This author chose Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT, to write about because it is an antioxidant and also possesses antiviral, antimicrobial, properties: thus as it is available at low cost it could offer a double bang for the buck. But then, as world-famous dentist Christian Szell would ask, “is it safe?”

Because BHT may or may not be carcinogenic. Therefore does the low cost, antioxidant and antiviral/antimicrobial potential of BHT outweigh a possible cancer risk? Perhaps.

Due to its low cost, BHT is used in small amounts to preserve certain foods: it is added, for a random example, to the inner packaging in cereal boxes. Questions are, what dosage of BHT would be safe to ingest
deliberately and would a safe dose be efficacious for whatever purpose the BHT would be ingested?

This can’t be answered with any accuracy but there is also no evidence a trace amount taken deliberately would be harmful. Plus, certain foodstuffs– i.e. many oils & fats which are prone to rancidity– might be more harmful without a preservative such as BHT than with a preservative added. In other words, it is an open question whether or not BHT is safe to ingest deliberately.

As for treating viruses, BHT lyses the lipid coating of certain viruses; research indicates BHT might be useful in treating herpes, which includes ‘cold sores’, and is sold over-the-counter at low cost, dosages ranging from circa 200 milligrams to one gram (average dose being 250- 500 milligrams). But the long-term effects of ingesting substantial doses of BHT are unknown. For starters, BHT cannot be patented, there is no financial incentive for researchers. Plus the government will not allow govt. labs or funds to be used to test BHT on humans.

The query frequently arises in discussions with the health conscious on the topic of preservatives: aren’t preservatives unnatural?

Yes, and so is much of what we eat and drink; there is no perfect diet, no genuinely, truly natural diet, save for possibly the diets of our prehistoric ancestors. Preservatives are used in countless foods and it would be quite difficult to avoid all preservatives in the diet without eating an all-organic diet; growing and processing all of one’s own food might well be the only sure-fire way of avoiding all preservatives.

The overwhelming majority of consumers have never deliberately ingested a preservative, yet over the course of their lives they have unwittingly ingested preservatives including BHT itself, although perhaps the amount is <1 milligram per serving of food/beverage. When one dines at a restaurant one has no idea what is contained in the fare; even if no preservatives are contained in the restaurant food, if the diner drinks flavored soda pop there is potassium and sodium benzoates plus other preservatives in the soda.

Again, there’s simply no incentive for testing BHT in the lab– so the use of this preservative in treating herpes comes down to self-medicating at one’s own risk; as BHT costs little (possibly it costs more to manufacture and fill the bottles than manufacture the capsules) per 250 mg. capsule, it is cost-effective, can be be used in acute/chronic cases of herpes, and in trace amounts as an antioxidant.

Unless a ‘cold sore’, for instance, is mild and temporary, the slight risk of treating it with BHT is outweighed by the need to eliminate the discomfort. However using BHT in substantial dosages as an antioxidant is comparable to killing mosquitoes with a sledgehammer.

One thing is for sure: BHT is not a placebo, it’s powerful stuff. If you were to take the maximum dose once to experience it, you would feel the effects. And BHT doesn’t need a preservative to stay fresh– it is a preservative.