For reasons that will hopefully become clearer and clearer, this is the best example we could use since water is not just the most pervasive chemical on our Planet, but it is being used to limit the meltdown that is occurring in the Fukushima reactors. Let's however continue.
All cells are composed of molecules — and molecules, as we have seen, are composed of atoms that are held together by chemical bonds. These bonds may be quite stable or more precarious. Breaking a stable bond requires more energy than breaking a weak bond. If the bond is broken, the molecule itself is transformed. Besides radiation, there are other "agents" that can cause a bond to break and thus contribute to free radicals: heat, including smoking; chemicals or chemical compounds such as herbicides and vapors; atmospheric pressure; toxins, including metals such as mercury; and various frequencies, including sound waves. This is why multiple exposures to various risk factors tends to worsen the prognosis for those exposed to radiation.
The tissue damage caused by radiation and other factors is due to the breaking of chemical bonds in a manner that impairs function and therefore the integrity of the system in which the cell is a part. Cells are specialized and have to have the right design in order to carry out their roles. When the chemical unions are broken, the ensuing cellular degradation is marked by increased instability which tends to be unending. Some regard the cascade as a chain reaction, but I prefer to see it as a crescendo in which it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the ability of the body to recover from the ravages of electron chaos. To heal means to regain control over the chemical processes that are necessary for coherence, i.e., maintaining the integrity of the whole.
For the last 50-60 years, there have been schools of thought in which all aging and degeneration is attributed to the maverick behavior of the free radicals that are created when the chemical bonds between electrons are broken. In health circles, the antidote for free radicals is an antioxidant, usually substances high in vitamins A, C, and E, but as I have been saying for years now, it is entirely possible that the properties attributed to vitamins are actually due to flavonoids, not vitamins, so the conclusions of many studies are difficult to interpret. However, what is unique about free radical scavengers is their ability to remain stable with or without the electrons pirated by the free radicals.
What is most important is that the chain reaction is understood. When a stable union is broken by a frantic radical, the remnants of that union become radicals. The patterns of these radicals are also destructive and ultimately the damage caused undermines the quality of life and eventually survival itself. In theory, however, all we need to stop the cascading consequences are a couple of spare electrons. Just how difficult is this?
Well it can be quite difficult or perhaps not so difficult, depending on many factors.
I think this subject is complex enough that we can pause here and save radiation and scavengers for tonight and next week.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011