READ YOUR LABELS: Carrageenan: A very common, but Dangerous Additive

I have been reading labels for most of my adult life, and I do attribute my lack of health problems, at age 76, to this practice. One of the first things I do with my clients is to go through their pantry’s to determine what items need to be eliminated, and so this weeks topic is dedicated to one of the worst offenders… Carrageenan.

Most people read labels for the fat, sodium & sugar content, but do not fully comprehend the meaning of some of the other ingredients, to their own detriment.

If you eat processed foods, you are most likely ingesting Carrageenan. This ubiquitous additive is found in foods such as. ice cream, half & half, cream, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, some hemp milks, rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, cheesecake, processed meats, hot dogs, frozen desserts, apple cider, jellies, prepared sauces, pies, puddings and baby “formulas.” It is in other processed foods, but it may not be listed on the label, because it is part of another ingredient.


Why is carrageenan dangerous? Here is what a number of doctors and health researchers have to say.

Per Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, It has been found to cause colitis(inflammation of the large intestine/colon) and anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reaction) in humans.

Dr. Andrew Weil says, “Carrageenan can cause ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.”

Dr. Russell Blaylock in his book “Health and Nutrition Secrets that can save your life” Pg. 196 writes “Carrageenan is a complex polysaccaride made from seaweed and is used as a binding agent. Experimentally carrageenan is used as an agent to induce, intense inflammation in experimental animals. A recent study found that when carrageenan was injected in animals along with a cancer causing chemical, tumors appeared more rapidly…than in control animals injected with the carcinogen alone. The same was seen when human breast cancers were implanted in animals along with carrageenan. The combination made the tumors grow faster and spread more rapidly than in control animals. As a result carrageenan is classified as a tumor promoter.” Dr Blaylock named carrageenan as an additive that may contain MSG.

Dr. Joann Tobacman, M.D., University of Iowa Assistant Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine did a number of studies on carrageenan. She said, “Evidence from animal models has demonstrated that degraded carrageenan causes ulcerations and malignancies in the gastro intestinal tract.” After conducting epidemiological and laboratory research on carrageenan, Dr. Tobacman published an extensive review of 45 investigations on harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments. The article was published in an issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. In the studies she found that carrageenan is taken up by the intestinal cells rather easily, but the cells are unable to metabolize it. As carrageenan accumulates in cells, it may cause them to break down, and over time this process could lead to ulceration.

In the past I came across information that carrageenan was an emulsifier and it caused the pores in the intestinal tract to become larger; permitting larger molecules of undigested food to enter the bloodstream.

This would cause a burden on the lymphatic system, whose main function is to clear out “foreign invaders” from the bloodstream.

Dr. Mercola writes: “A number of studies have found that the widely used food additive carrageenan causes cancer in food animals and its use in human foods should be reconsidered…enough evidence exists about the cancer-causing effects of carrageenan to limit the use of this food additive.

During the latter half of the 20th century inflammatory bowel disease and gastro intestinal malignancy have been major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Even with improvement in treatment and cancer screening, colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. The Western Diet has been considered a possible source of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal malignancy, and intensive efforts have been undertaken to study the impact of specific constituents of the Western Diet, such as, fiber and fat.

In 1972, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed limiting the type of carrageenan that could be used in food. But the regulatory effort was rescinded in 1979.

For decades carrageenan was presumed safe to eat, but new research has shown that it can cause health problems – and should be avoided. The method by which it is processed – using strong alkali solvents is also questionable. These solvents could remove the tissues and skin from your hands – it is that toxic.

There are other questionable additives that are being used in our food supply and the only way to avoid them is to eat unprocessed foods.

I started reading labels back in 1961. I was guided, not to buy something, if I couldn’t pronounce it, but I didn’t know about the dangers of eating carrageenan, locust bean gum, guar gum, xanthan, etc. All of these

additives have side effects that can cause gastrointestinal problems. Most doctors treat your symptoms with medications, instead of, determining what is causing the symptoms. They are blissfully unaware that many of the foods and substances you are eating – have caused your health problems.

If you suffer from flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools or even blood in your stool, it could be related to the foods or substances that are irritating your intestinal tract.

Just because seaweed is natural – does not mean it is a healthy food for human beings. The red seaweed from which carrageenan has been derived from – should be avoided. It isn’t worth the possibility of gastrointestinal disease or cancer.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

16 thoughts on “READ YOUR LABELS: Carrageenan: A very common, but Dangerous Additive

  1. Johna564

    It is really a nice and helpful piece of info. Im glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Barbara Charis Post author

      It makes me happy to receive comments. Knowing one’s blog is read is gratifying. Hopefully, each one of us is here to make a difference…and this is what I am striving to do. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Through providing true knowledge…changes will occur. Our planet needs all the help it can get.

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  5. Rob

    Hi Barbara,

    The reason carrageenan is bad for you is not that the seaweed has any unhealthy properties, but that the way they get the starch out of the seaweed is with chemicals that remain within the resulting starch extraction.

    Good info to have out there.

    1. Barbara Charis Post author

      Seaweed was not designed for human consumption, but mankind seems to think that anything edible is fine to eat. Seaweed is loaded with many concentrated minerals, which can throw the body out of balance. I would suggest reading The 80-10-10 Diet by Doug Graham, D.C. It contains a great deal of valuable information. He makes a good case for not eating seaweed.

  6. Beth

    We do not always realize how much of something we ingest when. Everyone eats pre packed food which contains harmful things. We should try to limit the amounts as much as possible or eliminate altogether if possible.

    1. Barbara Charis Post author

      The best way to avoid toxic ingredients is to stick to non-processed foods. Organic, if at all possible, is the way to go, then we would not need to read labels. Mankind was not designed originally to be eating the toxic processed foods most Americans eat. Humans were designed to be eating sizable amounts of raw food containing bulk and fiber. Our small compact portions of high protein foods has damaged and been constipating to humans. Grains are totally unnatural. If we can’t eat them raw, they weren’t deigned by the Creator for us to eat. Variety may be the spice of life, but it is killing people. I eat 90% of my daily food (fruit) raw. Many doctors have found many people can’t handle fruit. The processed foods have destroyed the pancreas of most people in this country. Since I was young, I have avoided bread, cereal, pasta and grains, because I was on a perpetual diet.
      Today, at 83. I can handle all the fruit I want without a problem.


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