Transcript: Reducing Radiation Damage with Ginger & Lemon Balm
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
The German Medical Association finally just apologized for the profession’s role in the Nazi atrocities—65 years after 20 physicians stood trial in Nuremberg. “During the trial, [the Nazi doctors]…argued that their experiments were not unlike previous studies by researchers in the United States,” like Dr. Strong’s injection of prisoners with the plague. Nazi doctors were hung; Dr. Strong went on to chair a department at Harvard. And, we were just getting started. The few examples the Nazis cited were nothing, compared to what the American medical establishment started doing after Nuremberg. After all, prisoners are “much cheaper than chimpanzees.”
Much attention has focused on our cold war radiation experiments, which remained classified for decades. Declassification, the American Energy Commission warned, “would have a very poor effect on the public,” because they describe “experiments performed on human subjects, including the actual injection of plutonium into the body.” Subjects, like Mr. Cade, a 53-year-old “colored male” who got in a car accident, and ended up in the hospital. Great! Let’s inject him with plutonium.
Who else is powerless, besides patients? How about kids—at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts—who were fed radioactive isotopes in their breakfast cereal? Trix are for kids. Despite the Pentagon’s insistence that these were the “only feasible means” of developing ways to protect people from radiation, researchers have since come up with a few ways that don’t violate the Nuremberg code—which states the only time doctors are allowed to do experiments that may kill or disable people is if they themselves are willing to sign up to be experimental subjects, as well.
One way is to study cells in a petri dish. The “[p]rotective effect of Zingerone…against radiation induced genetic damage” and cell death in human white blood cells. What is zingerone? It’s a phytonutrient found in cooked ginger root. You blast cells with some gamma rays, and you get less DNA damage, and fewer free radicals, when you add ginger phytonutrients. They even compared it to the leading drug injected into people for radiation sickness, and found the ginger compound to be 150 times more powerful, and without the serious side effects of the drug itself.
They conclude that it’s an inexpensive natural product that may protect against radiation-induced damage. In fact, lots of different plant products have been found to be protective in vitro against radiation damage by a whole variety of mechanisms. After all, “[p]lants have been utilized since time immemorial for curing diseases;” so, they started screening plants and also found radiation-protective benefits from other plants one can find at grocery stores: garlic, turmeric, goji berries, mint leaves—but, this is all just on cells in a test tube. None had actually been tested in actual people—until now.
How are you going to find people exposed to radiation you can test stuff on? Well, aside from pilots, another group that suffers inordinate radiation exposure is the hospital workers that run the X-ray machines, who have been found to suffer chromosomal damage as a result—compared to other hospital staff—and higher levels of oxidative stress within their body. Although X-rays can damage DNA directly, much of the damage is caused by the free radicals generated by the radiation.
So, they asked radiation staff to drink two cups a day of lemon balm tea for a month; an herbal tea known to have high levels of antioxidants, as I showed in one of my favorite videos, “Antioxidants in a Pinch.” So, what happened? The level of antioxidant enzymes in their bloodstream went up, and the level of free radical damage went down—leading to the conclusion that “oral administration of lemon balm tea may be helpful for the protection of the radiology staff against radiation-induced oxidative stress and improve[d] antioxidant defense system, especially enzymatic defense, due to its antioxidant properties.”
And, if that’s the reason, then practically any plant should fit the bill. So, know that as you’re sucking on some crystallized ginger to prevent travel sickness on some airplane, little did you know that you may be protecting yourself from the cosmic radiation at that altitude as well.
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