Research on Radioprotective Herbs
In a general sort of way, I already explained a little bit about the laboratory studies, but I would like to continue so that when you make a decision to manage your personal health challenges in a particular manner, you understand the basis of the claims made and can perhaps then translate the recommendations into concepts that are personally useful.
As part of my preliminary research on kaya kalpa, the ancient Indian method of rejuvenation, I read a number of studies on theories of degeneration as well as studies of herbs that protect against degeneration, including some that go a step further and restore lost function. Try to keep in mind a vast stretch of time, at least 2500 years, maybe 4000 years. Besides the environmental and life style changes that have transpired, thinking itself has tended to move from the"divine" to "scientific" so the properties and powers of herbs are discussed in language that varies from highly mystical to ultra technical and monolithic, by which I mean that efforts to reduce findings to a single variable entail horrific torture of animals and equally tortuous mental abstractions and rationalizations that I personally do not always find meaningful. I suppose this is another way of saying that surfing PubMed is not a pleasant experience for the soul and it tends to stress my left brain and cause all sorts of disequilibrium.
There is a relatively new term in herbalism: adaptogen. We can find various definitions of what exactly it means but loosely translated, the word is applied to any herb that increases the ability to cope with stress. What is relevant here is that like radiation, stress is cumulative but the breaking point differs for each individual so predictive models are clumsy and probably at least partially irrelevant. Over the weekend when emails were flying back and forth between our tiny zerorads team members, I commented that not only are the power plant workers the most vulnerable but their individual vulnerability will depend partly on their preexisting health as well as the types and amounts of exposure they have to radioactivity. Only those with very direct contact with extreme amounts of radioactivity are in any immediate danger. I will keep repeating this because I am seeing a lot of pandemonium, some of it warranted and some exaggerated.
So, for those who are exposed on a daily basis to massive amounts of a wide variety of different forms of ionizing radiation, the potential for acute radiation sickness and death is real. Over and above the objective risks, there are individual differences in life style, diet, medical histories, and so on and so forth. This can make for a difference in outcome .Those who already had free radical damage stand to suffer the most. In my estimation, this would include anyone who has had medical procedures involving radiation, anyone who has toxic metals in the body from dental or other procedures, anyone whose diet includes excitotoxins like monosodium glutamate and aspartame, anyone who is taking pharmaceutical medication, anyone whose diet includes mushrooms, anyone who drinks beer laced with cobalt, and perhaps anyone who is routinely exposed to the vapors of welding or printing inks or paint or chemicals. In the case of the laboratory experiments, we can more or less assume that the mice do not have fillings, that they are not on prescription medications, and that they are not eating mushrooms or using torches that melt metals. To the extent that this is true, the test animals as well as the controls might have less variation than at risk people. However, for the same reason, it is easier to attribute outcome to the primary variable which is the substance tested.
It is against this backdrop that I would like to discuss Chyawanprash in a bit more depth.
What we know is that there was a sage — most probably a genuine historic person — named Chyawan. His name means "decrepit" and there are many differing accounts of his life but all agree that he was rejuvenated. Whether this happened before or after marrying a princess is not medically important. Likewise, whether the formula for the tonic was given to him by the Divine Ashwinis or he conjured it up himself is also not relevant to the medical issues. What is, however, relevant is what was in the formula and why it worked. Chyawanprash is made by practically every herb company in India as well as by many private individuals and yogis. It has no doubt been the most popular herbal tonic of recorded history and its position has never been usurped by anything else, not by fads or fashions or hype.
What we know about the original Chyawanprash is that it was made with a tropical gooseberry called amla or amalaki. This very sour fruit provides an extremely stable source of vitamin C. The vitamins retain their potency despite cooking and storage and the reason for this remarkable property is the tannins. The traditional recipe for the jam contains 35 herbs and a huge number of additional ingredients: spices, powders of metals and minerals, ghee, sesame oil, honey, raw sugar, and eight exotic herbs that are either missing in most modern formulas or that are replaced by substitute herbs such as the famous tonics for the reproductive system: ashwagandha and shatavari, neither of which was in the original jam.
What happened is that the earlier center of Indian civilization moved southwards so some Himalayan herbs, such as the now quite rare lilies and orchids, were replaced by tropical plants. In short, thousands of years after the stunning rejuvenation of the decrepit sage, there are as many variations of the formula as there are labs and producers. This includes a small number of people who joined the Siddha Medicine web site. The largest Ayurvedic herb company in India donated product to a university that researched the protective properties of Chyawanprash on real patients, not laboratory animals. This included patients with serious illnesses, including many with cancer who were treated with chemotherapy and radiation but who used Chyawanprash in hopes of protecting the body against extreme damage such as to the liver and heart, not to mention the blood. Some were monitored for signs of stress such as increased output of cortical hormones. In a few cases, rats and mice were put through major ordeals such as swimming with no chance of escaping the water. The size and weight of their adrenal glands as well as output of hormones was measured and Chyawanprash provided near total protection from physiological damage.
These studies were followed by similar ones except that the Chyawanprash was provided by the Maharishi University. Again, the conclusions were similar except that the emphasis was put on free radicals because the primary researcher, Dr. Hari Sharma, believed that all degenerative conditions are caused by free radicals. This is much more relevant to our situation because whether we are talking about anti-aging or radiation, the goal is to completely arrest the action of free radicals. In theory, this would then prevent all degeneration.
So, now in my quest for herbs that can be used to protect against radiation, what I am finding on PubMed is one after another and another study based on one of the ingredients in Chyawanprash. It is obvious why those who fund research want to conduct their studies in this manner. If they can possibly assign all benefit to one constituent that can be synthesized and patented, they will become billionaires many times over. Reading the studies is, however, very hard on my psyche because the mice are subjected to lethal exposures of radiation. In every study, all of the unprotected animals died. Thus as we are today perched on the precipice in which the madness of our civilization is now blatantly apparent, I am sending my prayers to the laboratory animals and water and plants and soil and even the air. I am, as some of you realize, completely choked up by the magnitude of our folly and cruelty of our science. I want to return to divinity since everything that is knowable is knowable to the soul and intuition and does not require the suffering or sacrifice of any living creature.
This said, the plants and animals have indeed demonstrated the radioprotective qualities of many herbs, herbs that I will present one by one as time permits. However, I want to explain one more subject now before moving into picky details. There are different types of radiation: alpha, beta, and gamma. Only gamma is tested in the studies done in laboratories and what they are using is full body irradiation. Each animal is exposed to a lethal amount. The particles that are airborne and that might enter the food chain are different and while not a completely separate issue, they need to approached in a different manner.
Perhaps it will annoy some people if I wail too much but the research is cruel. My personal belief is that we will be stuck in this dimension until every last injured creature is healed of every injury sustained since the beginning of Creation. We were designed to be perfect and immortal, not shattered by life experience. So, in answer to the question some of you have posed privately, the reason I work as hard as I do is that I am committed to reducing the burden of karma for myself and everyone else.
This launches me into a slightly different topic: amla and bilva. The colleague who prodded me to research kalpa was interested in the remarkable story of Tapaswiji Maharaj. Tapaswiji did kalpa three times and lived more or less in our times, A.D. 1770-1955. On two of the kalpas, he used bilva rather than wild (forest harvested) amla. Bilva fruit when sliced looks surprisingly like DNA, at least to me, so if we accept the doctrine of signatures, we should see clues. According to the doctrine of signatures, something that looks like an anatomical part has value as a treatment for that part. The clearest example might be walnuts that have hemispheres that look remarkably like the brain. Another example would be beans that look like kidneys. In any event, according to tradition, bilva is used when we want to reduce the load of karma so as to move faster towards our ultimate immortality. I don't know if others see DNA when they slice the fruit.
Immortality is endlessly fascinating to all who bother to think, pray, or worship, but in my estimation, it can only be reached when in perfect balance. The moment that harmony is experienced, all catastrophic activity simply ends so what we are seeing in headlines is a mirror of our obstacles to perfect alignment with our Creator. If we cannot achieve this, we cannot expect to see the realignment that is now imperative. In the meantime, I will step down from my pulpit and reassure you that I will be discussing the radioprotective quality of different herbs as well as their potential for protecting specific organs from damage and stopping the cascade of free radical toxicity that leads to cancer and other degenerative diseases. Many people who are recommending various strategies for self-protection are not factoring in how to prevent the long-term risks of shredding our DNA.
My work will begin on Friday because I will devote tomorrow to joining Dr. Emoto and his millions of readers and devotees in sending prayers and blessings to the waters of Fukushima and, in my case at least, to the workers who are trying to curb the damage, to the plants and animals that are equipping us to cope with challenges, and to Lady Gaia who must reabsorb these fission materials in order to render the Planet safe for Her Children.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011