Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis)
An international detective hunt has been underway for over 20 years. Scientists around the world - in Japan, China, India, Europe, Russia and the USA - are discovering how and why spirulina is so effective for human and animal health. Hundreds of published scientific studies reveal how spirulina and its unique phytonutrients boost the immune system and improve health. No other algae has been the subject of such intense research.
Latin Names: Arthrospira platensis
Common Names: Macroalgae, Phytoplankton, Spirulina
AIDS/HIV, arthritis, athletic nutrition, enhancing natural cleansing and detoxification, supporting cardiovascular function and healthy cholesterol, strengthening the immune system, improving gastrointestinal and digestive health, reducing cancer risks with antioxidant protection, general and long term health.
The following is taken from an interview with Robert Henrikson, author of the book "Earth Food Spirulina: How this remarkable blue-green algae can transform your life and our planet", in May 1998, featured on spirulina.
More than 25,000 species of algae live everywhere - in water, in soils, on rocks, on plants. They range in size from a single cell to giant kelp over 150 feet long. Macroalgae are large like seaweeds. Microalgae are microscopic. Ocean microalgae, called phytoplankton, are the base of the ocean food web.
Spirulina is the richest beta carotene food, with a full spectrum of ten mixed carotenoids. About half are orange carotenes: alpha, beta and gamma and half are yellow xanthophylls. They work synergistically at different sites in our body to enhance antioxidant protection. Twenty years of research proves eating beta carotene rich fruits and vegetables gives us real anti-cancer protection. Synthetic beta carotene has not always shown these benefits. Research in Israel showed natural beta carotene from algae was far more effective. Natural is better assimilated and contains the key 9-cis isomer, lacking in synthetic. As suspected, natural carotenoids in algae and vegetables have the most antioxidant and anti-cancer power.
This tiny aquatic plant offers 60% all-vegetable protein, essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the antioxidant beta carotene, the rare essential fatty acid GLA, sulfolipids, glycolipids and polysaccharides.
Spirulina is an ideal anti-aging food; concentrated nutrient value, easily digested and loaded with antioxidants. Beta carotene is good for healthy eyes and vision. This all vegetable, low fat protein means we can lighten up on a meat centered diet that can aggravate arthritis and raise cholesterol. When we choose to eat less meat, vegetables like spirulina are good sources of more iron and essential minerals.
World's highest beta carotene food reduces long term health risks
Spirulina beta carotene is ten times more concentrated than carrots. So even if you don't eat the recommended 4 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (most people eat only 1-2, including french fries), get your natural beta carotene insurance from spirulina to help support your body's defenses.
60% easy-to-digest vegetable protein without the fat and cholesterol of meat
People are eating less meat and dairy protein because they want to lower fat, cholesterol, and chemicals in their diet. Spirulina is the highest protein food with all the essential amino acids and has only a few calories to keep your waistline where you want it.
A rare essential fatty acid is a key to health
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in mother's milk helps develop healthy babies. Studies show nutritional deficiencies can block GLA production in your body, so a good dietary source of GLA can be important. Spirulina is the only other whole food with GLA.
Iron for women and children's health
Iron is essential to build a strong system, yet is the most common mineral deficiency. Spirulina is rich in iron, magnesium and trace minerals, and is easier to absorb than iron supplements.
High in Vitamin B-12 and B Complex.
Spirulina is the highest source of B-12, essential for healthy nerves and tissue, especially for vegetarians.
Clean green energy is good for everyone
Spirulina is the most extensively researched food microalgae, well documented in numerous books, journal articles, and periodicals. Many people use Spirulina in their own self-care strategy for more energy, nutritional insurance, weight control and cleansing. Perfect in between or before meals for good nutrition without the heaviness of bulky food. Athletes discover more endurance and strength. Seniors find better nutrient absorption. Ideal and safe for children, pregnant and nursing mothers.
Strengthens the immune system
Over the years I've heard from so many people that they have fewer colds and flu, or if they get a cold, they escape more chronic symptoms. They say wounds heal faster and they recover more quickly from illness. They have more energy. Spirulina is a powerful tonic for the immune system.
Published studies from all over the world feeding mice, hamsters, chickens, turkeys, cats, fish and even humans, confirm spirulina improves immune system function. Medical scientists discovered it not only stimulates the immune system, it actually enhances the body's ability to generate new blood cells. Important parts of the immune system, bone marrow stem cells, macrophages, T-cells and natural killer cells, spleen and thymus glands - all show enhanced activity. Scientists observe it causes macrophages to increase in number, become activated and more effective killing germs.
Because spirulina increases disease resistance in animals, even in very small doses, the animal feed industry is studying its use as an new probiotic to help replace overused antibiotic drugs in animal feeds. Scientists in Japan have published new studies showing a purified extract unique to spirulina inhibits replication of HIV-1, Herpes, Influenza, Mumps and Measles virus in-vitro yet is very safe for human cells.
The National Cancer Institute found sulfolipids in blue-green algae were 'remarkably active' against the AIDS virus in vitro. Spirulina contains 5-8% lipids, and 40% of these are glycolipids and sulfolipids. These compounds seem to prevent viruses from either attaching to or penetrating cells, preventing viral infection. Meanwhile, the virus can be eliminated by the body's defenses. Exciting new research in Japan and the USA has confirmed spirulina extracts in vitro can inhibit replication of the HIV virus.
Supports cardiovascular function and healthy cholesterol
Many people are taking dietary supplements to support a healthy heart and lower cholesterol. One of these people, my father, was prescribed drugs to lower his cholesterol ten years ago. Instead he began taking spirulina and niacin. Now he's a vibrant 82, and his cholesterol level is still safe and under control.
Scientists have been confirming this too. Animal nutrition studies in Mexico, Argentina, Japan and India found the same cholesterol lowering benefits and an improvement in heart artery function for lower blood pressure. Published scientific studies with men in Japan and India showed several grams of spirulina daily can lower cholesterol. These studies suggest spirulina will reduce serum LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins - the bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (High Density Lipoproteins - the good guys).
Human studies in Germany and India found a weight reduction effect along with cholesterol reduction. All these studies indicate spirulina is a useful supplement for cardiovascular health and for lowering cholesterol.
Improves gastrointestinal and digestive health
When people take spirulina they often notice immediate change in regularity and elimination. Research confirms it does promote digestion and bowel function. It suppresses bad bacteria like e-coli and Candida yeast and stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Healthy flora is the foundation of good health and it increases absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat, and helps protect against infection.
As people age, many who don't eat enough, have restricted diets or poor digestion may experience low energy from being undernourished. Spirulina builds healthy lactobacillus, aiding assimilation and elimination and relieving constipation.
In a village clinic in Togo, West Africa, theey provided a tablespoon a day to undernourished children. Their mothers praised this 'green medicine' for bringing rapid recovery and weight gain. Other studies with malnourished children in Mexico, India, Romania, Rwanda and Zaire, have shown easily digested spirulina is beneficial when intestines no longer absorb food effectively.
It's a great food for malnourished people precisely because it helps rebuild healthy intestinal flora, which are essential for the utilization of more complex foods. Because in AIDS patients, nutrient malabsorption associated with opportunistic infections can initiate full blown AIDS, we've been donating spirulina to health clinics for HIV positive people.
Enhances natural cleansing and detoxification
When spirulina was first introduced 20 years ago, people quickly discovered it accelerated detoxification during fasting and cleansing. Later, in Japan, researchers found spirulina significantly reduced kidney toxicity caused by the heavy metal mercury and three pharmaceutical drugs. This suggested it's beneficial for humans suffering from heavy metal poisoning. Other researchers found rats consuming spirulina or chlorella algae eliminated 7 times the dangerous chemical dioxin compared to a control diet.
In 1994, a Russian Patent was awarded for spirulina as a medical food to reduce allergic reactions from radiation sickness. 270 Children of Chernobyl consuming 5 grams a day for 45 days (donated by Earthrise Farms), lowered radionucleides by 50%, and normalized allergic sensitivities.
Today we are subject to an onslaught of toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and drugs. Our bodies need to continually eliminate these accumulated toxins. Spirulina has a completely unique combination of phytonutrients - including chlorophyll, phycocyanin and polysaccharides, that can help cleanse our bodies.
Reduces cancer risks with antioxidant protection
Free radical molecules damage our body's cells. They are caused by pollution, poor diet, stress and injury. Antioxidant nutrients fight these dangerous oxidizing free radicals. They also stimulate our immune system to guard against cancer and other diseases and even slow the aging process. Major antioxidant vitamins are beta carotene (provitamin A) C, and E. Antioxidant minerals selenium, maganese, zinc, copper, iron and chromium form our bodies antioxidant enzymes. Spirulina contains all these nutrients, and exceptionally high levels of beta carotene and iron, and zinc in super spirulina.
Research shows spirulina helps protect Vitamin C from potency loss. In the past 20 years, many studies have shown natural beta carotene from fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of many cancers. Spirulina's beta carotene has been widely studied in India with thousands of people. Just one gram a day for a year given to 5000 pre school children, significantly reduced the incidence of eye disease. One gram a day caused total regression of mouth cancer lesions in 44% of male tobacco chewers.
This reinforced an earlier Harvard study that showed a spirulina extract used topically, reversed oral cancer tumors in hamsters. Chinese scientists found the unique polysaccharides also have antioxidant properties. No doubt, spirulina is one of the most powerful antioxidant whole foods.
What will spirulina do for athletes?
Athletes need extra nutrition. Spirulina is a high intensity superfood for a high intensity workout. Taken before jogging or competition, it delivers energy and improves stamina. Bikers, backpackers and mountain climbers will appreciate this lightweight survival food. For bodybuilders, it offers 60% protein and amino acids, low in fat. It's helpful for reducing caloric intake, essential for maintaining competitive weight.
World Class athletes use spirulina to improve performance. The Cuban Ministry of Sports gave it to their athletes to intensify training before the 1996 Olympic games. Cuban track stars have consumed it for many years. They say it helps create and mend muscle mass and helps iron retention. It improves endurance and wards off cramping for marathoners. When training increases appetite, spirulina curbs hunger.
When invited to the largest Chinese training center for 2000 athletes, thought was going to introduce to spirulina. But, soon found out it was their secret ingredient they'd been using for five years. The trainers said they prescribed it for athletes for all sports. It boosts the immune system and improves recovery, so their athletes can intensify training, for which they are famous. Where does their spirulina come from? found out this Chinese training center has its own, private and exclusive spirulina farm.
Can a person lose weight taking spirulina?
It's not an appetite suppressant. It contains no drugs that trick the body. Yet, many people find taking a few tablets or a spirulina drink an hour before mealtime can help satisfy appetite, so they eat less. We know when we're going to be hungry, so just plan ahead. Because it's rich in iron, often deficient in women on low calorie diets, spirulina is ideal support for any diet. Best of all, it helps us to lighten up and make the switch from a bulky diet to lighter, more powerful foods.
How about fasting? Can a person live on spirulina alone?
Don't suggest living on one food, not even spirulina.believe a biodiverse diet is best for good health. There are times when take only spirulina with water or juice - when fast 3 to 7 days once or twice a year. Fasting one day a week is common practice in traditional societies and religions. Going without food for three days or longer allows the body to cleanse and renew itself. In the late 1970s, one of the first discoveries was spirulina's value in fasting. This easy-to-digest food provides energy and stamina for work and play, while making cleansing much easier and more effective.