Blue-Green Algae and the Unbearable Importance of Linking

This is about something I learned nine years ago, and about how different the Web has made the world since then.

In 1996, I was introduced to a product known as Blue-Green Algae. BGA, as I’ll call it, was presented as the nutritional supplement that would fix all the damage caused by our modern, nutrient-poor diet. BGA’s supporters were also its distributors, in an Amway-style multi-level marketing structure. BGA was promoted by word of mouth and in a body of literature published by its manufacturer, Cell-Tech of Klamath Falls, Oregon. The benefits to be had by taking BGA were enthusiastically listed in a Q&A section headed “The secret of perfect cellular balance is proper cellular nourishment.”. A key element in the BGA narrative was the critical role played by minerals and trace elements, the presence or absence of which would make the “difference between vibrant health and chronic disease.” One brochure presented a detailed case:

I was intrigued by all this, and wanted to learn more. In all of the descriptions of how BGA’s properties set it apart from conventional foodstuffs, one solid lead presented itself. In the brochure shown above it was said that a “recent study from the Firman Bear report, based on research conducted at Rutgers University concluded that commercially grown and organically grown vegetables … had significant nutritional differences.” A table was presented in evidence, seen at the lower right above. Here it is at larger scale:

I wanted to know more about this “Firman Bear Report”, but how was I to find it? In 1996, the Web was in its infancy, and Google had yet to transform electronic research. Even so, there were a few search tools available, and I was able to discover that Dr. Edward Firman Bear (1884-1968) had been a highly respected agronomist and soils chemist, and that a chapter of the Soil Science Society of America was named after him. So far so good — but, if Dr. Bear had died in 1968, how likely was it that a “recent study” had been derived from his work? A little more electronic digging turned up a citation:

Bear, Firman E, Stephen J. Toth and Arthur L. Prince. “Variation in Mineral Composition of Vegetables.” Proceedings of the Soil Science Society of America, 13:380-384, 1948.

This was progress. The study might not qualify as “recent” by many folks’ standards, but I had a citation. The next step was to get my hooks on the report. Anyone who has done much academic research is aware that the number of journals in the world is so huge that only a few of the largest university libraries can carry more than a small fraction of them. The Proceedings of the Soil Science Society of America proved to be outside the holdings of any university in Colorado, and with my pitiful Public Patron card, there was little I could do to get the document. With some reluctance, I gave up the quest.

Fast-forward three years. In 1999, I was taking graduate courses at CU. One day, something reminded me of Bear et al., and I realized — hey, with a student’s library card, I can get Inter-Library Loan! By filling out a form and waiting two weeks, I was able to get a copy of the study. It contained a table, parts of which seemed familiar:

The alert reader will have noticed that the five vegetables listed in the BGA brochure, and the mineral contents for each, do indeed appear in the table from Bear et al. — but with very different labels for the rows. The table presented by Bear, Toth and Prince lists the mineral content of vegetables grown in the soils of several states. Because the focus of the study was cation uptake by plants, mineral content was expressed as “milliequivalents per 100 grams dry water” (an odd phrase, but it makes sense in the context of the experimental procedure). First listed are the state-by-state averages for each mineral in each vegetable, then the highest and lowest values obtained in all 204 samples. Thus, snapbeans grown in Georgia were reported to have an average of 38.3 meq/100g of magnesium. The highest and lowest values of magnesium in any snapbean sample were 60.0 and 14.8 meq/100g, respectively, and so on.[1]

When we look at the table presented in the BGA promotional brochure, we see the same numbers for the same vegetables — but now, each of the “Highest” rows has been relabeled “Organic” and each of the “Lowest” rows has been relabeled “Conventional.”

Now, six years later, I remember clearly how surprised I was by this. I thought “Why did they even bother to take a table from an actual paper that anyone could look up, and relabel the rows? Why didn’t they just make up the numbers from whole cloth?”

Here’s my guess: Someone, for reasons now forgotten, once transcribed the table and relabeled the rows. The table was then passed from hand to hand many times after being separated from its parent document. The writers of the BGA brochure had probably never seen the original paper, and most likely believed that the table they presented was valid. Hardly anyone was likely to go to the trouble I had just to get a copy of the Bear, Toth and Prince study. There is no need to assume that the writers of the brochure were working a conscious deception; they could take anything they’d been given, accept it on faith and print it without any reasonable likelihood of a casual reader discovering that it was false.

But my library card was not the only thing that had changed. Between 1996 and 1999, the Web grew a lot. Suddenly it was possible to do a Google search for “blue green algae” and discover a number of interesting things about the product, the company and its founders — such as the fact that Cell-Tech is descended[2] from another company, and was apparently founded in order to shed the legal baggage of its predecessor. In 1986, a court found that Blue Green Manna products had been mislabeled and misleadingly advertised, and issued a permanent injunction against Victor Kollman and K. C. Laboratories forbidding further sales of Blue Green Manna. Fortunately for the algae business, Victor’s brother Daryl had started Cell-Tech International a few years before[3], and has continued to do business under that name ever since. By 1999, it was also possible to find references to BGA at sites ranging from Health Canada to MLM Watch. With a dial-up connection and a half-hour’s research, the consumer interested in BGA could easily discover that the elaborate framework of claims made for the supplement had little or no basis in fact.

Now, fast-forward to the present. Want to know about the “Firman Bear report”? Just Google[4] for “firman bear” — the top result is for the Rutgers University library system, where another link takes you to a page dedicated to information about the report, including the following:

This study is often misrepresented as evidence supporting the position that organically grown foods are superior in minerals and trace elements to those grown conventionally. In fact, the study did not compare synthetic fertilizer practice to organic.

Professor Joseph Heckman of the Rutgers Plant Science Department has prepared a packet of materials discussing the study including “disclaimers” about its relevance to organic farming. If you would like to receive the packet, contact: Professor Joseph Heckman
Dept. of Plant Science
Rutgers University, Foran Hall
59 Dudley Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
heckman (SHIFT – 2)
732-932-9711 Ext. 119

Another link takes you to the study itself.[5] That’s right — the whole blessed thing is now on line! I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about this, considering the effort I’d expended just a few years ago to get a copy — but there is no doubt that this is a good thing all around.

So — in our enlightened present times, there is no reason for the health-conscious consumer to remain in the dark about BGA, right?

Not quite.

If we go back to our Google search for “firman bear” and examine the hits that come after Rutgers, we find that most give an essentially correct account of the study’s conclusions. But not all. One site invokes Bear et al. to support its assertion that “the depletion of dozens of minerals from the soil continues to wreak havoc with our metabolic enzyme systems–gifting us with the chronic diseases of our time.” Another cites Bear, then concludes that “It is quite clear that the vitamin and mineral content in our food supply is continuing to diminish.” Even today, we can find the mislabeled table continuing to be offered as evidence that organically grown crops contain higher concentrations of minerals — for example, here and here. Dr. Bear deserves to be remembered for his contributions to soil science, but his immortality has taken the form of being the most misquoted figure in the history of the discipline.

How about BGA, then? Surely, in our information-rich age, any over-exuberant claims for algae’s benefits cannot survive the withering heat of scrutiny, can they? One can only wish. Cell Tech International continues to sell a line of products containing “nutrients that promote physical well-being” and providing such benefits as “nutritional assurance for the mind” and “high-quality nutrition for the perfect balance of physical energy and mental performance.” At another location, BGA is still touted as a treatment for ADHD and an immune system booster. Until recently, one site sold BGA as the “Natural Wonder Food” Chlorella, claiming that it would

  • Build your immune system
  • Detoxify the heavy metals and other pesticides in your body
  • Improve your digestive system, including decreasing constipation
  • Focus more clearly and for greater duration
  • Improve your energy level
  • Balance your body’s pH
  • Normalize your blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Eliminate bad breath
  • Fight cancer

In February, the FDA pointed out that it is illegal to make such claims unless and until their truth has been demonstrated. Faced with the choice between backing up those claims and toning them down to avoid legal action, the distributor deleted every claim specifically objected to by the FDA, and continues relentlessly to plug Chlorella as a miracle product.

I began this post promising a history of what I’d found out about BGA some years ago, and a discussion of how the Web has changed the world since that time. I’m done with the BGA story.[6] As to the Web, I can only point to this experience as an example of what others have observed (and done it much better) before me:

Thanks to the Web, more people can acquire more information, more quickly, than ever before.

Thanks to the Web, more people can acquire more misinformation, more quickly, than ever before.

[1] The figure of 15.5 for the lowest calcium content seems to be in error, since the average for Georgia is given as 14.5. This is probably a typo.

[2] Here, as elsewhere, I link to the Wayback Machine’s archive from the period in question — in this case, 1999. The page has been updated since then.

[3] The company’s first web page, ca 1996, dates its founding to 1980. It makes no mention of Victor or Blue Green Manna.

[4] Remember, before “Google” was a verb, when the user had a choice of six search engines, any one of which returned a random grab-bag of useless results? I don’t miss those days, either.

[5] At the time of writing, Rutgers’ server appears to be down. All praise be to the Wayback Machine!

[6] You can cheer quietly, you know.

31 Responses to “Blue-Green Algae and the Unbearable Importance of Linking”

  1. Brian Says:

    The web is the new wild, wild west. The signal-to-noise ratio isn’t too good. I did a little googling on Chlorella and Dr. Joseph Mercola.

    On his site you can read
    – How drinking pasteurized milk is linked to autism
    – The Bird-Flu is a hoax
    – That HIV is a harmless virus…it’s AZT and the antiviral drugs that are killing people
    – That Aspartame is a dangerous food additive
    – That the smoke detector industry is covering up research showing that more people are killed every year falling from ladders and stepstools while trying to replace smoke detector batteries than are killed in house fires.

    OK, I made that last one up.

    Trouble is, the motivated reader will believe almost anything. Sometimes the motivation is just entertainment, sometimes it’s for an underlying agenda. We know Dr. Mercola’s purpose – it’s to sell powdered slime-mold for its weight in silver. (OK, it’s algae in pill form. $40/pound algae.) What’s the reader’s purpose? Why do people buy into this?

    Suspension of disbelief is one answer. If you don’t believe, it’s not fun. Ever heard that if you have a dream of falling and hit the ground before you wake, you’ll actually die in your sleep? If I die in my sleep, how can you know what I was dreaming?

    For those who are suspicious of authority or of big business, there’s satisfaction in finding confirmation. However unlikely the story, the reader motivated to believe will believe. If I’m a motorcyclist who wants to ride helmetless or a driver afraid of my own airbag, I’m motivated to believe that motorcycle helmets are useless or that airbags kill more people than they save. If I’m a gun owner concerned about gun control, I’m motivated to believe in a secret UN takeover of the government. If I’m a parent worried about my kid’s diet or someone sick looking for a cure my doctor can’t provide, I’m motivated to buy into goofy dietary supplements or wacky cure claims. And if I’m motivated to buy, there will always be someone telling me what I want to hear in order to sell.

  2. stevel Says:

    Thank you. This is why I read your site (i.e. we share the same bias towards fair and reasonable claims).

  3. Robert Says:

    There’s been alot of scientific studies conducted on AFA Blue green Algae.
    I’m starting to post a few here

  4. site admin Says:

    Thanks for that link, Robert!
    I’ll confess that I’m a little bit skeptical of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, just because it’s tough to be independent when your publisher is a trade organization.
    Nevertheless, the study does appear to be a serious attempt to examine the scientific evidence (as opposed to marketing hype) for immune system-related therapeutic benefits of Spirulina, which makes it a giant step in the right direction.

  5. Robert Says:

    But you know they (JANA) are not the scientists, just a publisher and most all references are external. Besides, where else would one publish naturals… not in the drug filled JAMA right?

    I used to take Spirulina until I discovered blue green algae from Klamath Lake, which I now enjoy much more than Spirulina due to its effectiveness.

  6. Robert Says:

    BTW Your “references to BGA at sites ranging from Health Canada” is misleading because the blue green algae they reference is not from Klamath Lake, Oregon, which is pristine.

  7. site admin Says:

    Glad you brought that up, Robert!
    As it turns out, Cell Tech is now being sued for wrongful death, the alleged cause being microcystin contamination — the very same issue brought up in that 1999 Health Canada post.
    In that light, my citing of Health Canada appears to be not a bit misleading.
    In fact, though I did not belabor the point above, it appears at least likely that Cell-Tech’s Klamath Lake blue-green algae, pristine though it may be, is not only worthless as a dietary supplement, but actually poisonous. Since the Melissa Kay Blake case is in the news now, it seems only appropriate that I research it a bit for a new post. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Robert Says:

    I have not been able to verify such article – your sources are not valid… although it does state “there has been no evidence provided by doctors”. I don’t play judge. The things some people say they find in a can to make a buck.

    It’s pretty ignorant of you to state that the most powerful food on the planet is worthless! Where in the world did you come up with that? At this juncture, I don’t know why I’m even bothering with you here… looks like you need some education. Do you know why your urine is florescent yellow when you take regular vitamins?

    Wild Grown Organic
    AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae)
    Amounts Perfectly Balanced by Nature
    Typical Nutrient Composition (per gram)

    Protein: 60.00%
    Essential Fatty Acids:
    Fat: 4.00% Alpha-Linolenic Acid (Omega 3: 29.50 mg
    Gamma-Linolenic Acid (Omega 6): 6.00 mg
    Carbohydrate: Less than 1gram
    Fiber: 1.50%
    Chlorophyll: 0.59%
    Calories: 3.9Cal / .016kJ
    Moisture: Less than 5.00%

    Boron 10.00 mg
    Calcium 14.00 mg
    Chlorine 464.00 mcg
    Chromium 0.53 mcg
    Cobalt 2.00 mcg
    Copper 4.00 mcg
    Germanium 38.00 mcg
    Flourine 0.27 mcg
    Iodine 0.53 mcg
    Iron 350.70 mcg
    Magnesium 2.20 mg
    Manganese 32.00 mcg
    Molybdenum 3.30 mcg
    Nickel 5.30 mcg
    Phosphorus 5.10 mg
    Potassium 12.00 mcg
    Selenium 0.67 mcg
    Silicon 186.70 mcg
    Sodium 2.70 mg
    Tin 0.50 mcg
    Titanium 23.30 mcg
    Vanadium 2.70 mcg
    Zinc 18.70 mcg Vitamins
    Provitamin A Beta Carotene 2000 IU
    Vitamin E 1.70 IU
    Thiamin B1 4.70 mcg
    Ascorbic Acid (C) 6.70 mg
    Riboflavin B2 57.40 mcg
    Biotin 0.30 mcg
    Niacin B3 .16 mg
    Folic Acid 1.00 mcg
    Pantothenic Acid B5 6.80 mcg
    Choline 2.30 mcg
    Pyridoxine B6 11.10 mcg
    Cobalamin B12 8.00 mcg
    Inositol 0.35 mg
    Vitamin K 40 mcg
    Typical Amino Acid Content (per gram)
    Essential Amino Acids and Non-Essential Amino Acids
    Arginine 38 mg
    Methionine 7 mg
    Alanina 47 mg
    Glutamine 78 mg
    Histidine 9 mg
    Phenylalanine 25 mg
    Asparagine 47 mg
    Glycine 29 mg
    Isoleucine 29 mg
    Threonine 33 mg
    Aspartic Acid 7 mg
    Proline 29 mg
    Leucine 52 mg
    Tryptophan 7 mg
    Cystine 2 mg
    Serine 29 mg
    Lysine 35 mg
    Valine 32 mg
    Glutamic Acid 4 mg
    Tyrosine 17 mg

    Data listed above are averages only. As with any wild-crafted product, seasonal variations can and will occur since its feed and growth are not artificially controlled.

    Every blue green algae product produced undergoes rigorous quality control and testing procedures to ensure absolute purity, potency, freshness, and freedom from microbiological contamination.

    Natures perfect combination of nutrients, 100% assimilable by the body.

  9. Robert Says:

    Cell Tech’s Response
    To the “Berkeley Wellness Letter”
    A cynic once wrote that “no good deed goes unpunished.” He may have been a subscriber to the Berkeley Wellness Letter. Certainly he would have subscribed to the apparent opinion of the letter: no science is so significant that it cannot merely be ignored. That is what the BWL appears to have done when addressing the growing body of scientific inquiry regarding the benefits of Super Blue-Green Algae. The following is a response to a few of the more outrageous statements and methodology (or lack of methodology!) exhibited by the BWL:

    “In 1997 we questioned the value of all blue-green algae and pointed out that algae was easily contaminated.”

    In 1997, Cell Tech shared a significant amount of information with the Chairman of the BWL, including

    * current scientific research,
    * quality control procedures, and
    * scientific literature review

    Unfortunately, the BWL has neither reported nor commented on this information, much less made it available to the public, choosing instead to make sweeping statements that lack either scientific substantiation or historical evidence.

    Any food may be “easily contaminated.” For that very reason Cell Tech has extensive quality control records. After 17 years of operation, there is not one documented case of “adverse events” associated with Cell Tech products. The FDA (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, MMWR 42(41): 1993, Oct 22) reports that foodborne infections by Salmonella alone cause an estimated 6.5 million cases of human illness and 9000 deaths annually in the United States … but no reports of illness or other “adverse events” associated with Cell Tech!

    When the BWL lumps “all blue-green algae” into a single class, it gives yet another evidence of its lack of scientific specificity. There are thousands of different species of algae, and scientific information regarding health benefits is available for only a few species. Cell Tech harvests Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Upper Klamath Lake.

    “It’s not known how much microcystin in blue-green algae would be enough to make a person sick.… no one knows what a safe limit is.”

    Cell Tech has been working in collaboration with well-known experts in toxicology from Wright State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Illinois. Cell Tech has always been extremely proactive in addressing such issues. And it is significant that in addition to our own manufacturing quality control standards and testing procedures to assure purity standards, there has never been a documented case of intoxication in more than a decade of Cell Tech manufacturing and marketing of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Upper Klamath Lake. There are, however, tens of thousands of testimonials regarding the benefits of algae, and there is a growing body of scientific research … none of which is reported or even noted by BWL.

    Risk assessments have been performed by the University of Illinois, by Dr. Gary Flamm, ex-head toxicologist at the FDA in Washington, and by the Oregon Health Division. Although they disagree on a variety of points, they all determined a safe level. The proposed safe levels varied between 1 and 15 ppm. Most of the studies on which scientists relied for risk assessment were performed with pure toxin dissolved in drinking water. A study recently published, the only one using the toxin as part of dietary blue-green algae, established a safe level of 10 ppm. So levels of the magnitude of 10 ppm and below are known to be safe. Levels known to “make someone sick” are of the order of 10,000 to 20,000 ppm. Where does Cell Tech clock in? In the safe range, of course, and in compliance with the current Oregon regulation.

    “There’s no evidence of any benefits for children, and particularly not for Attention Deficit Disorder.”

    Cell Tech does not manufacture any products for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder, so we are disinclined to respond to this statement; except to say that when BWL says “no evidence,” it once again demonstrates its lack of scientific curiosity or serious, responsible scholarship. A study performed by the Massachusetts General Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University, demonstrated that animals eating Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Klamath Lake led to an increase in plasma EPA. Other research studying the effect of algae on brain activity strongly suggests that blue-green algae supplementation increases attention. This certainly is not proof of anything … but a serious scientist would certainly consider it “evidence.”

    “Testing 36 samples….he [Dr. Duncan Gilroy] found microcystins in 35 of them.”

    To say that 35 contained microcystin is like saying most of the drinking water in the US and Canada contains arsenic: both statements are true; both are misleading … since the issue is not the presence but the amount. In 1997 a ruling was adopted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) regulating the permissible amount of microcystin in blue-green algae products. Since then, random sampling has been performed by the ODA, which subsequently expressed its satisfaction at the way the industry responded to quality control levels and complied with State standards.

    “The FDA has recorded 46 ‘adverse events’ from people taking blue-green algae but does not yet know if the algae was really the cause of the various illnesses reported.”

    Again: lousy science and misleading journalism. These are neither scientific studies nor even substantiated reports. The FDA has not investigated these reports; it merely passes them along! Compare that to two double-blind studies performed by two universities and involving more than 140 people: Only one case of adverse effect was reported … and in that case, the participant was receiving the placebo!

    But don’t take our word on this one: make your own judgement. You can get to the source of this information at the “Special Nutritionals Adverse Event Monitoring System” of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition ( When you go there, look at a number of food stuffs for “reports” of “adverse effects.” You will find the following examples:

    * Wheat:18
    * Honey: 20
    * Chocolate: 17
    * Aspartame:13
    * Blue-green algae:33
    * Vitamin C: 143.

    “There is no evidence that blue-green algae has any health benefits… [Varro Tyler] has stated that blue-green algae is unimpressive as a source of nutrients. Eating a carrot would do you more good.”

    Once again the BWL betrays the prejudice that compromises its criticism and trivializes its claim to scientific inquiry. “No evidence” is not a challenge to Cell Tech, but to the scientists who have published the following studies:

    * The ability of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae to decrease cholesterol was studied by Massachusetts General Hospital, and the results were reported at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society(1) ( Other blue-green algae were also shown to decrease cholesterol(2,3).
    * The ability of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Klamath Lake to improve the outcome of the treatment for mild traumatic brain injury was presented at the 3rd World Congress on Brain Injury held in Quebec City, June 1999(4).
    * Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was shown to have anti-cancer properties using the Ames test(5).
    * Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was shown to trigger within two hours the migration of natural killer cells(6).
    * A retrospective clinical study performed by the University of Illinois suggested benefits in cases of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorder, depression, hypertension and viral infections(7).
    * Blue-green algae were also shown to have anti-viral properties, especially with regard to AIDS(8) (review with more than 100 references).

    Cell Tech does not make claims for its products based upon this science, but we do make a request of BWL: If there is “no evidence that blue-green algae has any health benefits,” how do you classify these studies? And what apology do you have for the scientists and academics who, rather than responding to the prejudices and unchallenged opinions of the past, are working to push forward the more serious work of scientific investigation. We do not yet fully understand all the benefits of blue-green algae. Were we to rely only on the broadsides of publications such as BWL, we never would.


    1. Kushak R, Drapeau C, van Cott E, Winter H (1999) Blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae as a source of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and a hypocholesterolemic agent. Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Chemistry and nutrition of highly unsaturated fatty acids. March 21-25, Anaheim, Ca.

    2. Rolle I, Pabst W (1980) The cholesterol-lowering effect of the unicellular green alga Scenedesmus acutus 276-3a. I. Effect of drum-dried algal material. Nutr Metab 24(5):291-301.

    3. Hori K, Ishibashi G, Okita T (1994) Hypocholesterolemic effect of blue-green alga, ishikurage (Nostoc commune) in rats fed atherogenic diet. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 45(1):63-70

    4. Valencia A, and Walker J (1999) A multi-axial treatment paradigm for mild traumatic brain injury to achieve reparative functional metaplasticity, 3rd World Congress on Brain Injury, IBIA, Quebec City, June 1999.

    5. Lahitova N, Doupovcova M, Zvonar J, Chandoga J, and Hocman G (1994) Antimutagenic properties of fresh-water blue-green algae. Folia Microbiol 39(4):301-303.

    6. Manoukian R, Citton M, Huerta P, Rhode B, Drapeau C, and Jensen GS (1998) Effects of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (L.) Ralphs on human Natural Killer cells, In Phytoceuticals: Examining the health benefits and pharmaceutical properties of natural antioxidants and phytochemicals, IBC Library Series, 1911, chap. 3.1, p.233-241.

    7. Krylov VS, Drapeau C, Hassell C, Millman JD, Strickland JW, and Schaeffer DJ (1999) Retrospective epidemiological study using medical records to determine which diseases are improved by Aphanizomenon flos-aquae supplements. Submitted.

    8. Schaeffer DJ and Krylov VS (1999) Anti-AIDS activity of extracts and compounds from algae and cyanobacteria, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, in press.

  10. Walt Says:

    Very interesting arguments. I am a novice to blue green algae. A couple of questions I have:

    1) Why the 33 adverse reports for blue green algae?
    2) Is Klamanth Lake the only source of BGA? Is that a marketing scheme? Do other products with BGA that are not from Klamanth Lake have equal health benefits, safety, efficacy, etc.?

    I see the product everywhere now: GNC, VitaminShoppe, etc. What is its product history?

  11. site admin Says:

    Excellent questions!

    As to 1), it would appear that most BGA contains some level of microcystin contamination. However, the level that poses some threat to health is hotly debated. Oregon public health authorities set the target at 1 ppm, but they admit that they don’t have a reliable test for levels so low, and use 2 ppm as a practical threshold. I’m working on a post to discuss this further.
    As to 2), the best single article I’ve seen on BGA generally is the Berkeley Wellness Letter’s:
    Be aware that the accuracy and fairness of that article is bitterly disputed by Cell Tech. Hey — c’est la vie.
    As to your question regarding BGA’s product history, I’ve discovered that Cell Tech’s history has been … shall we say, colorful. More in my next post.

  12. Walt Says:

    Thanks for the info.

    I have seen the product from Klamath Valley Botanical’s “Best Blue Green Algae” as well. However, it is not even sold in the US? Only Japan and Germany.

    How many companies manufacture out of Klamath Valley?

    It is very confusing how and why this product seems to have so much controversy surrounding it, and yet I may buy it at any local GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, etc. with a five minute drive.

    Amazon is selling American Health Supplement’s “Klamath Blue Green Algae” for $22. Amazon lists over 200 products with numerous brands that include some sort of blue green algae. Many are spirulina, but still the whole business to a naive consumer seems enshrouded in mystery.

  13. Rufus Says:

    Why in the hell would you do something like post Heckman’s email address??? Don’t you care that spiders will pick it up and you’ve just assured that he’ll be inundated with spam??? Or don’t you care???

  14. site admin Says:

    The excerpt posted was taken directly from Rutgers’ web site (, where Heckman’s e-mail address has been posted openly for several years.

    I have corresponded with Prof. Heckman by e-mail (he’s a very courteous and helpful guy, by the way), and he seems to have no trouble filtering real mail from spam.

    If he is inundated with spam, I doubt that this obscure little web site is to blame for much of it — nevertheless, your point is well taken as regards good web hygiene. I have obfuscated Heckman’s e-mail address and will keep an eye out for such things in the future.

    Just in case you forgot to ask me if I care, I do. I really do.

  15. Katie Says:

    So far I see most of you have referenced “CellTech”, Do any of you know of the Ancient Sun Blue Manna and Cystal Manna products and can advise of them, please? And how long do these capsules last in cool dry storage on average?

  16. Zelda Pinwheel Says:

    Cell-Tech didn’t sell Chlorella. The BGA from Klamath Lake and which was sold by Cell-Tech is Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (afa) and is vastly different from CHlorella, which does not contain PEA (as does AFA) or stimulate the Natural Killer Cells (as does AFA) or mobliize adult bone marrow Stem Cell Migration (as does AFA)
    Different species of BGA!

  17. Jennifer Says:

    I am also interested in any information on Ancient Sun’s Blue Manna And Crystal Manna products. I have been taking them for the past two months as recommended by my accupuncturist. I’d appreciate any input here.

    And does anyone have anything to say about taking spirulina in conjunction with wild blue green algae?

    Many thanks for your site and the interesting dialogue.

  18. Poul Says:

    Cell Tech has always been extremely proactive in addressing such issues. And it is significant that in addition to our own manufacturing quality control standards and testing procedures to assure purity standards, there has never been a documented case of intoxication in more than a decade of Cell Tech manufacturing and marketing of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae from Upper Klamath Lake.

  19. Jay - B.S.N. Says:

    Simply amazing how some of you ‘scientists’ discredit everything that challenges your prestige titles and considerable professional clout as the expense of actually helping people. This of course doesn’t exonerate our responsibility to be informed consumers, but to put your wellness in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies or the ‘scientific community’ is truly insanity.

  20. Ken Says:

    Cell Tech has recently changed their name to Simplexity Health. All the factual data anyone may require is located at: Personally, I’ve been a super blue green algae consumer over 14 years and very much enjoy the benefits.

  21. Ken Says:


  22. Kenna D. Curry Says:

    I am researching a new product made from AFA. Thank you for having this site available.

  23. Tammy Says:

    I have been advised to take BGA (Sunny Green) as a dietary supplement for weight loss. I was told this BGA will suppress my appetite. After reading about this mercury poisoning, I am scared to take it. Is this stuff safe to take or what? I am clueless when it comes to herbs but I don’t want to take diet pills, etc..I want to make my body do the work…Thanks for any advice!

  24. Ken Says:

    I have been consuming and marketing Super Blue Green Algae more than 14 years with wonderful results. Just giving away a few samples sometimes gets me new customers within 1/2 hour…

  25. Deborah Rose Says:

    My Mother has had very bad, Osteoarthritis and also Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

    Skeptical that anything else, after taking known Natural supplements and also Medical drugs, I decided to try BGAlgae.

    Improvement in quality of life has been dramatic and sustainable. After a very short period of taking Bluegreen Algae, the Carpal Tunnel, has dissipated to the extent that the joint is movable, and is not sore. Her Dr is amazed and cannot find the Carpal shall we say. He is not treating her for that anymore. Her Osteo has improved to the pint where her “bumps” on her toe joints are also disappearing , less obvious , and the pain that was always present is no longer.
    Mental clarity I have observed is increased as well as her energy levels. This I have also notice improvements in myself, namely clarity, energy, digestion, and my Rhumatoid is less troublesome.
    I have also noticed my own clarity and ability to solve very arduous tasks is far easier. My Central Nervous System is calmer. I took the product as well as i wanted to see if there were any improvements not just hoping to have them and with the quality of my Rheumatoid bumps on toes and nil pain, I am very happy I took the product.

    To anyone unsure, this product from what I have read extensively and have researched even more so, in small does, at least from my readings, millions of people all over the USA and now the World are still alive and many reporting improvements. So if nothing else, happy alive people. Try it and if nil to you, Ok you have not denied yourself. I ensured our Medical Practitioner was aware of this “Test’.
    Now we have a blood test every month or so, to see what our body chemstry is doing for us or otherwise. This also helps our Dr., and is on file.

  26. Kris Says:

    I am curious if Mannatech Ambrotose is similar in any way to Simplexity’s SBA. How do I choose between the two products? I have tried both for very short terms and they both give me similar results of increased energy and better mood.

  27. site admin Says:

    As best I can tell, the two products are quite similar. Both Mannatech and Simplexity (formerly CellTech) claim great things for their products, and both achieve them through the miracle of the placebo effect. Basically, it comes down to you — that is, which one do you believe in more? If you can convince yourself that one product or the other is superior, you will feel better using that product. If you need assistance convincing yourself, both companies have extensive websites designed to help you in that effort. In the end, it comes down to mind over body. Hope this helps!

  28. Carol Says:

    Kris, I am currently taking Mannatech Ambrotose and have been taking it for about a month. About 4 years ago I worked for a chiropractor and we both started taking cell tech. About 3 months on cell tech my joint pain disappeared, mood swings and hot flashes disappeared, my eyesight improved by 50%. I had terrible time with acid reflux, that disappeared shortly after going on celltech. I will stay on the Mannatech Ambrotose for the same amount of time and see if I get the same results. If I don’t get the same results I will certaintly go back to cell tech. I’m sure you’re wondering why I stopped taking the product. I lost my job and couldn’t afford to stay on it. My daughter is paying for the Mannatech Amtortose. I will keep you posted.

  29. Apple Says:

    Does anyone have the following experience with the PEA in the Klamath Falls, E3Live, Blue-Green Algae? I belive that it gives me the slight “jitters”, similar to the effects of drinking too much coffee. Thank you if anyone has a word about this.

  30. Jenni Janes Says:

    I love your website. I work for a health food company in California and am also an affiliate for them. I’m not sure if your familiar with affiliate programs, but I thought ours could benefit you. If you become an affiliate you get 20% commission on all orders placed through your link. A banner with your unique link to our website is provided to you. You could place it on your website and start receiving commissions from sales. Commissions are paid every $100 through Paypal. Please let me know if you would be interested and I could help you. Here is the link to the site to sign up if you would like. You would just click on affiliate sign up, and follow the steps. A Paypal account is required. We have quite a few Health Oriented Websites and bloggers that are supplementing their income with this program, and I believe it could be of benefit to your site as well. We specialize in Health food supplements with Klamath Blue Green Algae one of the Greatest Superfoods on The Planet… Many Blessings to you. Jenni Janes

  31. Barry Says:

    I have been reading through this blog and now my eyes are spinning and my head hurts. I wonder if any of these products will fix that……. OK, kidding aside and much credit to those who have spent time on such detailed research.

    All I wanted to try to find out is if there is a less expensive alternative to Simplexity Health’s Omega Sun and Alpha Sun products that still offer the benefits I have experienced for many years.

    I can’t even remember why I selected them but when I don’t take them, and only 2 capsules each a day, I feel run down. When I take them, I don’t get a burst of energy or anything exciting to write home about but I do find that I am not wiped out by the end of the day. That alone is important to me!

    I have been taking them since 1992. The cost is now rivaling daycare! I need both. Is there a comparable product to Alpha and Omega Sun by Simplexity Health? Can anyone point out real comparisons rather than bias company charts designed to get me to buy theirs?