When Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” he must have been talking about Spirulina. There are over 1500 peer reviewed scientific articles that report on the health benefits of Spirulina. What is more, over 600 of these papers report on serious illness that affect large numbers of people.
It must be said that Spirulina is so impressive it almost seems snake oilish.
Here are some of the proven medicinal properties of Spirulina
There is enough scientific evidence to assert that Spirulina has significant anti-cancer action. In fact, there are over 80 peer reviewed scientific articles that support this assertion. It seems the pigments associated with photosynthesis such as chlorophyll, phycocyanin and various tetrapyrrolic compounds closely related to the bilirubin molecule, which are abundant in spirulina, can inhibit cancer-colony formation.
For example, in a study on human pancreatic cancer cells, the researchers discovered that, compared to untreated cells, experimental therapeutics based on spirulina extracts significantly decreased proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner.
Spirulina: the ultimate detox treatment
A lot of so called super foods are claimed to detox the body. Spirulina is the real deal. Numerous scientific studies demonstrate spirulina has a potent ability to detoxify the body from poisoning due to a whole range of compounds including arsenic, cadmium, carbon tetrachloride, deltamethrin, fluoride, hexachlorocyclohexane, iron, lead, lindane, mercury and even radiation.
For example, in one study 24 patients affected by chronic arsenic poisoning were given spirulina extract (250 milligrams) plus zinc (2 milligrams) twice daily, they compared the results with 17 patients who took a placebo and found that the spirulina-zinc combination had a significant effect. The participants given the spirulina exhibited a 47 percent decrease in arsenic levels.
In a study focused on victims of the Chernobyl disaster radiation poisoning was reversed in children given just 5 grams of spirulina daily. The results of this study are supported by numerous animal model and in vivo studies.
Spirulina helps to eliminate Candida in the gut
People have problems with candida when it migrates from the oral cavity, where it is naturaly found, to the gut and elsewhere in the body. Candida overgrowth has become the hallmark sign for most autoimmune diseases today while invasive candidiasis is the leading cause of fungal-related death in the U.S.
In fact, we have seen a significant rise in yeast infections since the 1980s largely caused by our shift toward a diet rich in sugar and unnatural ingredients, antimicrobial resistance and ineffective antifungal drugs.
Indications are that Spirulina is an effective agent at controlling candida through various mechanisms, one of which is the stimulus of a health gut biome. Various animal studies have shown that Spirulina is an effective against candida.
Spirulina helps control high blood pressure
High blood pressure associated with cardio-vascular disease, metabolic syndrome and endothelial dysfunction is a massive and growing problem in modern populations who eat a highly processed, high sugar, high fat, high meat diet.
Luckily it turns out that spirulina can effectively reduce hypertension. For example, in a Mexican study, both men and women who were taking 4.5g of spirulina daily reduced the rates of high blood pressure in just six weeks without any other dietary changes.
In another study entitled “Effects of spirulina consumption on body weight, blood pressure, and endothelial function in overweight hypertensive Caucasians: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.” the researchers concluded that after three months of regular consumption Spirulina not only improved BMI and weight but also resulted in improvements in blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight patients with hypertension but lacking cardiovascular disease.
Spirulina fights cholesterol
The link between cholesterol and heart disease is well documented. The question is, what can we do about it when our cholesterol creeps up to unsafe levels.
Besides making major dietary changes, research shows that Spirulina can help.
A published systematic review of the research and meta-analysis of the impact of Spirulina supplementation on plasma lipid concentrations concluded there is a significant effect of supplementation with Spirulina in reducing plasma concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides and elevating those of HDL-C.
In another randomized study to establish the effects of spirulina in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients it was demonstrated that spirulina supplementation had beneficial effects of on blood lipid profiles, inflammatory variables, and antioxidant capacity.
Spirulina helps with diabetes and blood sugar regulation.
Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting health systems all over the world. In Australia diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. In 2016, diabetes mellitus (E10-E14) was the underlying cause of 4,770 deaths, making it the seventh leading cause of death overall.
Again, there are indications to show that spirulina has the ability to mitigate the causes of diabetes. For example, in a randomized study to establish the effects of spirulina in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients it was demonstrated that spirulina supplementation had beneficial effects of on blood lipid profiles, inflammatory variables, and antioxidant capacity.
Further, Indian researchers have found evidence that spirulina can help type 2 diabetes patients manage their blood sugar levels, whilst citing additional benefits.
Spirulina helps mitigate anaemia
The most common form of anaemia is a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, causing weariness.
This condition is fairly common for the elderly and in areas where malnourishment is common.
Various studies have demonstrated that Spirulina is effective at alleviating this form of anaemia.
In a study conducted on 40 elderly people previously or currently suffering from anemia, it was proven that spirulina supplementation improved and increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells. Immune function was also improved.
In a study of nutritional study in rural populations of India it was found that Spirulina had a beneficial effect on the symptoms of Anaemia.
Spirulina has powerful anti-inflammatory action
Spirulina is packed with pigments, such as phycocyanin and chlorophyll that are powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents.
Various in vitro and in vivo studies on the ability of these compounds to act as anti-inflammatories has shown that they block the production of inflammatory molecules.
The anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina in the human body have been demonstrated in a large number of preclinical studies. Clinical studies done with humans show that compound in spirulina have the ability to up- or downregulate the expression of cytokine-encoding genes to induce immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory responses.
Spirulina boosts the immune system
Spirulina has long been touted as a means of boosting the body’s immune system. This has been well supported in the scientific literature.
In a recent study at the University of California, Davis study, subject whit a mean age 63 years, were given 500mg spirulina daily for 12 weeks. The team measured immune function indicated by complete blood cell counts and level of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase enzyme (IDO) activity. The results showed that a significant amount of the participants who received spirulina had higher IDO activity after 6 and 12 weeks. In particular, this effect was striking in men, with over 75% of study subjects manifesting the benefit.
In another study spirulina was shown to boost the immune system by the augmentation of interferon production and influence on the activity of the NK cells critical to immune function.
Protects the brain
There is also evidence to suggest that taking spirulina may protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In a 2012 study, a spirulina-enhanced diet given to rats provided neuroprotection from Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, in a 2015 study, the effects of spirulina on memory dysfunction, oxidative stress damage and antioxidant enzyme activity were examined with mice. It was found that Spirulina platensis may prevent the loss of memory by lessening Aβ protein accumulation, reducing oxidative damage and augmenting the catalase activity.
While both studies are preclinical, they hold promise for humans afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, other neurodegenerative diseases and those with memory problems.
Further to the above spirulina,
Spirulina has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain while the antioxidant properties help protect brain cells from cellular and oxidative stress and toxins and the detoxing effect reduces damage from heavy metals.
Muscle strength & endurance
Various peer reviewed studies have been undertaken that show spirulina has a positive impact on muscle strength and endurance.
For example a study entitled “Efficacy of Spirulina Supplementation on Isometric Strength and Isometric Endurance of Quadriceps in Trained and Untrained Individuals” concluded that supplementation with spirulina for 8 weeks is effective in increasing the isometric muscle strength and isometric muscle endurance.
It seems that spirulina stimulates the production of enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidaes and lactate dehydrogenase which deal with the debilitating build-up of compounds resulting from oxidative stress during intense exercise. This in turn prevents skeletal muscle damage and increases in time to exhaustion during all-out exercise.