Germanium – The Missing Element

David M. Grace, B.S., D.C.
Karen Karvonen, M.F.A.

Many of us regularly supplement our diets with vitamins and minerals. However, germanium is one naturally occurring trace mineral which you will not find on your label. Not because it isn’t safe. The organic form, Germanium-132, has never exhibited any toxic side effects. And not because it hasn’t been shown to play an important role in keeping you well. In fact, dozens of scientific studies have shown that germanium appears to have a wide range of health benefits which include helping to boost the immune system, normalize high blood pressure and cholesterol, protect the body against harmful cellular aberrations and abuse, providing some pain relief, alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and generally nor­malize physiological functions.

No, the reason you may have not heard about this nutritional supplement is because it can take decades before an important discovery becomes public knowledge. For instance, many of the tests that proved the effectiveness of fortifying our diets with vitamins and minerals took place years before people began taking these nutrients. Even though calcium has been known to strengthen bone for decades, it’s only been in recent years that women began taking this supplement.

This is the case with germanium. Although researchers have performed tests on the organic form for over 30 years, news of these exciting finds have not filtered down into the public’s consciousness. Today though, interest in germanium’s vital contribu­tion to our well-being is growing. Recently, germanium was one of only six substances selected for clinical testing as potential weapon against AIDS by the International AIDS Treatment Conference held in Tokyo, Japan in February of 1987.

Digging further into published medical reports on the substance, we learn that many researchers believe that germanium exhibits a remarkable ability to stimulate the immune system in cancer patients as well as healthy individuals. In experiment after experiment, Japanese and American scientists have evidence which suggests that germanium activates the body’s own defenses.

His review of the medical literature also indicated that germanium normalizes metabolic functions by decreasing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some of the most interesting findings suggested that germanium could help to keep healthy individuals well.

Today, we know much more about how germanium works, and why it has health benefits. Several doctors who treat patients with germanium report that it helps fight chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, food allergies, viral infections, arthritis, even depres­sion and constipation. A number of prominent researchers such as Dr. Kidd and Dr. Frank Summerfield have stated that germanium is the ideal immunostimulant.

To understand how germanium can be effective against such a broad range of illnesses it may be helpful to look at the history and scientific research of this remarkable mineral.

Germanium’s Beginnings

Inorganic Germanium is a fundamental element such as iron or calcium. It also occurs in small quantities in many foods as well as in the earth’s outer crust. In 1871, Mendeleff, the creator of the periodic table of all the earth’s elements, first predicted its existence. He termed the yet undiscovered 31st element “ekasilicon.”

Several years later, the German, Clemens Winkler, isolated this missing element and christened the substance germanium in honor of his homeland. In 1948, germanium was first used as a semi-conductor in the transistor similar to the way silicon is used in computer chips.

As a naturally occurring element, germanium fills a niche between silicon and selenium, another very important trace mineral which plays an essential role in maintaining human health. Fifty years ago scientists did not believe that trace minerals were vital to our physical well-being. Twenty years ago selenium was still regarded as toxic to humans.

Now we know that selenium is not only essential for the human organism but that many people, and some animals such as horses, may have a selenium deficiency. Researchers have also es­tablished the importance of zinc, manganese and chromium in proper metabolic functioning. Jeff Rinehardt, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist with the Marin Clinic of Preventative Medicine in Cali­fornia, believes germanium may someday have the same status as a nutritional supplement.

“I think in 10 to 20 years, germanium will be viewed in the same light as selenium,” observes Rinehardt. “Except that germanium’s semi-conducting properties, its ability to quickly donate and re-attract electrons, give germanium unique chemical powers to correct critical imbalances in the body.”

Traditional Medicinal Plants High in Germanium

As early as 1922, doctors in the United States used the inorganic form of germanium to treat patients with anemia.