Health Benefits of Spirulina

July 31, 2009  
Filed under Holistic Nutrition

Spirulina is one of hundreds of algae species and is commonly known as blue green algae. It’s a rich source of nutrients, containing up to 70% protein, B-complex vitamins, phycocyanin, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and numerous minerals. In fact, spirulina contains more beta-carotene than carrots. Considered one of nature’s most perfect foods, it has been used since ancient times as a source of nutrients and has been said to possess a variety of medical uses, including as an antioxidant, antiviral, antineoplastic, weight loss aid, and lipid-lowering agent.

Spirulina is a great source of vegetable protein and could be of benefit to you if you have:

  • High Cholesterol: Some studies support the cholesterol-lowering effects of Spirulina. Larger studies are required before definitive conclusions can be made.
  • Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease: Spirulina contains thyroid-supporting minerals like iodine, and the amino acid tyrosine, which together make up one form of thyroid hormone.
  • Vision loss: carotenoids, which support eye health Frequent infections: Clinical trials have concluded that blue-green algae has anti-viral activity, possibly against herpes and HIV
  • Hayfever, and/or mold allergies: Spirulina appears to block the production of interleukin-4. Some researchers believe that spirulina may decrease or prevent some allergic responses and block the release of histamine from mast cells during an allergic reaction. By blocking histamine release, spirulina may prevent or lessen histamine’s effects.
  • Neuropathic pain or heavy metal burdens (lead, mercury, arsenic): Spirulina acts as a chelator and might help rid the body of these toxins.
  • Type 2 diabetes: protects the pancreas and insulin-producing cells so it might be able to help prevent or reverse diabetes. Studies have shown that Spirulina helps diabetics control their food cravings.

Interactions with Drugs:
Spirulina may interact with certain drugs taken for immune system disorders, high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors), inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, neurologic conditions, and viruses as well as blood thinners and antihistamines. Spirulina may also interact with drugs taken for weight loss, cancer, heart disorders, and osteoporosis. There is a possible interaction when taking spirulina with drugs that are potentially toxic to the kidney.


Additional Studies:
Spirulina manufacturer Cyanotech has compiled a ‘library’ of major studies that demonstrate the health benefits of the microalgae, designed to serve as an easy point of reference for industry.

The document contains 435 abstracts of human and animal studies conducted at universities, government sponsored research facilities and by private researchers around the world. The 441-page document, available through Cyanotech, is divided into two sections. The first lists study abstracts by health condition categories based on research on spirulina. The second lists key nutrients found in spirulina, listing study abstracts demonstrating health benefits of each nutrient.

The categories include: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunity, chemopreventative, diabetes, anti-viral, anemia and blood improvement, heart, liver, kidney and brain health, heavy metal removal and allergies. 

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