What Are These Things We Call Free Radicals? Are They Free, and Do We Want Them?

The "Free Radical" is the source for virtually

all disease, illness and aging itself! Science has come a long way on

this -- further by far than the medical establishment has moved on it.

Many doctors will acknowledge that free radicals are the basic cause of

disease, but since they don't have any drugs to treat free radicals with, they

continue to administer drugs which are, themselves, often sources of more free


There are substances which neutralize free radicals.

The best known is probably Vitamin C, Selenium and Pine Bark extract, or grape

seed extract but there are others also.

On this page you learn a bit about this terrible source of

problems in our health world, and how you can prevent them from causing

problems for you. Free radical biology is the study of the interaction of free

radicals with biological material. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with at

least one unpaired electron.

There is center portion often referred to as including

"protons" and ”neutrons." The center is also called the

nucleus. Then, there are eight electrons in two spheres around the center

nucleus. These electrons move around the center like the earth moves

around the sun.

In most atoms there is an even number of electrons in the

outer circles (or spheres).

When the oxygen atom is in this condition the

"electrical charge" of the electrons (minus electricity) is balanced

by the electrical charge of the nucleus (positive electricity).

However, when one atom of oxygen LOSES one electron, and

then has an ODD number of electrons in the outer ring, then THAT atom is called

a free radical. In this case it would be a free radical of oxygen.

A free radical has an excess of positive electrical charge

(because there is one less electron in its rings) and that means that this free

radical is able to attract an electron from some other atom or molecule.

This "taking" of a free electron from somewhere else means that the

free radical is now balanced and is no longer a free radical.

Missing Electron == Positive Charge!

Extra Electron == Negative Charge!

Balanced == Neutral -- No Charge!

However, the atom or molecule from which the electron was

taken may now, itself, become a free radical, or may be damaged in some way.

One of the primary types of damage caused by free radicals

can be traced back to radiation. In other words, sunlight, X-Rays or other radiation

hits the body and creates free radicals inside the body. These are free

radicals which, in turn, grab some loose electron from somewhere, and thus

create a new free radical.

This process is described as a "chain reaction"

because one free radical can be neutralized and create a new free radical which

is then neutralized, etc. These actions take place in a tiny

amount of time -- less than a millionth of a second.

Thus, one free radical may "exist" for only a

very tiny amount of time, but one free radical can set off a chain reaction of

millions more free radicals being created and then neutralized. Each time a

free radical is "neutralized" there could be some damage to part of

the body.

Free radical biology is closely related to radiation

biology since 70-80% of the effects of radiation on cells are due to the production

of free radicals. The study of free radicals has become of extreme interest

because of the role of free radicals in a large number of diseases and

pathological states.

As examples, cancer, aging, heart attack, stroke,

diabetes, and Lou Gehrig's disease all have a free radical component to their

mechanism of injury. The use of free radical modulators (like Vitamin C and

Microhydrin) in the prevention and treatment of these diseases is under close

investigation at this time including clinical trials.

Research in free radical biology is quite

interdisciplinary. Research ranges from studies of the fundamental chemistry of

free radical reactions, to antioxidant enzymes (their biophysics, biochemistry,

biology and molecular biology), to free radical pathology, to even

epidemiological studies. It is a broad area of research with many


All cells in the body have a "skin" or

"membrane" as an outer shell. This is the shell which contains

all the components of the cell and which allows the cell to exist as a separate

living entity.

This membrane is mostly made of cholesterol -- a very

important building material used by the body. The cell uses cholesterol,

and in fact can even manufacture cholesterol, to build the cell membrane.


itself, includes oxygen as part of its chemical make-up. This oxygen,

usually, is in the form of oxygen atoms which each have those stable EIGHT

electrons going around the nucleus.

In a

loose sense you could say that the cells in your body are made with a skin of

fat -- since cholesterol is just a name for a particular type of fat.

Fat is particularly vulnerable to being damaged by free

radicals. The damage is typically caused by some free radical hitting

the membrane of the cell and "stealing" one electron from some atom

of oxygen in that membrane.

When that happens the cholesterol is referred to as

"oxidized." The term "oxidized" simply means that the

oxygen in some substance has lost an electron and has taken on a positive

electrical charge.

That oxygen atom, then, has, itself, become a free

radical, trying to get another electron somewhere so that it can again be


As more and more free radicals hit the membrane of a cell,

and as more and more of the oxygen in the cholesterol get "oxidized"

that cell wall, the membrane, becomes less and less able to function as it

should. What might happen?

Well, that cell membrane has to allow water and nutrients

to enter the cell, and has to allow the garbage and waste products of the cell

to leave the cell. Both of these actions mean that the membrane allows

passage of materials (mostly water with other stuff included) to move through


If the membrane is damaged by free radicals, that

"passage" may not work properly. One consequence of this might be

that garbage accumulates inside the cell and it dies in a sea of toxic waste! Or,

the cell may not be able to take in nutrients and it could starve to death.


health problems for that one cell translate, as millions of cells are affected,

to health problems you perceive in your body as any one of hundreds of

different diseases.

When the free radicals initiate the oxidation of the

cholesterol (also called, technically, the lipid peroxidation chain reaction) the excessive

energy damages even the proteins in the membrane. As a result the membrane does

not properly function to take nutrients into the cell and to remove waste

products, and so the cell cannot reproduce itself and dies due to starvation or

drowning in waste products. This type of damage accelerates the aging process

as tissues lose their function due to the steadily decreasing number of cells.

Each cell contains a blueprint by which it causes a new

cell to be created. This is very much like the birth of a baby. The

cell has this blueprint and when the time comes, the cell uses that blueprint

to build a new (baby) cell. The blueprint is often referred to as the

"DNA" (deoxyribonucleic

) of the cell. It is an extremely complex

molecule with thousands of atoms connected together in all sorts of complicated

ways. This mass of atoms, each with its own supply of electrons, is all

connected. You could say that it is one large molecule (since a molecule

is nothing more than two or more atoms connected in some way). This large

and complex molecule, as I said, has zillions of electrons within it.

If JUST ONE of those electrons is taken away by some

wandering free radical, that entire DNA MAY become defective. It might

also have so little effect that the DNA is still fully functional for cell


But, with the zillions of free radicals hitting that DNA

molecule, you can bet that once in a while some vitally important electron is

taken away.

That might mean that this ONE CELL cannot reproduce.

OR, it might mean that this one cell will reproduce but will reproduce as a


Yes, cancer is nothing more than cells which reproduce in

an abnormally fast rate -- because the DNA blueprint has been altered by free

radical damage.

Basically all disease has some connection with damage done

to the individual cells in the body. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic

material that builds the enzymes that build the structure of the body. When DNA

is damaged it may make mutated enzymes that may not be able to function, and

cells cannot be reproduced. Again, this would accelerate the aging process.

Free radicals can also weld molecules together - much like

putting handcuffs on them - so they don't function properly. When free radicals

weld molecules of the skin protein collagen together, the skin looses its

elasticity and smoothness and becomes stiff and wrinkled.

When free radical problems first began to be understood

many decades ago, there was an urgent search for substances which would

neutralize free radical. Vitamin C has long been known as a "free

radical scavenger," as have other vitamins. But, science found more.

One that was a very popular fad just starting a few years

ago was an extract from the bark of a particular pine tree that grows in France and Canada. That substance has

come to be known by the commercial and trademarked name of Pycnogenol. The

scientist who discovered the pine bark extract failed to protect his discovery

and it was taken over, and then patented, by the people who trademarked the

name Pycnogenol. Because the name was protected, this one product got

lots of publicity and sales.

But, that same scientist also discovered that an extract

of grape seeds gave the same free radical fighting power as the extract from

pine bark. You'll find Pycnogenol being sold by hundreds of companies, but all

must buy from the single source that has trademarked that name.

Since "grape seed extract" never got its own

fancy name, and since it has the same power as Pycnogenol, you can find grape

seed extract sold by many more companies, and generally at prices quite a bit

lower than Pycnogenol. But, the search has been on for years to find more and

better "free radical scavengers."

In summary, your

body is bombarded with free radicals -- coming in from external sources.

These include cigarette smoke, smog and any one of millions of toxic substances

which you take into your body with food or water or breathing.

The sun, as well as all types of radiation, causes free

radicals to be produced inside the body. As these free radicals move through

the body at very high speed, they are "looking" for an electron to

make their status balanced. I speak of these as if they were alive!

They are not! But, the mechanical and electromagnetic action of these

particles makes them appear to be "evil" and alive!

The mechanism is one of simple attraction between a

negatively charged particle and a positively charged particle. It is not

mysterious, but it happens at such a level of small size, and in such great

quantity that people often refer to free radicals as if they were living, evil

creatures. The process of neutralizing a free radical is also not at all

mysterious or complicated.

A free radical is neutralized, simply, but acquiring one

electron from somewhere. That is the end of the problems caused by THAT free

radical. But, it is the beginning of the problems caused by the NEW free

radical that was created because some particle gave up an electron and thus

became a positively charged particle.

Normally a free radical scavenger would be, for instance,

a particle of something like Vitamin C. That particle can be referred to

as a "molecule" since it consists of many different atoms all

connected together.

That particle of Vitamin C is enormously larger than a

single atom of hydrogen -- perhaps a million times larger. But, large as it is,

that one molecule of Vitamin C can neutralize only one free radical -- it gives

up ONE electron to do that, and after that the Vitamin C has no more electrons

which are easily given up!

But, what Dr. Patrick Flanagan did was to realize that if

you could ADD one electron to the hydrogen atom it would no longer be balanced,

but would actually have two negatively charged electrons revolving around ONE

unit of positively charged nucleus. Thus, the hydrogen, with two

electrons, would give up one of those electrons with great ease. When that

double-electron form of hydrogen gives up one electron the remaining hydrogen

is still a balanced particle. It would have a positively charged central

nucleus (proton) and one negatively charged electron.

Thus, the hydrogen atom with an extra electron neutralizes

one free radical but does not, itself, then become a new free radical. This is

a brand new concept in biochemistry. Every other free radical scavenger

neutralizes a free radical by, itself, becoming a new free radical. Note

that this new free radical may be so different from the previous free radical

that it doesn't move fast and doesn't cause damage (mostly because it is so

large that it cannot penetrate cells, etc.).

So, Dr. Patrick Flanagan found a way to add one extra

electron to one atom of hydrogen. Since the hydrogen atom is SO tiny

compared to a molecule of Vitamin C, and since ONE atom of hydrogen does just

as much free radical neutralizing as ONE molecule of Vitamin C, you can see

that the hydrogen atom is far more powerful for any given unit of space.

In other words, ONE capsule of Vitamin C would not even

come close the free radical-fighting power of ONE capsule of Microhydrin.

And, the hydrogen atom does NOT become a new free radical

when it is used to neutralize a free radical.

Finally, you have on this page a simple explanation of

what a free radical is and how it causes damage in the body.Then, there

is some information here about how to neutralize them.


Karl Loren is a researcher, writer and developer of unique vitamin formulations that remove heavy metals from the body. His products can be found at: http://www.oralchelation.com/store . You can write to Karl at: http://www.oralchelation.com/writetokarl.htm . Other articles and e-books by Karl can be found in his library: www.karllorenlibrary.com

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