Articles by natural health author Donna Voetee (aka Granny Good Food)



Hangovers to Hotflashes: Ancient Remedy from the Sea

by Donna Voetee (AKA Granny Good Food)

(The Best Years in Life) The college kid with his first hangover and the college kid’s mom with her peri-menopausal hot flashes – is there one supplement than can defeat both?

Yes, there is. It’s called succinic acid.

Russian scientists have been working for 40 years on this miracle cure (1), marketing it first as RU-21, then realizing that the mothers of those drunken scholars were the real goldmine after experiments with succinic acid showed reversals of aging in menopausal mice. If the radio and TV ads are to be believed, Amberen, with its proprietary succinic acid formulation, is the elixir of youth – the savior of the expanding waist and shrinking memory, the hotflash foe extraordinaire, restorer of the rockin’ bedroom. I’m listening.

Looking at Amberen’s third ingredient, my hopes for eternal youth were dashed. “Monosodium L-Glutamate,” otherwise known as my brain’s archenemy, MSG. (2) A severe reaction to this food additive sent me to the hospital in 1980-something, and I have spent the better part of two decades warning folks about MSG and its plethora of hidden names. Lunada Biomedical, the maker of Amberen, can put lipstick on the pig and tell me it’s “pharmaceutical grade,” but I know what that means. The MSG in Amberen is made in a lab. It is 99 percent pure, but it’s that 1 percent that contains impurities like D-glutamic and pyroglutamic acids, accompanied by carcinogenic mono- and di-chloro propanols. (3) MSG is MSG and still has the power to open calcium channels in brain cells and induce apoptosis, the cause of brain fog and excruciating headaches. No thanks.

Despite Amberen’s MSG ingredient being a deal breaker for people like me, the succinic acid is worthy of consideration. As part of the Krebs or Citric Acid Cycle, it is necessary for energy and life. In nature, amber is the most abundant source of succinic acid. The Latin word for amber is succinum, from sucinum, “juice,” more specifically, the juice of a pine tree. The Greeks addressed the functional properties of amber and called it “electron” or “electric,” though they had no idea that amber is an electron donor, and therein is its power. Electron donors are what we call “antioxidants” that counteract the main cause of all disease, oxidative stress. Succinic acid neutralizes the main toxic metabolite of alcohol that causes hangovers, acetyldehyde. Fructose, an ingredient in soda drinks, has been called “alcohol without the buzz,” (4) since it also overwhelms the liver’s mitochondrial capacity similar to ethanol. So whether the liver is compromised by too much alcohol or poor carbohydrate management after menopause, succinic acid is helpful.

The ancients harnessed amber’s healing power for everything from teething pain to madness. Albert the Great (1193 A.D.) called “Succinium” the most effective medicine of the time. By 1886, the father of modern bacteriology, Robert Kock, acknowledged amber’s benefits on human health and even said there was no risk of overdoing too much succinic acid.

Today, the Russians have taken the lead in promoting amber for health, and that is as it should be. The largest natural supply of this fossilized resin (90 percent) is found on the shores of the Baltic Sea in the Kaliningrad region, which boasts of the world’s only amber factory. Ages ago, large forests of conifers with their oozing golden sap existed in the area; today they are underwater and their gift to mankind has been pushed to the shores by ancient glaciers and river channels.


Doctors and scientists are drawn to Kaliningrad for research. Dr. Nikolai Moshkov has had much success applying finely ground amber powder into diseased areas of the body. From the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Pharmacology, “For aged people, succinic acid has proved to be indispensable. It is capable of restoring the energy balance at the cellular level, which is often upset as the years go by, and helps the patient regain his youthful energy.” Considering the Russia’s athletic dominance, one must think that they are more than aware of amber’s value in sports competition, as it provides stamina, endurance, and speedy recovery rather than a one-time boost like stimulants. (Plus, the Olympic Committee most likely does not test for it.)

For those of stuck behind computers or surrounded by TV’s, microwave ovens, blow-dryers, cellphones, and the myriad of other electrical devices, amber’s succinic acid rebuilds the electrostatic field.

Convinced that the missing spark in your life is succinic acid?

Unripe gooseberries and rhubarb stalks are the richest food sources, but still far inferior to amber. Apples, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, beans, broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes are sources, but not in great amounts.

Northern Europeans and Scandinavians also boast amber as a natural resource, and they have been distilling a liquor called Aqvavit, or “water of life,” for over 500 years. It is said to be popular with the elderly. I bet. It is typically 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Raw amber or amber jewelry can be found in rock stores. Online searches result in many sources for Baltic amber jewelry. Amber is not a stone, but a resin, and your own body’s temperature will warm it and soak in the succinic acid. When choosing a necklace or other jewelry to wear next to the skin, remember that the lighter color pieces have more succinic acid. If you prefer, a small piece of amber can be placed in the bra and worn discreetly.

Fossilized amber oil is available commercially from about $26 - $128 per ounce. Buyer beware.

As for supplements, RU-21 contains 200mg succinic acid, but like its cousin Amberen ($50 per month), it also contains 250mg L-glutamic acid, which is the active component of MSG. Moms on a budget might want to opt for their kid’s hangover remedy: RU-21 is only about $13.50. Russian pharmacies offer pure succinic acid at an even better deal, about $11. Of course, the instructions are in Russian, which has garnered some complaints. Elan Vital by Source Naturals (instructions in English!) gets rave reviews and contains 300mg succinic acid, $36.84 for a month’s supply.

However you choose to add natural succinic acid to your life, just do it. I’m on my third amber necklace, with the first two going home with teething babies. I’ve never had a hotflash, so it must be working! One last warning: Lunada Biomedical patented a synthetic succinic acid this year made with GMO E. coli bacteria and soy byproducts. (5)

See also:


Natural Help for PMS

The Best Years in Life Natural Remedies

Berkey Water


1. Born in Russia, made in USA. http.://
2. Ingredients in Amberen
3. What is MSG,
4. Lustig, Robert. “Fructose: It’s alcohol without the buzz.”
5. Patented succinic acid, for use in “anti-aging medicine, nutrition, and cosmetics.”

About the Author:

My Photo

Donna Voetee is a Doctor of Naturopathy and Counselor of Natural Health. She is the great- granddaughter of Grampa Owen, about whom she knows only two facts: he had lactose intolerance, and he was a country doctor who drove his black buggy around the backwoods of Little Rock, and often getting paid with chickens, fresh bread or moonshine. She studied diabetes with Weimar Institute, women’s hormones and adrenal physiology. Dr. Donna has been a beautician, ham radio operator, literacy teacher, homeschool mom, health store owner, and author of books on grammar, politics, and health. Today she still writes and teaches, having forsaken the ham radio (she does no pork) and all hopes of ever cutting ladies’ hair just the way they like it. As "Granny Good Food" at Facebook, she teaches parents to feed their children REAL FOOD for LIFE. Besides Michael, her steadfast groom since 1974, her heroes are Drs. Weston Price and Francis Pottenger. Dr. Donna teaches classes based on her work, Supermarket Survival, and would like nothing better than to thoroughly destroy any iota of trust you have in Big Pharma, vaccines, fluoride, margarine, and Diet Coke.

See Donna's Granny Good Food blogspot here:

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