The Best Natural Ways to Defend Against Radiation Damage : An Exclusive Renegade Health Article by Dr. J.E. Williams

Tuesday Feb 21 | BY |
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An antioxidant compound called anthocyanin, found in wild blueberries, is shown to protect against radiation damage and slow down cellular aging.

Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM

When I started practicing, back in the early 1980s, treating cancer with radiation therapy was very popular. While radiation therapy was big, medical authorities offered no drug to treat the effects of the radiation poisoning itself. Accidental exposure most certainly didn’t have a manufactured cure either. For instance, the Russians had no solution after the Chernobyl disaster, and more recently, the Japanese government did not dispense any drug or synthetic product to its citizens during the nuclear meltdown last year.

So, people often asked me about what they should take to protect against the destructive effects of radiation, especially children of mothers receiving radiation therapy during the 80s. I always recommended selenium, Siberian Ginseng, and medicinal mushrooms, certain that they were effective. However, I had no clinical evidence or scientific proof that they worked. I had read that they were used in Russia or Japan, but really, I didn’t know if this was true or not. Eventually, I questioned my own advice, because when it came to radiation protection, I wanted the best for my patients, and myself.

So, to find a cure, I looked to where radiation levels from the sun were greater – the forest, high mountains, and ocean – to see how nature normalized radiation from the sun. Then, I looked to the laboratories to see what scientists were saying about nature’s cures. Indeed, in both places, I found there to be an abundance of natural compounds effective in lessening damage from both intense medical and accidental radiation exposure.

Before discussing these substances that can minimize tissue damage from medical radiation, we should understand what ionizing radiation is.

First, energy emitted from a source is generally referred to as radiation. And, the form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space is called electromagnetic radiation. Examples include anything from radio waves and microwaves to heat or light from the sun (ultraviolet rays), X rays from an X-ray tube, and gamma rays from radioactive elements. In this energy spectrum, the highest frequency of electromagnetic radiation is called ionizing radiation – radiation with enough energy to remove electrons from an atom, causing the atom to be charged, or ionized. Gamma rays are an example of ionizing radiation and are produced from decaying radioactive material and from stars, also called cosmic rays. Both high-frequency electromagnetic radiation and particulate radiation (another specific form of ionizing radiation) are used in radiation oncology and affect mostly electrons (and, to a lesser extent neutrons and protons) to kill cancer cells. In the process, living tissue is destroyed.

How Exactly Does Radiation Damage Cells and Kill Living Tissue?

Radiation damages cells both directly and indirectly. It directly ionizes DNA and other cellular targets, changing their genetic makeup. On the other hand, radiation indirectly affects cells by producing reactive oxygen species (aka “free radicals”), which are destructive radicals that threaten the integrity and survival of normal cells. Antioxidants and thiol compounds, like glutathione, normally combat free radicals and facilitate tissue repair, but medical radiation and many drugs deplete normal levels of both.

The First Line of Defense: Antioxidants

Because cellular response to radiation depends in part on the levels of antioxidants (as well as the magnitude of DNA repair activity, the type and dose of radiation, and the body’s tissue integrity), the first line of defense in protecting cells from radiation damage is to use antioxidants.

Antioxidants can reduce injury to healthy cells, including tissue damage from medical radiation. New findings even show that some antioxidants induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells and also protect patients from painful side effects of radiation treatment.

For radiation protection via antioxidants, take vitamins A, C, E, and the trace mineral selenium. Vitamin E and selenium work synergistically to protect cells against radiation by increasing levels of glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase – all powerful antioxidants, while doubling the breakdown of toxic peroxide and reducing transformation of cancer cells. Vitamin E decreases chromosome damage in cells. A combined treatment with vitamins E and C also has protective effects.

Another powerful antioxidant is the hormone melatonin. In fact, it’s many times stronger than vitamins C and E, and has been shown to have radiation protective benefits.

Glutathione is also useful, but it does not absorb well when taken orally; intravenous or intramuscular injection is better. It can also be inhaled using a home nebulizer, and vitamin C and N-acetyl-cysteine help boost glutathione levels in the body.

The Second Line of Defense: DNA Repair Nutrients

As mentioned earlier, robust DNA repair activity is essential in counteracting the negative effects of radiation. In order to induce this repair activity, DNA repair nutrients are needed. Selenium is big in this category: it increases levels of antioxidant enzymes in normal cells and stimulates DNA repair in cells. Selenium is also an integral part of glutathione peroxidase, which destroys peroxides.

The Peruvian jungle provides another repair nutrient in the form of Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa), the inner bark of a vine that has DNA repair effects. A third nutrient is Quercetin, a flavonoid found in onions and citrus, which is a powerful antioxidant with DNA protective effects.

The Third Line of Defense and Repair: Phytochemicals

Since the integrity of the body’s tissue helps protect against the ill effects of radiation, cellular health is essential. In addition to antioxidants and DNA repair nutrients, cell strength is boosted by a wide range of phytochemicals (compounds found in plants), including flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids, and organosulfur compounds. Promising phytochemicals are aged garlic extract and anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound found in wild blueberries that protects against radiation damage and slows down cellular aging. Green tea polyphenols and resveratrol also have antioxidant protective effects against radiation. Genestein, an isoflavone compound found in soy, may also have benefits. Medicinal mushrooms can also be included in this category, as can blue green and other algae, like chlorella. Sea vegetables are an important source of iodine and vitamin K, both necessary for radiation protection. Common Japanese edible seaweeds include:

  • Nori
  • Kelp
  • Hijiki
  • Kombu
  • Wakame
  • Arame
  • Dulse

As I stated at the beginning of this article, there are no synthetic products that cure radiation. However, nature does manufacture an abundance of the best sources for radiation protection – compounds found in plants that have antioxidant protective and DNA repair benefits. Of course, avoiding or reducing radiation exposure in the first place is the wisest way to avoid radiation damage, but looking to the forest, high mountains, and ocean for a cure can give us more answers – especially when they’re backed up by scientific data.

Your Question of the Day: What have you been taught to use for radiation protection? Do you know anyone from Eastern Europe or Japan that has used certain natural products?

Kev’s Comments: Great article from Dr. Williams here… one thing to note, dairy products from Northern California are still showing up with Cesium 134 and 137. Whether this amount is substantial enough to cause health issues, I’m not sure, but it’s something to consider. You can read more here.


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Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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