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:
- 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;
- Individuals doing corporate research for propriety
purposes maintain a fairly high degree of confidentiality in their research;
- 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
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
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
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
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
- The capsules were not filled with the stated quantity
- 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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
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.