What’s So Special About the Algae from Klamath Lake?
In the natural health world a lot of attention is given to a place called Klamath Lake.
Because it’s home to a particular type of blue green algae called Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, which is similar to spirulina and chlorella, but just a wee bit different.
Some folks claim that Klamath Lake blue-green algae has special health benefits, and because it only grows at Klamath, it’s worthy of special attention above and beyond other types of lake algae.
Is that true?
Well….kind of. To a degree.
A Quick Overview About Klamath Lake Algae
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a type of cyano-bacteria that biologically is quite similar to spirulina. It’s actually toxic in most places where it’s grown, but Klamath Lake is remarkably pure and free of toxins, and so the blue-green algae there can be ingested by humans. And it grows there in heaps and tons.
100,000 thousand kilograms of blue-green algae is harvested from the lake every year for the supplement industry. During the summer the growth of algae is so robust that the lake turns green and most of the native fish die out because the algae sucks out all the oxygen from the water.
The algae at Klamath Lake Changes Its Color
So we know Klamath Lake algae is unique, but does that make it better?
After all, caviar is really expensive…but that doesn’t mean people should go out and buy it.
The claims about it are numerous, but hard to verify. They include tumor suppression, immune system enhancement, and a possible plant source of vitamin B12.
Like other blue-green algaes, Klamath lake algae is a good source of protein, phytonutrients, and iron that has a high level of bio-availibility.
With regards to the health benefits of Klamath Lake Algae in particular, there are two remarkable points to consider:
- It has large amounts of a compound calledphycocyanin, moreso than any other food in the world
- There’s really not a whole lot of research on the health benefits of klamath lake algae
Let’s go over both points.
Phycocyanin is a naturally occurring antioxidant that naturally forms in cyanobacteria. It reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and is one of the reasons spirulina is considered a “superfood.”
By weight spirulina is about 5% phycocyanin, whereas Klamath Lake Algae is about 15% by weight, and has an unusually high amount of bioavailibility.
That’s great, but there’s a good reason to curtail this benefit.
Lack of Evidence
The truth is there’s not a whole lot of evidence one way or another about the benefits of Klamath Lake algae.
To see what I mean, go to this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=klamath%20algae
There’s a total of 4 studies on Klamath Lake algae. That’s not very much.
The ones that were conducted all show positive results, but in my opinion they’re not especially well done and not worth getting excited over.
Mostly studies where they give a small group of people a pill for a few weeks and then ask how they feel afterwards. Not exactly conclusive.
Another link that re-enforces my point can be found here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/923.html
The NIH keeps a database of all foods, and rates the potential health benefits of each one as “likely” “possibly likely” etc.
It determined there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude anything.
So I’m fairly underwhelmed about this stuff.
Contrary to certain perceptions, algaes cannot reliably provide vitamin B12. They synthesize a metabolite of B12 that’s kinda-sorta like the real thing, but really doesn’t have the same effect in the body.
It’s believed by some raw-foodists that Klamath Lake algae is an exception has a biologically active form of B12, but I don’t believe this to be true.
The only evidence I can find of the Klamath Lake/B12 connection is this study…but that’s just one, and it’s far from conclusive.
The discovery of this ancient strain of blue-green micro-algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) has led to a new super food that contains more protein and chlorophyll than any other food source. Primitive as algae may appear, most are highly efficient photo synthesizers, even more so than plants. Algae utilize light energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and hydrogen from the water to synthesize proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. AFA blue-green algae grows only in the wild and is far superior to any other algae on the planet. It is nature’s perfect food. AFA is unique among all food grade algaes in that it also metabolizes molecular nitrogen from the air to produce its proteins and other nitrogen containing bio-molecules. The AFA blue-green algae cell is truly awe-inspiring. Although hundreds of times smaller than the cells of the plant or animal kingdoms, its wide range of sixty-four micro-nutrients is remarkable and unsurpassed by any known food. It should be no surprise that the nucleic acids of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae also bio-stimulate the immune system.
Is all AFA blue-green algae the same?
The benefits of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae are directly proportional to the quality and exact source of the algae. Unless you know the source of the algae, there is no guarantee of quality. AFA blue-green algae has been harvested from the purest and healthiest algae from the deepest waters of Upper Klamath Lake. We bring you the most potent algae available.
About the brain
The brain is the most undernourished organ in the body. Although it comprises only 2% of the total body weight, it uses 20% of the body’s available energy resources. Each of its estimated 10 billion neurons has an insatiable appetite, which must be satisfied every minute of every day of our lives. AFA blue-green algae metabolizes molecular nitrogen directly from the air. This growth pattern allows for the biosynthesis of Low Molecular Weight Peptide Groups. These low molecular weight peptides are the precursors of neurotransmitters, which are used by various regions of the brain and body to initiate the secretion of other substances (such as hormones) that influence metabolic functions. Neurotransmitters can be seen as the chemical link whereby neurons communicate with one another. The ability of the brain neurons to manufacture and utilize neurotransmitters is dependent upon the concentration of amino acids in the bloodstream. This largely depends upon the food consumption of the previous meal.
The importance of protein and amino acids
All of the body’s basic biochemical processes require energy to occur. It is from the ingestion of various food substances that the required amount of energy is obtained. The central part of the body’s energy package that provides for the replication and repair of cells, organs and organ systems is protein. Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in a healthy human body. It comprises a major portion of the blood and lymph and creates a natural immunity by giving the body a means of recognizing invading foreign cells and viruses. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. Proteins comprise 90% of the hemoglobin and form the backbone of the body’s immune system. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains more protein than any other organism (plant or animal). There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and must be obtained from our foods. Without proper quantities of all the amino acids, health cannot be maintained. When improper amounts of amino acids are consumed, the less important body tissues are “cannibalized” causing premature aging and possible severe deficiencies, such as lack of motivation, loss of memory, low mental alertness, poor intellectual performance and depression. What is truly unique about the algae is that its amino acid profile is almost identical to that found in our body, making AFA blue-green algae one of nature’s perfect foods.
Research has shown it’s not only what you eat, but also what your body absorbs and assimilates that is important. Micro-algae, existing at the beginning of the food chain, provide nutrition in its simplest form balanced whole food nutrition that is easily digested and absorbed. AFA blue-green algae has a soft cell wall that is easily digested by the body. This allows rapid absorption of vital nutrients with 97% assimilation. This algae, harvested from the wild in its 100% organic natural state, comes to you directly from southern Oregon’s extraordinary Upper Klamath Lake. The lake is far away from any large cities that might pollute the air and water, and it is also entirely surrounded by the Cascade Mountains. This unique ecosystem of mineral-rich water, clean air and high intensity sunlight makes Upper Klamath Lake the perfect growth medium for this nutrient-dense whole food. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Klamath Lake is the very best that algae can be. It is the most fundamental food on the planet. There is simply nothing else like it. Algae has been harvested and eaten for centuries and yet, until recently, its immense nutritional value has mostly gone unrecognized. Now, science has begun to focus their attention on the nutritional potential of algae because of global hunger, shrinking resources, depleted lands, etc. The results of this research and testing have been impressive enough for UC Irvine scientists to call it a “Super Food, capable of contributing to the achievement and maintenance of wellness.”
Resources : http://www.feelthevibe.com/afa/
Organic blue-green algae is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Two varieties, spirulina and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, are the most consumed forms of blue green algae; which has superfood status due to high concentrations of proteins, vitamins and nutrients. 
How is Blue-Green Algae Cultivated?
Most blue-green algae products contain Aphanizomenon flos-aquae harvested from Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. Harvesting is done during the summertime, June to November. The algae is filtered to preserve the most vibrant blooms and then further purified by centrifugation. The AFA is then chilled and sold frozen or dried at low temperatures and sold as a powder.
Natural Compounds in Organic Blue-Green Algae
Blue-green algae is 70% vegetable protein and has higher levels of beta-carotene than broccoli. The one-two punch potency of blue-green algae is that it contains a high concentration of nutrients- over 65 vitamins, minerals and enzymes and the complete spectrum of eight essential amino acids and ten nonessential amino acids… and they are all easily absorbed by the body. In fact up to 97% of the beneficial vitamins, minerals and enzymes found in blue-green algae are easily absorbed (some supplements are as low as 5-25% absorbable). AFA also contains the most biologically active chlorophyll of any known food.
Antioxidant Activity of Blue-Green Algae
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is rich in compounds that provide antioxidants. A measurement called the “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” (ORAC) is used to determine free radical scavenging capacity of foods and other substances purported to contain antioxidants. Italy’s University of Urbino Carlo Bo applied the ORAC method to edible AFA. The outcome was positive in favor of researchers supporting the use of AFA as a dietary antioxidant supplement to relieve oxidative stress. 
The University of Urbino Carlo B conducted another study designed to evaluate the ability of AFA to provide defense against oxidative damage to normal human red blood cells and plasma. Results suggested AFA lowered oxidative damage in both. Furthermore, AFA delayed the depletion of enzymes that are beneficial to the body. 
A Japanese study found that a product containing blue-green algae from lake Klamath exhibited considerable antioxidant activity and was an effective adaptogenic; that is, a substance that helps the body adapt to protect against stressors. 
Blue-Green Algae and B12
There is some controversy over whether or not AFA is an effective source of vitamin B12. Many natural sources of vitamin B12 have been shown to be biologically inadequate. However, preliminary research conducted by Italy’s Department of Neurorehabilitation at Villa Salus Hospital evaluated the vitamin B12 levels of 15 vegan subjects who had supplemented with an algae product from Lake Klamath and found their B12 levels increased over a control group. Although not absolutely conclusive, researchers believed the preliminary research supported the argument that AFA is a reliable source of vitamin B12. 
Blue-Green Algae and Stem Cells
In adults, stem cells have the function of repairing damaged cells. Unfortunately, as we age, stem cells have a reduced restorative ability and are more vulnerable to oxidative stress. This results in the body being less able to repair itself. Based on previous studies that showed blue-green algae can modulate immune function in animals, the Department of Neurosurgery at USF investigated the effects of AFA on cultured human stem cells. Researchers noted that preliminary results suggested an ethanol extract of AFA may promote human stem cell proliferation. 
Potential Concerns about Blue Green Algae
Although blue-green algae is commonly consumed in the United States, Canada, and Europe, some concern has been voiced about the potential for presence of microcystin, a toxic byproduct of blue-green algae. In response, the Oregon Health Division and the Oregon Department of Agriculture have established regulatory limits on microcystin content in BGA products.  As with most products, if you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s a good idea to first consult your health care provider before supplementing with blue-green algae.
Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN,DABFM
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- Benedetti S, Benvenuti F, Pagliarani S, Francogli S, Scoglio S, Canestrari F.Antioxidant properties of a novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Life Sci. 2004 Sep 24;75(19):2353-62.
- Sedriep S, Xia X, Marotta F, Zhou L, Yadav H, Yang H, Soresi V, Catanzaro R, Zhong K, Polimeni A, Chui DH. Beneficial nutraceutical modulation of cerebral erythropoietin expression and oxidative stress: an experimental study. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2011 Apr-Jun;25(2):187-94.
- Baroni L, Scoglio S, Benedetti S, Bonetto C, Pagliarani S, Benedetti Y, Rocchi M, Canestrari F. Effect of a Klamath algae product (“AFA-B12″) on blood levels of vitamin B12 and homocysteine in vegan subjects: a pilot study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009 Mar;79(2):117-23. doi: 10.1024/0300-9822.214.171.124.
- Shytle DR, Tan J, Ehrhart J, Smith AJ, Sanberg CD, Sanberg PR, Anderson J, Bickford PC. Effects of blue-green algae extracts on the proliferation of human adult stem cells in vitro: a preliminary study. Med Sci Monit. 2010 Jan;16(1):BR1-5.
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Klamath Lake, Oregon – One of the most geologically active regions in the world, a guarantee for mineral content.
Indeed there is such a place: Klamath Lake, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, in the South central portion of the State of Oregon. This pristine river valley, home to an incredible number of wild flora and fauna, covers an expanse of approximately 97 square miles at an elevation of 4500 ft. Klamath Lake is a large slow moving river transporting water from Crater Lake. Klamath Lake never stops moving allowing the water the opportunity to constantly replenish itself with life giving oxygen. The source of Klamath Lake water, which flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean via Klamath River, is one of the clearest and purest bodies of water found in North America. The pristine waters of Upper Klamath Lake come from more than 17 natural springs and a watershed of nearly 10,000 square kilometers including Crystal clear mineral springs fed underground from Crater Lake and snow melt from clear snowcapped volcanic mountains via the “Rivers of Light”
Crater Lake, Oregon – Only the perfect natural ecosystem of Klamath Lake offers the unique algal species the habitat that it needs to flourish. This unique algae, called Klamath Blue Green Algae (also known as AFA, Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae), is a Cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are among the most ancient life forms, estimated over 3.5 billion years old. Blue Green Algae was the very first organism to achieve photosynthesis. Using solar energy it split the water molecule, produced the first carbohydrate and released oxygen. This was made possible by chlorophyll, the green plant pigment that is present in abundance in Klamath Blue Green Algae. Together with phycocyanine, the blue green pigment, it enabled the Blue Green Algae to absorb the entire spectrum of light and transform it into nutrients.
The freshwater Klamath Blue Green Algae AFA grows naturally in Upper Klamath Lake in late summer and early fall in quantities sufficient to allow commercial harvesting. This situation is unique to only one place in the world that is safe for human consumption – Upper Klamath Lake in Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA. AFA goes dormant in the winter time when Klamath Lake freezes.
Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae or “invisible flower of the water” is also referred to as Klamath Blue Green Algae, wild blue green algae, wild-crafted blue green algae, Klamath Lake blue green algae, ancient algae, sun produced algae, native blue green algae, manna from heaven, ancient sun algae, and many more. The scientific name for Klamath’s Best® Blue Green Algae is Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae, Family – Nostoceacese, Species – Flos-Aquae, Phylum – Cyanophyta, Class – Myxophycede, Order – Nostocales, and the Genus – Aphanizomenon.
The extremely volcanic mineral rich geographic region, the intensive solar energy of the high elevation and the constantly moving, oxygen rich crystal clear waters, make Klamath’s Best® Blue Green Algae (AFA, Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae) one of the most nutrient-rich abundant whole green foods known to man. The Upper Klamath Lake variety of Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae is different from other varieties of Aphanizomenon and blue green algae.
Why does the Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae flourish in Klamath Lake? Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae blue green algae, of which there are many species, requires very specific conditions in order to reproduce in significant quantities. The freshwater species Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae grows in abundant quantities (some estimate as many as 200 million pounds per year!) in Klamath Lake for several reasons:
The first reason is the trace mineral content of the clear cold water of Klamath Lake. Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae blue green algae require a rich source of minerals to flourish.
National Geographic (May 1998, Vol. 198 Num.5) called the region around Klamath Lake Cascadia and considered it to be the most active geologic region in the world. The ceaseless movements of the tectonic plates along the West Coast of the United States render the Cascade Mountain region very unstable geologically. The proliferation of volcanoes in this area (no fewer than 17 volcanoes in 400 miles) clearly demonstrates the geologic activity of the Cascades area.
The volcanoes in Cascadia are also considered very young geologically in that they were all formed in the last several hundred thousand years. Mt. St. Helens is in this region and you may recollect that is was very active in 1980. This recent geologic activity has brought a host of minerals to the surface of the earth in a jagged high altitude configuration. Snow, ice formation, rain and time have broken these recent formations down into trace minerals that are then transported by creeks and rivers to lakes and reservoirs. Klamath Lake is one of these trace mineral recipient reservoirs.
The second reason why AFA is so plentiful in Upper Klamath Lake is the abundant source of ever-moving, pure, high pH water. Snow and rain falling on the mountains surrounding Klamath Lake not only bring minerals to the lake but they bring a clear pure source of water which drains through Klamath Falls down the Klamath River all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Nowhere does it stall.
There are several unique geographic factors affecting the natural production of AFA. In other words there is no other place in the world that has all the factors below except Klamath Valley. And thus far, AFA, Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae has resisted all attempts at cultivation.
Latitude – Klamath Lake is far enough north that it experiences long summer days and short winter days. The angle of the sun is very low in the sky in the winter. As such, the sun’s rays cannot penetrate into the water to provide energy for photosynthesis. AFA Klamath Blue Green Algae is able to remain dormant in the winter.
Fresh Water – Crater Lake is the purest source of water in North America. Situated at 7500 ft. and approximately 30 miles North of the lake, this water is the primary source of water for Klamath Lake.
Specifically, Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae contains more than 20 antioxidants, 68 minerals and 70 trace elements, all amino acids (essential and non-essential) and important enzymes.
Article Resources : http://klamathvalley.com/what-is-afa/