Mucopolysaccharides and Glycosaminoglycans
There are substances present in the cartilaginous tissue between joints and concentrated in the artery walls. They are not essential nutritionally in that our body makes them. The commercially available mucopolysaccharide products are high in silicon, a mineral important to tissue strength and health. Mussels and oysters contain these chondroitin sulfates. A supplement extracted from green-lipped mussels, Perna canaliculus, is high in mucopolysaccharides and is currently available. It is theorized that taking oral chondroitin sulfates or products containing other mucopolysaccharides will help alleviate joint problems or rebuild degenerating cartilage. They may further help in maintaining strength and elasticity of the artery walls and in reducing potential inflammation and blood clotting time—all of which may help reduce cardiovascular disease potential. Mucopolysaccharides and collagen help hold our tissues together. Chondroitin sulfates may be an antiaging nutrient as well as support or increase production of seminal fluid in men, and may have mild aphrodisiac effects. These chondroitin sulfate/mucopolysaccharide products have been used in the treatment of various conditions, including headaches, arthritis, bursitis, ulcers, respiratory diseases, angina, and allergies. There is no hard evidence to date that these claims, often commercial, are accurate or that there is great therapeutic success in using the oral supplements (they may break down in the digestive tract), although bovine cartilage injections have been helpful in the treatment of arthritis and psoriasis. More research is needed to verify the potential for these very interesting molecules that are used in our body tissue.
Germanium is a trace mineral that has recently come to the attention of the health world through some incredible work and results at a clinic in Japan. Germanium occurs naturally in very small amounts in the soil and in certain foods and herbs, such as shiitake mushrooms, ginseng root, garlic, shelf fungus, and aloe vera. It has been used for its semiconductor properties in making computer chips. Its possible medical value was discovered in the 1950s by Kazuhiko Asai when he noticed that fairly high amounts of germanium were present in coal, peat, and some of the more powerful and useful Oriental healing herbs. In 1967, Dr. Asai and his associates isolated an organo-germanium compound soluble in water and labeled it Ge-132 (bis-carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide, the 132nd form they had synthesized). In 1968, Dr. Asai founded the Asai Germanium Research Institute to study the clinical application of Ge-132 further. Over the next 15 years, Dr. Asai and coresearchers found that germanium was essentially nontoxic and had an incredible effect on many pathological conditions, particularly in suppressing tumor activity in tumor-bearing animals. In 1980, Dr. Asai published a book very optimistically called Miracle Cure: Organic Germanium.
Germanium is trace element number 32 in the periodic table. It is twice as heavy as oxygen (16) and seems in some way related to it, as it supports cellular and tissue oxygenation. Research in Japan also verified a number of effects of Ge-132 on the immune systems of animals and humans. (This is not the effects of the trace mineral but of this special organo-germanium; see the discussion in Chapter 6, Minerals.) Ge-Oxy 132, as it is sometimes called, has been shown to have both antitumor and antiviral effects. These may be a result of its varying immunological actions, such as stimulating interferon production, stimulating macrophage (“Pac-man” white cells) and NK (natural killer) lymphocyte activity, and enhancing cell-mediated immunity. There is some suggestion that Ge-132 helps in pain relief; particularly dramatic relief has occurred in some cases of severe cancer pain.
Most of these effects are noted more in people who are immune suppressed than in normal individuals. Research on the topic has begun at the University of Texas. In an article published in the November 1984 issue of the Journal of Interferon Research, Fugio Suzulu and Richard B. Pollard commented, “Ge-132 belongs to a group of compounds capable of modulating immune response in hosts that have an alteration of immune homeostasis. Although there are a few reports describing enhancement of Ge-132 on natural killer cell activity in healthy subjects, studies in immune suppressed animals and patients with malignancies or rheumatoid arthritis suggest that Ge-132 restores the normal function of T-cell lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, natural killer cell activity, and numbers of antibody-forming cells, but does not enhance them above normal limits.”
Interestingly, in both sick and normal animals and humans, Ge-132 is virtually nontoxic. Suzulu and Pollard’s article continues, “Preliminary toxicological and pharmacological studies of this compound (Ge-132) indicate that it has several unique physiological activities without any significant toxic effects.” Ge-132 really could be classified as a “highly safe drug” even though it is a trace mineral compound. It has practically no toxicity or influence on reproductive or other functions.
More research is needed on Ge-132. Organic germanium from Japan, as Ge-Oxy 132, has become available only recently in the United States as a pure white powder that can be made into tablets, capsules, or dissolved in water. It is still fairly expensive and will continue to be until it is produced in this country. Now, many companies are marketing germanium products; make sure that it is in this organo-germanium sesquioxide form. Amounts in supplements range from 25–150 mg. or are available as pure powder. Suggested dosages for treatment range from 50–100 mg. daily (probably the minimum needed for an effect), up to 3–6 grams daily (the doses used in Japan for cancer therapy). The level of germanium sesquioxide needed to induce interferon synthesis in humans is a daily intake of 50–75 mg./kg. body weight.
Ge-132 looks very promising, and I am quite excited about it. Its use in the treatment of viral disorders, especially Epstein-Barr, and other problems of immunological suppression appears helpful. Gastrointestinal diseases, such as diverticulitis, circulatory problems, mental symptoms, or really any problem that might be aided by improved oxygenation could be helped by organo-germanium (Ge-132) supplementation. In my clinical experience, I have found that allergies have also been reduced by the use of this nutrient, particularly those allergies that arise to foods based on weakening of the intestinal mucosa. Germanium’s effect on cancer is probably due to its immunostimulating effects rather than a direct effect on cancer cells. Its current use by cancer patients may move it into the political arena soon, which will prompt the FDA and the medical establishment to set controls on its use.
Germanium is currently considered a food supplement. Since it is found in the soil and in many healing herbs, some levels of mineral germanium will always be available to us. More research into this fascinating, semiconductor trace element may help us to better understand the mysterious powers of some of our great, ancient healing plants.
Royal jelly is another panacea for health and longevity seekers. Worker bees make this exotic substance their queen bee. And all of us want to be queen or king bees, of course. Royal jelly is definitely an energizer. It is high in certain unique fatty acids, simple carbohydrates, and pantothenic acid, which is supportive of the adrenals. It also contains the other B vitamins, all of the essential amino acids, and many minerals, such as iron, calcium, silicon, sulfur, and potassium. Royal jelly has been used to support weight loss, as it is a rich and energizing nutrient yet low in calories (20 calories per teaspoon), and to treat problems such as fatigue, insomnia, digestive disorders, ulcers, and cardiovascular ailments. Whether this mysterious substance really is a great rejuvenator and supporter of youth and longevity will need to be studied. But many people, especially women, experience an uplifting feeling when they take either liquid or encapsulated royal jelly.
Propolis is a resin obtained from the buds of some trees and flowers. This sap is rich in such nutrients as minerals and the B vitamins. Bees collect it along with pollen. Propolis is thought to contain a natural antibiotic, called galangin, and is used in a variety of remedies to treat or prevent low-grade infections, especially in people who do not want to take antibiotics. Many people have described to me positive results from using propolis products. Bees spread the propolis around their hives to protect them from bacteria and viruses. (The name “propolis” comes from Greek words meaning “defenses before a town.”) Other theories suggest that propolis improves energy and endurance and helps immunity by stimulating thymus activity. All of these claims must be helpful in potentizing the placebo effect, but more research needs to be done before propolis is readily adopted by the scientific community.