flos-aquae is not, strictly speaking, algae. Upper Klamath Lake blue-green
algae is in the class cyanobacteria, or Cyanophyta as it is currently classified.
Spirulina also belongs to this family of organisms. However, the term “blue-green
algae” is ubiquitous in the nutrition industry for describing both spirulina,
and Klamath Lake Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, or AFA for short. Chlorella, another
nutritional product, is a member of the green algae family. While “algae”
is plural, to avoid confusion, the term is treated throughout this document
as singular when referring to spirulina, chlorella and AFA.
Cyanobacteria are aquatic and photosynthetic, meaning, they live in the water
and can manufacture their own food. They have the distinction of being the
oldest known fossils, more than 3.5 billion years old. They are one of the
largest and most important groups of bacteria on earth, and have been tremendously
important in shaping the course of evolution and ecological change throughout
earth's history. Numerous cyanobacteria during the Achaean and Proterozoic
Eras generated the planet’s oxygen atmosphere and continue to sustain
it today. Previous to those eras, the atmosphere had a very different chemistry
that was unsuitable for life as we know it.
Naturally occurring blue-green algae is a rich source of phytonutrients and
has been consumed by humans for centuries. The bountiful supply of naturally
occurring minerals and the unique artesian springs that feed Klamath Lake
nourishes the abundant natural growth of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (Primordial
Food 23). Studies have suggested that at any given time during the bi-annual
growing season, there are more than 14 million pounds of AFA growing in Klamath
Lake, and that it is able to replenish itself every 48 hours, offering a virtually
unlimited source of this extraordinary natural food.
Health Benefits of AFA
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a unique dietary product with scientifically demonstrated
health-promoting benefits. It contains a bounty of vital nutrients and antioxidants
to help nourish and protect the body, including chlorophyll, carotenoids,
omega-3 and many other polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, minerals,
vitamins and the powerful antioxidant-pigment phycocyanin. Significant scientific
research supports and validates the superlative nutrient value of the biological,
pharmacological and chemo-protective properties of Upper Klamath Lake blue-green
Chlorophyll, a green pigment found in plants that is responsible for the transformation
of light energy into chemical energy, is exceptionally abundant in AFA. Scientific
research, as well as popular medicine, has evidenced the healing, cleansing
and energizing properties of chlorophyll. A by-product of chlorophyll in the
digestive system, chlorophyllin, has been shown to have strong anti-cancer
properties, specifically targeting liver cancer.
AFA is one of the richest sources of the carotenoid family of nutrients, providing
a distinctive mixture of natural carotenoids not found in synthetic vitamin
supplements. Research has found that a diverse selection of natural carotenoids
work together synergistically and offer greater antioxidant protection than
large amounts of a single carotenoid, such as vitamin A.
Nearly 50 percent of the lipid (essential fatty acid) content of dried AFA
is composed of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Recent research
has shown that the average American diet is highly deficient in omega-3 PUFAs.
Dietary omega-3 PUFAs are beneficial to the immune, cardiovascular and nervous
systems. Omega-3 PUFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties and help to
maintain a healthy cholesterol level. A study performed at Massachusetts General
Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University, revealed that the omega-3 fatty
acids present in AFA are extremely well-absorbed by the body. The lipid content
of dried AFA averages 5 percent of the dry weight and of this 5 percent, approximately
50 percent is omega-3 fatty acids.
A team of scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital also identified
in AFA a unique inhibitory activity that affect specific intestinal enzymes,
delaying the absorption of sugars and reducing blood glucose. This discovery
is one of the proposed mechanisms underlying the benefits obtained by many
diabetic patients and people suffering from hypoglycemia who consume AFA.
Continuing research is focusing on a number of AFA extracts that exhibit neuroactive,
anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, enhance immune cell-circulation
and modulate immune cell functions.