Amazing Blue-Green Algae

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Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (pronounced "A-fan-e-zom-anon floss aqua") or blue-green algae are among the most primitive living organisms on Earth. Although they are technically classified as bacteria, they share properties with bacteria and with plants. They contain many biologically active substances that have beneficial effects on human health.

A hundred years ago, during the reign of medicinal herbs and natural remedies, the simple blue-green algae might have been a household name had it been known. It would have acquired its reputation for being a food that, when consumed in small quantities, gave one added energy and mental clarity, boosted the immune system, and had a remarkable restorative effect.

Unique medicinal properties

Over the years, testimonials and empirical observations have suggested that blue-green algae may be effective at improving conditions such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, poor memory, attention deficit disorder, chronic fatigue, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor immunity, allergies, and host of other illnesses.

For thousands of years, algae have been used as a food source or as a remedy for various physical ailments all over the world. In coastal regions of the Far East, notably in Japan, there is evidence that algae were used as a food source around 6000 B.C. Reports on the Spanish conquest reveal that the natives of Lake Texcoco, near today's Mexico City, collected blue-green algae from the waters of the lake to make sun-dried cakes called tecuitlatl. Local African tribes today still harvest blue-green algae growing in Lake Chad. Blue-green algae was discovered two decades ago growing in wild abundance in a naturally super-productive ecosystem in Oregon.

Today, blue-green algae enjoys a growing popularity among hundreds of thousands of people who report a wide range of benefits. It has come to the attention of medical researchers who are now conducting studies on this unique food to uncover its secrets.

Powerful micronutrients

Natural, wildcrafted foods provide optimum synergy and have a unique ability to modulate the functioning of our bodies and lead to greater overall health. Science is beginning to recognize herbs and wildcrafted foods as biomodulators. Biomodulators have a physiological rather than a pharmacological action in the body. A biomodulator is a substance that affects many functions and systems in the body.

Extensive research currently being conducted on Aph.flos-aquae has also shown it to contain numerous micronutrients that may explain its biomodulating effects. These factors could account for the wide-ranging benefits reported by the hundreds of thousands of people consuming it every day.

Chlorophyll

A green pigment found in plants, chlorophyll is responsible for the transformation of light energy into chemical energy. Although chlorophyll is present in all green vegetables, it is exceptionally abundant in blue-green algae. Structurally, chlorophyll is almost identical to heme (also called hematin), which is the core of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood.

Scientific research as well as popular medicine has produced evidence of the healing and anti-cancer properties of chlorophyll. For example, recent studies have reported that chlorophyllin, a water-soluble form of chlorophyll, protects against certain forms of liver cancer at a concentration similar to that found in green leafy vegetables.

Data also suggests that eating foods with high chlorophyll content composed of the same heme molecule present in hemoglobin could stimulate the synthesis of hemoglobin in the body. Finally, chlorophyll was noted to promote healing of the skin as well as stomach ulcers.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids

Blue-green algaee is an exceptional source of carotenoids. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have been shown to be powerful antioxidants, helpful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Beta-carotene has also been demonstrated to stimulate the immune system and prevent skin and breast cancer. Besides being a rich source of beta-carotene, Aph. flos-aquae also contain lutein and lycopene -- two carotenoids that are known to protect against certain forms of cancer.

Phycocyanin

Phycocyanin is the blue pigment present in all blue-green algae. In the living algae cell, phycocyanin serves as a protein storage unit and as an antioxidant, protecting the cell from certain wavelengths.

Phycocyanin has been shown to have significant anti-cancer properties. Phycocyanin was also confirmed to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to protect the liver against toxic substances.

Recently, phycocyanin was shown to prevent colitis in an animal model. This may explain the numerous reports of improvement following consumption of AFA in conditions such as Crohn's disease and other bowel inflammatory diseases.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA's)

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA's), especially omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to be beneficial to the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Approximately 50 percent of the lipid content of dried blue-green algae is composed of omega-3 fatty acids (mostly linolenic acid).

The average North American diet is known to be lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. Deficiency is increasingly linked to cardiovascular diseases, immuno-suppression, arthritis, mental disorders, and skin problems.

There is also evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may help in neuropathic conditions associated with diabetes. Epidemiological studies in various countries and in the United States suggest that decreased omega-3 fatty acid consumption correlates with increasing rates of depression.

Furthermore, decreased concentrations of certain PUFA's in plasma have been found in children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Chemoprotection

A substance is "chemoprotective" when it protects against the toxic effects of chemicals or compounds present in our food or environment. Heavy metals and pesticides are examples of such compounds that are extremely deleterious to health.

Various species of microalgae have been successful in absorbing heavy metals, and their consumption may promote the elimination of heavy metals. Scientific studies have shown that blue-green algae offer significant protection against heavy metal toxicity to the kidneys. A sugar present on the cell membrane of microalgae has been confirmed to bind and eliminate pesticides from the intestine.

Effects on the nervous system

One of the most common experiences of people eating blue-green algae is the feeling of greater energy and an increased ability to focus. For example, many children suffering from attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity, experience significant improvement in their condition, often to the point of being able to discontinue the use of psychoactive drugs such as Ritalin(TM).

Although we may not fully understand how this simple blue-green algae has such a positive and pervasive effect on so many systems and physiological functions of the body, the benefits of consuming it have been verified, Aph. flos-aquae may very well become the vitamin C of tomorrow.

Measurements & Data Corporation.

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