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BgVV warns against consumption of 'Germanium-132 capsules' from the Austrian company Ökopharm

19/2000, 09.09.2000

Serious health damage and fatalities cannot be ruled out

'Germanium-132 capsules' are on sale as food supplements. The recommended daily dose of 50 mg germanium can cause severe health damage. There have even been fatalities in this dose range. The Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers and Veterinary Medicine, BgVV, is therefore issuing an explicit warning against the intake of Germanium-132 capsules. It cannot be ruled out that the above product is also available in Germany as a food supplement in the food trade. The Federal Ministry for Health has already informed the highest Länd authorities responsible for food monitoring. Germanium-132 capsules are also sold directly and have apparently been supplied to doctors in Germany.

The products come in screw-top bottles made of brown, transparent glass with a plastic closure. One bottle contains 120 oval gelatine capsules, which are filled with a whitish powder. They are manufactured by the company Ökopharm GmbH, and distributed by COSMOTERRA, both based in Unternberg, Austria. There, too, the product was classified as harmful by the competent authorities and a warning issued against its consumption.

Germanium is a metal which is widespread at very low concentrations in nature. Via plants and products of animal origin, humans take in around 1.5 mg daily. Germanium is not one of the essential trace elements. Deficiencies which could be attributed to an undersupply with germanium are not known.

Specific organic germanium compounds have been associated with an immunostimulant effect, an inhibiting effect on the emergence of cancer as well as with favourable effects on high blood pressure and epilepsy.

Already at low daily intake amounts germanium can damage the lungs, liver, nerves and, more particularly, the kidneys. Inflammatory processes may lead to kidney failure. In Japan germanium products are also sold as elixirs. In several cases after longer regular intake of germanium in the milligram range (49-588 mg/day), there were incidences of severe health damage and, at least, 5 fatalities. The symptoms reported by patients ranged from loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting over muscle weakness and muscle pain to reduced urea production as a consequence of kidney damage and weight loss. There were also reports of a sensation of numbness in limbs and a burning sensation on the skin.


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