SpirulinaSpirulina commonly refers to a large number of blue green algae or cyanobacteria found in warm alkaline waters of the world, especially in Central Africa and Mexico. Spirulina supplements are often subjected to less contamination, grown under controlled conditions and mainly contain Sprirulina maxima, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and/or Spirulina platensis.
Spirulina offers a variety of nutrients, is rich in proteins (up to 70%), phycocyanin, chlorophyll, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, beta carotene and various minerals. In fact compared to carrots, the beta carotene content is spirulina is high.
Health and spirulina
- Based on various unclear scientific evidences, spirulina may be helpful in the following conditions. However for its safety and effectiveness in these conditions, more conclusive scientific researches are required.
- Spirulina treatment when continued for two months may reduce the fasting blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetes patients.
- Spirulina and its supplements may be beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Spirulina supplements are often marketed as ‘vitamin enriched’ appetite suppressant to attract people to lose weight.
- Traditionally based on scientific theories spirulina is also used in anemia, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiety, atherosclerosis, brain damage, cancer treatment, lipid lowering agent, colitis, digestion, energy booster, hair loss, high blood pressure, herpes simplex-1 virus, HIV, infectious disease, immune system enhancement, kidney disease, liver disease, lead-induced organ damage, leukemia, mood enhancement, mumps, memory improvement, gynecological disorders, skin disorders, selenium deficiency, vitamin and mineral deficiency, ulcers, stomach acid excess, yeast infection, warts, wound healing and weight loss.
Side effects and spirulina
Spirulina and its supplements should be taken in recommended doses under the guidance of a health care professional to gain maximum nutritional benefit from this supplement.
- Frequent side effects reported with use of spirulina are headaches, sweating, difficulty in concentrating, muscle pain, face flushing and skin reactions.
- Liver damage is reported with spirulina ingestion that is harvested in uncontrolled settings as it may get contaminated with heavy metals.
- Spirulina and its supplements taken in chronic viral hepatitis shows negative results.
- Spirulina preparations when used as a food supplement and replaced over traditional nutrition shows no benefits to correct malnutrition in infants.
- Patients with phenylketonuria (genetic disorder) should use spirulina supplementations with caution, due to the presence of an amino acid – phenylalanine.
- There are no noted side effects of spirulina consumption in pregnancy and lactation, however it is not recommended in these conditions due to lack of scientific evidence regarding its safety and effectiveness.