The Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil Brouhaha

I’ll probably disappoint some with a paucity of input, here. But, I promised, so here is going to be my honest take on the matter.

The background is that way long time ago, 2008, I read a post by then student, now Dr. Stephan Guyenet, referencing a post by then student, now Dr. Chris Masterjohn. And it fucking rocked my world and connected so many dots that I’ve still not collected every single one into a coherent montage I’m satisfied with.

I keep trying. It’s arguable—to me at least, trying to understand my own ways—that those two post set everything in motion for me. It made a ton of things not add up, while suggesting clues towards adding up other stuff. I recall sitting on this info for for some months before daring to blog about it.

The long story short is that it’s likely that what Weston Price discovered in his world travels was Vitamin K2, and it’s very special, acting in concert with Vitamin D from the sun, and Vitamin A from animal flesh to make your intake of minerals go everywhere they should (bones & teeth), and no place they shouldn’t (soft tissue). I’m a total sucker for simple and elegant, like that.

So, again, long story short, is that I tried High Vitamin Butter Oil from Green Pastures and got immediate, crazy, profound results. There can be no quibbling with variable confounding in this case. I’d had dental surgery some years before, for awful gum disease, and had to have 4 cleanings per year to chip away at massive calculus buildup. …And here I sit 7 years later and not only do I not have any sign of calculus buildup, after 3 years without a single cleaning, but I rarely brush my teeth.

I use wooden toothpicks after almost every meal in order to dislodge food for excessive bacterial growth, as well as to massage the gum tissue. When I brush, I just take a dry toothbrush and brush. Rinse with water and spit. And, I feed my gut (which is the punchline).

To finish up this part, I also tried several brands of Vitamin K2, like Thorne, and Life Extension K2 Complex. Same results.

So what about fermented cod liver oil?

At some point in the journey, maybe three years ago, I wondered about their Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend. I got a couple bottles, then a whole case. Same results, no downsides.

But this caused wonder, and shortly in, I tried to find out how much butter oil, how much fermented cod liver oil, from Dave Wetzel. My comment at Wellness Mama:

Great work, Mama!

In my own case, I got good results from butter oil way back (same as with other sources of K2, primarily teeth and calculus buildup). Couple of years ago I decided I’d try the FCLO/BO blend in caps. I took 2 caps per day.

Same good results, if not better. I ordered a case of six bottles, so I took them for a good while. Stellar pearly teeth that never need cleaning or even brushing (wooden toothpicks for me :).

Anyway, I did have a level of frustration with GP and Dave’s obsessive secrecy and mystery. I emailed a simple question: how much BO in each cap, explaining that I would like to be sure I’m getting about the same amount, with the added FCLO. Could NOT get a straight answer. I ask again: well, the BO caps are .5g and the FCLO/BO blend is 1g. I was taking 1-2 BO per day before, and take 1-2 of the blend now. Am I getting the same or nearly the same amount of BO?

“Most people take more” is the only answer I could get, which I just consider downright smarmy.

I may use it again periodically in the future, and I really don’t care about the fermented vs rancid issue. Many cultures eat rancid and putrified food as delicacies, and most animals do it all the time. For all we know, some level of spoil has beneficial effects.

I also don’t care for their religious innuendo in some of their communications, which is personal preference for me, but also, “God made it that way” really isn’t a satisfactory answer since presumably he also made botulinum toxin, by the same logic.

Again, great write up and you’re a great value.

So, it should be no secret that I dislike Dave Wetzel. He’s an ass of the worst sort: vying to have his cake and eat it too by calling on doG to those who pray over the bottles he sells them, but getting testing results for those who laf at his duplicity.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not something to his product. Call it independent verification on my part, with an ability to look beyond his asshole—as others look past mine. Part of me will always feel in the debt of Guyenet, Masterjohn, and Wetzel, and I’m happy about that.

Chris Kresser did a nice long blog about it, and I don’t think he’s very worried. Chris Masterjohn did a post as well, and while he spent a lot of time on the lipid details such as peroxidation—which make it a worthy read regardless—I don’t think he’s worried either. Also, of note, is how Chris schools in terms of people using words like “fermentation” colloquially, not scientifically, and then use that colloquial understanding to argue science. Here’s where I lafed: “Nah, bros can’t ferment, just my glycogen does when my workout is all glycolytic.”

The punchline is that I haven’t taken any appreciable K2 supplementation via butter oil or the synthetic variants in a couple of years. I don’t take much D3 either. Instead, I spend huge amounts of time in the sun, and I feed my vitamin factory (gut bugs) with plenty of substrate fiber—all the while getting critical nutrients from high-density stuff like raw milk, pate (liver), oysters, mussels, and clams.

My teeth are as smooth as ever, and my gums have zero sign of inflammation.

….Please do not comment about grassfed butter or ghee as some surrogate for butter oil. For the millionth time (for people who ask and do not research for themselves) it IS NOT butter oil, which only a cursory look reveals in seconds of thinking for yourselves. I’d far prefer to take a 1g cap of butter oil, instead of having to eat 1-2 pounds of butter or ghee.

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  1. Evolutionarily on September 16, 2015 at 16:12

    It would be great if we had a test for Vitamin K2 levels like we do Vitamin D. I continue to supplement as an insurance policy since I probably do not consume enough organ meats other than liver, but would love to be confident I am getting enough directly (or indirectly through gut bugs) in my diet.

    • giskard on September 27, 2015 at 16:32

      Spectracell includes K2 in their micronutrient test FWIW. Sample report:

      I had the test and my K2 was fine… I eat a couple of ounces of homemade kefir a day.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2015 at 16:35

        How do we know what a fine level of K2 is?

  2. John on September 16, 2015 at 13:45

    What about Grassfed butter?


    First (JK (though technically accurate)).

    Awesome post! I still have yet to purchase this product; I dislike not only the initial disclosure, but also the BS responses to direct inquiry.

  3. Jim on September 17, 2015 at 06:07

    “to eat 1-2 pounds of butter or ghee”


  4. MR PALEO on September 17, 2015 at 08:10

    Interesting post… for what it is worth, I usually recommend 10,000 IU/day MINIMUM of vitamin D3, and LE “Super K” 3x/week… I also include Garden of Life cod liver oil. The problem (especially NOW) with shellfish, mollusks, etc., is that they are “bottom” feeders…

  5. Chris D on September 18, 2015 at 21:43

    Thank you for the post, yes I was disappointed with the paucity of the post and it wasn’t quite the RN smackdown I expected but I digress. Adding fish oil supplements seemed to be part of the missing elements in my diet after adding back “safe starches.” I usually buy commercial brands when they are BOGO but I became concerned on the rancidity issue. I was very close several times to buying the Green Pastures FCLO since it was recommended by WAPF but was always put off by the price. I think I’ll continue with the fish oil I have been using, eat more liver and shellfish, and seek K2 elsewhere. If there are benefits despite rancidity, and the “best stuff” has rancidity, I can’t justify paying 6x more for it. Cheers.

  6. Richard Nikoley on September 19, 2015 at 06:54

    I just didn’t have it in me to slam something, especially from a small, family-run outfit, that so far as I can tell has benefitted me and others. Can’t recall seeing any reports on it doing harm.

    Price? Well that’s subjective.

    I took Wetzel to task for the way he handles legit requests for info.

    You could try the butter oil alone. See, that’s another confounder. It’s possible that I was just getting all the benefit in gum health from the BO fraction of the FCLO.

    Anyway, I’ll probably get a bottle from time to time and take 1-2 caps per day, cover the bases. I just don’t take the rancidity issue very seriously at those low doses.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 19, 2015 at 06:55

      Oh, and I was disappointed in everyone taking so much space on the cod vs. pollock issue, or should I say, red herring?

      • Chris D on October 2, 2015 at 22:35

        Red herring is best pickled and served on rye with raw onion, buuttt make sure that the rye is gluten free and skip the onion since it contains FODMAPS oh my! I plan on buying the Butter Oil from GP and see where it goes. I had a lot of dental work done in my 20’s (despite quitting sugar when both my parents were diagnosed T2 diabetes) and since going Paleo TM I have had zero new cavities, but I still get some build up here and there and things are not perfect. Thanks!

  7. Jackie D on September 19, 2015 at 14:16

    It’s annoying not to be told exact amounts. It was suggested that I take both the Blue Ice butter oil capsules and the FLCO by the spoonful. Would love to know exactly what I’m getting in each, especially for the price I’m paying – neither is cheap.

  8. vegasvic on September 23, 2015 at 17:01

    Found this post the day after I ordered a bottle each of FLCO and Butter Oil capsules. I’m going to go ahead and take them despite the brouhaha. I’m a little surprised that the recommended daily dosage is only 2 capsules, considering I see other people gulping the stuff by the spoonful.

  9. Barry Bliss on September 25, 2015 at 16:19

    “……have his cake and eat it too”
    Saw recently where writer Harlan Ellison said this is not the famous saying.
    He said you can have your cake and eat it too.
    He said the saying is “You cannot eat your cake and have it too”.

  10. Barry Bliss on September 26, 2015 at 15:11

    Hi Richard.
    We’ve communicated before with no issues.
    Anyway, the point is that saying it the other way has never really made sense to me, and when I heard Harlan explain it what he said made perfect sense.
    I am suprised you don’t care, since you stand for not taking things for granted and correcting any errors that may be being committed.
    I’ve said it the other way as well, many times, and then found that “You cannot eat your cake and have it too” made total sense.
    Honestly I thought you’d say something like “Cool.”
    Anyway, looking forward to seeing how the Elixa test goes. I have told a few folks about the product in case they may find it of help.
    Good luck, and take care.

  11. Brian on October 5, 2015 at 10:47

    Looks like Green Pasture has changed their labeling practices

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