Protecting Yourself from Radiation Exposure


The supplies of Potassium Iodide in the US became depleted almost immediately after the news of the Japanese Nuclear reactor meltdown. Potassium Iodide is often used with troops and medical personnel exposed to radiation.  But there are other proven methods for protection from radiation that may have less side effects.

To start with, let it be known that as a preventative measure, Potassium Iodide can be dangerous to the Thyroid gland.  Small amounts are rarely a problem, but the hundreds of milligrams (the suggested doses I have been hearing about in news and reading in newsletters) are ONLY indicated if one is sure of being exposed.  Otherwise they can DAMAGE the Thyroid gland rather than protect it.
OK, here is what I am doing and suggesting to my patients and friends: in the next days and weeks, increase the consumption of the following 2 foods and 2 supplements which have proven the most helpful when dealing with radiation:

  1. Seaweed
  2. Miso
  3. Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng)
  4. Nattokinase (see dosage and cautions below)



1- Sea weed is loaded with iodine. In the weeks to come, make friends with seaweed. We are not accustomed to the flavor in the West. Dealing with it will prove much more appealing than suffering the aftermath of radiation exposure). Sea weed comes in the form of Nori, dulse, hijiki and others. It can be added to soups, stews, used as a spice, or just a snack. A single gram of dried brown algae provides from 500-8,000 micrograms of iodine and even the green and red algae (such as the purple nori that is used in Japanese cuisine) provides 100-300 micrograms in a single gram.

If you can’t or won’t eat seaweed, you can take it in the form of capsules or tablets, readily available in the health food stores. Don’t overdose on the tablets.

Kelp noodles- they do not taste like noodles but they have the form and can be eaten with vegetables or meat. Kelp is a sea weed and rich in Iodine.

2- Miso is a Japanese seasoning produced most often by fermenting soybeans. The resulting paste is used for sauces and spreads or as a base for soup. Japanese doctors use it to treat radiation sickness. I will suggest adding it to the regular diet now and for a couple of months on a daily basis.

3- Eleuterococcus (Siberian Ginseng) is a popular Chinese herb. Studies have shown it can reverse radiation damage. During my stint in a Beijing Hospital in 1993 I saw it used in IV’s for patients undergoing radiation treatments. Some studies show that patients who were treated with it have less side effects of radiation. As prevention I will recommend 1 capsule (usually 300-400 milligrams)twice a day or 30 drops of the liquid extract twice a day. Those suffering from anxiety disorders should consume it with caution, since it may cause agitation in some cases.

4- Nattokinase is an enzyme extracted from specially fermented soybean concoction. I typically use it to help patients with cardiovascular disease because of its powerful blood thinning capacity, but some studies are showing its beneficial in protecting from radiation sickness. It should NOT be used for those with bleeding problems or on anti-coagulant therapy. The dose for prevention is 200 milligrams (or 2000 FU) a day.

We hope you find this information helpful. If you have questions about this information please fill out the form below.

Be well.



  • Dr. Ruth Bar Shalom

    Dr. Ruth Bar-Shalom graduated from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, one of four accredited postgraduate Naturopathic Medical schools, in 1987. Dr. Bar-Shalom has been an Associate Professor of Rheumatology and Geriatrics for The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She has presented workshops at Bastyr University and her alma mater. She served as president of the Alaska Association of Naturopathic Physicians from 1992-1994. Dr. Bar-Shalom has over 23 years of practical and clinical experience in naturopathic medicine. She founded the Holistic Medical Center in Santa Cruz in 2003. For more information, call (831)475-6666 or visit

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