by Alison Heath
This article appeared in the May issue of M.D. News magazine.
“Green and Slimy and Two Billion Years Old? Eat It” – is the title of a Wall Street Journal article on blue-green algae published January 19, 2000. The news is spreading about a wild-crafted food occurring naturally in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Fortunately, Upper Klamath Lake is the largest biomass producer on the planet and yields an abundant supply of this foundational food.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), a species of blue-green algae, is moving us from alternative medicine to an integrative approach to health. Integrative medicine’s focus on the synergy of all the ingredients contained in a whole food differs from the alternative approach where extracted natural remedies often replace conventional drug treatments. Integrative medicine studies the natural healing process and respects the unique patterns and synergies found in nature. Wild foods, such as blue-green algae, do not meet the currently accepted Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of minerals and vitamins, yet have the ability to modulate our bodies’ functioning towards improved health because wild foods contain trace amounts of minerals and vitamins in quantities dictated by nature.
The word on blue-green algae is out now. As recently as the dawn of Y2K, along with the media attention, results from peer review research on AFA began being published. Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, McGill University, and The Royal Victoria Hospital are some of the institutions studying the health benefits of this unique whole food. The British magazine, Nature, published an article tracing the DNA of today’s living plants back to blue-green algae.
These findings come as no surprise to the people who have included blue-green algae in their diet for years. Millions of pounds of blue-green algae are harvested from Upper Klamath Lake annually and consumed as a food supplement. Individual testimonials on health benefits of algae are in abundant supply.
The January 2000, Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association contains 2 studies on AFA. One study, “Favorable Effects of Blue-Green Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on Rat Lipids” examines algae as a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The study concludes that not only is AFA a good source of PUFAs, but also due to the potential hypocholesterolemic properties should be a valuable nutritional resource.
The second study, “Consumption of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Has Rapid Effects on the Circulation and Function of Immune Cells in Humans – A novel approach to nutritional mobilization of the immune system,” shows blue-green algae to be a powerful immune enhancer. The conclusion in the abstract states, “Consumption of AFA leads to rapid changes in immune cell trafficking, but not direct activation of lymphocytes. Thus, AFA increases the immune surveillance without directly stimulating the immune system.”
The University of New Mexico participated in unpublished placebo-controlled studies illustrating that AFA significantly improves central nervous signaling measured with the brain-stem auditory evoked response (BAER) test. After one month of eating blue-green algae, participants demonstrated an increase in cognitive functions, lending support to the numerous claims of heightened mental alertness from algae eaters.
For many centuries the nutrient-dense food that flourished in Upper Klamath Lake was a well-kept secret, its beneficial properties shared only with the bald eagles, ospreys and other members of the vibrant ecosystem found in this unique area. Flanked to the west by the Cascade Mountains and with the Great Basin to the east, Upper Klamath Lake is Oregon’s largest body of water (324 square miles) with 35 feet of mineral rich volcanic silt. Nature has provided a replenishable food source helping to solve our modern dilemma of obtaining nutrition from crops grown in depleted soil.
Alison Heath has included wild grown full spectrum nutrition in her diet since 1987. During her many years of work in Information Technology, she has devoted much of her time to the health sector, including homeopathic clinics and hospitals. She recently held the position of president and CEO for InfoMedQue Inc., an Internet information service for the health sector in Quebec. Her regular column titled “The Natural Path” was created to provide medical practitioners who read M.D. News magazine with information on another approach toward health and well-being.