Herbal Allies Found the World Over

Having recently moved to India, I have been excited to learn about a whole new batch of herbs to use as food and medicine. In the meantime however, I have been struck by the pervasiveness of a few old herbal friends from home:

Dandelion: Where would we be without dear old Dandelion? It was one of the first plants I recognized when I arrived here in India. A Euro-Asian native now naturalized throughout the world as a common weed in disturbed soils, there are not many places it won’t grow!

The leaves of Dandelion make an extremely nutritious spring potherb and salad green. They are also a dependable diuretic without depleting potassium. The roots are an excellent bitter, stimulating digestion, with a particular affinity to the kidneys and liver. One of the best liver herbs there is! And the flowers make a wonderful infused oil that is used for inflammation and sore muscles. They also make delicious pancakes and fritters!


Yellow Dock: I was so happy to see Yellow Dock here in India! An Old World native, Yellow Dock is now naturalized throughout the world as a common weed in disturbed, poor soils. And how fortunate we are that it is!

Externally, Yellow dock is used as an antiseptic. In fact, The Academy of Minsk recommends it to be used in a poultice against burns, ulcers and infected wounds that are slow to heal. It is also one of the best topical remedies for nettle stings. Internally, it is used extensively in western herbalism for the treatment of chronic skin conditions. Yellow Dock is another one of those herbs described through the ages as a “blood cleanser”, with an affinity for the liver and gallbladder. It also aids in the digestion of fatty foods.


Plantain: My old friend Plaintain! The variety here in India is ever so slightly different in appearance than what we have back in the Pacific Northwest. I think it may be Plantago erosa….. Can you see it nestled in next to Dandelion below?

Plantain is also one of those Old World natives that has now made it’s home all over the world and seen mainly as a “weed”. One of Plantain’s most stellar topical uses is as a drawing agent to pull out splinters, dirt, pus and infection from wounds. Internally, it is a gentle expectorant and simultaneously a demulcent to soothe inflamed membranes while helping to expel phlegm, making it useful for coughs and bronchitis. It’s  astringency makes it ideal for mouth ulcers and gum disease as well.

Recognizing these familiar plants so far from home makes me realize that wherever you are in the world, you have a medicine chest at your doorstep!

What herbs can you see as you step out your front door?




5 Great Liver Herbs


Dandelion leaf, flower and root can all be used for strengthening and detoxing the liver.





Burdock root is a traditional liver herb and commonly eaten in Japan under the name Gobo.



Yellow Dock

Yellow Dock root has been described through the ages as a “blood cleanser” and has an affinity for the liver and gallbladder.




Oregon Grape Root

Oregon Grape root has an affinity for hot, dry, feverish liver issues.




Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is probably one of the most well-known liver herbs. The seeds can be taken long term to protect and nourish the liver.



What are your favorite liver herbs?




Natural Radiation Detoxification

With the recent earthquake in Japan, resulting in the instability of several nuclear reactors, many people have been asking what they can do to protect themselves from radiation exposure or poisoning, or what they can do to naturally detoxify their system if they are exposed. The following is a compilation of the research I have been able to find on ways to naturally and safely prevent and/or detoxify your body from radiation exposure/poisoning. I will start out by listing the various protocols that have been shown to be effective, then I will expand on the details.
1. Diet consisting mainly of brown rice, miso and seaweed
2. Other additions to the diet
· Spirulina, chlorella and the algaes (kelp, etc.)
· Brassica vegetables and high beta carotene vegetables
· Beans and lentils and other foods high in nucleotide content
· Potassium, magnesium, calcium and mineral rich foods
· cod liver oil and olive oil
· Avoid sugars and sweets and wheat
3. Clay, Sea salt and Baking Soda Baths
4. Homeopathic remedies
5. Schuessler’s Bioplasma
6. Radioprotective Herbs

Diet of brown rice, seaweed and miso
At the time of the atomic bombing, Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D. was Director of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Francis’s Hospital in Nagasaki and he fed his staff and patients a strict diet of brown rice, miso and tamari soy soup, wakame, kombu and other seaweed, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt. He also prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets since they suppress the immune system. ?By imposing this diet on his staff and patients, no one succumbed to radiation poisoning whereas the occupants of hospitals located much further away from the blast incident suffered severe radiation fatalities. Much of this positive result has to do with the fact that the sea vegetables contain substances that bind radioactive particles and escort them out of the body.(Tatsuichiro Akuziki, M.D. Nagasaki 1945, London Quarter books, 1981).

Seaweeds are very high in mineral content. Consuming natural iodine, such as in the seaweeds, helps prevent the uptake of iodine-131, while iron inhibits the absorption of plutonium-238 and plutonium-239. Vitamin B-12 inhibits cobalt-60 uptake. Zinc inhibits zinc-65 uptake and sulfur is preventative for sulfur-35 (a product of nuclear reactors) incorporation by the body.?Sea vegetables can prevent assimilation of different radionuclitides, heavy metals such as cadmium, and other environmental toxins.?“ An experiment conducted by J.F. Stara at the Environmental Protection Agency showed that sodium alginate significantly reduced the amount of radio active strontium in the bones of cats. Stara observed that radio active strontium in the bones is resecreted into the intestines where it is bound by alginate, neutralized then excreted in the stools.”

“There is no family of foods more protective against radiation and environmental pollutants than sea vegetables … sea vegetables can prevent assimilation of different radionuclitides, heavy metals such as cadmium, and other environmental toxins.”  Steven Schecter, N.D
Other Additions to the diet
· Spirulina, chlorella and the algaes (kelp, etc.)
· Brassica vegetables and high beta carotene vegetables
· Beans and lentils and other foods high in nucleotide content
· Potassium, magnesium, calcium and mineral rich foods
· Fatty acids, such as cod liver oil and olive oil
· Avoid sugars and sweets and wheat
Spirulina – After the Chernobyl incident in 1986, the Institute of Radiation Medicine in Minsk proved that children experienced enhanced immune systems, T-cell counts and reduced radioactivity on this protocol: 5 grams of spirulina a day for 45 days. Spirulina can be found in most health food stores.

Chlorella –  It is one of the most widely studied of the algaes and has been described as having the highest chlorophyll content. Animal studies indicate a chlorophyll rich diet increases the survival of experimental animals after lethal doses of radiation. Studies dating back to the 1950’s, including a US Army study,  confirm these findings. According Roy Upton, director of the American Herbal Pharmacopeia, the use of chlorella was first developed by the Japanese as an antidote and treatment against atomic radiation. Chlorella and liquid chlorophyll can also be found in most health food stores.

Brassica vegetables and high beta carotene vegetables – Cancer researchers have found that all the brassica family plants protect your cells from the damaging effects of radiation. Beta-carotene has also been researched and found to have radio-protective effects. A study conducted on over 700 children exposed to the Chernobyl radiation found that diets high in carotenes significantly reduced DNA damage in humans exposed to radiation. Natural beta- carotene protects against the lipid oxidation and acts as a fatty acid antioxidant radio-protector.  Brassica  vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, swedes, turnips, broccoli raab, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, and bok choi. Beta-carotene can be found in concentrated amounts in foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro, fresh thyme, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce and broccoli.

Beans and lentils – These foods have high nucleotide concentrations. Nucleotides are the building blocks that make up RNA and DNA. Nucleotides also carry out several critical functions needed for cell replication, as well as neutralizing toxins, increasing cellular metabolism, improving the response and efficiency of the immune system, enhancing the effects of antioxidants and increase the body’s ability to heal and repair. Other foods high in nucleotides include spirulina, chlorella, algae, yeast, sardines, liver, anchovies and mackerel.

Potassium, magnesium, calcium and mineral rich foods – Cesium (one of the radioactive elements released from the nuclear reactor) will be treated by the body as if it were potassium, so a potassium deficiency would tend to make one more receptive to radioactive hazards posed by cesium, says Ingrid Naiman. Potassium regulation is affected by magnesium and magnesium and calcium need to be in proper balance. Calcium significantly decreases the amount of Strontium 90 absorbed by bone.   Foods high in potassium include apricots, avocado, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwi, lima beans, milk, oranges, potatoes, prunes, spinach, tomatoes and winter squash. Greens like spinach and swiss chard, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame, and beans like black and navy, are good sources of dietary magnesium. Most of the foods above also contain calcium, especially the dark green leafy vegetables, along with cheese, fish and yogurt.

Fatty acids, such as cod liver oil and olive oil – Two studies from Spain (Ilbanez and Castellanos) showed that olive oil fully protected rats against increasing doses of damaging X-ray irradiation. Other research has shown that in terms of radiation, mice exposed to large doses of radiation survived 50-100% longer than normal if fed cod liver oil.

Avoid sugars, sweets and wheat – This one probably does not need much explanation, but I will summarize by saying that after radiation exposure, the last thing you want to do is eat foods that have been proven to lower your immune function.


Sea salt, Baking Soda and Clay Baths
Naturopath and Chiropractor, Dr. Hazel Parcells (Live Better Longer) popularized therapeutic baths for radiation detoxification. Her suggested protocol was:

Dissolve 1 pound of sea salt or rock salt and 1 pound of baking?soda in a hot bath — as hot as can be tolerated — and soak into the?water until the bath becomes cool. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes. Afterwards, do not shower or rinse the salt off your body for 4-8 hours.

One of the keys to this protocol is making sure the water is hot to start out with, and that you stay in it until it cools down. It is the temperature change that helps to draw the toxins out of the body. Dr. Parcells stated that the best time for this type of bathing is at night when the body is naturally geared to detoxification. One bath per day was her recommendation for acute symptoms of radiation poisoning.

The idea behind clay baths is similar. Clay has incredible drawing, absorbing and adsorbing power. (Adsorption characterizes the process by which substances stick to the outside surface of the adsorbent medium. Absorption is a much more slow and involved process than adsorption. Here, the clay acts more like a sponge, drawing substances into its internal structure.)

Raymond Dextreit, the French naturopath who popularized the clay cure in his own country, says that clay “transcends its purely physical properties. Most of the poisons in the body,” Dextreit notes, “are positively charged, whereas clay has a negative electrical attraction. These toxins cannot resist being drawn toward the clay.”

“Russian scientists use bentonite to protect their bodies from radiation when working with nuclear material, by coating their hands and bodies with a hydrated bentonite “magma” before donning radiation suits.  Bentonite adsorbs radiation so well, in fact, that it was the choice material used to dump into Cherynobyl after the nuclear meltdown in the former Soviet Union.”

There are many types of clay that can be used in therapeutic baths for detoxification purposes. Bentonite, Calcium Montmorillonite, Jordan clay or French green clay are only a few of them.

Dr. Jensen, N.D., D.C., Ph.D., suggests using bentonite to absorb radiation from the bones. Bentonite is probably the most commonly used of the therapeutic clays, but there are around 200 different kinds of bentonite and many of them have a high aluminum content. I have found Pascalite (calcium bentonite) to be the most highly recommended of the bentonites, partly because of it’s low aluminum content. It is suggested to take clay baths no more often than one time per week.


Homeopathic remedies

There are many hompathic remedies for acute radiation exposure and sickness – Radium Bromatum, Uranium Nitricum, Plutonium Nitricum, X-Ray – but these are beyond the scope of this article because they need to be chosen on the individual symptoms of each person who may have been in the immediate area and has had definite exposure. In that case, it would be wise to consult with a professional homeopath alongside any other treatment you are receiving. As a side note, Kalium Iodatum (Kali. Iod.) is the  homeopathic form of Potassium Iodide. Again, it is not necessary if you are not at genuine risk of exposure, but if you are, it may be an option for you.
However, there are also several remedies that may help with more general symptoms, especially mental/emotional symptoms, that people around the world may be experiencing at this difficult time. Here are a few:
Aconite napellus (Acon.): Aconite is the remedy for acute mental shock or fright. It is used when the person is agitated, restless, fearful and anxious (or even in a state of terror) and convinced they will die.
Arsenicum (Ars.) : This remedy is for serious anxiety and fear which can deteriorate into panic attacks.  There is a fear of disease, particularly cancer, dying and extreme restlessness and irritability.
Ignatia (Ign.): This is one of the most common remedies for grief. Ignatia is used for rapidly changing moods with frequent weeping. The person may  display contradictory, unpredictable behavior,  involuntary sighing, sentimentality and homesickness.
Schuessler’s Bioplasma
Another form of natural remedies similar to homeopathy are the Schuessler cell salts (sometimes referred to as tissue remedies), invented in 1873 by W.H. Schuessler MD.  These are commonly available in health food stores. They contain the dilute form of the minerals that are the building blocks necessary for healthy cell growth and replication. They are basically micro dose cell foods prepared by the homeopathic method.
Dr. Schuessler found that when cells were deficient in these minerals,  an abnormal, unbalanced (diseased) condition was produced, so he developed these homeopathic substances to help the body heal itself.
All 12 of the biochemic cell salts are included in Schuessler’s Bioplasma. Taking a daily dose of Bioplasma for a week or two in times of great stress, is a good general practice for helping strengthen the body and immune response.
You can also use any of the individual cell salts separately. One, in particular, is recommended by Homeopath Miranda Castro for consideration if you are concerned about the effects of radiation exposure on the thyroid gland.
Natrum muriaticum (Nat. Mur.): This biochemic cell salt will help protect and strengthen the thyroid and adrenals and can be taken twice daily.


Radioprotective Herbs

These are herbs and medicinal foods that are either rich sources of chlorophyll and minerals, support detoxification and elimination, support the thyroid gland or neutralize free radicals.


Gingko Biloba – while this herb has a history of being radioprotective, it is not appropriate for everyone as it has the ability to thin the blood.
Nettles & Alfalfa – nettles has the highest concentration of land plant chlorophyll and is an excellent source of selenium; alfalfa is a very good source of chlorophyll also – and both these herbs are rich in a broad number of minerals.
Pine Bark Extract, Green Tea Extract, Grape Seed Extract – increase expression of your glutathione system, which results in both metal detoxification and free radical neutralization.
Triphala – studies have found that radiation induced mortality was reduced by 60% in mice fed with triphala.
Tumeric – contains curcumin which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may help protect against radiation-induced damage to the skin.
Ashwaganda – supports the thyroid and adrenal glands.
Ginseng – can decrease side effects of radiation exposure as well as helping the body to adapt to stress to aid in recovery.
Siberian Ginseng – can help protect against the side effects of radiation exposure and contains selenium.
Reishi – boosts the immune system after radiation exposure
Astragalus – supports thyroid functioning.
Asparagus – another great source of glutathione,  known to assist in the reduction of heavy metals and other toxins from the body, including radiation.
Selenium containing foods – like Brazil Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Fish (such as Halibut and Salmon) , Eggs, Mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake), Grains (wheat germ, barley, brown rice, oats) and Onions help protect DNA from radiation damage.
Sulphur containing foods – such as Fish, Eggs, Beans and Peas, Brussels Sprouts, Onions, Cabbage, Garlic, Wheat Germ have been found to protect the body against radiation.
Professional Herbalist, Brigette Mars, has also drawn up a list of radioprotective herbs, some of which are featured here:
Aloe vera gel (Aloe vera) has been found to help heal radiation burns more quickly by its content of biogenic stimulators that encourage skin repair.

Burdock root (Arctium lappa) helps to neutralize and remove toxins from the body. During the Industrial Revolution, burdock was recommended as medicine to help people cope with the increased pollution.

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) improves the function of our body’s organs elimination process. Consider how this plant has done a good job for itself adapting to environmental pollutants.

Eleuthero herb (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help alleviate fatigue, ameliorate symptoms from chemical and radiation exposure and lessen the effects of stress.

Green and black tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) are antioxidant, immune stimulant, and contain radioprotective agents.

Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum) helps protect the body from chemical exposure, environmental illness and liver damage.

Peppermint leaf (Mentha piperita) can reduce nausea from radiation exposure.

Red clover blossom (Trifolium pratense) improves health in general, helping all the organs of elimination function more optimally.

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) improves the function of the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, intestines and skin thus aiding the body’s natural cleansing process.”

High pectin foods –  like carrots, sunflower seeds and apples have been shown to help keep pollutants from being assimilated.

According to Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo.com: “Whereas most of the focus has been on Radioiodine 131 which poses an immediate health risk for 16 days, Cesium 137 remains radiotoxic for 60 years and accumulates at the top of the food chain where we (humans) find ourselves precariously perched. Apple pectin was shown after Chernobyl to accelerate clearance of Cesium 137 from the bodies of children, and should be considered for humanitarian aid to the Japanese.”


It turns out that all of these protocols are common-sense, proactive things that we should all consider doing to support healthy immune functioning, cell regeneration and gentle detoxification on a regular basis.

I hope this article has been helpful for those wanting natural, proactive and common-sense alternatives to the current crisis. However, I also hope that many of you will also be inspired to incorporate some of these health protocols into your daily, or weekly, routine to improve your general health and well-being, as well as to protect your body from the common everyday sources of radiation in our environment.
Please post a comment mentioning the ideas you found most useful and which ones you will most likely utilize yourself and within your family.