As most people, I became concerned when I learned of the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing radiation contamination from one of Japan’s nuclear plants. Today, we know the crisis is not over, radiation continues to leak, contaminating their food and water sources and leaking into the air. In the U.S., we fear radiation exposure from the Jetstream carrying it to us. Radiation exposure in small amounts or from chronic exposure can cause birth defects such as Down syndrome and cancer, and especially leukemia and thyroid cancer. In acute exposure/toxicity, people become nauseous and develop vomiting and diarrhea. Blood cells are killed and the gastrointestinal tract is destroyed allowing the body to be overwhelmed by bacteria, shutting down the body’s vital organs. The good news though, is that most victims survive.
With the above said, I concur with a Washington Post article and a prominent physician in natural medicine that despite the dire outlook of this situation, fear may be the most dangerous side effect of this tragedy. Emotional stress can have a devastating effect on your health. I urge readers to avoid panic and to address your emotions as worry will cause much more damage than a small exposure to radiation.
I view this event as an opportunity to address the elephant in our own backyard that is ignored or unknown. The deal is, while we are panicking over an event in Japan, we live in an area of chronic radiation exposure that comes from uranium mining tailings in our own community. There is a multitude of published studies and reports demonstrating increases in leukemia, lung and kidney cancers, birth defects, and high blood pressure in populations that live near uranium mines and/or drink from water contaminated with uranium. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. The EPA estimates that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are caused by radon.
Unfortunately, uranium tailings have been used for construction purposes, and are frequently used as foundations for homes and other buildings. Radon and uranium can also be found in well water. Exposure happens from inhalation (the off-gassing in homes) and ingestion (drinking contaminated water).
Current statistics state that 1 in 3 homes have toxic levels of radon, but I believe rates are higher in this area. Fortunately, the test kits for radon cost around $20, an inexpensive way to determine if you have radon in your home. Here is a popular website for kit information: www.radon.com.
Other than testing for radon, what else can we do to protect ourselves? The same things we do about our potential radiation exposure from Japan! There are foods that you can consume on a daily basis to counter effects from radiation and remove radiation from your body. These include: chlorophyll rich foods (greens, celery, parsley, cilantro, bean and grain sprouts, and grass shoots ), spirulina, miso, garlic, onions, beets, kale, brewer’s yeast, green tea, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, apples, plums, oranges and other citrus fruits, and sea vegetables and seaweed.
There are a number of supplements that can also protect from radiation. While most of these are safe, I advise working with a trained professional in determining individual safety and adequate doses. This list includes: Reishi mushroom, holy basil, vitamin E, rutin, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, lecithin, selenium, burdock root, B-complex, vitamin A (toxic to pregnant women), asparagus extract, and Siberian Ginseng.
And what about potassium iodide? Iodide is a powerful protector against radiation and can actually kill cancer cells. The conundrum is that while iodide is very protective, there are many people with unknown thyroid nodules, or thyroid disorders and autoimmune conditions. Iodide can trigger the negative effects of these ailments, making them worse or create a health crisis. For people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any other known autoimmune disorder, I do not recommend this medication UNLESS you have known radiation exposure.
If you know or think you have been exposed, potassium iodide will help decrease the chance of radiation being metabolized by your body. The CDC provides dosages for children; the adult dose is 130 mg. We carry this medication in our clinic. Also, your health care provider can prescribe it for you (SSKI drops). I discourage buying it online unless a particular brand is recommended by someone knowledgeable. In addition to potassium iodide, I also recommend taking cilantro tincture, cold pressed oil (such as virgin olive or flax), and bentonite clay (to bind and poop out toxins). Milk thistle will help your liver, and calcium and magnesium will help eliminate radioactive isotopes that get lodged in the bones. Epsom salt baths are also helpful for radiation elimination.
The take home message is: stay calm, and start consuming foods that naturally help your body eliminate radiation – be it from Japanese fall-out or from uranium and radon that is already here and prevalent in our community. It may be a good idea to “arm” yourself with some of the nutrients and potassium iodide that I discussed – don’t hesitate to consult a knowledgeable practitioner for help, advice and determining safety. PLEASE, spend money on an inexpensive test to determine if you have radon in your home and deal with any exposure you may have. Finally, consider getting testing for uranium via a heavy metal test.