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Comments on Seaweed in a 2006 Health Tip: (The Truth About Kelp)

I recently answered an email with the subject: Factual errors concerning "The Truth About Kelp". I received a response filled with even more detailed comments which I won't be answering because the writer is so adamant in his own opinion that nothing I respond with would be adequate in his mind. I invite comments from others on this subject.

Pastor M's comments are in italics and my comments in bold.

Dear Pastor M,

I have addressed your issues below.

First, Rich Tucker's anecdote concerning his wife's problem with kelp tablets is not indicative of a problem caused by kelp. There is literally no information that could lead to that conclusion in his story. It is only one of many possibilities for the symptoms that occurred (i.e. "oozing pus from her joints"). More likely is a joint infection of some kind, unrelated to the kelp. Without repeated tests, it would be impossible to tell whether her problems were caused by kelp or any number of other possibilities, including disease, infection, allergy, etc. Certainly there is a possibility that kelp was the culprit, but the likelihood is quite low. Many other greater possibilities come to mind. This is not enough information on which to base a "Truth About Kelp" story.

This woman was healthy until she started taking the kelp. As soon as it was discontinued, the problems disappeared and never returned.

Second, it also seems unlikely that the woman in the story got fluoride poisoning from spirulina. Was this self-diagnosed, or was this discovered by laboratory tests? Spirulina supplementation has been proven in a number of studies to LESSEN the effects of fluoride poisoning, which seems contrary to the woman's story.

This woman's problems were verified by a physician using rigorous tests. It was a grueling search for the cause. The effects were debilitating to the woman.

Third, the reference to Leviticus 11 not stating "creature" is misinformation. For proper understanding of Old Testament references, one must go to the Hebrew (or Septuagint Greek) language. In fact, Leviticus 11 does use TWO terms that indicate "animals" as we would call them today.

One is the term "sherets" (Heb.) which is translated "move" or "moving" in many English translations. The actual meaning of "sherets" is "swarm" and is only used in Scripture of small, moving animals such as insects or small reptiles. The second term is "nephesh" (Heb.) which is "breath" and is used only of the higher creatures.

Have you ever heard of red tide? It is a swarm of seaweed (algae blooms) that produces toxins that kill fish and make breathing difficult for people at the beach when it or the fish it kills comes ashore.

And Moses ... lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of the servants; and all the waters that were in the river turned to blood. And the fish that were in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout the land of Egypt.

--Exodus 7:20-21

The Bible has absolutely NO references whatsoever to bacteria, whether plant, animal, or other. The ancient Hebrews had no concept of bacteria, so God had no reason to tell them about it. Besides that, it should be obvious that we cannot control our ingestion of bacteria of any type. It is utterly impossible! Every bit of your food is filled with bacteria, and there is no obvious way to sort among the plant, animal, and other types. You may be able to clean 99.999% of the bacteria out of what you breathe in, eat, drink, etc., but that 0.001% of bacteria still numbers more individual creatures than all the humans on Earth.

Of course, microbes are necessary for all life to exist, but you don't have to eat the stuff you can hold in your hands.

Are you certain that you have no algae in the fish you eat? If you think so, then you are sadly mistaken. Algae grows directly on the skin of many fish.

I can't find anything to verify that "algae grows directly on the skin of many fish."

Rich Tucker's final statement is utter nonsense. Water is cleaned by seaweed in the same way that sewage is cleaned by our trees, herbs, and vegetables. Tiny portions of the impurities in seawater are biologically processed by seaweed. Air is not only cleaned by ozone produced by lightning. It is also cleaned by plant life, including the ones we ingest. Tiny portions of the impurities in air, water, soil, etc. on land are cleaned by our trees, herbs, and vegetables, even the ones we eat daily. Fortunately, God has designed all plants (including seaweed and algae) with the cell walls that filter out the crap. What about all the "kosher" fish that "clean" that same water with their digestive systems (and defecate in the same water they eat and breathe in).

Greg Rorrer, a professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University said, "Marine seaweeds have a more efficient uptake mechanism than even terrestrial aquatic plants to at least neutralize organic pollutants." That sounds like cleaning the water to me.

Finally, seaweed is a PARTICULAR type of multicellular algae. It is generally regarded as plant life. There are other algaes that are regarded somewhere between animal and plant, but seaweed is not that type of life. This is, of course, a modern classification. Ancient peoples, including the Israelites viewed seaweed as plant life. Modern classifications have no relevance to Biblical interpretation of Leviticus 11 or other passages. For instance, bats were classified as birds in Scripture. They are classified as flying mammals now. If we wish to learn the truth of Scripture, then we need to interpret Scripture as it was meant to be interpreted.

Plants have roots and don't float around. The "roots" of algae are like tendrils that anchor but they do not deliver nutrients.

The truth is that God gave us seaweed to use and eat, the same as all other plants. Many types of seaweed have great health benefits.

Where in the Bible do you find anyone eating seaweed? You can find the eating of a gourd, figs, pomegranates, lentils, etc. (plant origins) but show me a reference to eating seaweed.

You should inform your readers of the errors in this article for their own sakes and for the sake of truth.

I would not tell people to eat pigs or shrimp. Why would I tell people to eat seaweed when I know it is not good for human consumption?

This article can be ignored just like the rest of the prohibitions in Leviticus 11. Certain people like to tell me or others, "Oh, this pork (shrimp, lobster, etc.) is so good. You should try it." Is this what you are trying to tell me about seaweed?



P.S. Seaweed (algae) is an important organism. I just don't think it is suitable for the diet of human beings. See the articles The Most Important Organism. and Using Algae to Clean Wastewater, Make Fuel

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This page was updated on October 24, 2011