Botanical: Spirulina pacifica
Family: Lichinaceae (lichen)
Other common names: Blue Green Algae, DIHE, Tecuitlatl
Spirulina is sometimes called the greatest nutritional food source on earth and is also thought to be a powerful immune system stimulant, an effective antioxidant that fights free radicals and a supplement that helps to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), increase HDL (good cholesterol) and control blood sugar levels.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Spirulina is an aquatic, one-celled organism that is one of the micro-algae found in warm, freshwater, alkaline, volcanic lakes (and some saline waters) in hot, sunny climates around the world. It is a plant (algae), and its blue-green color comes from chlorophyll (green) and phycocyanin (blue). We know of two groups of people in history who recognized and profited from the nutritional benefits of Spirulina, and they were the Aztecs of Mexico and Kanembous of Chad in Africa, where it is still an important staple in the diet of the population living near the small lakes and dunes that border Lake Chad. Spirulina/ Blue Green Algae can be found under several other botanical names that can also be used interchangeably, i.e., Spirulina maxima, Spirulina pratensis, Spirulina platensis, Algae pratensis. The name Spirulina is derived from the Latin word for helix or spiral, referring to the physical configuration of the organism, which forms swirling, microscopic strands. Some of the constituents included in Spirulina are the world's richest natural source of both vitamin B-12 and beta-carotene, plus beta sitosterol, vitamins C and E, biotin, folic acid, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, alpha linolenic acid (Omega 3), gamma linoleic acid (Omega 6), chlorophyll, polysaccharides, calcium (more than milk), iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, chromium,
phosphorous, fiber, silicon, protein (twenty times as much as soybeans growing in an equal-sized area), 62% amino acid content (all nine that the body must derive from food and the building blocks of life), the nucleic acids RNA and DNA and the polypeptide, phycocyanin (the active anti-inflammatory pigment found only in Blue-Green Algae/Spirulina that has increased the survival rate of mice with liver cancer in laboratory experiments).
Spirulina is said to be an extremely potent and healthy energy booster. Olympic athletes have been known to take Spirulina for endurance, as it reduces the buildup of lactic acid in muscles. The reduction of lactic acid also helps the recovery rate after strenuous exercise. Spirulina is believed to increase physical sharpness, as well as improve mental acuity and clarity.
Spirulina is a powerful tonic for the immune system and is thought to activate the key immune T-cells,
B-cells and anti-cancer Natural Killer cells (NKs), as well as macrophages that engulf and kill germs and fight infection and disease. According to a study completed by the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, the addition of Spirulina to cultured immune system cells significantly increased the production of infection fighting cytokines. It is also thought to regulate cell and organ function and enable them to function, despite stress and environmental toxins. Some research claims that it may also help the body to generate new blood cells.
Spirulina is considered an excellent antioxidant. The beta-carotene content acts as the antioxidant that is said to reduce the progress of certain malignant growths and neutralize and eliminate free radicals produced by nuclear irradiation. The vitamin E and the superoxide dismutase found in Spirulina are also strong antioxidants that combat ageing and infection.
The high natural beta-carotene content in Spirulina is said to help improve eyesight and avoid night blindness and has an advantage over synthetic beta-carotene and regular vitamin A (which causes kidney damage in large quantities) in that it will absorb only the amount it needs and excrete the rest.
Spirulina is one of the most nutritional, natural whole foods available and has been used to combat malnutrition in deprived areas, and unlike other algae, it is easily digested. It is also said to aid the absorption of minerals. It is exceptionally high in vegetable protein, which is especially beneficial, as it contains none of the harmful fats or cholesterol found in meat and is one of the few non-meat sources of vitamin B12.
The chlorophyll in Spirulina helps to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system and cleanse the bowel and aid the digestive process. Because Spirulina contains such a high chlorophyll content, it is thought to be effective in counteracting body odor, and the herb also helps to decrease urine and fecal odors due to incontinence.
The non-saturated fatty acid (gamma linolenic acid) in Spirulina is believed to strengthen cell membranes, thus reducing infection, and the polysaccharides produced by Spirulina have been thought to keep the HIV-1 virus from replicating. It is also said to rid the intestines of Candida albicans infection, which may commonly lead to malnutrition in AIDS patients.
Spirulina is believed to help in weight loss programs by curbing the appetite, and according to a 1986 study, overweight patients showed a significant reduction of body weight after including Blue Green Algae as an appretite suppressant in the diet for four weeks.
Spirulina is also thought to be good for people with hypoglycemia who may benefit from using it between meals, because its high protein content helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Spirulina is said to reduce the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood, while increasing the production of HDLs (good cholesterol). This activity promotes greater blood circulation and may therefore reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks.
Recent research (2009) indicates that the phycocyanin in Spirulina may reduce inflammation and have pain killing effects. In animal models, Spirulina's phycocyanin reduced levels of inflammatory markers; and chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, Type-2 diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. If the positive effects can be repeated in humans, it offers promise for preventing chronic pain and inflammation brought about by an over-expression or lack of control of the normal protective mechanism.
Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Spirulina Herbal Supplement; however, you should stop taking it if there is any itching, tightness in your throat or chest pain due to allergy.