Spirulina offers remarkable health benefits for multiple reasons. It is rich in iron and protein and also beta carotene that can overcome eye problems caused by Vitamin A deficiency. The protein and B – Vitamin complex makes a major nutritional improvement. It is an excellent source for essential fatty acid, Gamma linoleic acid (GLA), except for mother’s milk, that helps to regulate the entire hormone system. Spirulina also increases breast milk by stimulating lactiferous glands.
Spirulina – A powerful anti-oxidant
Spirulina is exceptionally rich in antioxidants that neutralize free – radicals. Spirulina contains beta–carotene, tocopherols and phenolic acids, which are proven to exhibit antioxidant properties. Phycocyanin is able to scavenge the very dangerous hydroxyl radical and inhibit the oxidation of lipids in the liver and kidneys.
A study demonstrated 71% of antioxidant capacity for the group taking the spirulina extract and 54% for the group that did not, indicating strong antioxidant protection (Miranda, 1998, Brazilian journal of medical and biological research).
Spirulina prevents Cancer
Spirulina has been found useful in cancer prevention. The anti-mutagenic effect of spirulina is beneficial in cancer protection and treatment. Experimental studies have demonstrated its profound effect on oral cancer. Spirulina was found to reverse oral leukoplakia in tobacco chewers in Kerala. Complete regression was observed in 45% of the treated people with a dose of 1g/day for 12 months.
Calcium spirulina isolated from spirulina platensis, reduced the lung metastasis of B16 – BL6 melanoma cells by inhibiting the tumour invasion of the basement membrane (Mishima et al., 1998., clinical and experimental Metastasis).
Prevent heart damage caused by chemotherapy using Doxorubicin, without interfering with its anti-tumour activity (khan et al., 2005., Phytotherapy Research)
Spirulina is Cardio- Protective
Spirulina is cholesterol-free. Reduces the level of serum LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). Spirulina causes a significant change in vascular tone by increasing the synthesis and release of nitric oxide and by decreasing the synthesis and release of a vasoconstricting substance from the endothelial cells.
Spirulina was found to lower cholesterol. Clinical studies have shown that thirty healthy men with high cholesterol, mild hypertension and hyperlipidemia after eating spirulina for eight weeks were found to have lower cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
The findings concluded that antioxidants such as beta carotene, Vitamin C and E, Selenium etc. present in spirulina offer significant protection against cardiovascular diseases.
- Dietetic therapy – This is decreasing the consumption of animal protein , fat , salt and sugar and increasing their intake of dietary fiber.
- Dietetic therapy with spirulina for hyperlipemia – Phosphatidyl inositol, a compound lipid existing in spirulina, was effective in controlling total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and neutral fat levels
- Dietetic therapy with spirulina for liver diseases – The basic treatment for liver diseases consists of rest treatment and nutritional treatment to protect and repair the liver. A diet high in protein and vitamins is generally indicated in these patients in order to improve liver function. Spirulina which is abundant in vitamins and minerals is one of the optimum nutritional supplements to improve liver function and protect the liver.
- Dietetic therapy with spirulina for diabetes mellitus – Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease in which carbohydrate utilization is reduced and blood glucose level is extremely high. Untreated diabetes mellitus show various symptoms complicated with diabetic nephropathy, diabetic neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. The basic treatment consists of the daily control of blood glucose levels and calorie control by dietetic therapy. These patients are required to reduce their food intake and to supplement balanced amounts of necessary nutrients and dietary fiber. These conflicting demands are fulfilled only by spirulina which contains protein and trace elements abundantly. (clinical test performed by chiba Hygenic college; Literature No.44, 273 – 277, 1991)
Spirulina is Anti -viral
Aqueous extracts of spirulina inhibit the replication of the HIV-1 virus in human T-cells of the immune system, mononuclear blood cells and Langerhans cells of the pancreas. Japanese scientists discovered an anti-viral compound in spirulina called Calcium Spirulan. Calcium Spirulan was found to be active against numerous viruses, including influenza, herpes and HIV.
Spirulina for Anaemia
One tablespoon of Spirulina a day can eliminate iron deficiency, the most common reason for anaemia. Spirulina is the most digestible protein food, especially of significant importance to malnourished people. The health benefits of Spirulina have made it an excellent food for the rapid recovery of children from malnutrition-related diseases.
Spirulina for malnutrition
Spirulina is recommended for nursing mothers. For newborns, malnutrition is often caused by lack of mother’s milk, the mother herself often being ill. Spirulina given to the mother helps a return to lactation and the babies rapidly gain weight.
Spirulina for Athletes
Athletes need extra nutrition. Spirulina contains GLA which is known to stimulate prostaglandins, master hormones that regulate every cell of the body, including heart, skin, circulation and musculature. Correct prostaglandins levels are necessary for good health and performance. World-class and Olympic athletes in China and Cuba use spirulina to improve performance.
Spirulina in reducing Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Studies show women with more severe PMS have unusually low levels of certain nutrients, so many health experts urge a nutritional approach. Three key actors increase the severity of PMS-poor nutrition, lack of exercise and stress.
Many clinics recommend foods or supplements rich in B-complex, magnesium, zinc, beta carotene, GLA and other vitamins, minerals and herbs. By containing many of these nutrients, spirulina is useful in a PMS reduction plan and several PMS supplements contain spirulina.
Spirulina as a slimming agent
Spirulina is used as a slimming agent in the USA. The phenylalanine present in spirulina is said to signal the brain to stop hunger pangs leading to a reduction in food uptake.
Spirulina in anti-aging
Spirulina is used in balms and anti-wrinkle creams. It helps in skin metabolism, cell regeneration and skin secretion. Spirulina is used in Japan as a safe bio–lipstick and eyeliner.
Scientific studies on the nutritional and therapeutic advantages of spirulina are multiplying and supporting this expansion. However, the recognition of the virtues of spirulina has been delayed and slows down its development in African countries. Large scale clinical tests are now required, but the means are absent due to a lack of political will.
However, the accumulation of positive results over time, in addition to increasing accounts from health professionals, should lead decision-makers in the field of malnutrition to react.
NGOs and health institutions have already been using it for many years to successfully treat tens of thousands of children. It would be important to have the support of opinion leaders, inter-governmental associations, associations, major NGOs and journalists. To date, only FAO and some countries have integrated spirulina in their national health and nutrition programs, have recognized its potential.