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Algae: the History of Life Back for the Future

by David Howell(more info)

listed in nutraceuticals, originally published in issue 32 - September 1998

Could our future well-being be as inextricably dependent upon a primitive organism as surely as our remotest past has been? All the evidence suggests that it is.

Klamath Lake Algae's blade like structure

Klamath Lake Algae's blade like structure

Algae, small non-flowering water plants, are thought to be the first life form, setting the stage for all the organisms of the earth. These remarkable little plants sit at the bottom of the food chain, directly or indirectly nourishing the whole of creation. Whenever there is sufficient light available, algae are able to synthesise the light and, with water and carbon dioxide, make glucose for energy. A waste product of this carbon fixation is oxygen, without which the animals of the world, including human beings, would have been unable to occupy the otherwise hostile atmospheric environment of the earth. It is impossible to assess the full economic importance of the algae but even the most conservative estimates state that more than 50% of global organic carbon fixation, is done by the algae.[1] On completing the cycles of respiration and decomposition, they also maintain carbon dioxide levels – vital to the existence of other algae and all green plants.

Table 1

The table below shows above average figures only. Nutritional amounts could vary subject to time of harvesting (Micro Search Laboratories, Halifax).

Essential Amino Acids per gram:
Isoleucine 29 mg
Leucine 52 mg
Lysine 35 mg
Methionine 7 mg
Phenylalanine 25mg
Threonine 33mg
Tryptophan 7mg
Valine 32 mg


Non-Essential Amino Acids per gram:
Alanine 47 mg
Arginine 38 mg
Asparagine 47mg
Aspartic Acid 7mg
Cystine 2mg
Glutamine 78mg
Glutamic Acid 4mg
Glycine 29mg
Histidine 9mg
Proline 29mg
Serine 29mg
Tyrosine 17mg


General Composition percent of dry organic weight:
Carbohydrates 18%
Lipids (Fats) 4%
Minerals 14%
Moisture 1%
Pigments (Beta-carotene, chlorophyll, xanthophyll, phycocyanin and
phycoerythrin) 4%,
Protein 59%


Mineral Content:
Boron 10.0 mg
Calcium 14.0 mg
Clorine 464.0 mcg
Cobalt 2.0 mcg
Copper 4.0 mcg
Chromium 0.53 mcg
Fluorine 38.0 mcg
Germanium 0.27 mcg
Iodine 0.53 mcg
Iron 20mg
Manganese 32.0 mcg
Magnesium 2.2 mg
Molybdenum 3.3 mcg
Nickel 5.3 mcg
Phosphorus 5.1 mg
Potassium 12.0 mcg
Selenium 0.67 mcg
Silicon 186.7 mcg
Sodium 2.7 mg
Tin 0.5 mcg
Titanium 23.3 mcg
Vanadium 2.7 mcg
Zinc 18.7 mcg


Vitamin Composition per gram:
Ascorbic Acid (C) 70mg
Analogue Cobalamin(B12) 8.0 mcg
Biotin 0.3 mcg
Folic Acid 1.0 mcg
Panthothenic Acid (B5) 6.8 mcg
Provitamin A (Beta-carotene) 18.5 mg
Pyridoxine (B6) 11.1 mcg
Niacin 0.1 mcg
Riboflavin (B2) 57.3 mcg
Thiamin (B1) 4.8 mcg
Vitamin E 0.1 IU


Fatty Acids composition percentage lipid weight:
Linoleic (18:2) 12.4%
Linolenic 6,9,12 (18:3) 21.4%
Oleic (18:1) 5.0%
Palmitic (16:0) 43.4%
Palmitoleic (16:1) 9.7%
Palmitolinoleic (16:2)
Trace Stearic (18:0) 2.9%
There are no steriodal type lipids (cholesterol) Zero

Essential Amino Acids

Since the dawn of creation, the oxygen level in the atmosphere has been maintained by the algae at close to 21%. This is the optimum value for sustaining life.[2] It would be no exaggeration to suggest that without algae, life as we know it would cease to exist. Dr William Barry, Biologist and Phycologist (algae expert) says about blue-green algae "They have mastered their varied environments, their competitions, light conditions, temperatures, physical and chemical changes and they have conquered the earth. They preceded us by three and a half billion years and they show only signs of success. It would behove us to look into their success. We might admire and marvel at the tricks of the blue-greens."

Over the past few years, much has been written about a particular species, Aphanizomenon-flos-aquae (abbr: A.F.A.) from Klamath Lake in South Oregon and to the casual reader, adjectives such as "Amazing," "Miraculous," Astonishing" may appear a trifle extravagant, but to algae enthusiasts, not at all!

Klamath Lake in the mountains of South Central Oregon provides the ideal habitat for A.F.A. Fed by pure rivers, hot springs and cold volcanic mountain streams, the lake has acted as a natural trap for mineral rich volcanic soil, nitrogenous matter and oxygen for millennia. This remarkable ecology has produced as much as 200,000,000 pounds of A.F.A. during 10,000 years or more, much of this algae remaining in the lake system creating a nutrient rich layer of sediment covering the lake's floor. Klamath Lake provides the most ideal conditions for the prolific growth of the blue-green algae in that it is extremely shallow, averaging only 35 feet, allowing it to warm rapidly to provide almost perfect conditions for photosynthesis.

The quantities of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients vary, but it is the protein/carbohydrate content which confirms them as a food rather than a supplement. Many algae are farmed artificially in vats and are limited in nutrition by what is added to the water. In sharp contrast, wild blue-green algae (A.F.A.) is a naturally occurring alga, growing in one of the cleanest, nutrient dense alkaline lakes known to man.

In 1976 a Harvard scientist, Daryl J. Kollman and an associate, became the first researchers in the United States to systematically grow and experiment with algae which to-day are marketed and widely used throughout the world. An extensive computer search through existing literature revealed that micro algae were being used in Japan and other Far Eastern countries for the remediation of poor educational performance in school children. But Kollman wasn't satisfied; he didn't like the idea of growing algae artificially in manmade ponds and vats; the cellulose cell wall of usable species made them difficult to assimilate. His methodical search began for what he called a "complete food" and ended at Klamath Lake in Oregon and it was from this discovery that he launched a revolution in health and nutrition.

It took six years to develop a method of harvesting and processing the algae which would preserve the integrity of both the lake's ecology and the algae's nutritional value. According to Dr. William Barry, harvesting of the algae could only benefit the lake "The algae are prolific, ... doubling the entire population every twenty minutes."

What makes Aphanizomenon-flos-aquae so special?

1 A.F.A. is especially unique among the algae in its protein content and has within itself the nitrogen to make amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.[3] This varies from 53% to 62%, varying with the season and with the amount of solar radiation, but is always rich in protein.[4]

2 Low in calories, algae serves as a whole food, richer in vitamins and minerals than milk, the protein content comparing favourably with lean beef.[5]

3 A.FA. has an exceptionally high content of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, live enzymes and is the highest known usable source of Vitamin B12 making it an ideal food for vegetarians. A lack of vitamin B12, which can also cause a type of anaemia, is often due to a defect in absorption, and wild blue-green algae has the richest known source of Vitamin B12 in a form that the body can easily use.[6]

4 Scientists believe that damage from free-radicals is responsible for many of to-day's degenerative diseases. Beta-carotene (Pro Vitamin A) is an extremely effective anti-oxidant (free radical scavenger) and is found in abundance in A.F.A.[7]

5 Wild blue-green algae are the most chlorophyll-rich organisms on the planet.[8]

6 In a perfect world, free from polluted soil and atmosphere, the body is designed to clear out accumulated toxins. As a detoxifier, A.F.A. helps remedy the shortcomings of our deteriorating environment and thus helps prevent the onset of degenerative diseases.

Perhaps its most significant feature is A.F.A's amino acid profile which caused much excitement among the researchers. This is strikingly parallel to our own and consequently, has been found to enhance assimilation and utilisation of other proteins consumed.

Algae play a small but important part in the direct economy of many countries for food, animal feed, cosmetics, fertilisers and as medicine. It was also used successfully in its dried form for centuries to treat festering wounds. Used for this purpose in World War I, it probably saved many lives.

Despite the fact that algae have been used in the Orient for centuries to successfully treat vitamin deficiency, digestive and many other disorders, here in the West we are only now beginning to understand the importance of the algae in enhancing health and bettering the quality of life and although there is a vast range of anecdotal evidence, little research has been completed in this country as yet. This we look forward to with eager anticipation.

The health conscious Japanese have carried out extensive research into the nutritional benefits of blue-green algae and to-day consume huge quantities in food products and capsules, tablets and powders. Japanese scientist, Hiroshi Nakamura is one of the world's leading experts on blue-green algae and helped found a micro-algae institute in Tokyo which is dedicated to scientific research on the food.[9] Top nutritionist, Brian Clements, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida had such positive results from double blind tests that he carried out with his clients, that the consumption of algae is now a mandatory component of the Institute's health programme.

Dr Gabriel Cousens, a U.S. nutritionist was amazed at the results of his preliminary research into A.F.A. and has reported his findings in the Journal of the Orthomolecular Society. He observed "Perhaps the greatest value of A.F.A. is in its positive effects on the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamic structures in the brain". He can find no other explanation for an autistic four year old's sudden ability to talk after a month on A.F.A. and a partial reversal and stabilisation of conditions in two Alzheimer sufferers. Currently, research is being carried out worldwide, into the use of blue-green algae for the relief of symptoms in Cancer and Aids sufferers.[10]

Algae is to-day a key word in the Nutrition industry. The total annual world market for blue-green algae supplements is estimated to be £650,000,000.

My own introduction to A.F.A. was during a visit to the U.S.A. a few years ago and since that time, my enthusiasm for this wonderful little plant hasn't waned. What my homoeopathic colleagues and I found in our practices, is that many of the clinical frustrations encountered with to-day's health problems were solved quite simply by the addition of algae to the prescribed treatment, demonstrating that by giving basic and balanced nutrition, the patient's ability to heal was profoundly increased.

In 1994, I met with a small group of friends and acquaintances (all algae enthusiasts, each with a personal story) with the aim of making the algae freely available to the public at large and to ensure continuing supplies for ourselves. This we have done very successfully and the feedback has surpassed all expectations.

Our survey on British sportsmen and women who added A.F.A. to their diet showed that the algae significantly boosted their energy and endurance levels and also improved their competitive performances. An independent clinical trial conducted on our behalf on an algae based weight loss product, reported that "all subjects in the trial lost weight. The minimum weight loss was 4 pounds and the maximum 30 pounds."

The report also noted the subjects' very frequent "unexpected subjective benefits such as enhanced energy levels; improved quality of sleep, improved skin condition, comparative freedom from stress, anxiety and depression, relief from the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome; and the failure to fall prey to influenza viruses affecting others in their households." All commonly reported benefits of Klamath Lake Algae.

Like any other product, there are degrees of quality and in the case of algae, other methods of preserving which can be partially destructive.

We selected the purest – gently flash-air dried by a unique process to preserve all of the vital nutrients and enzymes. Nothing is added or taken away and there is no known industrial, pesticidal, or herbicidal pollution. Each batch of algae is then subjected to stringent laboratory testing for purity in the U.S. and again at an M.A.F.F. accredited laboratory when it arrives in Britain.

Homoeopathy, Herbalism, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Massage, in fact all the therapies, many dating from Roman times, help us to get well and to alleviate symptoms. However, unless we take care of and sustain our bodies by providing the "materials and tools" to do so, our relief can only be temporary before the next breakdown in health. It is not too late to wake up to the potential of providing the body with the essentials it needs to sustain a level of well-being either forgotten or perhaps never experienced and to recognise that food (of the right kind) is our medicine. The continuing glowing reports with regard to A.F.A. both here and in the United States on the increased well-being of animals, is convincing enough evidence that results cannot be attributed to the placebo effect!

Since the introduction of serious industrial strength farming after the Second World War, the soil has been emptied of most of its minerals, the harsh chemical fertilisers killing off the natural micro-organisms in the soil responsible for changing minerals into the organic forms which are necessary for our bodies to absorb them. This depletion of soil is now at a stage where we no longer have the faintest idea of the nutritional value of the food we buy. Many of to-day's health and energy problems are simply deep, long accumulated nutritional deficiency.

There are many theories about the "right diet" and the "right supplements" and the term "you are what you eat" is commonly used in health and nutrition circles. In actual fact, we are what we absorb and we may only absorb a fraction of the many foods, vitamin and mineral supplements that we consume, many of which are chemically produced; and this assuming we are able to ascertain what we need! Most supplements are synthetic combinations of isolated vitamins and minerals with a differing structure from those found in whole foods. Therefore, the body fails to recognise them as food and does not absorb them completely.

A.F.A. is not a supplement but a food – believed to be the most nutrient-dense and balanced known and unique in that not only does it contain all the minerals, vitamins, trace elements, essential fatty acids and enzymes that the human body requires, but in perfect balance. Because of its glucose cell wall, it is highly assimilable even by those with known absorption problems. As a pure food, it is suitable for everyone from babies to the aged and has a strong following for use with animals, who are equally vulnerable from the intake of de-natured food.

There is a huge range of testimonials reporting increased vitality, improved memory, relief from physical and mental stress, loss of food cravings, balancing of hormonal cycles, etc. to increased concentration levels, not forgetting the many wonderful reports of people recovering from more serious ailments. To quote one delighted algae user "Eating my greens has never been so easy or so beneficial". The stories do not really claim that we have discovered a wonder cure, but rather confirm what we have always known – that the body is the miracle and if we are prepared to recognise its very basic needs, we are on the way to solving the secret of a full and healthy LIFE.

References:

1. Barry, Dr W.T. The Astonishing, Magnificent, Delightful Algae. Revised 1994. p.13. Graphic Press
2. Lovelock, Prof.J.E. The Ages of Gaia. Oxford University Press, 1979. p.132
3. Shubert, L.E. Algae as Ecological Indicators, Academic Press, N.Y. p.434
4. Dubinsky, Z.T. Berner & S. Aaronson, "Potential of large-scale algal culture for biomass and lipid production in arid lands". p8: 51-68. 1979.
5. Barry, Dr. W.T. The Astonishing Magnificent, Delightful Algae. Revised 1994. p.13
6. McKeith, Dr. Gillian Miracle Superfood: Wild Blue-Green Algae 1997. p.32 Keats Publishing
7. Barry, Dr. W.T. The Ast.Mag. Delightful Algae. Rev.1994. p.25
8. France, Richard "The Miracle of Super Blue-Green Algae", p.39. Colorado Springs 1994.
9. Cribbs, Gillian "Nature's Superfood – The Blue-Green Algae Revolution" p.58. MacMillan Publishers 1997
10. The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (1985)

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About David Howell

David Howell is Principal, Lecturer and Practitioner at the Colleges of Practical Homoeopathy in London, Midlands and Iceland and an international lecturer on Homoeopathy. He is also co-founder of the Manchester based algae products company, Aquasource Limited. For further information please telephone 0800 454 715.

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