Caution on a Natural Shingles Treatment - Red Marine Algae

Published: 02nd July 2009
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Red Marine Algae Can Support the Immune System

Red marine algae have been widely used as a valuable food for thousands of years in coastal regions around the world. They have a high nutritional content, including trace minerals from the ocean. This group of algae is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, complex carbohydrates, enzymes, essential fatty acids, fiber and trace elements.

Besides their value as a food, red marine algae also provide health benefits as an immune boosting marine herb. In particular, red marine algae can assist the body's immune response to viruses. Some consider these algae to be one of the most beneficial ocean vegetables in the world, which has caught the attention of the modern scientific community for its immune supporting properties against skin disorders such as herpes. In addition to antiviral properties, red marine algae have been useful in weight-loss, lowering cholesterol and fat in the blood, and detoxifying and counteracting degenerative conditions.

The immunomodulating properties of red marine derive from a class of natural products called sulfated polysaccharides. These polysaccharides, which are long-chained complex sugars, stimulate interferon production as well as the production of other anti-tumor and immune-enhancing agents. These other agents include the main cells of the immune system, the T cells and B cells. Because algae boost the immune system, increase white blood cell count, and promote the growth of healthy intestinal microflora, algae supplements are ideal for improving the immune system as a defense against viruses.

Antiviral Activity of Red Marine Algae

Herpes has somewhat of a bad reputation; there are five types of herpes viruses that are very common, causing conditions such as cold sores, shingles and chronic fatigue or Epstein- Barr syndromes. Red marine algae help against all of these by strengthening the immune system. These algae can also help to reduce the number and severity of outbreaks when they occur. Eradication of the herpes virus will most likely never happen. However, short-term suppression of the virus has been achieved with diet and red marine algae.

In addition to improving immune function, sulfated polysaccharides have been shown in clinical trials to suppress HIV, herpes, and influenza viruses. Patients have reported a reduction and even a stoppage of viral growth. The antiviral polysaccharides found in red algae can stimulate the production of interferons, which work with the immune system and strengthen it. A long series of scientific studies has confirmed that red marine algae have potent antiviral applications and that, when used as a medicinal food, could play and important role for people who are susceptible to herpes (Cold sore) conditions, including genital herpes and shingles, as well as other viral conditions.

CAUTION: Here's What You Must Watch Out For

There is a very important botanical name game that you must be aware of. Algae are a group of many thousands of different organisms. Each type (species) has its own unique scientific name. At least 3,900, and possibly as many as 10,000, of these are red algae, which are almost exclusively marine. In other words, there are thousands of species of red marine algae.

Research on the antiviral and immune stimulating properties of algae has been done on many different species. They are not all the same, and they do not all impart the same health benefits. Unfortunately, when you go to any nutrition store looking for red marine algae, chances are that nobody there will have a clue about the wide variety of red marine algae.

This just means that you have to know exactly which type of red marine algae, by scientific name, is the one that offers the best chance for you against shingles. It is silly to have a product label that just says, "Red Marine Algae," on the front, although all such products do this. The most important thing for you to do is look carefully for where that actual scientific name is located, either in small print on the front of the label or in the ingredients list on the back. If there is no such scientific name anywhere to be found, you have no way of knowing whether you have the right species.

The Right Species of Red Marine Algae

The scientific name that you must look for is: Gigartina skottsbergii. I know this seems like a mouthful. And I don't blame botanists for foisting this on you. I used to do this to my students, too, and for good reason. Scientific names are unique and specific to only one kind of organism. When you are looking for "red marine algae," you could theoretically get any one of thousands of species, or at least any of the hundreds that have been studied for their medicinal properties. However, when you want one particular type, the only way to be sure that you have it is to know the correct scientific name.

Not very many companies provide this information, which is unfortunate. You really have to know this very important detail to know what you are getting.

Dr. Dennis Clark is a research scientist who evaluates and explains the best natural approaches to health. Get his free report, "Controlling Shingles Naturally," at

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