AFA, Blue-Green Algae Harvested from Lake Klamath, Oregon
The Klamath basin is home to the largest congregation of bald eagles in the lower 48 states and is the largest stop over for water fowl in the pacific fly way. It is an area well know for its tranquility and beauty.
Klamath lake is fed by one of the world's purest lakes, crater lake. 7,000 years ago, the mountain, then Mt Mazama erupted. The volcanic eruption that hollowed the mountain was estimated to be up to 7 times more violent than Mt St Helen's eruption and spread a thick layer of volcanic ash throughout the entire Klamath basin, covering 7 states and reaching as far as Canada.
Slowly, the crater filled up with water to become today's pristine crater lake. Carried from crater lake under immense pressure through miles of underground rivers and streams, the pure water is transported toward Klamath lake where in the nearby mountains numerous streams of astonishing beauty bubble up fresh, mineral rich water from the ground which flows into Klamath lake gathering additional nutrients along the way.
Because Klamath lake is a relatively undisturbed high desert region that receives intense sunlight, it is an ideal environment for the flourishing of AFA, a species of cyanto phyta.
The wealth of naturally occurring nutrients and minerals in Klamath lake is responsible for the abundant and unique growth of this extraordinary micro-algae. Studies conducted in the 1960s estimated that at any one point in time during the blooming season, Klamath lake contains up to 7,000 tonnes of wet algal bio mass.
With its abundance, AFA plays an important role in nourishing and maintaining the delicate ecosystem of Klamath lake and it's surroundings.
To ensure quality and safety, AFA is harvested according to a stringent quality control program. Each day prior to harvesting, samples of algae are collected and analyzed on a floating lake laboratory, to ensure the quality and purity of the bloom. Once the purity of an algal bloom has been established, harvesting operations commence.
Through extensive research, a proprietary method was developed to selectively retrieve AFA from the lake without contamination by other algal species and without damaging its sensitive eco system or the delicate algae.
AFA is a filamentus micro algae resembling a supple blade of grass. Contrary to other algal species with more rigid shapes, AFA sticks to surfaces or wraps itself around structures like a wire. Building on this property, barges with rotating wires were developed to selectively harvest AFA and leave behind other species of algae.
The harvested algae is virtually pure AFA. The algae collected on the rotating wires is then transferred onto a conveyor belt to maximize de-watering and then chilled through a heat exchanger before being transported to the processing plant. At the processing plant, using a proprietary process of centrifugation and filtration, the harvested AFA is treated to concentrate certain components, including specifically the l-selectin blocker responsible for supporting the release of stem cells from the bone marrow.
This concentrate of AFA is then dried to produce StemEnhance Ultra. StemEnhance Ultra is dried using a proprietary drying technology called hydro-dry, a unique and innovative drying technology.
This proprietary drying method uses heat transfer technology and specific properties of water to gently remove moisture from AFA while maintaining the maximum integrity of the nutrients and active compounds found in StemEnhance Ultra.
The superiority of this drying method over other drying methods has been confirmed in an independent study performed at Washington State University.
After a series of stringent tests to confirm its safety and purity, StemEnhance Ultra is then encapsulated and bottled in a pharmaceutical grade GMP certified facility.
GMP or good manufacturing practices is a state of the art, internationally recognized quality control program that ensures the highest quality in the manufacturing of dietary supplement products before being shipped to your home.
Micro toxins, Microcystin and algae
One common question/concern many people have about blue-green algae regards micro toxins/microcystin.
Tom Valenzuela, VP of Operations at Cerule, sets the record straight.
Tom is responsible for all harvesting, processing, anything that has to do with getting the algae from Lake Klamath to the finished product.
Photo by Sara Eldridge, U.S. Geological Survey.
'It's true, there's another type of algae that grows out there on the lake that's a micro toxin. It's referred to as microcystin, and it's really bad for human consumption in large quantities.
Some years ago, the permissible human consumption level was 17ppm, regular drinking water actually has trace amounts of microcystin and some other toxins in it.
About 10-12 years ago, the FDA lowered the permissible human consumption level to less than 1 ppm, which is very low, that's trace at best.
As soon as that happened, our scientists went to work. Ok, before it was 17ppm, now it's 1ppm, we've got to figure out a way to adapt. When we're harvesting out there, depending on the life cycle of the algae blooming, sometimes we get higher levels of microcystin.
If it's too high, we don't harvest at all, we cut it off at somewhere around 10ppm. We're the only ones in the world who can continue harvesting at that point. While everyone else is sitting around, waiting for the microcystin levels to drop, we're out there harvesting.
We have IP and patents, following the protocols of organic certification, for filtering microcystin without having to introduce a chemical or solvent. We're the only ones that know how to do it. We have filtration out there that gets it below 1ppm.
We test for microcystin on the lake, we test when it's pumped off the lake, we test when it's pumped into 225 gallon totes, we test before we put it into the flash freeze. Then we test once it's in the flash freeze. We test all along the way.
At the end we test for heavy metals, microcystin and everything else the FDA requires us to test for. At that point, we then send out samples to a 3rd party, then they test it. We're probably the biggest over testers in the world when it comes to not only microcystin, but a myriad of other things that are necessary and required to keep our product up to standard.
We have Organic certification, they come and check us out annually, doing a top to bottom check. We also have Halal and Kosher certification. It's not just one jurisdiction, like the FDA, it's the other 3 as well that come in and scrutinize everything we do.
Microcystin is only one of the many things we test for on the lake, but we're the only ones with the answer. Yes, microcystin does grow out there, but we have the answer on how to filter it out, so microcystin really isn't an issue for us.
We're aqua farmers, we have another layer of scrutiny that we have to endure from all these jurisdictions. We're ok with it, we're completely GMP certified and then we have these 4 other things we have to deal with on top of that because it's a wild harvest. We've never been shut down, we've never had fines.
Let's say the algae/whole afa is a peanut and if you were going to buy peanuts from anyone else, what you'll end up buying is the peanut shell, the membrane that surrounds the peanut, everything that was on that peanut when it was harvested. Everything gets mashed together, liquefied, and that's what you buy.
If you buy our peanuts, what we've created are 3 distinct methodologies that keep our products truly organic. We remove the peanut shell, and the reason you want to remove or at least crack that shell, is because we're trying to get to the extract that's been scientifically proven to help with the migration of stem cells. We're not eating it to get an over abundance of organically certified protein, even though the algae is a high source of protein.
What we're pin-pointing is the extract inside of that algae that's responsible for stem cell migration. That's what we're after. How do we do it?
We use the flash freeze methodology, which cracks or perforates the peanut shell so to speak. Here's where we differ from most other companies out there that know enough to lyse the cell so it can be digested easier. A lot of them don't have our methods, because they're so expensive. Others use solvents: butane, ethanol, there's other ones that actually melt the peanut shell structure, or the outside shell of the afa/algae.
We never use solvents, as the algae itself goes through rapid degradation. Our method is hard to do, hard to perfect, but we're always making improvements. We get rid of the shell without the use of solvents, then we use centrifuges to separate the extract. It's no secret, we show it off, we have very expensive centrifuges that take care of the separation of the shell from the extract responsible for stem cell migration that we're after.
This is where we concentrate it, we send it through an industrial sized, super high water pressure reverse-osmosis machine, that uses membranes to separate water from algae, before we send it to the most gentle drying technology. Which is refracted window driers.
The end product is in the high 90th percentile for nutrition value, color, purity.
A lot of companies aren't even lysing the algae, they're just selling whole afa liquid form, but comparing it to us, it's like grabbing a handful of peanuts or getting to the peanut without the shell and everything else. For every 1 of our peanuts, it's the equivalent of 2-3 other peanuts with all the shell, etc, on them.
For us, there's a lot of reasons why we're better, we're 100% organic, we never introduce chemicals. Most other companies differ from us, they use short cuts, but it's the only way they know how to do it.
It's amazing what we can do, but we're still doing research & development on what we've already improved upon, we have new improvements coming down the pipe. We're not just filling buckets with algae, putting it through a filter, throwing it in a bottle and sending it out. We go a lot deeper than that.
Our process facility is the best out there, there's nothing else like it in the world.
How do we do it better? We ask that every 2 weeks when the team meets together. What were some of the concerns we got from the last group to visit the facilities? One of the concerns was we'd like to have more transparency with your testing. Why don't we put examples of what 3rd party testing looks like out there?
For every load we bring in off the lake, it's tracked. We can account for every bottle. We can account for which day it was harvested, and from which machine the algae in a bottle was harvested.
On top of a certificate of analysis that we're safe, free of contaminants, this is what we tested for. The whole Organic/Halal/Kosher certification is daunting to maintain. Each one of them have their own rigorous testing. Kosher/Halal are very serious about any possibility of cross contamination.
3 years ago, we struggled out there on the lake, even though it equated to an average year. It was still more than enough, but there were a few times we fell behind, stumbled a little bit, but we dusted ourselves off and went into overload.
We improved our technology, we improved our methods of harvesting algae, storing algae. We could stop now, and we have a few years of algae banked.
That's the beautiful thing about all this, we have vertical integration. We actually build our own harvesters from scratch. We don't rely on anyone. Some of the methods we use in our process, we build in-house. If we need more driers, we build more driers. We don't do that until the demand dictates it.
The algae has a life cycle. It will start off where it's sparse, and we have a method for that. Then it gets heavier and heavier and blooms bigger, we have a different method for that, then it begins to die off. It goes through 4 or 5 life cycles in a season, which is usually mid-end June until the end of November, when the lake starts to freeze over.
We could have stopped a month ago and banked a years supply.'
'We harvest in 3 different methods. This one is a sucker, you see that snout goes down in [the water], then we slurp it right off the surface and then a whole bunch of drying tables, shaker tables, and vacuum belts and then it goes into the tank there.
This one, you know you've heard about the mycrocystin type of algae. These we do with fishing line and the fishing line doesn't harvest the bad stuff.
Oh yeah, wow.
This is the latest one and it works very, very well. There's times when 2 of our boats can get 2,000 gallons in 15 minutes. And you see how that, see how these slurpers drop down and then everything goes in there and the water's sucked out with these. Those green directioners, those are thrusters that suck all the water out of the tub and just leave the algae on the belt.
These are our small transport boats, that bring it into the barge off the harvesters. We have 5, we only have 4 out here, one of them we haven't been using, because we haven't needed it this year.
We've been really harvesting close, we don't harvest much in here, just right outside the point.
When you have an algal bloom, when it starts to when it abates, what's that time frame roughly?
Well, we had it about from the 2nd of June to about 3 weeks ago [early September], it never went away..'
'Now this is, this is where we do most of our harvesting and we always say it's the current of the lake. So all the.. up north is spring fed, I don't know if you've seen any pictures, crystal clear water rivers coming in.
Yeah, we've seen online, but not in real life.
Yeah, it's quite a deal and then we claim this is the current, the algae's clear.. for some reason it blooms along this ridge. And this is where we harvest. We harvest from about here north and it's all nice and that's our second island and as you see, you guys saw we're at squaw point, so there's a lot of lake left. You know.
Does anybody harvest way over there or up there this is where you found is the best?
Sometimes, this is what we say is fresh. The minute.. it'll be just like this and you'll see a little algae and in 15 minutes, I swear you can walk on it. It just comes up, and you're looking at it, you know. And if we see it starting to materialize, then we cut loose, we get on radio and then we're here when it's here. And that's where we say it's blooming. And it might be boom just for an hour, maybe 2, maybe 6, maybe all day, so it's really..
Totally mother nature, not predictable.
Distributed by: Cerule LLC
Irvine, CA 92612 USA