Carrageenan is a food additive which has caused a lot of controversy and confusion, It is in a lot of brands of soy milk, and I wanted to get the facts after reading a magazine article stating there was a concern of ulcers; possibly cancer; suppresses immunity; inflammatory bowel disease and allergies.
Carrageenan is a gelatin-type substance derived from a red seaweed often called Irish Moss. It is used in products to give them more substance and texture
to make them thick and creamy. Sounds safe enough. But studies and many people's personal experiences indicate otherwise.
There are two types of carrageen, undegraded (food grade) and degraded (hydrolyzed with acid). which cannot be used in food.
As a starting point, I checked out some research done by America carrageenan expert, Joanne Tobacman, who teaches clinical internal medicine at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. She has found that there is evidence of human trials that might show carrageenan to be a danger for human consumption.
Dr. Tobacman shared studies that demonstrate that digestive enzymes and bacterial action convert high weight carrageenans to dangerous low molecular weight carrageenans and poligeenans in the human gut. These carrageenans have been linked to various human cancers and digestive disorders. Again, Tobacman's evidence and conclusions are based upon human tissue samples, not animal studies.
In her 1997 publication , Tobacman studied the effect of carrageenan on the growth of cultured human mammary epithelial cells over a two week period. She found that extremely low doses of carrageenan disrupted the internal cellular architecture of healthy breast tissue, leading her to conclude: "The widely used food additive, carrageenan has marked effects on the growth and characteristics of human mammary myoepithelial cells in tissue cultures at concentrations much less than those frequently used in food products to improve solubility."
In another website, I have found evidence of a man who has been suffering with
Dyshidrotic Eczema and digestive problems for almost 15 years .
Recently, he had managed to get his skin and stomach under control. Then all of a sudden he had a major outbreak from only one new thing that he added to his normal foods, which was a new flavor of coffee creamer. The good thing about this was it had only a dozen or so ingredients so it was easy to compare to foods he had been eating for quite some time with no reaction and eliminate the common ingredients. One ingredient stood out - CARRAGEENAN.
It is in Soy Milk, almost all dairy products, cheeses , jellies and jams, cherry pies,
toothpastes, prescription pills, and a myriad of other things. In some cases, it is also called AGAR and for most people, it is harmless and causes no problems for them. For others the stomach acid is a little stronger than other people and so their stomach breaks the molecule down further, allowing it to be passed into the blood when it normally wouldn't be, and as a result it turns into a carcinogen that the body attacks with an immune response, which in my case is inflamation of the digestive tracks and then inflamation of the skin.
The tricky thing that other people need to be aware of is that this ingredient is not listed on every product that it might be included in, especially chocolate.
He also found that several different chocolates cause similar yet milder problems, and it wasn't until he contacted companies and demanded that they find out what additional products might have been used but aren't listed (because of loopholes in the laws) that he found this same ingredient used as a thickening agent in chocolate processing.
I'm sharing this information to alert others to warn them about what kind of "natural" substances can also be harmful (carrageenan is made from Irish moss, or seaweed so it appeals to vegetarians and is used in many vegetarian foods ;like Tofu) and how to keep track of what you eat in a journal every single day for every thing you eat and drink.
Write down all of the ingredients or keep wrappers and boxes. Immediately following an outbreak, look over the ingredients in the last 24 hours and compare them to everything else that has been safely consumed to find the ingredients that are upsetting the body. There is so much information available online, you just have to know where to look and find it.
Even though I have never personally experienced any negative effects of carrageenan that I know of, evidence seems to show that carageenan is a harmful food additive. What I learned about carrageenan is enough to convince me to avoid it as much as possible!