. Thank you so much for that information. I am going to implement that plan and feel it will help me tremendously. I am very sensitive to sulphites as a preservative, gas from natural gas, water treatment plants, sewer smells and oil refinery but I don’t notice it in natural foods. My symptoms are quite debilitating with migraines… I have now developed a histamine and salycilate intolerance which makes eating very challenging.
      My questions are: 1/ what do you mean by “full metal stack”?
      2/ do you also include copper as part of your mineral? If no where can you get minerals with no copper included?
      3/ how much molybdenum do you take? Does taking high amounts of molybdenum prevent the absorption of the other minerals?
      Thank you so much for your help. This has been a challenge for me going on 30 years.

      1. says: Dave

        I get night/morning headache from too much sulfur/not enough Mo, as well. Dont try to ‘ fix’ the headache in the immediate sense. Just adjust the S dose downward/Mo dose upward the next day and keep trucking. I take 1000 mcg Mo first thing in morning before coffee. This gets the Mo in the system so u now process S. Later comes breakfast: a double serving of lean protein (chicken + fish, usually, which has alot of S), lots of fruit, berries, a simple salad with olive oil, short glass of OJ. Alongside, i do a B- complex stack (including 5 mg of R5P, a form of ribofkavin), time release C, A, E, K2 ( i get D from sun exposure), the metals (boron, chromium, iodine, selenium, magnesium, vanadium, zinc, sulfur(MSM 500 mg), copper). Around noon, another 1000 mcg Mo, B12, B9. An hour later, last dose of Mg and S (MSM, 500 mg). In evening, 200 mg of niacin, 5 mg of R5P.This is everyday so dose is very, very low, often a quarter of a tablet. All are available from retails like ‘the vitamin shop’ or online. Be aware Mo isnt available from TVS. When first ramping up Mo levels, dont take any copper and stop eating high copper stuff like nuts and avocado. Low in Mo means high in Cu. Begin to shed Cu simply by upping Mo and S. After a time, add Cu to the stack so it doesnt deplete to zero. Taking the Mo and Cu at different times prevents them from competing in the digestive tract. Be relentless with the Mo. Takes a long time to build reserves. For months the whole 2000 mcg will be used up daily processing sulfur to satisfy years of deficit. Building back a Mo reserve will be order of 6 months to a year. Taper dose down to 300 mcg/ day for life on a normal diet starting the taper around 6 months. Bit more if taking MSM or any high S supplement.

        1. says: Pete Whitaker

          Dave this is an awesome helpful comment. I certainly seem to need mg amounts of molybdenum. Could you point me to any more research/writing on molybdenum? The comment on building back Mo reserves is especially interesting too. Thanks for sharing!

    3. says: Mauri

      Have you fixed your sulfur intolerance? Did this process work for you? I was using Mo but it didn’t do anything for me…my blood levels were just crazy high. But now I think maybe I was missing B2…also how can you take sulfur if you are intolerant to it? any sulfur makes my stomach hurt and is quite painful to ingest. Some people also are sensitive to topical sulfur as well and cannot tolerate epsom salts.

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      I wish I could say for sure, but the CBS mutation is one I haven’t studied in depth and I would really hate to lead you the wrong direction! I hope you are able to find the info you need! (Also sorry for the delay in responding!)

    2. says: Sophia

      I did a genetic test and have the CBS mutation (heterozygous). I have been on between 1000mg-3000mg molybdenum and have had no ill-effects whatsoever. In fact, I can now tolerate normal wine despite years of having to avoid non-preservative-free wine for fear of becoming seriously unwell.

  11. says: Carol

    Hi! Thank you so much for this article!
    Wow!!! I also have Salycilate intolerance and I can’t eat much at the moment so I have to supplement with synthetic zinc.
    Afsrdid to try copper. Anyways, I cannot tolerate acerola or camu —I’ve tried…due to salycilates. Can I take sodium ascorbate? I can also take lots of barley grass which has tons of C.

  12. says: Kim Johnson

    Hi Carol! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! I’ve read that people with salycilate sensitivity can use vitamin c without bioflavonoids! In regards to food sources, which I always recommend first, maybe look for foods lowest in salycilates & then pick one that is highest in vitamin C content in that category? I hope you find some relief soon!

  13. says: R

    I’ve had amazing success with focusing on sulfur as the source of my woes – but after a month or so on a protocol of 1mg of molybdenum a day, as well as 1tsp of cinnamon to chelate ammonia, I’m beginning to have strange symptoms with my veins. Throughout my body my veins are much more visible and in some areas bulging (inside of elbow, feet, hands). More worryingly, my veins are experiencing soreness and tenderness that comes and goes but is sometimes very distracting and pronounced, especially in my feet, backs of legs and inner arms. Is there something that could explain this? I’m planning on dropping all supplements for now as this is pretty alarming. Can molybdenum perhaps increase nitric oxide? Or affect blood pressure or vein health in another way? Desperately trying to get to the bottom of this so I can continue reaping the benefits I was getting….
    Thanks for this article all the same!

  14. says: Amanda

    Hi Colby, Thank you so much for this article. I am pretty sure I am sulfur/sulfite intolerant and have been supplementing with molybdenum for years now. It does seem to help, but I still have nausea and other issues fairly often even though I try to limit sulfur and sulfites. I usually take about 600-900 mcg a day (in 3 separate doses) of the chelated form you recommend. I am going to try increasing to the amounts you suggest. Do you think I need to take them all at once or can I split it into a few doses. If one dose, when is the best time of day to take? Thanks!

  15. says: Mirco

    I think I am sulfur intolerant, and I have developed it during my methylation protocol, taking a lot of methionine and eat a lot of sulphur food (meat). The symptoms now are frequent loose stool, high anxiety, brain zaps. So is it possible to develop intolerance during such diet and supplementation?

    1. says: Colby Johnson

      Hi Mirco! I find it unlikely that your diet alone would have caused the sulfur sensitivity, but it certainly could have contributed. Development of this problem is multifaceted, and I’ve reasoned that it happens more because of antibiotics, man-made sulfur molecules (such as sulfites added to wine or dried fruit, or pesticides containing sulfur), infection, and nutrient deficiencies (especially molybdenum, vanadium, and several others). A high sulfur diet including a lot of garlic, onion, and other foods I’ve listed in the article can also add up — including certain meats like chicken. Generally red meat isn’t a problem regarding development of sulfur deficiency, though beef and possibly lamb can also contribute depending on the source.

      The main take-away though is this: man-made chemicals are the biggest contributor I’ve been able to identify, and the second biggest is nutrient deficiency. Those two are also the mandatory exclusions while trying to fix sulfur deficiency. Sulfites added to food (and even drugs and natural medicines) can be very tricky; it’s damn hard to know what might have been sulfited.However, from my experience, your symptoms aren’t a sure sign of sulfur sensitivity or sulfur-mishandling. An excessive action of methyl groups in the body could very well have caused these symptoms.

      Methyl groups (or rather, molecules in food/medicine/chemicals that contain methyl groups or have been “methylated”) are very active in the body, and require many co-nutrients. Methylation therapy is very stimulating, and can drain your body’s nutrient reserves over time, especially if done incorrectly. When your body becomes over-stimulated, this will often lead to nervous system problems. In your case, depending on what sorts of medicines you’ve taken, and what your diet has been, you may have weakened your body’s nervous systems, including the nerves of your bowels.

      I won’t advise you on what to do, but something to try could be to stop your methylation protocol and supplement organic/grass-fed ghee, fresh-pressed omega-3 oil (cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, or hemp oil), and to use some high-quality organic (cold-pressed) olive oil at meal time. You could also try mild herbal digestive aids (peppermint leaf, fresh or dry ginger, or many others), bowel-soothing mucilage (slippery elm, marshmallow root, organic psyllium husk, etc), and foods high in iron, zinc, and copper (like oysters, fresh organic walnuts, or a huge list of others). If you’re taking MSM or other “methylation supplements,” you could also think about cutting those out entirely for 2-3 weeks — that’s about how long I’d expect good results to show if you’ve overdone them.

      If you try a whole lot of things and you’re patient (say, given a month or two OFF of the methylation protocol, on a good diet), but you’re not recovering well, then consider environmental factors that might have changed. A ‘sulfur malfunction’ is possible, but my opinion is that it’s way less likely with just those symptoms.

  16. says: Jennifer

    Hi Colby,
    This is the best article (the only) I’ve found on a protocol for dosing molybdenum for sulphur problems. Have been struggling for decades with multiple health problems and many solutions are contraindicated for one or more of these. It’s a real juggling act. I don’t detox well and one of the substances that is problematic is Vitamin C. I was told by a Naturopath to combine molybdenum with Vitamin B1 perhaps that is not the right combination. I’m sensitive to B vitamins so this seems to cause problems as well. Any suggestions. I do love the protocol you suggest and am going to try it. I’m 67 and have a very sensitive system so I may need to modify. Thanks.

    1. says: Colby Johnson

      Thanks Jennifer!

      I caution against taking my ideas as health recommendations for your specific case, or as advice over that of your health practitioner. There are many paths to wellness, and often times they may seem contradictory to one another while achieving the same end result. It could be that your Naturopath is correct in advising molybdenum + B1 therapy. However, with multiple health problems being the case, as well as a sensitivity to vitamin C and taking your age into account, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if a more broad-natured approach helped you to work your way towards optimal health. If vitamin C (ascorbate, citrate, or natural forms) gives you problems, it would make sense to avoid the products containing added vitamin C, while continuing to get some in your diet through foods you can tolerate. (Examples of foods containing vitamin C in smaller amounts that may be more tolerable are things like raw or stewed apples, plums/prunes, and green leafy vegetables.) Vitamin B1 can be great for a person’s health when they’re deficient, but it doesn’t always have to be in pill form. Maybe consider ‘garden peas,’ beans/pulses (ex: kidney beans, lima beans, and lentils — all of which also have a good amount of molybdenum, folate, etc. which can synergize with each other) or raw sunflower seeds (one of the highest regular sources for B1).

      There’s likely no harm in giving the protocol a shot for your conditions, though it would be wise to approach dosing more gradually to ‘test the waters.’ I would definitely recommend working with a doctor who’s savvy when it comes to digestive function, as due to your age there’s a very high likelihood that a number of your problems are rooted there. If for whatever reason you’re unable to see someone like that, and you feel up to learning some more on your own, the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” by Drs. Jonathan Wright and Lane Lenard could be helpful. It’s heavy material for most people, but I’d say this book’s worth a front-to-back reading anyway. It’s more common than you might think to be sensitive to a number of therapies because of chronic digestive problems, especially when B-vitamins are involved.

      Hope this helps!

  17. says: Suzanne

    Whoa….why did the last few comments get deleted, including mine? I was going to post a follow up after trying Colby’s protocol, Colby are you still here?

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      Hi Suzanne! I’ve been switching hosts for the site over the last week or two, so it’s possible something got lost during the transition! I’ll look it over tomorrow to see what’s missing & see if I’m able to add it back. 🙂

  18. says: Stacey

    Hello, I have had trouble processing any sulfur supplements forever. I do “ok” with sulfur foods or at least not immediate reactions. Sulfur supplements immediately cause me brain fog, heavy head and bloat me. I do have double snps in sulfur processing genes. I have tried every kind of molybdenum out there and they all make me feel worse. Even in the smallest doses 25 mcg. Is this because of a detox reaction? Molybdenum is supposed to help that pathway and my hair analysis says I am low molyb and higher sulfur and I literally cannot handle any supplement that is sulferous or high thiol. If I was to drink a beet juice I would get massive brain fog but I could eat a beet on a salad with no issue. Any idea why molyb would cause me a headache and bloating if this is supposed to be solving the problem? I have had zero luck with pracitioners and I have seen 4 trying to figure this out. Thank you for any advice.

    1. says: Morgan

      Try Biotics Research Mozyme Molydenum made from lentils recommended by Dr. Nigh who has immersion health PDX website and YouTubes on sulphur and Silo.
      Immersion Health in Portland
      Dr Nigh is specialist in Sulphur. He tried many brands of Molydenum and found this one brand by Biotic Research is the only one that works. I just purchased it on Amazon and hopeful to feel better soon. Best ML

  19. says: Felecia

    I cannot believe what I have just read. I am laying down yet I am COMPLETELY floored.
    There is simply way too much to process at this moment, but I wanted to say this article and reading through all of the questions & responses has done so many things: intrigued; motivated; answered questions I didn’t know I had; validated suspicions I’ve had; connected dots that NO ONE has been able to connect, and so much more.
    I will add I am confident )for the moment!) that I’m on the spectrum end of sulfur deficiency.
    I accidentally stumbled onto MSM which I started 5/22/2020 & my entire universe changed. I updated my hormone specialist of the incredible response my body has had to MSM and she wondered if I may have a methyl deficiency. Of course I’d never heard of that so I went searching and that’s how I stumbled upon this incredible article. You all have no idea how emotionally moved I am right now… I’ll need to reread this article again, do more research then adjust, because I think the sulfur deficiency is but one (although a huge one!) piece of this health matrix that was missing.
    Thank You is quite insignificant in comparison to the amount of knowledge imparted; but it’s all I can offer in gratitude.

    1. says: Stacey


      Isn’t MSM high sulfur? So how can you add more sulfur in if you are sensitive to it? Did it help your sensitivity? I’m confused and trying to find answers also and no one has been able to help me.

  20. says: Ingrid

    Hi! I hope you can help me a little bit with a few questions.
    I am wondering what you would suggest doing for someone extremely sensitive and allergic to everything – food and enviroment. With histamine intolerance and issues, as well as reactions to every other type of food and substances.
    I have been eating a great deal of cauliflower and bok choy for quite some time, as those have been some of the under ten foods that I react the least to. I am however starting to feel reactions to cauliflower I have not had before (cauliflower has been my main source of fiber and hearty food every day for the last six months or so).
    Due to the histamine issues, and oxalate issues, I am not able to eat the vegetables you are suggestions to focus on in this article, and as I am dealing with blood sugar issues and hypoglycemia and hunger, I am not either able to cut out the satiating food sources just like that. What would you suggest me to do in such a situation, in regards to this protocol?

    I am also wondering if a molybdemum issue would show in tests, also in the Organic acid analysis, or if there is no simple way to determine a deficiency?
    If so, would it be safe to just try out molybdemum supplementation, or is this not recommended for someone nutrient deficient and malnurished already? Could it possibly be presenting more imbalances between minerals and vitamins that are already there? (For instance I am deficient in magnesium, calcium, zinc, B-vitamins, and dealing with dehydration) i have been struggeling taking supplements due to strong reactions to then as well.

    Really appreciate your help, Thank you so much!

    1. says: Colby

      Hi Ingrid!

      I know it’s been a while, but I do have some tips to figuring out the problem. Keep in mind the protocol I originally gave above is a scattershot approach, and it may not be the right thing for everyone. Moreover, working on others’ health from a distance with very little knowledge of their circumstances is… I wouldn’t say impossible, but very difficult! That being said: the first thing I’d think for your situation is that it seems to be rooted in the digestive system — maybe the bowels, but maybe also other organs responsible for digestion, like the liver/gallbladder and pancreas. When widespread food/medicine intolerance is present, the bowels and their complex nervous system are (in theory, anyway) often under a lot of stress, and have become incapable of functioning normally. One thing I could recommend for your situation is getting a thorough stool analysis, if you’re able to. In the case of chronic infections, sometimes ‘blip results’ (“you have a little bit of ‘bla,’ but nothing to worry about”) can be an indicator to experts on a deeper issue involving microbes or other organisms. When there’s a chronic mild infection due to problems with the digestive organs’ nervous, immune, or structural problems (or vice versa), a person can end up with multiple confusing symptoms, including sensitivities and intolerance, and might also present with low serum/tissue levels of essential nutrients, especially B-vitamins. If the bowels are constantly irate, this can strongly affect water balance, and then cascade into problems with electrolytes and organ health, etc. But I also advise caution while narrowing the focus on microbes. It’s important to keep in mind that the body is supposed to be able to handle this sort of thing while it’s in a balanced state, so I’d recommend keeping the big picture in mind while you continue to investigate your health concerns.

      Molybdenum would be an alright thing for you to try, but it *is* a cleanser as well, which you’ll have to be cautious with if you’re in a depleted state. To my knowledge, most people can handle molybdenum in therapeutic quantities, in the sense that it stands very little chance of worsening a person’s issues if used with awareness. Sulfur is an essential and ubiquitous nutrients in its many forms, and avoidance of healthier sources can keep a person’s metabolic and tissue-building processes ‘running cold.’

      So much to say: for the time being anyway, I’m unable to give exact answers or detailed steps, but starting with a stool analysis might be a good idea. In the case of environmental sensitivities, I’m unaware of anything that works better than simply changing places to give the body a break from constant contact with whatever the environmental irritants are. (Often times people will have the best luck with relocating to a much different environment, like… different altitude, sun levels, etc.) There are simpler recommendations, but other than light pollen allergies being alleviated by raw local honey or herbal cleanses, I can’t say I have a ton of experience with good fixes other than relocating.

      Above all, consider seeing another health expert in person. I know that recommendation probably doesn’t seem very helpful… but those with bigger health issues need to have an outside perspective to avoid becoming overwhelmed, even if finding a good person is frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive nowadays! And sometimes the most knowledgeable people aren’t a person’s best bet; meaning it could be the least likely of places that you find someone who will help to resolve your health struggles.

      Please pardon my vagueness, and keep trying! (And that goes for the others who have asked questions as well!)

    1. says: Katherine Fischer

      I have the same problem of tongue coating and then get migraine headache over my left eye? . Why? Hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria?

  21. says: Melanie Miller

    I stumbled upon this article after I became curious about sulfur sensitivity. I was consuming a diet very high in sulfur and taking several supplements (gluthianone, NAC, glycine). I’ve had random hives off and on and assumed it was histamine. I have had the eye pressure, pinched headache where I need some Botox. I love crucifers, whey, eggs, chocolate, coffee, meat, nuts. Is it realistic to think I can once again tolerate those things if I can rebalance my system? So far, I’ve stopped the supplements and drastically reduced my dietary sulfur intake. I will begin Thorne 1 mg Molybdenum supplement today.

  22. says: Tara Cline

    The supplements you’re referring to in this article aren’t live links? What chealeted molydenum to get and what vitamin c?

  23. Great article! Can you offer any insight into someone with sulphur symptoms but has low copper on blood testing as well as low ceruloplasmin? I’ve been told Moly would deplete Cu but I think I need it?

    1. says: Eric

      I am in the same predicament and would love to know the answer. I also am homozygous on gphn, cbs, Mthfr, and Comt to add into the equation.

  24. says: Linn Rivers

    Hi Colby! I wanted to ask you if it is surprising for someone to have to take 3-4mg of molybdenum daily? I am navigating a lot of different things and finding the root of it all to be something with my vagus nerve. I currently have histamine and sulfur intolerance, and found out that I am very deficient in vitamin c. Without going into too much detail, I finally found a vitamin c that does not trigger eczema or any histamine reactions, and I keep having to take high doses of Molyb. If I take less than 3mg, I have digestive issues with minimum sulfur and my skin and lips get severely dry and cracked. It gets better within half an hour of taking molyb (only Thorne 1mg). If I use the 500mcg by Seeking health, it doesn’t do anything!

    I know there are safe limits of 2mg a day, but it just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Thanks for your time and hope you are well!

  25. says: Linn

    I am curious why you say to remove all high sulfur foods other than meat? Meat is the highest of sulfur foods. I would love to understand this. Thanks!

  26. says: Cm

    My gi shut down post covid /one night after adding extreme amounts of new collagen powders and having large amounts of brussle sprouts and cauliflower… bowels won’t work(nothing else wrong) just intolerant to energy drinks and vitamins except vitamin C.
    Mouth goes numb from certain dairy.
    The only thing that moves my intestines is salt and miralax-
    Can anyone give me guidance from here- I have a very bad sulfa drug allergy
    Thank you tremendously

  27. says: Sue


    I am a microbiologist, nutritional therapist, naturopath and bioenergetic health practitioner using bio resonance in my practice. I have just discovered your website and this conversation, which is very interesting and useful to me, since I have just developed a sulfur sensitivity after pushing methylation too much.

    My first question before contributing is: Is this blog still active? I see that the last entry was made in May 2022 and no replies were given. It would be good to know if there are any signs of life before adding my piece. Thanks for getting in touch.

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      I’m so sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you! I’ve had quite a hiatus from the site as I’ve had family matters to handle, but I’m working on updating and will be returning to writing again soon! (Btw, I’m a nutritional therapist as well!)

  28. says: Sarah T

    I don’t see the link to the molybdenum suggested above…”Purchase a good, chelated molybdenum supplement (like this one) and a food-derived vitamin C (for example: camu-camu powder, acerola cherry powder, amalaki, or rose hip powder/decoction)”. Can you provide this link? The high sulfur/thiol levels caused my body to start activating mercury. I am in dire straights trying to stop the rollercoaster and am looking for a good molybdenum now that I am on a low thiol diet.

    1. says: Kim Johnson

      Hi Sarah! I’m so sorry that link wasn’t working when you read the article! Also, so sorry for the delay in getting back to you! If it’s not too late, I’ve updated the link, but if so, I’m glad you were able to get what you needed! 🙂

      1. says: Andrea Libutti

        This is such an informative article. I am a physician and mother to an 18 yr old son with autism. Years ago I had a holistic autism practice and did “all” the testing (heavy metals, OAT, stool, SNPs, etc). My son has sulfur pathway issues but it was not until recently that I “remembered” this. I took him to a Naturopath this week because his eczema has gotten so extreme it hurts my heart to see him so inflamed. For two years it’s gotten progressively worse despite elimination diets, low histamine, etc. I thought it was purely histamine intolerance, but the Naruropath commented about the sulfur pathway when I mentioned his inability to tolerate glutathione.

        I know my son is heavy metal toxic and that this is why high thiol foods and supplements make him worse (they stir up the heavy metals). So it’s a catch 22 that I’m struggling to solve – he needs to get the heavy metals out of his body- but he cannot tolerate the substances that help.

        We are doing stool analyses and a bunch of blood work, and I ordered molybdenum it arrives today. For two days we are doing strict diet low sulfur, low histamine, always organic.

        Any insights into the balancing act of heavy metal detox while correcting sulfur intolerance?

        (I was excited to see cilantro and parsley on the food list as ok to eat- cilantro moves the metals!)
        So grateful for this article and comment thread!

  29. says: John

    Does exercising followed by 20-30 minutes in a far infra sauna and then a tepid shower help to remove the sulfur from one’s body?

  30. says: Emily

    Hi Colby, After a Google search on “how to reverse sulfur sensitivity,” I came across your article 🙂 Thank you for positing it – I’ve read it multiple times now!

    Not to give you too many details, but I first developed a salicylate sensitivity after living in a house with mold. I then developed a sulfur sensitivity during my second pregnancy although I didn’t know it at the time. My sulfur symptoms include scalp itching, joint pain in my ankle, constipation if I eat too much sulfur, and after Jacob was born, only blowout diapers until I adopted a low sulfur diet. I think the sulfur sensitivity may have developed from: eating a low salicylate diet which inherently is higher in sulfur, taking a methylated B vitamin complex daily, and carrying the homozygous CBS gene variation. I also developed SIBO/IMO at some point and I’m not sure if this impacted my sulfur sensitivity as well.

    Fast forward to today and I’m still almost exclusively breastfeeding, mostly because of how hard food introduction has been. Jacob (1 year old) shows signs that he has both salicylate and sulfur sensitivities.

    A few questions for you –

    Do you think it’s possible I could heal from my sulfur sensitivity while breastfeeding by following your protocol?

    Is it possible that my 1 year old’s sulfur sensitivity could be healed via breast milk?

    Do you know if it would be safe to take 2,000 mcg molybdenum while breastfeeding?

  31. says: Kait Miller

    Not sure if Colby is still available, but would love to get in touch! I was wondering in the article when he mentions “true genetic” issues, if a cbs mutation is one of them, or if this helps that pathway work better and can clear things up.

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