For Decades Vegetarian Supplements were Contaminated with this Ingredient

3 comments by Oskar Thorvaldsson

Carrageenan, derived from red seaweed, has been a controversial food additive since the 1960s, when the first studies showing its harmful effects on the gastrointestinal system were first published. Somehow, it found its way into every product category, and is a primary ingredient in vegetarian capsules.

Even some natural health companies still use it. But why?

Unfortunately, massive industry pressure has created myths discounting the dangers of carrageenan, claiming that the disease-causing form of carrageenan is of the “degraded” variety (classified as a Possible Human Carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer), while the food variety they use is not degraded, and therefore safe. This line from the industry went uncontested for many years.

"Decades of health-seekers have been disenfranchised"

Unfortunately, recent studies have found that the degraded form of carrageenan cannot be completely removed from the non-degraded form, meaning that all food-grade carrageenan is contaminated with the carcinogenic, gut disrupting, industrial degraded form!

Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a Harvard-educated physician-scientist and researcher and associate professor at the nation’s largest medical school at the University of Chicago, is one of the top researchers to bravely speak-out against industry propaganda. Using six different independent labs to test whether food-grade carrageenan was contaminated with the degraded carrageenan, the researchers found that supposedly "food-grade" carrageenan contained up to 25% of the degraded form. The authors write that: “All samples contained at least some degraded carrageenan according to the majority of laboratories.”

But the FDA says it’s Safe?

The FDA also has said that hydrogenated oil, artificial colors, aspartame, etc., are safe. When citizens signed a petition to remove carrageenan from food, the FDA failed to consider dozens of studies showing its harmful effects. The fact is, lobbyists of the billion dollar carrageenan manufacturers convinced the FDA to continue authorizing carrageenan for use as a food additive, without conducting or consulting adequate studies. 

The UN Committee on Food Additives approved its use, despite their own report stating the mechanism of action, operating through the Bc110-mediated pathway, resulted in increased (Interleukin-8) and NF-kappaB (Nuclear Factor Kappa B), which are proinflamattory markers associated with the genetic mutations of Crohn’s disease. They also cited a study showing that carrageenan promoted tumor growth in mice that had been given a carcinogen. 

Other research, not surprisingly, strongly suggests a link between carrageenan and inflammatory bowel diseaseStudies that examined the effect of carrageenan in colitis patients in remission, found that it caused the condition to return. The researchers concluded that: “Carrageenan intake contributed to earlier relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis in remission. Restriction of dietary carrageenan may benefit patients with ulcerative colitis.”(1)

Also, due to its presence of alpha-gal, typically found only in animals, “At least 1-2% of people with alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) report reacting to carrageenan. It is possible that the actual number is much higher."(2).

What About "Organic"?

Unfortunately, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been corrupted by industry lobbyists, and: “their tactics have become increasingly more manipulative and ethically questionable as it becomes clearer that scientific evidence is not on their side” (3). Initially, the U.S. NOSB recommended removing four non-organic ingredients:  whey protein concentrate, Turkish bay leaves, inulin oligofructose, and the carcinogenic additive carrageenan. Mark A. Kastel, Codirector at a farm policy research group, said: “Although thousands of public comments were submitted in support of the NOSB positions, a handful of letters from corporate lobbyists held more sway…”(4). Therefore, we are going to have to vigilent in the coming years about the hidden ingredients in suppliments, and make sure that supplement manufacturers, like our own PureNSM, can verify they do not include this harmful substance.  

How to Avoid Carrageenan

Understanding how to read ingredient labels is crucial to avoiding carrageenan:

  • Check the Ingredients List: Carrageenan is often listed toward the end of the ingredients list, especially in products where it acts as a binder or stabilizer.
  • Be Aware of Synonyms: Sometimes carrageenan is labeled under different names, so look out for terms like: “Irish moss extract”.”Vegetable Gelatin”,”Norsk Gelatin”; “Danish Agar;” or “Red seaweed extract”.

Found primarily in:

  • Vegetarian capsules 
  • Coating Materials: Sprayed on cut organic fruits.
  • Water Retention Agents: Applied to fish before processing.
  • Functional Agents: Used in cheese production.
  • Clarifiers and Heat Stabilizers: In wine production.
  • Carrageenan-Free Alternatives

    Switching to products that use alternative thickeners and stabilizers can help you avoid carrageenan:

    • Xanthan Gum: This is a popular thickener and stabilizer found in a variety of foods and is often used in baking gluten-free goods. 
    • Pectin: Often used in jams and jellies, pectin is another safe alternative for thickening.
    • Organic Yogurts: Look for organic yogurts that specify "carrageenan-free."
    • Natural Dairy Products: Many organic and natural brands offer milk and creamers without carrageenan.

    Our Promise: Pure Carrageenan-Free Vegetarian Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose (HPMC) Capsules

    Amazingly, Dr. Hulda Clark knew there was something wrong with vegetarian capsules long ago, because her patients did not recover as well, or at all, if they took them. Her testing indicated some kind of contaminate, and now we know that it was the carrageenan that the industry and govt pushed onto the public, despite considerable evidence and theoretical reason for caution.

    Decades of health-seekers have been disenfranchised, being kept in the dark regarding the contents of their supplements, and many likely had no idea that veggie capsules were counterproductive to the vitamins, minerals and herbs they were taking. 

    Dr. Clark’s products provide absolute guarantee that all vegetarian capsules are free of carrageenan and all other contaminants and fillers. 

    While it took some effort, our company was finally able to source capsules from manufacturers that did not use carrageenan. After many sent in samples, our testing revealed one supplier that was telling the truth about not containing carrageenan, who we now use for all of our capsules. 

    Even Dr. Clark’s gelatin capsules are judiciously sourced from bovine hide, not bones, and tested to ensure it is free of prion proteins. 

    If you are interested in the purest products, verified to have the highest potency and to be free of toxic additives like carrageenan, check out the official Dr. Clark Store below:






    1). Bhattacharyya S, Shumard T, Xie H, Dodda A, Varady KA, Feferman L, Halline AG, Goldstein JL, Hanauer SB, Tobacman JK. A randomized trial of the effects of the no-carrageenan diet on ulcerative colitis disease activity. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2017 Mar 31;4(2):181-192. doi: 10.3233/NHA-170023. PMID: 28447072; PMCID: PMC5389019.
    3) Cornicopia Foundation. Carrageenan: How a “Natural” Food Additive is Making Us Sick. March, 2013. Cornucopia, WI.


    • Nelson

      Barbara: Do you mean the dryer sheets, or the laundry detergent sheets?
      Phyllis: Gellan Gum seems safe, and not much research has been done. One study reported: “Subchronic toxicity studies with gellan gum conducted in rats and dogs did not reveal adverse effects at the highest doses tested…” And found the same for carcinogenicity. Some gums to avoid: Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum (Carob), Mastic Gum, and Xanthan Gum

    • Barbara Barnett

      Thank you sooo much!
      Any guidance for new laundry sheets?

    • Phyllis M.

      Thank you for this information about carrageenan. Since I read Dr. Clark’s first book and it helped me clean my house after being exposed to formaldehyde insulation in an “airtight” building, I have always ordered Dr. Clark vitamins because I believe they are the cleanest on the market. If I have to order from someone else, I use Amazon where I can look them up under the filter “no additives”. I noticed that organic whipping cream contained carrageenan years ago and searched until I found one without it. Now it has been replaced by Gellan Gum. I have not researched Gellan Gum so I don’t know if that is safe or not.

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