Special Report Part 4: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis-Do Herbs Protect Protection Against Nuclear Fallout?

nuclear power plant, radiation, acute radiation poisoningAs the Japanese nuclear crisis continues to unfold, two weeks after the tsunami, with reports of water leaking radiation from the nuclear reactors, the uncertainty of the degree of damage the nuclear reactors have experienced, remains at the forefront of our minds.

And the long term impact the release of radiation may or may not have on the Pacific Ocean, North America and the rest of the globe, remains uncertain.

Several years ago, during the early 1990s I watched a story on CNN about nuclear power plants. I don’t know why I watched it, as I didn’t have any real interest in learning about anything about the topic. Scientists discovered that the trees, flowers and plants that were growing on or near nuclear power plants had the ability to convert radioactive material to inert, non-radioactive compounds! Instead of taking thousands of years to naturally deteriorate the vegetation had developed the ability to do it instantaneously! Isn’t that amazing? In that moment, I realized the remarkable power of nature to compensate and heal anything, even nuclear radiation, believed to take thousands of years to loose its toxicity. Our earth is extremely intelligent.

As I mentioned in my first report on acute radiation poisoning, if taken promptly after a nuclear accident, or prior to exposure, Potassium Iodide, in concentrated form, can help reduce the dose of radiation to the thyroid and thus the risk of cancer. Special Report 2 showed how miso soup and other foods protected patients and staff 1 mile away from where the nuclear bomb struck Nagasaki, Japan. And in Special Report 3 we explored the vitamins and herbs that have powerful radiation protection.

In this report we’ll explore just the tip of the iceberg of research on herbs, botanicals and their ability to protect against radiation exposure.

Here’s a list of 10 powerful natural substances that protect cells against radiation.
1. Melatonin
2. Garlic
3. Aloe Vera leaf
4. Mint
5. Caffeine
6. Ginseng
7. Ginger
8. Circumin
9. Lycopene
10. Other Herbs

Melatonin
In hundreds of investigations, melatonin, the primary hormone produced of the pineal gland in the brain, has been documented to block damage caused by ionizing radiation. Researchers have theorized that melatonin may support repair enzymes which leads to repairing more induced damage by repair system. The implications of the accumulated observations suggest by virtue of melatonin’s radioprotective and anticancer effects..

Garlic
Garlic, known for its great healing properties, around the globe. In Nevada, a Native American tribe, during the nuclear testing era ate bulbs of raw garlic for protection against radiation fallout from the above-ground nuclear tests.

Also, extracts of fresh garlic that are aged over a prolonged period to produce aged garlic extract (AGE) contain antioxidant phytochemicals that prevent oxidant damage. These include unique water-solublesulfur compounds, lipid-solublesulfur components and flavonoids, notably allixin and selenium. Long-term extraction of garlic (up to 20 mo) ages the extract, creating antioxidant properties by modifying unstable molecules with antioxidant activity, such as allicin, and increasing stable and highly bioavailable water-soluble organosulfur compounds, such as S-allylcysteine.

AGE protects DNA against free radical–mediated damage and mutations, inhibits multistep carcinogenesis and defends against ionizing radiation and UV-induced damage, including protection against some forms of UV-induced immunosuppression. AGE may have a role in protecting against loss of brain function in aging and possess other antiaging effects, as suggested by its ability to increase cognitive functions, memory and longevity in a senescence-accelerated mouse model.

Substantial experimental evidence shows the ability of AGE to protect against oxidant-induced disease, acute damage from aging, radiation and chemical exposure, and long-term toxic damage. Although additional observations are warranted in humans, compelling evidence supports the beneficial health effects attributed to AGE, i.e., reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and aging, including the oxidant-mediated brain cell damage that is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Aloe Vera Leaf
The skin, being a cell-renewal system, is one of the first organs to be affected in total-body irradiation during radiotherapy. An attempt has been made in the present study to explore radiation-induced biochemical alterations caused by whole-body gamma irradiation and their modulation in Swiss albino mice by Aloe Vera leaf extract (AVE). Thus, Aloe Vera leaf extract is found to have damage-resistant properties against radiation-induced biochemical alterations in Swiss albino mice.

Mint
Recent studies have demonstrated that some medicinal plants possess radioprotective effects. Two types of the commonly used aromatic herb mint, Mentha piperita and M. arvensis protected mice against the radiation induced sickness and death. Considerable information from studies suggests the usefulness of mint in preventing the toxic effects of ionizing radiation at non-toxic concentrations.

While all studies have been with mice and validated mint’s clinical applicability to humans; laboratory studies with cells help in understanding the action responsible for the radioprotection. Detail investigations have also shown that the aqueous extract of M. piperita protected the vital radiosensitive organs: the testis, gastrointestinal and blood systems in mice. The radioprotective effects are possibly due to free radical scavenging, antioxidant, metal chelating, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, and enhancement of the DNA repair processes.

Caffeine
Caffeine, a major component of coffee and other beverages has significant abilities to neutralize free radicals and to protect crucial biological molecules against these radiation.

It has been shown to have widely varying effects on DNA damage caused by and effectively protects DNA against ionizing radiation in a system without the ability to repair DNA. Thus, DNA protection shown by caffeine is possibly due to the scavenging of radiation-derived primary as well as secondary reactive oxygen species,

Ginseng
The radioprotective effect of ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been reported by several researchers. Ginseng treatment caused recovery of red blood cell and platelet counts in blood after radiation exposure. The whole extract of ginseng and the relative protective effects of various portions of the plant have been evaluated. The results showed that the water-soluble whole extract of ginseng provided best protection against radiation induced damage in mice, whereas isolated protein and carbohydrate fractions were less effective, the saponin fraction was ineffective. Similar results were obtained in another study that used whole ginseng extract and its fractions increased cell growth in irradiated mice and also reduced cell death.

Ginger
Several studies have determined that the herb red ginger, protects against radiation.
Radioprotective effectiveness was measured by assessing the damage of animal cells exposed to radiation. Oral treatment of single doses of a component of red ginger, 5,4′-dihydroxy-3,7-dimethoxyflavone was given 12 hours prior to 3Gy irradiation. The compound reduced the experiential of white blood cells and hemoglobin counts by up to 10 % and 1%. It is concluded that red ginger provides significant radioprotection to mice receiving acute whole-body gamma irradiation.

Circumin
Curcumin (diferuloyl methane), a yellow pigment present in the rhizomes of turmeric, has been used in Southeast Asia to give yellow color and flavor to curries.

Turmeric has been used to treat various ailments in the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India. Recently, it has been evaluated for its
radioprotective and radiosensitizing activities. Curcumin has been found to stop radiation damage in two different ways, and depending on the amount. It has been reported to protect various study systems against the toxic effects caused by ionizing radiation and protect normal cells against the harmful effects of radiation. The available information on curcumin suggests that the radioprotective effect might be mainly due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit gene changes (mutation) related to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Lycopene
Lycopene, a naturally occurring carotenoid, found in tomatoes, watermelon and other fruits and vegetables, offers protection against radiation induced cellular damage and researchers believe it can be developed as an effective radioprotector during radiation exposure.

Cells exposed to lycopene first, experienced a significant degree of radiation induced damage. The antioxidant enzymes increased significantly along with the levels of GSH, vitamins A, E, C. The results show that pretreatment with lycopene offers protection against damage to cells caused by gamma-radiation and can be developed as an effective radioprotector during radiotherapy.

Other Herbs
Numerous medical reviews have reported the protective effect of many other herbs. The Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition reported in 2007: The results obtained from several studies indicate that many herbs possess radio protective effects including: Gingko Biloba, Podphyllum hexndram, (Hippophae rhamnoides, Ocimum sanctum, Podophyllum hexandrum, Emblica officinalis, Tinospora cordifoila, Syzygium cumini, Zingiber officinale, Ageratum conyzoides, Aegle marmelos ,Centella asiatica, Hippophae rhamnoides, Ocimum sanctum, Panax ginseng,Podophyllum hexandrum, Amaranthus paniculatus, Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus amarus, Piper longum, Tinospora cordifoila, Mentha arvensis, Mentha piperita, Syzygium cumini, Zingiber officinale, and Aphanamixis polystachya protect against radiation-induced lethality, lipid peroxidation and DNA damage.

Sources:

Melatonin
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17641465
Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Jul 15;37(2):272-83.

Garlic:
J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):1010S-5S.
Antioxidant health effects of aged garlic extract

Mint
Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Aug 1;615(1-3):223-7. Epub 2009 May
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21119249

Aloe Vera Leaf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19392655

Caffeine
Indian J Exp Biol. 1996 Apr;34(4):291-7.
Int J Radiat Biol. 2001 May;77(5):617-23.

Ginseng:
In Vivo. 1993 Sep-Oct;7(5):467-70.

Ginger
http://www.articlesbase.com/alternative-medicine-articles/radioprotection-of-flavone-from-red-ginger-175072.html#ixzz1HfhpDMio

Circumin
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:301-20.

Lycopene
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Apr;1770(4):659-65. Epub 2006 Nov 23.

Yours in good health,
Elaine R Ferguson, MD
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