For centuries, the native peoples of Mexico, Africa and Asia have eaten spirulina and made it one of their major sources of protein. This blue green algae is plentiful in lakes and inland bodies of water that are warm and alkaline. The plants chemical makeup is 65% amino acids, including the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA). The high concentration of amino acids has made spirulina a popular nutritional supplement for those who are unable to obtain sufficient calories and protein through diet alone, particularly athletes who burn calories at a high rate.
In addition to amino acids, spirulina is also a rich source of numerous other nutrients, including many essential vitamins and minerals. Test tube and animal studies suggest that spirulina boosts immune system function, which may make it useful as an antiviral and anticancer supplement. Finally, in vitro and animal studies suggest that spirulina may be useful in blunting allergic reactions. Research into the medical benefits of spirulina is ongoing, but there is no doubt about its nutritional benefits. Among other things, it contains as much iron as equivalent weights of beef.
While spirulina has its roots in the ancient, modern research is proving more and more each day that it is a thoroughly modern supplement that could be a solution to many of the worlds ills. Among the positive research that has been done involving the uses of spirulina are studies of children who were exposed to radiation at the site of the Chernobyl disaster. Those studies seemed to indicate that those children treated with spirulina had boosted immune system function despite damaged bone marrow. In vitro studies suggest that spirulina increases the production of antibodies and cytokines that ward off infection and chronic illnesses. While more study is needed to define precisely what actions spirulina may provoke in the body, there is a remarkable lack of harmful side effects or suggestions that there are any drawbacks. Even if it is used only for its nutritional content, spirulina is a valuable addition to the diet.
Disclaimer: This information has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or treat any disease or illness. It is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a competent health care professional. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem. No claim or opinion on this website is intended to be, nor should it be construed to be, medical advice. If you are now taking any drugs or have a medical condition, please consult a competent physician who is aware of herb/drug interactions before taking any herbal supplements.
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