By January 15, 2013 7 Comments Read More →

What Are the Health Benefits of Spirulina?

Dr. Edward F. Group, Guest Writer
Waking Times

Spirulina is cyanobacterium (blue-green algae) that grows in alkaline water. Spirulina is rich in protein and nutrients and been used as a food source in Africa for centuries. Today, spirulina powders and capsules are popular nutritional supplements. And, the rich antioxidant properties and therapeutic benefits are not just for people. Preliminary research in Australia has shown that livestock feed that’s been enhanced with nutritious spirulina to improve growth, fertility, aesthetic and nutritional quality in farm animals. [1]

Spirulina and Eye Health

Spirulina is a rich dietary source of zeaxanthin, a xanthophyll. Xanthophyll are substances similar to carotenes, the pro-eye compounds found in carrots. Zeaxanthin is a xanthophyll that has nutritional importance to human eyes in that sufficient intake may reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Observational studies have shown a connection between adequate zeaxanthin and lower incidence of age-related macular degeneration. [2]

Spirulina and Liver Health

Incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise. It is often a side effect of obesity and poor diet that occurs when a fat overload in the liver is coupled with oxidative stress. The best strategy against it is to lose any excessive body weight (fat) and make the appropriate dietary changes that will help decrease lipid levels. Additionally, supplementing with spirulina may support a boost in fatty acid oxidation. [3] Many, many animal models have shown spirulina to significantly hinder progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by lessening inflammation through anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. [4] [5]

A Chinese study involving mice showed that supplementation of spirulina and vitamin C could reduce enzyme activity known to be damaging to the liver. No surprise, the effect was credited to the antioxidant levels. [6]

Spirulina and Brain Health

You may have heard of the “blood-brain barrier”, it is a separation of the brain and spinal cord from the other organs in the body. This natural mechanism is in place to keep infections from reaching your most vulnerable tissues. Your brain contains microglia cells that are the immune system for your nervous system. It’s the job of these microglia cells to constantly scavenge your central nervous system for plaque, damaged neurons, and harmful agents. When harmful agents do manage to cross the blood-brain barrier, microglial cells spring into action for defense. However, activated microglia are pro-inflammatory and inflammation in the brain is thought to be a major component in the development of degenerative brain diseases. Spirulina may be beneficial and provide resistance to the inflammatory and oxidative aspect of microglial cell activation. [7] Research by the Department of Otolaryngology at Buddhist Dalin Tzu-Chi General Hospital in Taiwan found similar oxidation-reduction properties in Spirulina and even stated that these properties may fight against memory loss. [8]

Spirulina Safety

The Dietary Supplements Information Expert Committee of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention undertook a safety evaluation of spirulina and assigned a Class A safety rating. [9] Spirulina is generally considered safe and is backed by a long history of use as a food source and safety in animal models. However, when purchasing spirulina or any produce you’re going to put into your body, it is important to ONLY invest in quality products that are responsibly produced so as to avoid contamination and guarantee safety. [10]

About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III founded Global Healing Center in 1998 and currently serves as Chief Executive Officer. At the forefront of the research and development team, Dr. Group assumes a hands-on approach to producing new and advanced degenerative disease products and information.

Dr. Group has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and, though he no longer sees patients individually, now focuses on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural, and organic health resources on the Internet. Please visit the Global Healing Center.

References:

  1. Holman BW, Malau-Aduli AE. Spirulina as a livestock supplement and animal feed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22860698
  2. Yu B, Wang J, Suter PM, Russell RM, Grusak MA, Wang Y, Wang Z, Yin S, Tang G. Spirulina is an effective dietary source of zeaxanthin to humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22313576
  3. McCarty MF. Full-spectrum antioxidant therapy featuring astaxanthin coupled with lipoprivic strategies and salsalate for management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21764223
  4. Pak W, Takayama F, Mine M, Nakamoto K, Kodo Y, Mankura M, Egashira T, Kawasaki H, Mori A. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of spirulina on rat model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23170052
  5. Selmi C, Leung PS, Fischer L, German B, Yang CY, Kenny TP, Cysewski GR, Gershwin ME. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21278762
  6. Bhattacharyya S, Mehta P. The hepatoprotective potential of Spirulina and vitamin C supplemention in cisplatin toxicity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22119940
  7. Pabon MM, Jernberg JN, Morganti J, Contreras J, Hudson CE, Klein RL, Bickford PC. A spirulina-enhanced diet provides neuroprotection in an α-synuclein model of Parkinson’s disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23028885
  8. Hwang JH, Lee IT, Jeng KC, Wang MF, Hou RC, Wu SM, Chan YC. Spirulina prevents memory dysfunction, reduces oxidative stress damage and augments antioxidant activity in senescence-accelerated mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21697639
  9. Marles RJ, Barrett ML, Barnes J, Chavez ML, Gardiner P, Ko R, Mahady GB, Low Dog T, Sarma ND, Giancaspro GI, Sharaf M, Griffiths J. United States pharmacopeia safety evaluation of spirulina. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21793723
  10. Deng R, Chow TJ. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant, and antiinflammatory activities of microalgae Spirulina. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633020

7 Comments on "What Are the Health Benefits of Spirulina?"

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  1. Sue says:

    I have most recently given spirulina to my dog (3g for a 35kg dog once a day) and it has been the catalyst in getting on top of his atopic dermatitis. Wonderful stuff :)

  2. Al Smith says:

    In the sixties while we were doling out the spirulina, we dropped a pill on the floor. Our cat got it, quickly ate it, then jumped on the kitchen counter and frantically tried to physically take the bottle of spirulina from my wife. We’d never seen him on the counter before. And, he’d certainly never tried to take anything away from us. From then on, we included spirulina in his diet. He always ate the spirulina first and looked around for more before eating his regular food. He lived to be 15 years old.

  3. So True says:

    My 3 months old puppy loves this stuff also. She eats the capsules like they are the most tastiest things on earth.

  4. jules says:

    Been using spirulina off and on for 30 yrs. Though I have had to wear glasses since the 4th grade my eyesight has changed very little over the years. The past 2 years I take it daily. Going to start giving it to the dogs. Thanks for the info.

  5. peter mohr says:

    Very good article yet it seems to have missed something important.Spirulina is antidote for arsenic.It likely saved me.

  6. Meena Shah says:

    This is an amazing blog! I love Spirulina powder and strongly recommend it to all my loved ones for its health benefits! Good work!
    There is another great blog on Spirulina you make like to read – http://naturalmantra.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/the-health-benefits-of-spirulina-one-of-the-worlds-most-nutritious-foods/
    Check it out and do leave your comments!

  7. John Cook says:

    Does anyone know about growing it?

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