Seaweed, Miso, Potassium iodine – are these measures effective against radiation poisoning?

By Aileen Kawagoe

Asaichi NHK programme (after dinner) invited experts on its show, and also said miso and seaweed konbu would be effective methods in dealing with inner body contamination. And there is some research centering on Hiroshima a-bomb victims and such involving the use of miso and seaweed.

But a radiation expert who treats patients who have been exposed to radiation or radioactive substances said on record today (Mar 16)’s evening documentary broadcast on BS1:
“Don’t take commercially available products containing iodine. Beware of unfounded information on the Internet”…effectively what’s on the National Institute of Radiological Sciences’ website to which he referred us all to.  He also strongly warns against taking potassium iodide tablets without prescription but these have been given out by many foreign embassies and missions including the French, German and Thai ones (but isn’t it supposed to be taken 6-8 hrs before contamination so by the time you see a dr it would be too late?)
Their position (from their website) is as follows:
“March 14, 2011

National Institute of Radiological Sciences
A physician may  prescribe potassium  iodine to reduce health risks when a large amount of radioactive iodine is taken into the body.
There are lots of over-the-counter medicine and products containing iodine, such as an iodine liquid for cuts and sores, Isodine, throat sprays, disinfectant soaps and Lugol’s solution. Never take or drink those products as a replacement for potassium iodine.
The reasons are:
 Over-the-counter medicines/products such as Isodine are not intended for internal use.  It contains other ingredients in addition to iodine that may have harmful effects on the body.
 Additionally, the amount of iodine contained in these products is very small and thus have no preventative effect against the accumulation of radioactive iodine.
Seaweed products such as kelp (“wakame”) contain iodine but are not effective.
 The amount of iodine in seaweed is not always constant and its effectiveness is unknown.
 Kelp is very chewy and must be be processed first in the digestive system, taking a long time to be absorbed into the body.
For the above  reasons,  don’t ingest disinfectants,  Isodine or other over-the-counter medicines/products containing iodine.   There also is not much benefit in eating  seaweed products.
Potassium iodine should only be prescribed by doctors. Take it only when you are instructed to do so at a designated evacuation center in the event of an emergency situation such as a nuclear accident.

His position is clear, you can only be treated for the radioactive elements you have been contaminated – because different elements require different treatments.

However, he didn’t really offer any solution except to insist that those of us who think we’ve been contaminated should visit the radiological institute follow link for a consultation. He warned against internet advice and tips and especially against the chain mails that have been circulating about drinking gargle medicines because they contain iodine – and cautioned viewers not to drink gargle solutions.

The expert said that he and others were strongly calling upon the government and TEPCO for a full disclosure of the exact elements that were released into the air with each explosion. He said this disclosure was extremely important towards the treatment of the evacuees and those who have recently been directly exposed to the radioactive elements from the Fukushima nuclear reactor facility. He also said that the experts would have been able to know within minutes what elements were released into the air.
At a briefing conference at the British Embassy, experts  said:
Regarding Iodine supplementation, the experts said this was only necessary for those who had inhaled quantities of radiation (those in the exclusion zone or workers on the site) or through consumption of contaminated food/water supplies. Long term consumption of iodine is, in any case, not healthy.
Japan Times has a Q&A column “Take Proper Steps to Avoid Exposure to Fallout
This link below shared by Sean M. shows radiation levels across Japan URL: The units are in micrograys. Micrograys are roughly equal to microsieverts (i.e., alpha particles vs. gamma radiation) because a sievert is calculated based on the absorbed dose (gray) multiplied by a factor based on the radiation type (beta and gamma multiply by 1, alpha multiply by 20). But for the purpose of this chart the footnote says they are equal — Sean M.
Updated Jul 23, 2011: Much more independent research has been done on the radiation contamination issue and on what measures can be taken since the above post was written. See  Countering radiation damage and contamination: anticancer cures, quick detoxes or quackeries

Related links:

Japan Times’ Radiation fears grow after blasts article on radiation – excerpt: “Radiation exposure of 7,000 to 10,000 millisieverts per hour is considered a lethal dose, said an official at the Institute of Applied Energy. A millisievert is 1,000 microsieverts.”
Some internet links that the radiation expert possibly cautioned about:
Seaweed as protection from radioactivity (a seaweed distributor) Excerpt: “Kelp contains Iodine 127. Iodine 127 will prevent the body from absorbing radioactive iodine 131 which is constantly being released into our atmosphere by so-called normal operations of nuclear power plants and weapons facilities.”
Note however, even a respectable and high-ratings NHK TV programme series “Asaichi” recommended its viewers seaweed-and-miso diet as a radiation poisoning treatment.
Macrobiotic miso Excerpt: “Over a 25-year period, the Japanese Cancer Institute tested and tracked 260,000 subjects, dividing them into three groups. Group one ate miso soup daily, group two consumed miso two or three times a week, while group three ate no miso at all. The results were stark: those who had not eaten any miso showed a 50% higher incidence of cancer than those who had eaten miso.”

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