A Q&A with Dr. Gabriel Cousens about AFA/PEA
Dr. Gabriel Cousens is one of the world’s foremost authorities on living food nutrition, holistic lifestyle and complementary medicine. He graduated from Columbia Medical School in 1969 with a specialty in biochemistry. He is a holistic physician, psychiatrist, homeopath and family therapist. Not only has Dr. Cousens made major contributions in the field of natural health, he is also a shining example of health himself. Dr. Cousens is the author of Conscious Eating; Depression-Free For Life; Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet and several other books.
The following Q&A is an excerpt from an interview that took place on February 1, 2000 at Dr. Cousen’s Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona. The original interview was conducted by Eliot Jay Rosen, Los Angeles Times best-selling author of the book, Experiencing the Soul.
Q: You’ve been eating and recommending Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), the cyanophyta (nutritional algae) that grows in Klamath Lake, longer than any other medical doctor in the world, almost 20 years?
A: That’s true. However, I want to make clear from the very outset that throughout that time, my commitment has been, and still is, only to the highest quality AFA and not to any company. In this way, I can have the cleanest, most scientific approach. I’ve shared AFA with thousands of my clients throughout the years. The reason I’m speaking with you today is because I’ve experienced that the particular brand of AFA I am currently using is a qualitative leap compared to the other AFA coming out of Klamath Lake.
Q: Why are products such as AFA so important for nutrition so important to our health?
A: AFA is specific for our nervous system, brain function and the quality of our consciousness. AFA is specific food for drug addiction, alcoholism, increased hyperactivity, increased attention deficit disorders, and depression. More than any other food, it enables us to make a paradigm shift and enjoy a sense of well-being. There’s a quality of joy that’s really subtle that many people experience with AFA.
Q: Perhaps when some people hear the words “algae” and “food” in the same sentence, it may be a new concept for them to think that certain cyanophyta (algae), such as AFA are edible.
A: Not only are certain algae edible, but they are truly superfoods. Algae has been eaten by indigenous people for thousands of years. I don’t know if they are still working on the project, but NASA was at one time developing food growing systems in space that used algae as a staple protein source. Today more than ever, algae is thought of as a wholesome food in wider and wider circles. It’s not thought to be so unusual anymore.
Q: How does AFA compare to store bought vitamins and minerals?
A: I don’t see AFA as a collection of vitamins and minerals. In nature, there are certain energies available to us to use for our human development. For instance, the herb milk thistle has an affinity to the liver. Siberian ginseng is a specific for the adrenals, etc.
In the same way, AFA has a unique energy that has an affinity to improving brain function. We now have clinical research showing AFA balances EEG readings and improves central nervous system functioning. So I don’t like to equate AFA as just being a good source of certain vitamins and minerals. Sure, it has the most reliable and plentiful amounts of B-12 than any other non-animal food I know, but this in itself is just an added bonus to the gift that AFA really is in the grand scheme of things. But I think this algae is so much more than that. To compare it to man-made supplements is to minimize the value of AFA. And now that AFA is available in its liquid, live form, this for me is really the exciting part.
Q: You were one of the first physicians to recommend AFA frozen liquid even though you were already using the powdered version of the same species of AFA?
A: That’s correct. I’d been eating AFA from Klamath Lake since 1982. I happened to be at a Live Food Expo in San Francisco where I met the developers of AFA. My first experience with AFA was quite dramatic and wonderful. I felt the difference immediately. I felt such a paradigm shift compared to the other AFA I’d been using that I am now recommending AFA to my clients, and the response has been wonderful for so many different health concerns.
Q: Will people still benefit from using AFA even though they may not want to improve their diet, even if they know there is a better diet?
A: Yes, absolutely. AFA is going to help you whether or not you improve your diet. Obviously, to get the most positive changes, you’ll want to improve your diet and lifestyle. Yet there are many people who just want something to make them feel better. That’s OK too. And yes, these people will also benefit. I wouldn’t want people to think that to take AFA one also has to adopt an unfamiliar lifestyle or have to do things that are not comfortable for them. However, what seems to happen is that when you begin using AFA, you begin to feel a greater sense of well-being, then you naturally start to get interested in making improvements simply because you feel better.
I’ve also had excellent results using the algae with children who’ve been autistic. One of the main characteristics of autism is the absence of verbal talking. These children only make grunting and other such noises. I remember one child that began to talk in only one month after beginning using the AFA.
Q: As a psychiatrist, do you sometimes use more traditional treatments for depression such as Prozac®?
A: I’ve had people who’ve been depressed for years and years, and literally, within a few days after receiving AFA, their depression lifts. This is because the AFA gets to the root of helping heal the addictive brain chemistry, which is behind a lot of depression. I discuss this at length in my new book, Depression Free For Life.
People do not have a Prozac® deficiency. This approach doesn’t get to the root of the problem. My depression healing rate using natural foods, including AFA, nutritional supplements and basic lifestyle changes, without the necessity of using any pharmaceutical drugs, Prozac® or anything like that, is over 90%. No drug can compete with that, period.
Q: What about AFA and meditation? It would seem to me if AFA is good for mental clarity it might actually help people improve their focus in meditation.
A: In my first book, Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet, I was very focused on what is the best diet for meditators. I found that an uncooked live food diet is best, not that one cannot make spiritual progress without it, just that the living food diet is extremely helpful. Along with this I found that AFA was specific for meditation. And now, with the new liquid form of AFA, its positive effect is even more pronounced. So yes, I find that AFA is a specific food for enhancing one’s ability to focus in meditation. AFA helps keeps the mind clear, light and joyful.
Q: Could you compare the energetic and nutritional differences between AFA and say, Spirulina, or Chlorella?
A: For those who know about nutritional edible algae, there’s a tendency to want to compare algae in a competitive way. But this isn’t the way I look at it. Each of these algae have their proper roles. Chlorella is very specific for getting mercury out of the system. Spirulina is very good for hepatitis. Although Chlorella or Spirulina may help mental functioning a little bit, it’s nowhere near the effect that AFA has on mental functioning. So Spirulina works more on the physical body, and AFA’s real gift to humanity is that it works more on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels, yet, still has tremendous effects physically, as I’ve been mentioning. But it’s the mental functioning where people really feel the difference.
Q: What about AFA and the immune system?
A: A recent study showed that AFA activates up to 40% more of the immune system’s beneficial natural killer cells. Natural killer cells hunt out viruses and bacteria, even seeking them out deep in the body’s tissues. One of the nice things about AFA is something I’ve intuitively known since 1982; it significantly enhances the immune system. If I feel any kind of viral imbalance coming on, I take AFA and it always takes it away. I also use AFA for my clients, not only to get rid of symptoms of disease, but as a preventative measure. I’ve actually known of two or three cases where people took the AFA and healed their cancer. This is not to say that AFA is the primary immune stimulant to use above any other to fight cancer, but that this algae has some anti-cancer qualities. Scientists already know that AFA has some anti-HIV effects, but we need to do a lot more research in these areas.
Q: Have you had any clients that have responded to using AFA for weight loss and appetite control?
A: Yes, I have, but let me say that in my practice, I don’t focus on these issues in particular. What I find is that when I help people improve their nutritional intake, especially in the direction of a living food diet, they naturally gravitate back to their natural, normal and healthiest weight. Appetite control becomes much less of an issue with most people because when people’s bodies and brains are well-nourished, when they self-regulate and normalize, they no longer feel depressed and so they don’t need to eat compulsively as a result of depression. As AFA balances blood sugar levels, people are not eating to compensate for low blood sugar.
Q: Have you used AFA successfully with alcohol and drug problems?
A: Yes. AFA is an essential part of my treatment program. Almost everyone I see, I put on AFA because it helps with the underlying depression and helps heal the biologically altered, addictive brain aspects behind these destructive behaviors. I believe AFA is a gift for people with a biologically altered brains because of poor diet and poor genetics. These people suffer a lot in this world. One way they cope with the suffering is alcoholism and drugs. There are obviously better, less destructive ways to cope.
In alcoholism and drug addiction, we find subtle and not so subtle changes in brain chemistry and brain waves. In many of these people, the pleasure centers of their brains, the dopamine receptors, are not working correctly. We find that by using AFA along with other dietary changes and specific amino acid supplementation, we can normalize the electroencephalogram (EEG) readings and balance the central nervous system at the root of the disorder.
For example, if someone’s brain function is off, not dramatically in the sense they are having epileptic seizures, but “subclinically” and out of balance, their EEG isn’t really quite right, and we can normalize it with AFA, proper nutrition and other supplements. AFA helps people eliminate the craving for alcohol and drugs in part because blood sugar levels are being normalized and the brain is also functioning better.
There’s another hidden aspect in all this that very few people know about. The hypothalamus is a vitally important gland of the endocrine system. It is often not functioning properly in drug addiction and alcoholism. It’s very hard to heal the endocrine system, which is almost always out of balance in drug and alcohol addicted individuals. It turns out that AFA is the only vegetarian source I know that brings hypothalamic function back to normal.
So as you can see, I’m particularly excited about AFA. It is clearly the best of all the algae on the market right now for healing and bringing the hypothalamus back into normal function.
Q: Because the liquid form of AFA is perishable, it has to be frozen. Is there a difference between freezing fruits and vegetables and freezing AFA in terms of it maintaining its nutritional and energetic properties?
A: This species of cyanophyta is genetically prepared for extreme alterations in temperature. In winter, parts of Klamath Lake freeze over, including the live AFA growing in the water. But when the weather warms up, the AFA comes out of its frozen dormancy phase and resumes its active growth cycle. Its genetic structure protects it from the effects of the cold, which is unlike fruits and vegetables, which are destroyed in frost. This is because AFA is high in lipids and Highly Un-saturated Fatty Acids (HUFA), which protect it from crystallizing in low temperature conditions. So the good news about this is that the AFA is significantly protected against the effects of freezing.
Q: The term “adaptogen,” usually refers to an herb which has many different ways of working in the body. Could we apply this term to a food such as AFA, as it’s been reported to be effective for many different health conditions?
A: Yes, I think it is very appropriate to use the term “adaptogen” in connection with AFA. It’s both a physical adaptogen as well as a mental adaptogen. In my own life, sometimes I have to speak for an entire day at conferences. I take AFA as sort of a mental adaptogen for the stress of putting out so much energy. AFA is also a physical adaptogen in that it increases physical energy. There are world-class athletes who eat AFA because they feel it gives them a “competitive edge.”
The essence of my message is this: it doesn’t matter what our chronological age is, we can be youthful at any age. But more important than staying youthful is to understand that one-sided physical health will never give us the lasting happiness and love we seek. We want to draw into our lives anything and anyone that nourishes supports and enhances our spiritual and overall growth. Life is a great gift. Health is a great gift. True gifts are worthy of any effort or expense.
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