Spirulina (blue-green algae)

Spirulina (blue-green algae)

Spirulina use dates back to the 14th century Aztecs and was declared on of the best foods for the future by the World Food Conference in 1974. But it was when NASA made Spirulina a key supplement in astronaut diets that interest and popularity exploded.

Spirulina, a bacteria, is often misclassified as an herb. Spirulina has several pharmacological properties: antimicrobial (including antiviral and antibacterial), anticancer, and prevention of heavy-metal poisoning by cadmium, lead, iron, and mercury. As an antioxidant, Spirulina activates cellular antioxidant enzymes, inhibits lipid peroxidation and DNA damage, scavenges free radicals and prevents skeletal muscle damage under conditions of exercise-induced oxidative stress. As an immunostimulant, Spirulina can stimulate the production of antibodies and the expression of cytokine-encoding genes to induce immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory responses. Finally, Spirulina can help keep eyes healthy, help the digestive system, and help the body detox.

There are 22 amino acids found in proteins; eight that are essential to healthy body functions are not produced by the human body. These eight amino acids can only be obtained through proper diet. The remaining amino acids are considered non-essential, because the body produces them naturally. However, the essential amino acids are required for the body to be able process the non-essential amino acids. Spirulina is one of the most concentrated natural sources of nutrition known. It contains all the essential amino acids and is rich in chlorophyll, beta-carotene and its co-factors, and other natural phytochemicals. Between 85 and 95% of the protein in spirulina is digestible, making it one of the most powerful and potent forms of protein available.

Spirulina is the only green food rich in GLA essential fatty acid. GLA stimulates growth in some animals and makes skin and hair shiny and soft yet more durable. GLA also acts as an anti-inflammatory, sometimes alleviating symptoms of arthritic conditions. Containing more than ten times the amount of chlorophyll per volume than traditional garden-variety vegetables and a more easily absorbable form of magnesium, Spirulina is an effective blood cleansing agent that helps build red blood cells in the body, remove toxins from the bloodstream and oxygenate the blood.

Spirulina has a dark blue-green color because it is rich in a brilliant blue polypeptide called Phycocyanin. Studies show that Phycocyanin affects the stem cells found in bone marrow. Stem cells are "Grandmother" to both the white blood cells that make up the cellular immune system and red blood cells that oxygenate the body.

Chinese scientists document Phycocyanin stimulating hematopoiesis, (the creation of blood), emulating the effect of the hormone erythropoetin, (EPO). EPO is produced by healthy kidneys and regulates bone marrow stem cell production of red blood cells. Chinese scientists claim Phycocyanin also regulates production of white blood cells, even when bone marrow stem cells are damaged by toxic chemicals or radiation.

Spirulina acts as a functional food, feeding beneficial intestinal flora, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidus. Maintaining a healthy population of these bacteria in the intestine reduces potential problems from opportunistic pathogens like E. coli and Candida albicans. Studies show when Spirulina is added to the diet, beneficial intestinal flora increase.


Hoseini, S.M.; Khosravi-Darani, K.; Mozafari, M.R. Nutritional and Medical Applications of Spirulina Microalgae. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2013; 13: 1231-1237. https://www.researchgate.net/...

Stem Cells:

Steffens, D.; Lersch, M.; Rosa, A.; Scher, C.; Crestani, T.; Morais, M. G.; Costa, J. A. V.; Pranke, P. A New Biomaterial of Nanofibers with the Microalga Spirulinaas Scaffolds to Cultivate with Stem Cells for Use in Tissue Engineering. Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 2013; 9:710-718. https://www.researchgate.net/...


Wu, Q., Liu, L., Miron, A. et al. Arch Toxicol (2016) 90: 1817. doi:10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5

J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Oct;134(10):2610-9. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.188. Epub 2014 Apr 14. Inhibitory effects of dietary Spirulina platensis on UVB-induced skin inflammatory responses and carcinogenesis.

Yogianti F1, Kunisada M2, Nakano E2, Ono R2, Sakumi K3, Oka S3, Nakabeppu Y3, Nishigori C2. http://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)36494-0/pdf


Zheng, J., Inoguchi, T., Sasaki, S., Maeda, Y., et. al. Phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin from Spirulina platensis protect against diabetic nephropathy by inhibiting oxidative stress. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; 304:R110-R120. http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/304/2/R110.full.pdf+html

Serban, M., Sahebkar, A., Dragan, S., Stoichescu-Hogea, G., Ursoniu, S., Andrica, F., Banach, M. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of Spirulina supplementation on plasma lipid concentrations, Clinical Nutrition, 2016; 35: 842-851. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maciej_Banach/publication/282183537_A_Systematic_Review_And_Meta-Analysis_Of_The_Impact_Of_Spirulina_Supplementation_On_Plasma_Lipid_Concentrations/links/561443c708aed47facee31d2.pdf

Parikh P., Mani U., Iyer U. Role of Spirulina in the Control of Glycemia and Lipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Med Food. 2001 Winter;4(4):193-199. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12639401

Gupta S., Hrishikeshvan H.J., Sehajpal P.K. Spirulina protects against rosiglitazone induced osteoporosis in insulin resistance rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2010 Jan;87(1):38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2009.10.002. Epub 2009 Nov 5. https://www.researchgate.net/...

Immune System:

Chen L.L., Zhang S.F., Huang D.N., Tan J.Q., He S.H. [Experimental study of spirulina platensis in treating allergic rhinitis in rats]. Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2005 Feb;30(1) 96-98. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15871200

Blood Pressure:

Torres-Duran P.V., Ferreira-Hermosillo A., Juarez-Oropeza M.A. Antihyperlipemic and antihypertensive effects of Spirulina maxima in an open sample of Mexican population: a preliminary report. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2007;6:33. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2211748/pdf/1476-511X-6-33.pdf


Park HJ, Lee YJ, Ryu HK, Kim MH, Chung HW, Kim WY. A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study to establish the effects of spirulina in elderly Koreans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;52(4):322-8. doi: 10.1159/000151486. Epub 2008 Aug 19. http://www.karger.com/article/Abstract/151486

Mazokopakis E.E., Starakis I.K., Papadomanolaki M.G., Mavroeidi N.G., Ganotakis E.S. The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Feb;94(3):432-7. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6261. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23754631


Selmi C., Leung P.S., Fischer L., et al. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. Cellular and Molecular Immunology. 2011;8(3):248-254. doi:10.1038/cmi.2010.76. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012879/pdf/cmi201076a.pdf


Konícková, R., Vanková, K., Vaníková, J., Vánová, K., Muchová, L., et. al. Anti-cancer effects of blue-green alga Spirulina platensis, a natural source of bilirubin-like tetrapyrrolic compounds. Annals of Hepatology, 2014; 13:273-283. http://www.medigraphic.com/pdfs/hepato/ah-2014/ah142o.pdf

Mathew B., Sankaranarayanan R., Nair P.P., Varghese C., Somanathan T., Amma B.P., Amma N.S., and Nair M.K.Evaluation of chemoprevention of oral cancer with spirulina fusiformis. Nutrition and Cancer, 1995, 24(2): 197-202. Doi:10.1080/01635589509514407. https://www21.corecommerce.com/~bioage/files/spirulina-cancer-oral.pdf

Koníčková R., Vaňková K., Vaníková J., Váňová K., Muchová L., Subhanová I., Zadinová M., Zelenka J., Dvořák A., Kolář M., Strnad H., Rimpelová S., Ruml T., J Wong R., Vítek L. Anti-cancer effects of blue-green alga Spirulina platensis, a natural source of bilirubin-like tetrapyrrolic compounds. Ann Hepatol. 2014 Mar-Apr;13(2):273-83. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24552870

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