UPDATE: I wrote this article in November 2010, before Fukushima. The studies remain valid, but as a precaution, I personally would not eat seaweed from Japan or the West Coast at this time. Please use your own inner guidance, as I am just sharing others’ research and my own experience, not offering medical advice here. Blessings!
I’m taking a packing break and this thought keeps running through my head. Regardless of your opinion of the legality, appropriateness or effectiveness of the TSA high powered radiation (naked body image) scanners, I wanted to share some information about miso and seaweed as antidotes to cancer-causing radiation levels. I’ve known about this connection since I began studying Macrobiotics in 2006:
“At the time of the world’s first plutonium atomic bombing, on August 9, 1945, two hospitals were literally in the shadow of the blast, about one mile from the epicenter in Nagasaki. American scientists declared the area totally uninhabitable for 75 years. At University Hospital 3000 patients suffered greatly from leukemia and disfiguring radiation burns. This hospital served its patients a modern fare of sugar, white rice, and refined white flour products. Another hospital was St. Francis Hospital, under the direction of Shinichiro Akizuki, M.D. Although this hospital was located even closer to the blast’s epicenter than the first, none of the workers or patients suffered from radiation sickness. Dr. Akizuki had been feeding his patients and workers brown rice, miso soup, vegetables and seaweed every day. The Roman Catholic Church—and the residents of Nagasaki—called this a modern day miracle. Meanwhile, Dr. Akizuki and his co-workers disregarded the American warning and continued going around the city of Nagasaki in straw sandals visiting the sick in their homes.
“Since the 1950s, Soviet weapons factories had been dumping wastes into Karachar Lake in Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 900 miles east of Moscow. Many local residents began to suffer from radiation symptoms and cancer. In 1985, Lidia Yamchuk and Hanif Sharimardanov, medical doctors in Chelyabinsk, changed their approach with patients suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other disorders associated with exposure to nuclear radiation. They began incorporating miso soup into their diet. They wrote: ‘Miso is helping some of our patients with terminal cancer to survive. Their blood improved as soon as they began to use miso daily.’
“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.”
(The above is from an article called “Working Alchemy.”) You can read about the Seaweed Defense here. Those of you who, like me, love spirulina will be happy to know that during Chernobyl, Russian children were fed spirulina in order to combat the toxic effects of radiation. In addition to radiation, sea veggies and algae also chelate heavy metals and other toxins from the system. Just as they purify water, these algae and seaweeds can purify our blood.
I’m not suggesting people stop standing up for their rights; however, if you do find yourself going through TSA screenings, finding yourself some miso soup and/or sea vegetables (seaweed) can help your body deal with the effects of radiation.
Some common forms of seaweed include:
Nori (most often used as sushi wrappers)
Kombu (most often used to soften beans and make them more digestible; also a good skin softener when added to the bath)
Sea Palm (a crunchy, raw salad topper)
Wakame (a mild tasting seaweed, often used in miso soup, which helps balance female hormones)
Hijiki (also called Hiziki, a strong flavored seaweed that requires extensive soaking and/or cooking, Hijiki is loaded with calcium and will give you radiant skin)
Dulse (a reddish-brown colored seaweed, often found in flake form and used to create fish flavors in vegetarian/vegan dishes)
Kelp (often used as a salt replacement, kelp granules–and most seaweeds–are very high in iodine. Use cautiously if you are on thyroid medication)
With all the ocean pollution these days, you might wonder where to buy high quality, raw seaweeds. California’s Mendocino Coast has very little industry and thus cleaner water than most places. Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetables are recommended by my friend Cecilia of RawGlow. In addition to the many free recipes and videos on her blog and website, Cecilia has also created a Sea Vegetable Recipe EBooklet as a way to help people become braver about embracing the minerals and healing power of seaweed.
A few notes about seaweed:
1) If your skin tends to break out from fish or other high-iodine containing foods, you may want to lean more towards sea palm and wakame than dulse or kelp.
2) You can save the soak water of sea vegetables and then use it to flavor soups, savory smoothies, nut/seed spreads or as a base for cooking grains.
3) Sea vegetables and miso do contain lots of salt, and a little goes a long way. If you have high blood pressure or need to monitor sodium, make sure you factor in how much miso or sea weed you’re using.
4) Signs of having too much sodium can include swollen fingers, tension headaches and excessive thirst.
A few notes about miso:
1) For the Japanese, making miso is like making wine: there are many flavors ranging from light to rich and deep. Generally, the lighter the color the milder the taste. Before buying, get a sense of which flavors/colors your recipes call for. Although you can substitute miso colors, if a recipe specifies a particular type, a change in color will alter the end result.
2) Most miso is made from fermented soybeans mixed with a variety of grains, including barley and/or rice. You can also find chickpea miso if you wish to avoid soy.
3) Warm miso soup with chopped wakame makes a cozy start to the day, relaxing the stomach and easing digestion.
4) Never boil miso; doing so destroys the beneficial cultures. If a soup or cooked recipe calls for miso, you will generally want to mix it in at the very end, once the liquid has cooled enough to feel comfortable to the touch. Alternatively, you can mix the miso in a small glass of warm water and add right before serving.
I hope everyone has fun with these tips and flavors. Even without the TSA scanners, flying can expose you to higher than usual levels of radiation just by moving so much closer to the sun. Traveling with seaweed or enjoying a cup of miso soup at the airport or after a flight can keep your immune system and the rest of your body feeling nourished and supported.
If you’re flying for Thanksgiving, I wish you safe travels. And to everyone, a Happy Gratitude Day!