Spirulina is a dietary supplement made from blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, known as Arthrospira platensis, which are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Spirulina usually grows in warm, open lakes with high alkalinity.
Spirulina provides many health benefits, which include:
- Improves chronic fatigue: Spirulina has polysaccharides and essential fat that can be easily absorbed by the body to release energy. Spirulina also promotes healthy lactobacillus in the intestine leading to the production of Vitamin B6 and subsequent release of energy.
- Treats allergy, rhinitis: Spirulina has anti-inflammatory properties because it inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. It also boosts the immune system by covering the nutritional deficiencies.
- Acts as antiviral agents: Spirulina may help in destroying specific viruses by boosting the immune system. Spirulina may help to treat:
- Reduces cholesterol and diabetes: Spirulina may be useful in managing diabetes, blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, It also increases good or high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body.
- Cancer prevention: The immune modification and antioxidant effects of spirulina may have a greater role in cancer prevention. Spirulina seemed to reduce precancerous lesions in people who chew tobacco.
- Removes toxins from the body: As spirulina has antioxidant and immunity-boosting properties, it helps remove toxins from the body.
- Reduces blood pressure: Spirulina releases nitric oxide in the blood vessels that may dilate the blood vessels, thus reducing the blood pressure.
- Effective against anemia: Spirulina increases the hemoglobin content of the blood, thus improving anemia.
- Protects against liver disorder: Spirulina may help to protect against liver damage and cirrhosis. However, more research is required to establish the same.
- Reduces the risk of eye diseases: The zeaxanthin component of spirulina may be a useful nutrient associated with eye health. Spirulina claims to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related eye diseases.
- Good source of nutrients for vegans and vegetarians: As spirulina has nearly all the essential nutrients, vegans and vegetarians should consume it.
- Obesity: Spirulina can help improve weight loss in an obese or overweight adult.
Thorough research is required to establish these health benefits of spirulina.
Spirulina has claimed to treat many other conditions; however, there is insufficient data regarding the same:
- Dyspepsia (indigestion)
- Wound healing
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Periodontitis (gum infection)
- Hepatitis C
What are other uses of spirulina?
Spirulina, due to its color and various components, is useful in:
- Bakery products
- Ready to eat cereal
- Desserts, such as custards, puddings, frostings, ice-cream, frozen desserts, dessert coatings, toppings
- Confectioneries, such as candies and chewing gums
- Athletes protein supplements
- Natural dyes
- Food supplements
- Photodynamic therapy of specific cancer
- As a diagnostic material
- The pigment in cosmetic products, such as lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadows
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Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD. Spirulina in clinical practice: Evidence-based human applications. Published online October 19, 2010. doi:10.1093/ecam/nen058