Organic Germanium – The Big Misunderstanding

Everywhere one reads that germanium is poisonous. That is only partly true. Unfortunately, very few people distinguish between inorganic and organic germanium. The latter could be used in many diseases. Instead, organic germanium, considered medicine in Japan, is banned in Europe.

Germanium – the natural active ingredient in dietary supplements

Germanium is a non-essential trace element found in soil, rock, water, and some plants. It has an antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, invigorating effect and is said to help with some diseases such as arthritis and arteriosclerosis. From the 1970s it was a popular dietary supplement, particularly in Japan and the UK. But germanium was also available in Germany for a while.

Organic germanium – wrongly condemned

However, when severe side effects such as kidney failure occurred with long-term use of germanium, uncertainty spread. Studies even showed that germanium can be toxic in high doses. This caused it to lose its good reputation.

However, what many people do not know to this day is: These side effects occurred after taking inorganic germanium. At that time, people were not yet aware of the danger of inorganic minerals, which is why inorganic germanium first found its way into food supplements. The intake of organic germanium, on the other hand, is considered largely safe. However, germanium was and is reported everywhere as if the substance only existed in a single compound.

As a result, germanium was generally banned as an ingredient in dietary supplements in many European countries, including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. To this day, on the Internet, you can only find the same repetitions of the safety concerns from back then, which, however, relate to inorganic germanium.

Organic and inorganic germanium

Organic and inorganic germanium compounds both occur naturally. In its organic form, germanium is easier for the body to utilize than in its inorganic form. The difference is that organic germanium is associated with carbon and inorganic is not. (Inorganic germanium compounds are, for example, germanium dioxide, germanium tetrachloride, germanium iodide, or germanium hydride.) While inorganic germanium accumulates in the body, organic germanium is water-soluble and is excreted again through the urine.

The discovery of a new element

To better understand these differences, it is worth taking a look at the history of germanium. It begins with the invention of the periodic table. Because at that time the existence of germanium was only assumed. The proof came later:

  • 1871: When the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev designed the periodic table, he suspected that there was an element with the properties of germanium – because nobody knew about its existence at the time.
  • 1886: The German chemist Clemens Winkler proves this element for the first time at the Bergakademie Freiberg. This is how germanium got its name (lat. Germania = Germany).
  • 1945: dr Kazuhiko Asai establishes a coal research foundation in Japan.
    In 1952: Dr. Asai discovers germanium in charcoal and in some medicinal plants, which is why he suspects a health effect.
  • 1966: The Russian chemist Dr. V. F. Mironov discovers organic germanium for the first time.
  • 1967: dr Asai and his co-workers succeed in synthesizing the organic germanium compound carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide from inorganic germanium.
  • 1968: dr Asai founds the Asai Germanium Research Institute and a Germanium clinic in Kawasaki, Japan.

Dr. Asai was one of the first to succeed in extracting organic germanium from inorganic germanium. In doing so, he laid the foundation for his germanium clinic in Japan and the attached research institute, where research into organic germanium is still being carried out today. However, the clinic was closed after Dr. Asai passed away.

This organic germanium compound is the most researched

There are thousands of organic germanium compounds. To say that all of these compounds are safe to take would be incorrect. Because not all of them have been researched so far. Probably the best-known and best-researched organic germanium compound is carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide (abbreviated: germanium sesquioxide).

The safety of this tongue-twisting connection has been confirmed countless times. This is also the connection that Dr. Asai synthesized at that time. That is why it is also called Asaigermanium in Japan. It is also known by the following names:

  • β-bis-carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide (chemical name)
  • 2-carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide (chemical name)
  • poly- trans -[(2-carboxyethyl) germasesquioxane] (chemical name)
  • Ge-132 (development number in Dr. Asai’s research institute)
  • Repagermanium (internationally used name)

Inorganic germanium, on the other hand, is harmful to the body. It can cause serious side effects when ingested. Today it is used as a component of fluorescent lamps and infrared detectors, as well as in the manufacture of electronic devices.

If you should read in an article or on some websites that germanium citrate lactate is an organic germanium compound, we would like to point out that this is an error. Although germanium citrate lactate contains carbon, in the molecular structure the germanium atom is not directly connected to the carbon atom, but to oxygen. Therefore, germanium citrate lactate is an inorganic germanium compound.

Where is germanium found?

Germanium (organic and inorganic) is found in zinc ores, coal, germanite, and other minerals. It is mainly obtained as a by-product in the coal, zinc, and aluminum industries. The element can be found worldwide, but it is mainly mined in China, Russia, and the USA.

Germanium is also found in almost all foods, but usually only in traces. Plants have the ability to draw germanium out of the soil and to accumulate it in themselves, so of course, animal foods also contain germanium if the animals were able to eat plants containing germanium.

Some plants are known to absorb comparatively high amounts of germanium. These include e.g. B. goji berries, ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, aloe vera, and garlic. It is precisely these plants that are often used in naturopathy, e.g. used in Chinese medicine – possibly also because of its germanium content. Then examined Dr. Asai the element more precisely.

The germanium content of plants naturally varies, depending on the amount of germanium in the soil. Therefore, no fixed value can be determined:

  • Ginseng from Korea, for example, contained 0.3 micrograms per gram
  • Garlic (location unknown) contained 2.8 micrograms per gram
  • Barley from Germany contained 0.22 micrograms per gram

However, a value of 250 micrograms per gram has already been measured for ginseng and 754 micrograms per gram for garlic. However, it is not certain whether these high values ​​are due to incorrect measurement methods.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment assumes that humans take in around 1.5 mg of germanium daily through food.

Germanium – officially not an essential trace element

When the use of germanium as a dietary supplement became better known in Europe in the 1970s, people wondered whether it might be an essential trace element. As the name suggests, trace elements are only found in traces in human nutrition and are only required by humans in traces.

Whether a trace element is essential for the body, i.e. vital, can be determined by whether a deficiency in it leads to symptoms. This means that if organic germanium had an indispensable function in the body, it would be counted among the essential trace elements.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), however, germanium is not one of the essential trace elements because no physiological function in humans has been proven to date. In other words – we don’t know (yet), because the Federal Institute writes elsewhere that there is too little data to evaluate germanium.

The absorption of organic germanium in the body

Organic germanium is absorbed into the blood from the small intestine. After just half an hour, half of it is in the blood and only half is in the digestive tract. After 12 hours, there is only about five percent germanium left in the digestive tract.

It is distributed from the blood to all organs but is not deposited anywhere. After about 24 hours, the kidneys have processed the organic germanium to such an extent that it is excreted again through the urine. And after about three days, the last remnant of the organic germanium is completely eliminated from the body.

Side Effects of Organic Germanium

There are four known cases in Europe of ingestion of germanium leading to kidney failure and death. The doses varied from 25 to 47 g daily over a period of 2 to 30 months. However, the subjects had taken germanium citrate lactate, which was labeled as organic but was actually inorganic.

In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Toxicology, researchers looked at whether there were any side effects from taking carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide. They gave rats daily doses of 500, 1000, or 2000 mg of organic germanium per kilogram of body weight for three months. There were no adverse effects and the researchers concluded that doses up to 2000 mg per kg body weight are considered safe. No large-scale human studies have been conducted on the ingestion of carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide.

according to dr Asai can only get diarrhea when taking carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide. According to him, this is due to the detoxifying effect of germanium and usually passes after 3 to 14 days. It is not known at what dose diarrhea occurs. The decisive factor is how many pollutants have already accumulated in the body.

The dosage of organic germanium

When taken as a dietary supplement, daily doses of between 15 and 1000 mg of carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide are generally recommended. Doses in this range are taken to support the immune system, for oxygenation, and for detoxification.

In the case of existing diseases, sometimes much higher doses of up to more than 5000 mg per day are used. The doses differ depending on the disease. dr In his book Organic Germanium – A hope for many sick people, Asai only describes individual cases and what does help in each case.

Germanium is banned in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

The manufacture and sale of food supplements or medicines containing germanium (including organic germanium) are prohibited in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and many other European countries. Anyone who orders germanium from abroad also risks a fine at customs and has to take care of the return shipment.

In addition, it is difficult to find safe and reliable sources on the Internet. Because for banned substances there are logically no state regulations regarding the composition and nobody that checks the products – they are simply banned.

There is therefore a risk that illegally acquired germanium is not what it says on the label: that it is, for example, an inorganic compound or that the product is contaminated with inorganic germanium to a certain extent.

Germanium is permitted in homeopathic dilutions from potency D4. You can recognize homeopathic remedies that contain germanium by the active ingredient “Germanium metallicum”. They are available, for example, in liquid form, as globules, or in tablet form. They are often available in potencies 6X and 12X. Homeopathic remedies are considered harmless and have no side effects.

The future of organic germanium

Instead of investigating which organic germanium compounds bring health benefits in which doses, germanium was banned in Europe. People who swear by the effects of organic germanium either have to do without it or switch to the black market, where the quality of the products on offer cannot be controlled.

Thankfully, research into safe germanium compounds continues in other parts of the world, notably Japan. Perhaps this will help restore the reputation of organic germanium in Europe at some point as well.

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