Blue-green algae

About blue-green algae

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are primordial autotrophic prokaryotes. Other common names of blue-green algae are Spirulina platensis, Spirulina fusiformis, AFA-algae, Arthrospira platensis, and BGA.

In several regions of the world, they are a source of nutrition, and many patients use the supplemental versions to prevent and treat cancer, viral diseases, and weight loss. Spirulina species are grown in alkaline fresh water, while Aphanizomenon flos aquae (AFA) grows and is harvested organically in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, USA. Either or both of these algae types are commonly found in blue-green algae products.

The term “blue-green algae” refers to a kind of bacteria that generate blue-green pigments. Products derived from blue-green algae are used to treat hypertension. They are also used as a protein supplement and to treat high cholesterol levels or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), diabetes, obesity, and a variety of other illnesses, although there is no clear scientific evidence to back up these claims.

This alga is full of nutrients. A standard tablespoon (7 g) of dried spirulina powder includes 4 g of protein, 11% of the RDA for thiamine, 15% of the RDA for riboflavin, 21% of the RDA for copper, and 11% of the RDA for iron. Furthermore, the same amount has only 20 calories and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrates. Spirulina may be one of the most nutritious foods on the earth.  The protein in spirulina is of great quality, equivalent to eggs. It provides all of the necessary amino acids that you require. It also has adequate levels of magnesium, potassium, and manganese, as well as trace amounts of practically every other nutrient that is required by the body.

Spirulina is an excellent source of antioxidants, that can help protect against oxidative stress. Its main active component is known as phycocyanin. This antioxidant component is also responsible for spirulina’s distinctive blue-green colour.
Phycocyanin can combat free radicals and limit the synthesis of inflammatory signaling molecules, offering powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Limited studies suggest that spirulina may also be useful for treating allergic rhinitis, controlling diabetes, lowering cholesterol in people with nephrotic syndrome-induced hyperlipidemia, relieving chronic pain, and helping obese and overweight adults lose weight by lowering triglycerides. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may be both safe and effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. In other trials, spirulina-fortified diets were found to aid motor development and decrease morbidity from upper respiratory infections in newborns, as well as to positively improve development in children. Supplementation may potentially aid HIV patients through immunomodulatory effects and viral load reduction. More extensive trials are required. Spirulina appears to have chemo- and radioprotective properties in animal research, but human data is insufficient.

Mechanism of action

When consumed orally, blue-green algae has a high protein, iron, and other mineral content that is absorbed by the body. The effects of blue-green algae on the immune system, (inflammation), and viral infections are now being studied.

AFA-algae (Aphanizomenon flos aquae) or Spirulina species, or even both, are commonly found in blue-green algae products. Both may be biologically active. Calcium spirulina, an extract from Spirulina, inhibited the multiplication of HIV virus, herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, and influenza virus in laboratory trials, although it is unknown whether any of these benefits would appear in the human body. Other research has found that spirulina protects laboratory animals from genetic changes induced by chemicals and radiation, although it is unknown if similar effects would occur in humans. AFA-algae seems to raise blood levels of natural killer cells (a kind of immune cell) in healthy individuals. In the lab experiments, AFA-algae also exhibit anti-viral and anti-mutation activities. Spirulina algae also has significant levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an important fatty acid that can help avoid cholesterol buildup in the body.

There is no solid evidence that blue-green algae may treat or prevent cancer, AIDS, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or other severe medical disorders.

Purported uses

Sufficient evidence:

1.) To treat high blood pressure. Blue-green algae taken orally appears to lower blood pressure in some patients with high blood pressure. A larger spirulina dosage may result in reduced blood pressure, which is a key risk factor for many diseases. A daily intake of 4.5 grams has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in people with normal readings. This decrease is considered to be caused by an increase in nitric oxide synthesis, a signaling molecule that assists your blood vessels to relax and dilate.

2.) To lower cholesterol levels. According to preliminary studies, blue-green algae decreases cholesterol in those with regular or slightly higher cholesterol levels. However, not all research agrees. Spirulina may help decrease cholesterol in people with nephrotic syndrome-induced hyperlipidemia, according to preliminary research. It has the potential to reduce total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. 2 grams of spirulina per day positively affected these indicators in a trial of 25 individuals with type 2 diabetes. Another study found that 1 gram of spirulina per day reduced triglycerides by 16.3% and “bad” LDL by 10.1% in individuals with high cholesterol.

Insufficient evidence:

1.) To aid in cancer prevention and treatment. Spirulina may have anti-cancer potential, according to some data. Animal studies show that it can help reduce occurrence and tumor size. The effects of spirulina on oral cancer have received a lot of attention. Blue-green algae may help defend against DNA alterations, according to some laboratory studies. However, more human studies are required to draw any conclusion.

2.) To aid in weight loss. Some preliminary research indicates that ingesting blue-green algae promotes weight loss marginally. Furthermore, preliminary study suggests that ingesting blue-green algae may enhance cholesterol levels in obese individuals. However, other research have found that blue-green algae had no effect on weight loss. Spirulina may aid obese and overweight individuals by lowering triglyceride levels, according to small studies. However, larger research are required.

3.) To treat HIV and AIDS. Anti-viral action of blue-green algae has been demonstrated in the laboratories. Earlier research indicates that blue-green algae has no effect on viral load in HIV patients. However, it may help some people with infections, stomach and intestinal issues, fatigue, and respiratory problems.

4.) To prevent anemia. According to one study, spirulina can help alleviate anemia in older people. Spirulina supplements increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells and immunological function in 40 elderly people with a history of anemia in the study. Remember that this is just one study. Much more research is required before any recommendations can be made.

Side effects

When used in moderation, blue-green algae products that are free of impurities such as liver-damaging chemicals known as microcystins, poisonous metals, and dangerous microorganisms, are POSSIBLY SAFE for most individuals. Doses as high as 19 grams per day have been used successfully for up to two months. Lower doses of 10 grams per day have been used for up to 6 months with no side effects. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, headache, and dizziness are common side effects.

Contaminated blue-green algae products, on the other hand, are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Blue-green algae contamination can result in liver damage, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, thirst, rapid heart rate, shock, and even death. Use only blue-green algae products that have been tested and proven to be free of microcystins and other contaminants.

Precautions

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is just not enough evidence to determine if consuming blue-green algae while pregnant or breast-feeding is safe. Toxic substances in contaminated blue-green algae products may be passed on to an infant during pregnancy or through breast milk. To be on the safe side, avoid using it.
  • Children: Blue-green algae is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children. Children are much more susceptible than adults to toxic blue-green algae products.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), pemphigus vulgaris (a skin ailment), and some other auto-immune diseases: Blue-green algae may stimulate the immune system, which may aggravate the symptoms of auto-immune disorders. It is advised to avoid consuming blue-green algae if you have any of these diseases.
  • Surgery: Blue-green algae has the potential to reduce blood sugar levels. It has been suggested that it may interfere with blood sugar regulation during and after surgery. Avoid consuming blue-green algae at least two weeks before surgery.