Spirulina is one of hundreds of algae species and is commonly known as blue green algae. Because so many different kinds of algae exist, they are identified primarily by their color. Algae, including spirulina, are tiny organisms that usually grow in water. Some of the different algae are blue-green, green, yellow-green, red, and brown.
Unlike most other plants, spirulina does not have roots, leaves, or stems. Spirulina, does however, contain a pigment called chlorophyll which is required by all plants to turn sunlight into food energy. Spirulina also removes carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen. Unlike many other plants, spirulina creates proteins and sugars just as animals do.
Around the world, spirulina is used as food source for animals and humans. While considered a food staple in some parts of the world, spirulina is also well known for its medicinal applications. It also contains antioxidants such as beta carotene and zeaxanthin; these antioxidants are thought to decrease the activity of free radicals that damage body cells, by a chemical process called oxidation, and suppress immune function.Medicinal Indications of Spirulina
In animal and human studies, spirulina has shown to enhance immune function. It appeared to increase production of anti-inflammatory chemicals known as interferons and interleukins. Consequently, some researchers believe that spirulina may decrease or prevent some allergic responses and block the release of histamine from mast cells during an allergic reaction. By blocking histamine release, spirulina may prevent or lessen histamine's effects, which include blood vessel expansion, muscle contraction, and stomach acid production.
Spirulina may produce anticancer effects due to its antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. Another way that spirulina may help to fight cancer is by promoting the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha, a chemical in the body that attacks tumor cells.
Spirulina also appears to block the entrance of viral cells into host cells. Several viruses, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), were apparently killed or damaged by spirulina or chemicals derived from it in recent clinical trials. Additional animal studies have somewhat substantiated these antiviral effects, but much more study is needed to prove spirulina's ability to treat and prevent viral diseases.
A number of various spirulina product reviews are available at NutritionalTree.com.
Dosage and Administration
Spirulina is available in tablets and powder. One tablespoon of spirulina powder is about 7,000 mg (7 grams). Follow the directions on the manufacturer's package that you buy. Doses used in some human studies varied from about 1,000 mg (one gram) per day to more than 5,000 mg (5 grams) per day.