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CHAPTER 12
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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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Issues Of Interest To The Consumer Of Organic Germanium


Why Hasn't Germanium Been Heard Of Before Now?

Many individuals outside the nutritional and clinical research fields may never have heard of Germanium before, except perhaps as the material that transistors used to be made of. I had not heard of the therapeutic effects of this trace element until I began to delve into the literature that has accumulated over the last decade. I have been puzzled by the fact that information about this substance had not been more generally available before the present time. A combination of factors, including the following, are probably responsible:

  1. Researchers in the various clinics, companies and laboratories have been pre-occupied in their research, developing their product or testing of the substance. Much of this research has been performed in Japan, where organic Germanium has been more widely available and familiar to the public. Their research results were, however, published in the scientific literature, which is in the public domain;
  2. Individuals doing corporate research for propriety purposes maintain a fairly high degree of confidentiality in their research;
  3. There is usually a lag time before information in the scientific journals gets "translated" into the more general literature. It is simply a matter of time before a certain "critical mass" of information accumulates to enable people to put together the various pieces of individual research.

The "pieces" of the Germanium puzzle started to come together at the First International Conference on Germanium, organized by Sanum-Kehlbeck and held at Hanover, West Germany in October 1984, which brought together researchers from Japan, Europe and the US to discuss the various aspects of organic Germanium. Since then, North American nutritionists have formed the Germanium Institute of North America (GINA) to disseminate information and further clinical research with organic Germanium (48,50).

This international cooperation of scientists, clinicians and nutritionists in the field of organic Germanium research has had a synergistic effect in furthering clinical researh and disseminating information to the public about the health-enhancing effects of this substance (32-34,46,49).

Germanium Content In Food

In 1967, Shroeder and Balassa published a paper (92) which documented that Germanium is biologically ubiquitous. They surveyed all manner of biological material, from seafood (oysters, clams, shrimp, salmon, tuna, etc.), meat (pork, chicken beef, lamb), dairy products, grains (rye, wheat, rice, oats), vegetables (beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, etc.) nuts, beverages (tea, coffee, cocoa), oils, even cat food and cigarettes (Turkish and Canadian!). The data showed that Germanium was present in trace amounts in most foods. Only clams, canned tuna, baked beans (the highest content with 4.67 ppm) and Welch's tomato juice contained more than 2ppm. Daily Germanium intake varied according to diet, with ovo-vegetarian and high protein diets containing 3.2 and 0.866 mg respectively.

Later analyses, using more sophisticated technology, revealed merely trace amounts of Germanium in plants used for Chinese Medicine (69). This paper published by Mino et al in 1980 has vital bearing on all of the Germanium work. These researchers used flameless atomic absorption spectrometry combined with solvent extraction, which is a much more sensitive technique than used by either Asai or Schroeder. Some of the same medicinal plants were assayed by this procedure.

"Germanium contents in medicinal plants, e.g. Ginseng radix, selected on the basis of Asai's report, were less than 6 ppb in every case. The results obtained indicate that medicinal plants in general contain small amounts of germanium, and suggest that there may be no connection between the pharmacological effects of the medicinal plants and their germanium contents......The analytical values in this experiment were much lower than those of Asai's report and even than those given in Schroeder's report. The method used by Asai was not clear. The measurements of Schroeder were ......with phenylfluorone as a color-forming agent. This colorimetry (detection limit, 0.5ppm) has such low sensitivity that the values obtained 0.1-1.0 ppm must be considered as unreliable. Therefore the germanium contents in other biomaterials should also be reinvestigated by the present procedure using flameless AAS."

Reports of high Germanium content in certain plants and herbs, including garlic and ginseng, have started to appear in magazine articles (46). The original results obtained by Asai have been superceded by more sensitive methods, and attention should be made to not perpetuate erroneous figures in the literature. The suggestion to reevaluate Germanium content in biomaterials should be heeded, in light of the above-quoted report. In any case, even the values obtained by Asai do not constitute therapeutic doses, which he himself acknowledged (2).

Is Germanium An Essential Mineral?

The average daily human intake of Germanium, in the mg range, is not a minute quantity. However, Germanium's essentiality as a mineral to the body's metabolism has yet to be established; thus, it cannot be ascertained what if any disorders may arise from a Germanium deficiency. Also, there is considerable ignorance about Germanium's metabolic role in the body (111).

It was not so long ago that we were ignorant of the essential role of vitamins, minerals and trace minerals, DNA, the substance genes were made of, how genetic information is translated into proteins, the existence of elementary particles such as quarks, gluons, mesons etc., etc., etc. Recognition of ignorance is often a vital first step to the establishment of any intelligent plan to find out the answer to a question.
Research such as that reported herein about the modulation by Sanumgerman of the glutathione enzyme complex is a tangible step towards answering this question, as would be research assessing pathologies resulting from Germanium deficiencies as well asthe basic metabolism of Germanium by humans and animals.

An entire area open to research investigation is the potential therapeutic effects of organic Germanium on livestock. Supplementation of livestock feed with trace elements such as selenium have achieved significant effects in alleviating many serious disorders. Investigations of abundance of Germanium in soils would provide much useful information that would cross fertilize the human clinical research information.

Natural Sources Of Germanium

As stated above, Germanium is a ubiquitous trace element, and is present in almost all foodstuffs in micro trace amounts in the ppm or ppb range. However, in order to obtain enough Germanium to exert a therapeutic effect, one would have to consume enormous quantities of foods. It is this realization which drove Dr. Asai to labour for almost two decades to develop a synthetic form of organic Germanium, in which task he succeeded in 1967. Therefore, in order to obtain organic Germanium in supplemental or therapeutic dosages, one will have to use organic Germanium supplements.

Food Supplement Or Drug

Organic Germanium is virtually nontoxic and is presently being sold as a food supplement in Europe, the UK and the US. Organic Germanium's therapeutic properties might lead it to be classified as a drug in the future, depending on the complex factors and regulations governing nutritional supplements, therapeutic claims, and profits which stand to be made by organic Germanium manufacturers. Were this to happen, organic Germanium could be marketed more lucratively as a drug, and not be confined to the less profitable vitamin market.

If this were to happen, it would definitely benefit manufacturers of organic Germanium; however, consumers would lose out on their ability to purchase, over-the-counter, this safe and therapeutically beneficial trace mineral.

With more information being disseminated about the uses of organic Germanium, consumer and practitioner pressure could probably stop organic Germanium from being designated purely as a drug. This would not, of course prevent practitioners from prescribing organic Germanium to patients on prescription.

Patent And Trademark Issues

The Asai organization does not make any Ge-132 available for export. Therefore any Ge-132 used outside of the Asai Germanium Clinic is manufactured from other sources. There are three patented processes for the manufacture of Ge-132 in Japan, all of which have expired in Japan. However, there is still an extant American patent for the manufacture of Ge-132, which is also the trademarked name for the Asai form of Germanium sesquioxide. Therefore, any Germanium imported into the United States which uses the Asai process is infringing upon this patent (67). However, neither of the two suppliers of organic Germaniumin the UK, Global Marketing, which obtains its supplies from Sanyo, and Inpa, with its stock from Sanum-Kehlbeck, are in violation of this patent. The tradenames Ge Oxy-132 and Germanooxyd are both registered trademarks.

Why Is Organic Germanium So Expensive?

A first reaction to buying organic Germanium could be shock at the price. The prices range from below 30p per capsule for lower dosages to well in excess of £1 per capsule for higher doses. The broadness of this price range presented is based on the difficulties of comparing different products containing varying amounts of elemental Germanium. However, although organic Germanium is still considerably more expensive than most vitamins and minerals, it is less expensive than most prescription drugs. The drug market being orders of magnitude more lucrative than the supplement market, the manufacturers of organic Germanium would undoubtedly prefer to market this product as a drug.

Germanium is expensive to extract from the earth. It is extracted as Germanium concentrates from the smelting of sulphidic ores such as copper, lead and zinc, which enriches its concentration from 10ppm to 50 ppm. Following steps such as alkaline refinement, it is enriched to 500 ppm. Several additional processes are required to obtain the raw materials for the synthesis of organic Germanium. This establishes a high base price. Then it must be synthesisized to the organic form, which involves complex and expensive machinery and a large number of synthesis stages. Final purification procedures necessary to bring the product up to the utmost high-grade quality are also costly. For Ge-132, if the elemental content is merely 40% instead of 42%, the price is reduced by one third, but there is significant contamination by other metals. Superimposed upon this are the substantial research expenses which have been occurred to carry out tests for tonxicity and therapeutic activity. At present, all the organic Germanium products available are quite expensive, compared to most other supplements. In view of this product's therapeutic effects, however, it is certainly worth the price, providing that the quality is beyond reproach.

Quality Of Organic Germanium Supplements

This is a most important consideration. The two types of high quality organic Germanium available are the Ge-132 variety, and Sanumgerman. Inorganic Germanium, such as Germanium dioxide, may be toxic. Testing by an analytical laboratory of several organic Germanium products available from various sources who use Global Marketing's Ge Oxy-132 revealed significant discrepancies between the stated elemental Germanium content and what was actually found in the analysis (test results disclosed by Sanum-Kehlbeck). The deviations ranged from 25% less than to 19.6% more than the amount of Ge-132 which ought to have been present. The reasons proposed by Sanum-Kehlbeck for these discrepancies were:

  1. The capsules were not filled with the stated quantity of Ge-132.
  2. The used Ge-132 compound did not contain the prescribed 42.8% elemental Ge; instead the amount contained what was disclosed in the tests, 32% and 51.2% being the two extremes.

The existence of these deviations has been disclosed to Global Marketing, who state their intention to provide a pure and high quality source of organic Germanium.

Protocol For Analyses Of Germanium Samples

Testing for purity of organic germanium samples is costly and complex. The Germanium Institute of North America (GINA) has published a protocol for analysis which uses the following maintechniques:

  1. Titration, which assesses the amount of acid carboxyl groups present in the sample molecule, which can be compared with a fixed theoretical value for Ge-132.
  2. NMR (Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance). This technique provides a "molecular fingerprint" of the molecule as a function of the paramagnetic properties of the molecule's protons.
  3. X-Ray (Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Analysis). This technique measures the sample's elemental content, based on energy arrays dispersed by the element's outer shell electrons in response to excitation by an X-Ray beam.

Occasionally, as adjuncts to the three main technicques, ICP (Inductive Coupled Plasma Emision Spectroscopy), Emission Spectrography and Wet Chemical Analyses are also performed.

GINA states in its published protocol that "no one of these three main tests can by itself establish the level of purity of a sample...nor is any other single test available, such as infrared spectroscopy or atomic absorption, to our knowledge adequate to assess these samples."

GINA also makes the claim that the only form of germanium with proven efficacy for humans and proven lack of toxicity is Ge-132. The research, toxicity and clinical data of other organic Germanium products such as Sanumgerman clearly establish their efficacy and lack of toxicity alongside with Ge-132. Fear-engendering and merely partially truthful statements by organisations such as GINA to practitioners and the public at this early stage of germanium's appearance as a nutritional supplement will do little to inspire confidence or professional credibility within this fledgling industry.

The precise methodologies necessary for accurate testing of the purity of organic germanium samples should be a matter for the industry experts to establish, standardize and maintain, in order to bring into existence international cooperation in this vital area of quality control. It behooves all the manufacturers, distributors and clinicians to establish and agree upon an international standard of testing and quality assurance for organic germanium samples.

Centres Of Organic Germanium Research

Japan

In 1978, a nation-wide organication, composed of many research and medical institutions was inaugurated in Japan to "deepen the research on Ge-132 from both the fundamental and clinical aspects" (Mizushima, 1985). The Japanese are currently conducting three double blind randomized clinical trials on organic Germanium's efficacy in lung and gastrointestinal cancers and shingles, a herpes virus disease. There has also been discussions of research with organic Germanium on AIDS in Japan.

The Asai Germanium Clinic is located at Murata Building 5F, 6-4-14 Seijo Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157.

Europe

Clinics, Universities and Research Centres throughout Eastern and western Europe have been researching and clinically testing Sanumgerman for about ten years in collaboration with Sanum-Kehlbeck, Postfach 322, 2812 Hoya, West Germany. The distribution company for Sanum-Kehlbeck's organic germanium products is called Inpa AG.

Dr. Gunter Paetz, General Practitioner and Homeopath, Hamburger Str 26, 3170 Gifhorn, West-Germany is familiar with the organic Germanium research in Europe (78).

Advice To The Consumer

The consumer should be well aware of the commercial competition at stake with organic Germanium products, so that he/she can avoid any inferior products and demand certification of the highest quality of any organic Germanium they wish to purchase.

When purchasing organic Germanium, be certain that it is in fact organic and not inorganic Germanium. Be especially mindful that it is of the highest quality. Ask to see the analytical specifications attesting to its purity. Deal only with reputable and honest dealers.

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