GREEN IS GOOD!
EAT YOUR VEGGIES, AND...
Ziggy and Buddy both will take beakfuls of powdered greens out of a spoon,
Buddy more so. However, it would be more readily consumed with oatmeal or other favorite foods. (Hint: the green powders don't
always disperse well, but if you have a friendly Bamix in your kitchen, it will make them behave, such as by mixing with an
egg for an omelet.)
My earliest memories of health food fanatics from the 1950s was of them constantly harping about the benefits of
yogurt, wheat germ oil, and various green powders and juices. Anecdotal testimony within the "alternate" community hypes the
use of spirulina, chlorella and cilantro for so-called "detoxification." Strangely enough, science has actually begun to validate
some of that. If, by "detoxification" they mean removing heavy metals, then there actually is evidence that some of the
greens that the "health" food people advocate eating can facilitate the removal of heavy metals from the body. The problem
there is that, if these substances chelate and help eliminate such metal ions in the body, logic would dictate that they would
probably also do the same thing to metal ions that we need in the body, so I wouldn't go out and start eating these algae
morning, noon, and night and think that they're going to cure all diseases known to man.
the most distinct, annoying, and idiotic fringe groups within the "alternative" community are the detox/purging fanatics,
individuals obsessed with "cleansing" their bowels and their livers, totally oblivious to elementary biochemical physiology.
The mania about "toxins" was understandable long ago, when we worried about actual threats to our health and that of our ecosystems,
threats such as DDT, But now we have pseudoscience being taught by, for instance, Hollywood actresses such as Suzanne
Somers, who merrily leads people onto the evil-toxins-as-the-cause-of-all-of-mankind's-ills bandwagon. The problem here is
that of the boy who cried wolf: when you start trying to get people alarmed about non-existent problems, then, when we
try to alarm them about real problems, they don't pay attention. Ms. Somers obviously didn't have to do any acting in Three's
The obsession with greens is understandable, though, and has a touch of validity:
your mother was right when she told you to eat your greens, and there's a germ of truth to what the "health" crowd has to
say. Don't pay any attention to their ridiculous claims, however; visit PubMed if you want to find out the truth.
Cilantro (coriandrum sativum) is often recommended by "herbalists" to remove mercury from the body
(although the "patients" they treat are often affected by imaginary mercury), and its usage is often thought of as quackery.
However, it has been found to be useful in the remediation of mercury contaminated water (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15721537). In mice, "administration of C. sativum significantly protects against lead-induced oxidative stress" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19902160). There is little evidence to back its use in animals that have already been poisoned, however, but it is
unlikely to cause any harm.
There is LIMITED evidence
to show that those substances, at least in the case of spirulina and chlorella, taken over a long term, can, in some circumstances,
reduce levels of some heavy metals from body tissue. One basis for the "alternate" hype on the use of these algae is that
they are actually used to remediate environmental heavy metal pollution, such as mercury contamination of a water supply.
The obvious problem is that, in consuming such a substance, you are consuming something that is known to concentrate heavy
metals from its environment, so you must be EXTREMELY careful of your source: in other words, if you buy cheap chlorella or
spirulina or other such product, you may be making your own problem--if you actually have a problem--worse. The other problem
is this: if those greens remove certain heavy metals, it is equally likely that they would remove some substances that you
WANT in the body, so you may be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. It would make sense to do it for a while, then
stop for a couple of days, then start again.
+ whey protein concentrate:
"The in vitro study showed that WPC [whey protein concentrate] and Spirulina showed
antioxidant, radical scavenging, and metal-chelating activities in dose-dependent manner." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20708378
Spirulina + zinc to treat arsenic
Spirulina on lead toxicity:
There have been far too many studies in poultry (and
numerous other animals) to cite, and part of the rationale that commercial parrot food makers include something like spirulina
in some diets is the fact that it is so well researched. AviTech, for instance, makes a "Super Green Food Mix" with both spirulina
and chlorella. Harrison's and Vita Prima also make a number of formulations containing spirulina. There might be idiosynchratic
reactions to it, as there might be to anything, and it is within the realm of possibility that a particular species might
have an unusual sensitivity to it, but I see none at the moment among companion birds, at least none that are verified by
science. There have been cases of toxicity from Klamath blue-green algae in humans a number of years ago, not from that algae
itself, but from another species that contaminated it.
would not go crazy with spirulina or chlorella though: balance is the key. High levels of dietary carotenoids can change your
skin color, and one carotenoid, canthaxanthin, has been sold specifically for that purpose--to create an artificial "suntan."
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infections. I never had any during my treatment, so I think my obsession paid off.
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This site has tips and observations about dealing with parrots,
and a few of my own views about human and parrot health concerns. I have a degree in biochemistry, so I am qualified to make
some statements about foods, medicines and supplements, but I am neither a veterinarian nor a physician, and I do
not practice human or veterinary medicine. You should certainly double-check any ideas you might get from me, or anything that
you might construe as advice, by consulting with an appropriate legally licensed professional. All content
on this site ©2006 through 2014 by George A. Butel. If you see any typos or any information that you feel is inaccurate
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