Algae, Nature, Man and Health


Algae, Nature, Man and Health


By Raymond Lisbona

Algae


Come my friend. T' is story telling time. Sit comfortably next to me and let me tell you a wonderful story about algae, Nature, Man and health. A very long time ago, about 3 billion years back, before any living thing roamed the face of the earth, when sea, land, wind and thunder were still colliding in tumultuous noise, an impish little ray of sun was playing over the ocean waves. It was squandering its youthful energy illuminating and probing the liquid surface when in a final rush it burst into an adorable little droplet of water charged with oxygen, carbon and other matter. From this fortuitous and exceptionally unique union, a one cell alga was born. Perhaps, who knows, it could not claim to be the very first living organism, probably having been preceded by viruses and bacteria, but scientists, those modern story tellers, say that is how life started and all living matter, man included, is thought to stems from that initial cell.


This magnificent primal alga, worthy of its father the Sun and mother the Ocean led in time to the emergence of about 25 000 different algae species. Some of these colonized the shallow shores of all oceans and seas, clinging to their guardian angel Earth, others still continue to explore their birth realm, carried by tides, currents and waves in their everlasting will to thrive. They developed various forms of reproduction, from cell division to sexual reproduction producing bisexual and unisexual organisms. Some grow to gigantic dimension of 300 feet, weighing over 200 pounds; others remain in microscopic size, all elaborate a host of shapes and structures. They also chose to drape themselves in a subtle color of brown, red, green, blue or yellow, that permits to distinguish between large groups.


Seawater, wherein our little alga was born, contains the full spectrum of elements composing all matter. To obtain the nutrients necessary for their growth, algae developed photosynthesis instead of roots, as plants would do at later periods. By photosynthesis, using solar energy, carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide, minerals and water surrounding them they are able to generate all their organic constituents, making them independent of other living organisms for survival. Algae contain a high concentration of Potassium, Chlorine, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur Phosphorus, Iodine, Iron, Copper, Manganese and a great variety of trace elements. They also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D3, E, K, phytohormones, pigments and proteins. They contain only a small quantity little fat (lipids) compared to a high percentage of glucides in the form of various saccharide compounds such as alginic acid, carrageenans and cellulose - included in this group are polysaccharides, commonly termed fibers.


From the point of view of Man, it is interesting to note that trace elements in organic compounds, as found in algae, are better assimilated by humans than in their mineral form. Minerals and trace elements participate in the biochemical reactions controlling human cell metabolism in general. Pigments are also very interesting compounds that participate in numerous metabolic reactions often performing anti-oxidant functions to combat aging. Proteins contained in algae are equally of importance. They include some amino-acids indispensable for humans: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalamine, threonine, tryptophane and valine.


Wonderful, extraordinary algae, not satisfied with their ocean playground they invaded lakes, rivers, glaciers, and all places where humidity, light and oxygen are found. Their proliferation is a formidable example of their power to adapt to and use the environment to their advantage in their lust for life. This diversity of species and habitats is an indication that their very nature must be made of a common strain of components indispensable to sustain life. The little free drifting algae suspended in water, going under the name of phytoplancton, are the first link in the food chain for maintaining the world's marine biological equilibrium - without them the whole life system would collapse. What is equally important for the global equilibrium is that algae are accountable for the production of about one third of our planet's oxygen and often act as anti-pollution agents.


Man is an integral part of Nature. Denying this relationship can only lead to detrimental effects on his health and well being. Adjusting his behavior to follow rules of Nature is certainly the key to his physical and psychological equilibrium. Living in harmony with Nature does not imply rejecting advantages provided by modern technology. It simply means dynamically adapting to the environment when the way of life imposed by present society does not comply with his fundamental needs. There is little chance for Man to be aggressed by his surroundings if he can live in symbiosis with Nature by taking, if need be, appropriate preventive measures. Needless to say, prevention is better than cure, by preserving the body's resistance to aggression rather than taking offensive action to re-establish health with the use of drugs that are never devoid of dangerous secondary effects.


The scientific and technological revolution that Man has been subjected to during the last hundred years has brought in its wake, too rapid, and in some cases artificial changes to which he has difficulty to adjust. He has seen the advent of the all encompassing Chemistry and its hordes of fabricated products, that some thought to be the cure to all woes. Fortunately others have begun to question such ideas in view of the after effects of drugs as opposed to a more natural approach to health. The road to health and well-being need not reject any approach but simply choose different itineraries to attain a set goal. Health is not the absence of illness, it is a state of total physical, mental and even social well being.


Man has retained a formidable link with the little alga - a label of his marine origin. Indeed human blood conserves unmistakable similarity with seawater. An analysis of both human blood and seawater reveals an almost identical chemical composition. Such harmony explains why seawater and algae by extension, can have such positive effects on his health by re-establishing equilibrium. The elements present in seawater whether found in a free state or fixed to organic molecules, whether in molecular or ionic form are always found in a condition that can be directly assimilated by living organisms. Sea water can rightly be considered as the first of all mineral waters, and is used by humans for both internal and external applications, exhibiting excellent therapeutic properties with multiple beneficial effects on blood circulation, hormone functions, immune mechanisms to mention but a few. The use of algae in a global, natural and preventive approach to health is certainly appropriate to build resistance to aggression. Their use, similarly to other natural therapies devoid of toxicity, can also be extended to cure a loss of equilibrium resulting from aggression. The choice of offensive drugs being retained only as a last resort in view if their possible dangers, to overcome a critical stage.


Algae concentrate elements found in seawater without distinction, polluting agents included, making some unfit for use in dietary, therapeutic or even cosmetic applications. Certain algae are capable of concentrating up to 10 000 times specific elements in the surrounding water. It is thus important to have some idea, without transforming one's self into a specialist, as to where they were harvested, how, under what conditions and at what period of the year, if they are to be used for such applications. It is equally important, from a user's point of view, to know which algae have been incorporated in a specific product as well as the manufacturing process employed to ensure the presence of various vitamins, enzymes, hormones and other elements. Indeed algae compositions differ and processing applying high temperatures for example will generally destroy many of the algae constituents.


Certain area such as Brittany in France are reputed for the quality of the natural growing algae harvested and the processing know-how leading to the production of very high quality products made entirely from marine algae or incorporating them. French cuisine has been making a growing use of algae to furnish very tasty and appealing dishes providing a wealth of beneficial nutriments. French health regulations have nonetheless limited the number of edible algae species to 14 although in the Far East, populations have been using many more for centuries. Some fresh water algae of quality are also cultivated in various countries such as Korea, and Japan. The number of species used in the production of cosmetic products is obviously much greater.


Depending on the use, various processes have been elaborated to retain the active ingredients contained in algae. If they are to be consumed raw, preparation ends after washing, otherwise they may be dried, cut in very small pieces or transformed into powders, their cells may be shattered at very low temperatures to extract the constituents permitting use as such or after incorporation in various preparations. They are used as vegetables, for teas, beverages, dietary supplements, additives, and a host of preparations for internal use. External usage comes in the shape of bath salts, soaps, creams, ointments and other products. The entire alga or only one of its constituents may be used for human, animal or even agricultural or industrial applications. The way they are prepared will condition the efficiency of the effects produced. Energy boosting, weight loss, anti-aging, stimulating, stabilizing, laxative, hypotensive, anti-cholesterol, cardio-tonic, cleansing are only a few of the benefits they can provide the human organism.


Various health establishments, in particular in France for the past hundred years, have been using algae and seawater to treat fatigue, over-weight, nervous disorders and aging, to mention only the most common ailments. They come under the headings of "thalassotherapy" and "balneotherapy" establishments, are extremely popular, have been recognized of public utility in view of their efficiency after very serious investigations tending to prove the contrary and are accepted by French Social Security as approved health establishments.


Asian populations have employed algae as food and in traditional medicine for centuries and continue to do so . Populations living along coastlines all over the world have consumed them at times of food scarcity, relegating their present use to additives, dietary supplements, medicine, cosmetics and similar products. Doubtlessly their pungent taste and smell have influenced this choice although attempts have been made to attenuate or transform these, with success, to make them more acceptable to Western preferences . It is nonetheless uncontestable that their contribution can be a great asset to counteract nutritional deficiencies in modern human diet by natural means. World Health Authorities have noted a worldwide deficiency in Iodine that algae could certainly help to combat.


Present life styles in western society are prone to generate and maintain physiological and psychological unbalance in Man . Combating nutritional deficiencies by the use of algae dietary supplements to re-establish lost equilibrium, is probably one of the easiest steps to take in order to recover and maintain health, with natural products, and live more in tune with Nature. A number of high quality products, manufactured by serious companies, are presently available on the market at very reasonable prices and there should be no excuse left to experience the wealth of benefits that the wonderful world of marine algae can provide.


Raymond Lisbona is one of the inventors of Ocean Miracle, Algo Dynamics's revolutionary natural dietary supplement for weight loss, well-being and anti-aging. He is the founder of "The Natural Health People" based in Tucson (AZ) and publisher of the company's free newsletter "Health with Natural Products" providing information on natural health, weight loss, anti-aging, well-being, algae and dietary supplements. Visit his web site at www.TheNaturalHealthPeople.com and subscribe to his newsletter at newsletter@TheNaturalHealthPeople.com