|Well, we've heard a lot of concern lately from the Earth Clinic community - worry about the fortunes of our friends in Japan after the horrifying recent events, including the earthquake and tsunami - but also concern for others around the globe about the possibility of radiation exposure due to the damage Japanese nuclear power plants have suffered. Several explosions and steam ventings at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have already released radiation into the atmosphere. The possibility of a nuclear meltdown at several sites remains. We're all worried, so let's see what we can do about radiation safety.
When we think about radiation, there are frightening tragedies that leap first to mind. The Chernobyl meltdown and Three Mile Island crisis represent the threat of toxic radiation exposure. The nuclear bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki revealed the cataclysmic and lasting effects of nuclear energy. Yet there is also the hope of medical radiation therapy that can preserve life. And nuclear energy doesn't pollute the air, though it does leave behind nuclear waste that will continue to decay dangerously for as long as 100,000 years.
For all its promise, nuclear radiation is a relatively new and dangerous tool; and nuclear radiation exposure can cause radiation sickness from an acute exposure. Symptoms of radiation poisoning include nausea, hair loss, and vomiting. In the long run, radiation side effects can include the above but also various cancers.
If you are concerned that you have suffered or will suffer a radiation exposure, there are precautions you can take. Potassium iodide or KI pills (in a 130 mcg dose) are the typical prophylactic treatment for radiation poisoning, if you know you are about to suffer a radiation exposure. You may more easily find or have heard of SSKI (a saturated solution of potassium iodide), two drops of which represent an effective treatment for adults (adolescents 3-18 years of age should receive a half-dose of any iodine treatment). If you live in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant, you can very likely get free KI pills to keep as First Aid for your family in the event of a radiation release.
KI only protects against a specific type of exposure, but it is proven very effective in preventing thyroid cancer. The iodine in the pill or solution prevents the body from taking up the radioactive iodine released in a nuclear accident. This threat is the most critical in a nuclear emergency, and so KI or SSKI treatment is highly recommended before and during exposure. The idea is that the KI fulfills the body's/thyroid's daily requirement for iodine, so that there is no space left to take up the poisonous radioiodine. This means you should take the recommended KI or SSKI dosage at least several hours before the predicted arrival of any radiation release and continue taking maintenance doses until the danger has passed.
By far, it is the local Japanese that have the most to be concerned about radiation poisoning. Even after exposure, however, KI treatment can have a positive effect. So we would encourage readers in Japan to begin some sort of daily iodine regimen right away. The 50 heroes continuing to work in the Fukushima Daiichi are doing so without a doubt.
Fortunately, any radiation that has been or will be released by Japanese nuclear facilities will be much diluted before it crosses the Pacific Ocean. So far, no elevated levels have been detected in Hawaii. What's more, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, recently declared, "a very low probability that there's any possibility of harmful radiation levels in the United States or in Hawaii or any other U.S. territories." On the other hand, radiation fallout from the Chernobyl disaster is still detectable as far away as in the ice of the South Pole, so any release of nuclear radiation is a concern.
Ted's Radiation Exposure Remedy
12/29/2008: Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: "In event of an emergency, due to radiation poisoning, the most obvious treatment is iodine, as in Lugol's iodine, or potassium iodide for example. The other ones that can be added to emergency First Aid kits are charcoal tablets and bentonite clays. It does more than just rid the body of uranium -- it reduces bacteria, pathogens as well as the side effects (sometimes deadly) of antibiotics.
Miso powder might have some value but its uses are also versatile in detoxing, not just from depleted uranium. Chlorella is a well-known chelator as are most seaweed products, such as spirulina, in protection against depleted uranium. Certainly kelp is a good supplement, as is sodium alginate, but also not mentioned is pectin. Sodium bicarbonate may have limited value in removal of depleted uranium compared to the use of bentonite clay. A solution of bentonite clay is applied and fan dried, so the depleted uranium will attach itself.
As to the issue of sodium citrate, or technically trisodium citrate, this is shown to excrete depleted uranium, but also other heavy metals. However, a much simpler preparation is possible through the use of lemon and baking soda, which creates sodium citrate. A reaction between citric acid and baking soda can also result in sodium citrate just the same. What's not mentioned is that potassium citrate also helps too, since we also need a fair balance of a sodium : potassium ratio that has to be observed. My preferred ratio, due to it's simplicity, is a sodium citrate : potassium citrate ratio of 2 : 1.
International Community Feedback
Notable Radiation Treatment Posts
Accurate Iodine & Fallout Information
03/13/2011: Tom from Regina, Sk replies: "I have already heard some outrageously misleading and just plain false information on Iodine/fallout go out to millions by at least one well known radio talk show name! The best place to go to get detailed, accurate information on iodine uptake should be the well-known 'Iodine doctors', right? I found this in less than 1 minute, and anyone can go to the sites of the other name doctors, such as Dr. Guy Abraham, Dr. Donald Derry (retired), Dr. Jorge Flechas, Dr. Donald Miller, Dr. Brownstein, Dr. Jonathon Wright, etc.
The Department of Health and Human Services has approved potassium iodide, in a dose of 130 mg, as a thyroid blocking agent in radiation emergences. To be most effective, however, it must be taken in a window 24 hours before and up to 2 hours after exposure...
It doesn't have to be KI. Sixteen drops of Lugol's solution, 8 Iodoral tablets, or 3 to 5 drops of SSKI work just as well. Actually, Lugol's solution is better than KI because the breast concentrates iodine, which KI does not have, and would better protect the breast from radioactive iodine. And lacking an oral source of iodine, applying 2 percent tincture of iodine to the skin works almost as well. Painting iodine on the abdomen in a 4 x 8 inch patch blocks thyroidal radioiodine uptake by 95 to 99 percent.
A person who takes 15 mg of iodine a day is already well protected from the radioactive iodine in fallout. The thyroid gland will retain less than 2 percent of absorbed I-131, similar to that after consuming a 130mg KI tablet.
Prophylactic Iodine Treatment
03/12/2011: David from Butler, PA USA writes: "I hear that we are in danger of radioactive fallout from Japan here in USA. I was told to take iodine once a day before it arrives. Where do you get this and how much do you take?"
03/12/2011: Tessa from Wpb, Fl replies: "Try Potassium Iodide... Good health food stores will sell it. I got mine at Whole Foods. Not sure about dosage for radiation exposure. Maybe someone else will know."
03/13/2011: Susan from San Francisco, CA - USA replies: "Just follow the instructions on the bottle. I have Potassium Iodide from EIDON Ionic Minerals and it calls for 2 or more drops in 4oz of juice/water daily or as directed by a health care provider. I also have Lugol's Solution 5% and it doesn't have any directions. I copied the following from the seller's website:
When used to maintain the iodine content of the body the dose is small and is taken only on certain days of the week. When the mineral content of the body is analyzed, only a trace of iodine is found. Ten drops of iodine represent more iodine than is found in the entire body. For this reason, the dose of Lugol's solution of iodine is one or two drops, depending on your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds or less, for example, your dose to maintain the normal iodine content of the body is one drop, taken at one meal on Tuesday and Friday of each week. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, the dose should be two drops instead of one. It is useful to remember that the human body works on the minimum of anything it needs. If there should be a rise in sickness in the area where you live, it would be well to take the Lugol's solution three times a week instead of two, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for the purpose of storing up reserve."
Miso and Miso Soup
03/14/2011: Mark from Aiea, HI replies: "Miso contains a substance called zybicolin which helps to prevent radiation poisoning and effectively prevented radiation poisoning after the atomic bombing in Hiroshima."
03/14/2011: Tray from NJ, USA replies: "Well... Lets hope the radiation will be contained, but to the extent that it isn't (and for those fearing exposure) it would be hard to argue that it wouldn't trump many less serious concerns. I am currently taking a specific kelp supplement (for my thyroid) that was formulated by Russian scientists after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. I don't believe I'm permitted to mention the brand here, but perhaps a search w/ both 'kelp' and 'Chernobyl' would bring you to the product? (It was recommended to me by a knowledgeable nutritionist/herbalist who reports good results with its usage.) The scientists recommended a specific routine, which, if I recall correctly, was 6 per day for a few days... Then 9 per day for a few days... Then 12 for a few days... Then back down to six per day for several more weeks, and then 3 daily for maintenance. I hope this is helpful for someone somewhere? My thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the earthquake/tsunami."
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