Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Spirulina is a microscopic spiral-shaped blue-green alga that exists as a cyanobacterium (single-celled organism) capable of turning sunlight into life energy. It is made primarily from two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima and can be consumed by humans with no side effects.
Spirulina is incredibly nutritionally rich food containing a balance of nutrients that make it virtually a perfect whole food capable of sustaining life without the need for other foods. It provides vitamins, many minerals, essential amino acids, carbohydrates and enzymes.
Spirulina is higher in protein than any other food. It contains 60 to 70% best quality protein, which is already predigested, making it more digestible than any other source. For example, beef protein is digestible in only 20 percent whereas spirulina protein is 95 percent digestible! It means that much less of spirulina is required in order to provide our body with a sufficient amount of protein. Since spirulina, like barley grass, contains all 8 essential amino acids it should be regarded as a complete protein food. Spirulina contains also much more Lysine than most other vegan foods. Lysine improves athletic performance and is the one amino acid that is actually not very easily available for vegans.
Spirulina has 5 times more chlorophyll (very effective energy booster and detoxifier) than green leafy vegetables. Chlorophyll helps to build red blood cells in the body and provides an easily absorbable form of magnesium. This combination helps to oxygenate the blood and removes organic toxins. Due to high chlorophyll content, spirulina is regarded as one of the best energy boosters. One of the studies demonstrated that spirulina is two times stronger in coping with fatigue than ginseng.
Spirulina’s outstanding nutritional profile also includes the essential fatty acids, lipids, B complex, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin D, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Apart from that, spirulina is 45 times higher in iron than spinach and contains a variety of powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants such as diatoxanthin, xanthophyll, echinenone, canthaxanthin, myxoxanthophyll, 3′-hydroxyechinenone, beta-cryptoxanthin, oscillaxanthin, c-phycocyanin, or allophycocyanin. The amount of beta-carotene found in spirulina is approximately 10 times higher per volume than in carrots.
Spirulina is rich in nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) which are the building blocks of our cells. It is also one of the best sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which assists in cellular renewal. And because the amount of GLA in our organism directly affects the rate of cell-regenerating, it is believed that spirulina can significantly slow down the ageing process. Spirulina has also other multiple anti-ageing substances and antioxidants such as beta-carotene or Vitamin E. These substances effectively prevent human cells from ageing by removing free oxygen radicals and by slowing down the process of arteriosclerosis.
Another important ingredient of Spirulina is phycocyanin which gives spirulina the blue pigment which is very rare in foods. Studies demonstrated that phycocyanin inhibits the formation of cancerous cells.
Spirulina is also regarded as the world’s highest source of one of the strongest antioxidants – superoxide dismutase (SOD) which is very effective in preventing and treating fatigue, cancer, CVDs, or dementia. In addition, the combination of SOD and carotenoids present in spirulina and abilities to detoxify the body make it an excellent remedy for various skin problems such as rashes, eczema, ageing spots, or acne.
The same ingredients and abilities of spirulina, as well as the high content of antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, can improve eye health in glaucoma or cataracts. According to the study by the Orient Medical Science University of Japan, treating patients with spirulina gave excellent results in treating senile cataracts, as well as diabetic and hypertensive retinopathies.
Since spirulina is very high in chlorophyll, beta carotene and various antioxidants which can regenerate the delicate lining of the gastrointestinal tract it can be also successfully used in preventing and treating people who suffer from gastric ulcers, gastritis, or other effects of excessive acid production in the stomach.
The fibre in spirulina promotes proper bowel movements and removes habitual constipation. It also helps to fight obesity because like chia seeds or flax seeds it very high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which according to studies conducted at the University of Wales stimulates brown fat tissue in our body to burn calories rather than store them as fat. In addition, spirulina contains amino acid phenylalanine which helps to suppress appetite. Also, a 1986 study conducted in Germany showed that spirulina is helpful in reducing body weight.
Since spirulina contains such powerful natural remedies it also helps to regulate blood pressure, lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, reduces cancer risk, increases mental alertness, strengthens the nervous and the immune system, helps to detoxify the liver and the whole body, enhances our body’s ability to generate new blood cells, and helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels. It also helps to develop healthy babies especially those that are not fed by mother’s milk.
Spirulina was successfully used by Russian scientists to improve the health of child victims of Chernobyl radiation. The researchers from Belarus reported that 5 grams of spirulina a day were able to reduce urine radioactivity levels by 50% in only three weeks! Apart from that, spirulina improved body’s detoxification and functioning of the immune system normalized the peroxide lipid oxidation and increased the number of beneficial hormones while causing no side effects. The same beneficial properties of spirulina were already demonstrated in China in 1989 where it was shown that the natural polysaccharide present in spirulina had a protective effect against gamma radiation. A 2001 study conducted by scientists from the Medical and Pharmaceutical Academe of Yangzhou University in China discovered that Spirulina extract effectively protects against both the damage caused by chemotherapy radiotherapy.
Spirulina is an excellent prebiotic agent as it is very effective in controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and Candida albicans (yeast) in our digestive system which is critical for optimal digestion of food and nutritional absorption. The fact that spirulina supports the growth of healthy bacterial flora in our colon and boosts our immune system is extremely important with regards to the colon health, GABA, serotonin and B vitamins production, prevention of depression, IBD and other autoimmune diseases, and reduction of Candida albicans. Spirulina is effective in relieving the symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis and can even help to inactivate the human immunodeficiency virus.
In Bangladesh, due to the fact that water supply in that country is loaded with arsenic, many people suffer from arsenic poisoning. That was the reason why a group of Bangladeshi researchers decided to conduct a three-month-hospital-based study, where spirulina was given to 33 patients while 17 received placebo doses. As a result, 82 percent of those taking spirulina showed tremendous improvement.
Toxicological fertility or peri- and post-natal studies of the effects of spirulina consumption didn’t show any harmful effects even after very large doses of spirulina were taken for a long period of time. In 2009, over 500 malnourished children were treated with a daily dose of 10 g of spirulina powder (the equivalent of 20 tablets containing 500 mg of spirulina) and again the treatment didn’t result in any adverse effects.
Since spirulina is a powerful detoxifier and energy booster it is better if you start with a smaller dose such as half of a teaspoon or 2 tablets a day and gradually increase the intake every day until reaching the maximum dose of 2 tablespoons or 20 tablets a day. Always take spirulina about 30 minutes before breakfast.
Although no known side effects associated with spirulina intake were discovered by now, yet due to the detoxification and colon cleansing process or your present state of health you may experience some temporary side effects such as bloating, gas, itchy skin, problems with getting asleep, excitement, or feelings of restlessness.
I always recommend taking spirulina together or alternatively with Chlorella – another amazing superfood >
If you decide to take spirulina and chlorella together take 1 tablespoon (about ten 500mg tablets) of each about 30 min before breakfast.
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.