Spirulina - Super Food

All about Spirulina. Spirulina as a human and animal food, spirulina as a medicine. Spirulina production and clutivation methods.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Spirulina Consumption Benefits

Studies have shown that Spirulina consumption during 4 weeks reduces serum cholesterol levels in human beings by 4.5% (Henrikson, 1994) and significantly reduces body weight by 1.4 +/- 0.4 Kg after four weeks. These reports indicated no changes in clinical parameters (blood pressure) or in biochemical variables (hematocrite, hemoglobin, white blood cells, sedimentation rate) and absence of adverse effects. The reduction of cholesterol is partly owed to the g-linolenic acid cyanobacteria high content.

The b-carotene is one of the most effective substances to counteract those free radicals that alter cells causing cancer. Studies at the Harvard University School of Dental Medicine found a reduction in mouth cancer when b-carotene extracts, obtained from Spirulina, are consumed. The b-carotene solution applied to oral cancer tumors in hamsters reduced the tumor number and size and in some cases these disappeared (Schwartz and Shklar, 1987). Spirulina extract induces the tumor necrosis factor in macrophages, suggesting a possible tumor destruction mechanism.

An extract of sulfated polysaccharides, called Calcium-Spirulan (Ca-SP), made up of rhamnose, ribose, mannose, fructose, galactose, xylose, glucose, glucuronic acid, galacturonic acid, and calcium sulfate, obtained from Spirulina, showed activity against HIV, Herpes Simplex Virus, Human Cytomegalovirus, Influenza A Virus, Mumps Virus and Measles Virus (Henrikson R, 1994). Current investigation in this field is searching for extracts that inhibit the AIDS virus replication (Ayehunie, et al., 1998) and allows these patients to improve their health.

Spirulina excretes variable quantities of products from its metabolism such as: organic acids, vitamins, and phytohormones. Cell extract of Spirulina maxima has shown antimicrobial activity against Bacillus subtillis, Streptococcus aureus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Candida albicans. The presence of high quantities of acrylic acid in Spirulina was substantiated at the end of the seventies. This substance shows anti-microbial activity, in a 2 mg/L of biomass concentration. Propionic, benzoic and mandelic organic acids were also found.

Lactobacillus population in human gastrointestinal tract is increased by Spirulina consumption. This means: food digestion and absorption improvement, intestinal protection against bacterial infections and immune system stimulation (Henrikson, 1994; Schiffrin, 1997). Immune system modulation is due to interference on production and NK cytotoxicity.

Spirulina reduces: hepatic damage due to drug abuse and heavy metal exposure, inflammatory response, cells degeneration, anaphylactic reaction, Bitot’s spots, and Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 radiation in Chernobyl children (Henrikson, 1994).

Spirulina contains vitamin A, important in preventing eye diseases; iron and vitamin B12, useful in treating hypoferric anemia and pernicious anemia, respectively; g-linolenic acid, appropriate in treatment of atopic child eczema therapy; to alleviate premenstrual syndrome, and in immune system stimulation (Pascaud, 1993). Spirulina also has a positive effect on cardiac disease, Parkinson`s disease, malnutrition, sclerosis (Richmond A, 1992; Fox, 1993, Fox, 1998; Thein, 1993) and wounds cure (Richmond, 1992).

Other benefits are attributed to Spirulina: anti-arthritic effect due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of phycocyanin (Ramirez,2002); anti-atherogenic property (Kaji.,2002), tumor burden inhibition (Dasgupta, 2001); chemo protective and radio-protective effect (Zhang.,2001); and antioxidant activity on lead-induced toxicity in rats (Upasani, 2001).

In Mexico, Spirulina is used in to enrich candies. In Australia and New Zealand beverages of this substance are marketed. In Japan, India, and Singapore Spirulina-enriched appetizers are sold specially to pregnant women, children and elderly. Spirulina is not only food, but also a natural coloring in Japanese chewing gums. Countries like Chile, France, Cuba, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand market food complements, which include Spirulina as the main component. Internationally, skin care products, shampoos, dyes, masks, creams and tonics containing this microorganism are marketed. In Sweden low calorie bread enriched with Spirulina is sold, and in France a vegetable pâté, made of Spirulina, is sold as bread spread (Henrikson, 1994).

Many agricultural and industrial materials are being prepared from cyanobacteria. These include: biomass, restriction nucleases, antifungal, antineoplastic, antimicrobial, anti-leukemia and herbicidal compounds. Some pigments have been produced from cyanobacteria. Other products from microalgae are: amino acids, and fertilizers.

Spirulina has been studied as an animal cell-growth stimulant (Kerby and Rowell, 1992) and in the treatment of residual waters using alginate. Phycocyanin shows activity on vegetable cell cultures with production of secondary metabolites as anthocyanin. This pigment has the ability to inhibit oxidative damage in DNA and hence it may be used as a therapeutic agent (Bhat., 2001).

Spirulina is used in Japan and Taiwan as aquarium fish food, in United States to enhance color, speed the growth and sexual maturation of canaries and exotic birds (Saxena, et al., 1983). Cattle and horse breeders affirm that when adding Spirulina to silage, the quantity of sperms in males and the fertility in females are increased (Henrikson, 1994). Labeo rohita (rohu), an Indian carp, showed greater growth after being fed with Spirulina. In chickens, Spirulina increases the mononuclear phagocyte system function thereby enhancing their disease resistance.


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