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Germanium - Chapter 1
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Germanium - The Health & Life Enhancer

PREFACE    |   INTRODUCTION   |   CHAPTER 1   |   CHAPTER 2   |   CHAPTER 3   |   CHAPTER 4   |   CHAPTER 5   |   CHAPTER 6   |   CHAPTER 7   |   CHAPTER 8   |   CHAPTER 9   |   CHAPTER 10   |   CHAPTER 11   |   CHAPTER 12   |   CHAPTER 13   |   CHAPTER 14   |   CHAPTER 15   |   REFERENCES

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Chapter 1:
Historical Sketch – from Element to Organic Compound

Germanium as an element was identified in 1886 by a German chemist Clemens Winkler. The existence of an element with Germanium's atomic structure was actually predicted by the Russian chemist Mendeleev, who left a space in his periodic table for an element which he named 'ekasilicon'. Winkler isolated this element during an analysis of the ore argyrodite, a silver mineral, from the Himmelsfurst mine, St. Michaelis near Freiburg in Saxony and named it Germanium after his homeland. Germanium belongs to family four of the periodic table, along with carbon, silicon, tin and lead, and is usually classified as a semi-metal, or said to have semiconductor properties.

Germanium is not that rare in the universe, with estimates ranging from 10-55 parts per million (ppm) (92). On the earth's crust its concentration is approximately 6 ppm therefore being more abundant than gold, silver, cadmium, bismuth, antimony and mercury, and in the same range as molybdenum, arsenic, tin, boron and beryllium. Germanium rarely forms its own mineral deposits. In most cases, Germanium is found in small (ppm) levels in the sulphidic ores of lead, zinc and copper, although occasionally levels of 100 ppm have been found in deep thermal deposits of zinc. Germanium is highly concentrated in some coals, about 500 ppm. The highest reservoirs, worldwide, of Germanium are found in Tsumeb (formerly German South West Africa) and Kipushi (Zaire), with concentrations reaching 1000 ppm.

Technological Applications of Germanium
Several investigators studied microbial, medicinal and botanical effects of Germanium during the 1920's and 30's, but until 1948, Germanium was mainly relegated to the status of a rare element. Radar engineering prior to the second World War had led to the use of crystal detectors based upon the use of germanium crystals, and in 1948, Germanium was plucked from obscurity into the limelight by Bell Laboratories researchers Brattain, Bardeen and Shockley, who utilized its semiconductor properties for the development of modern electronic devices, transistors and diodes.

During the seventies, Germanium was replaced by silicon in the semi-conductor engineering field; however new areas of application opened up for this mineral. For Germanium 'Metal' these include: semi-conductor photodiodes, rectifiers and solar cells; special alloys for electronics and dental engineering; mirrors, optical systems and radiation divisors for laser engineering; and infra-red engineering devices. Technological applications for Germanium dioxide include the production of polyester chips, fluorescent tubes, special glass and in the pharmaceutical industry, the production of therapeutically beneficial organic Germanium compounds.

The Birth of an Idea – Organic Germanium as Medicine
The events leading to the synthesis of an organic Germanium compound with therapeutic properties are an inspiring tale, like many scientific discoveries, involving a mixture of serendipity, intuition, persistence and faith. The figure of the now deceased Japanese researcher, Kazuhiko Asai, looms prominently in this story. For without Dr. Asai's steadfast belief and ability to persist despite great personal hardship, it is hard to imagine how organic Germanium could have made such a rapid leap from idea to actuality as a therapeutic compound.

Once something is created and exists in reality, it can be analysed, tested and perhaps improved. However, the creative process, stemming from the conception of an idea and carried through to the birth of a tangible entity, is somewhat mysterious and awe-inspiring, which often provokes in the humble person gratitude to whatever forces which inspired his insight. We owe great tribute to discoverers like Asai, who make great sacrifices and commitments to follow their curiosity to completion. The story of Dr. Asai's synthesis of the first organic Germanium compound bears at least a brief telling. His book 'Miracle Cure - Organic Germanium' is highly recommended (2).

The connection between semiconductors and organic Germanium is germane (no pun intended) to this saga, for Asai, upon reading about semiconductor properties of electrons of Germanium, pondered over the effects such a substance might have in the body.

"Germanium atomic number 32, has 32 electrons, four of which are constantly moving unsteadily along the outermost shell of the atom. These four electrons are negative electrical charge carriers and if approached by a foreign substance, one will be ejected out of its orbit. This famous phenomenon is known in electronics as the positive-hole effect which is so ingeniously utilized in forming transistors and diodes. When one of these four electrons is ejected, a positive-charge hole is created and the remaining three seize electrons from other atoms in order to maintain balance." (1)

Asai was specifically thinking about the process of dehydrogenation, and whether Germanium might be effective in removing toxic hydrogen ions from the body. More about this later.

Research: Germanium Content in Plants
In 1945, Asai helped to establish the Coal Research Foundation in Japan, from which came most of the early work on Germanium. Research and painstaking analysis, in those days without sophisticated equipment, established the existence of Germanium in Japanese coal, predominantly in the woody section, or vitrit.Asai intuited that the source of Germanium in coal was from the plant matter, and not from the surrounding soil, which led to a whole series of experiments investigating Germanium content in plants traditionally known to be therapeutic in Chinese medicine, such as Shelf fungus, ginseng, Wisteria gall, and other health promoting foods including Aloe, Comfrey and Garlic (2).

Asai found high Germanium content in these plants and hypothesized that Germanium plays important roles in the photo-electrochemical process of photosynthesis, the metabolism and self-defence (protection from invading viruses) process of these plants. These questions regarding the role of Germanium in plant metabolism and protection are undoubtedly important research topics for rigorous investigation.

At Last - An Organic Gemanium Compound
Inorganic forms of Germanium had been extracted from coal and for use by the electronics industry. It now remained for Asai's group to do the reverse - convert the extracted inorganic Germanium into an organic form. This turned out to be a laborious and daunting exercise which consumed more than a decade of painful, unfruitful failures. Concurrently, with the decline of the coal industry in Japan and Dr. Asai's source of research funds, times were hard and Asai endured poverty with the exhaustion of his personal finances. Finally, a water-soluble organic Germanium compound, carboxy ethyl sesquioxide of Germanium, a white powder, was synthesized in November 1967. Asai, by this time suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis, tested the Germanium on his condition which, within ten days, had disappeared.

In his book "Organic Germanium Miracle Cure" (2), Asai condenses his more than twenty years of experience into a rather short volume, containing insights, hypotheses and convictions, interspersed with experimental data. The incredible interest and research energy which has been expended over the decades is a testament to the courage, foresight and intuition of Dr. Asai,for rigorous research has come far to date in documenting the scientific basis for Dr. Asai's originally intuitive ideas of organic Germanium's therapeutic properties.

 

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