Reducing Radiation Damage with Ginger & Lemon Balm

Reducing Radiation Damage with Ginger & Lemon Balm
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A component of cooked ginger root protects human white blood cells in vitro against radiation-induced genetic damage, and lemon balm tea appears to protect radiology staff against radiation-induced oxidative stress.

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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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nataraja via Wikimedia

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nataraja via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

This is the final installment of my five-part video series on preventing and treating radiation damage. I started with Fukushima & Radioactivity in Seafood, on avoiding radiation exposure in one’s diet, and then moved to diagnostic medical and dental radiation in Cancer Risk from CT Scan Radiation, and Do Dental X-Rays Cause Brain Tumors? In my last video, Mediating Radiation Exposure from Air Travel, I reviewed population studies of airline pilots and Chernobyl victims, which studied the dietary components that may decrease radiation-induced DNA damage and cancer risk.

For those interested in the Nuremberg narrative, I touch on other cases of medical mistreatment in:

The prior lemon balm video I reference is one of my favorites, Antioxidants in a Pinch.

What else can ginger do? See:

I’ve since added ginger to my pink juice (see Pink Juice with Green Foam) and hibiscus punch (see Herbal Tea Update: Hibiscus) recipes.

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Dr. Greger’s Natural Nausea Remedy RecipeAre Dental X-Rays Safe?Fukushima Radiation & SeafoodHow Risky Are CT scans?; and Ginger & Lemon Balm for Radiation Exposure.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

24 responses to “Reducing Radiation Damage with Ginger & Lemon Balm

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  1. Speaking of ginger, does anyone know if the pickled ginger that they serve with Sushi is actually good for you? Ever since I saw Dr. Greger’s video about Kimchi I have been skeptical of most fermented vegetables.

    1. The pickled ginger is not a fermented product, its pickled with added vinegar (itself interesting due to lowering postprandial blood glucose), much as American “bread & butter” pickled cucumbers are.

      Kimchi, like miso and doenjang from soy, is fermented, resulting in increased nitrates and secondary amines. Its these components, and perhaps also the high salt that are believed responsible for higher gastric cancer in populations that consume a lot of kimchi and fermented soy products.

      Kim, Jong-Won Kang, and Heon Kim. “Kimchi and soybean pastes are risk factors of gastric cancer.” World J Gastroenterol 11.21 (2005): 3175-3181.

      1. Thank you so much for that insightful answer! I’ve been wondering about this for almost a year and I couldn’t find anything credible with a simple google search.

        Also I was under the impression that miso and fermented tofu were actually healthy for you. Is my understanding still correct? I think Dr. Greger did a video on miso on one of the earlier volumes that stated Miso is in fact beneficial for us. I could be wrong as I couldn’t relocate that video.

        1. The paper I Dr. G cited in his kimchi video only looked at gastric cancer, which is very high among Asian cultures eating a high-salt, high fermented food diet, and used to be similarly high in America in the early 20th century, before nitrites were banned from cured meats. Its plausible other components from the miso, doenjang or douchi are protective against other diseases. George Mateljan put together a summary of some of the research into miso benefits.

          In another study correlating salt and nitrate consumption with stomach cancer mortality, the focus was squarely on the salt, as at lower salt intakes stomach cancer was lower with higher nitrate (also a marker of vegetable) intakes.

          Joossens, Jozef Victor, et al. “Dietary salt, nitrate and stomach cancer mortality in 24 countries.” International journal of epidemiology 25.3 (1996): 494-504.

          It may just be the high salt in miso that’s bad, so tempeh is off the hook. Red miso varieties developed in warmer southern Japan are preserved with salt than white miso from colder northern Japan, but they’re all pretty high (300-900mg/Tbsp).

    1. “Fresh ginger does not contain zingerone but cooking the ginger transforms gingerol into zingerone through a retro aldol reaction.”

  2. My husband will most likely be going through his third round of radiation treatments for his recurrent low grade lymphoma. Would consuming this tea/ginger lessen the effectiveness of the treatment at all, or could it help prevent future problems that the treatment itself may cause?

    1. Here’s a site that offers recommendations of foods that synergize with radiation treatment for breast cancer, others to be avoided that reduce treatment effectiveness, and a bland low-antioxidant diet for during radiotherapy:

      Food for Breast Cancer: What should breast cancer patients eat during radiation treatment?

      The site offers extensive references to news items and studies for every food listed. I think the rationale for many of their recommendations should apply to other cancers.

    1. Talk about inventing a disease…..now it is a disease to eat a healthy diet….can you get a pill to cure this terrible condition !? Of course it is a threat to the diseasecare system if people start to eat healthy.

  3. I have a question. I’ve been hearing a lot about lemon water (squeezing half a lemon in a glass of water) , that it has lots of beneficial effects, including weight loss, improved digestion, breath-freshening, boost immune system, cleanses your liver of toxins, give you an energy boost, keep skin clear, reduce inflammation. I’d be curious to hear what the science says about this, and just how much of this is actually true.

    1. Also, I’ve been drinking this for a while, and I feel good, and it would make sense since it is a citrus fruit and should be healthy, and I do a plant-based diet anyways, but I’d still like to hear if there is more
      science backing it up.

  4. Hello. Is crystallized ginger healthy or unhealthy? Does it have similar effects to non-crystallized ginger? Is the amount of sugar unhealthy?

  5. Maybe one should drink song of this ginger juice before going to the dentist for full mouth x-rays or even chest x-rays in a clinic.

  6. Oh gee how noble a code… they can only do the experiments on [human] people if they themselves are willing to sign up… What a noble, noble code… but it’s perfectly OK to do all those horrific experiments and more to non-human persons!! I’m so sick of the grotesque hypocrisy. Maybe if the public wasn’t so hypocritical and weren’t ok with demonic torture being done to innocent non-human animals, there would be much less of a chance of this happening to human animals. It’s no less ethical to experiment on humans than it is to experiment on other non-human animals. I find it all equally monstrous and disgusting because it all equally is. While it is a horrific real life horror story, I’m no more outraged than I already am at the fact that they do these things and much more to non-human animals. And that is NOT to say I’m not outraged, just equally so, unbiased of species.
    Speaking of nazis and animal testing, many of the “doctors” who committed what is now rightfully deemed as medical torture (though I would just call it torture), were offered jobs in the U.S and other countries (as briefly mentioned in this video) to continue their experiments, only on non-human animals instead. And so began a new era of vivisection that disgustingly and outrageously continues to this day.

    In my opinion, anytime there is a disaster or you have people undergoing radiation therapy for cancer, this would be an opportunity to provide these people with extra help (like what they did with x-ray technicians) and ethically learn more about how to naturally protect against these things while simultaneously helping victims in present time. And I’m talking about real, natural plants, not pharmaceutical drugs that can harm people.

  7. Hi Dr. Greger and all. I’m new to this site and so far absolutely love the content. Thank you for creating it!

    Two months ago I was in an accident with a violent head trauma. Since then, the hospital ran on three separate occasions a head and neck CT Scan.
    At the last time I told them I didn’t want to but they said it was absolutely essential. After reading on it, I am furious about the unnecessary radiation they put me through. From what I read, it increases dramatically the risk of cancer on a medium to long term period. I’m 46.

    I will try some of those plants and spices and will read everything else on the matter of antioxidants.
    If you have additional suggestions or thoughts in regards to how the hospital handled my case, please let me know.

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