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Spirulina is a blue-green algae which is commercially produced and widely marketed as a “superfood” and immune booster. It is also a rich source of natural, plant-based iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, and an excellent source of plant protein, with up to 70% of its dry weight being protein. The alpha-linolenic acid profile in spirulina is the highest in the plant kingdom, coming in third overall behind milk and evening primrose oil.
Cytokines and interferons tell the body it may be getting sick
A study published in the Spring 2005 isssue of the Journal of Medicinal Food indicated that ingested spirulina made a significant improvement in human patients with nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis. In this study, researchers measured the amount of cytokines, interferon, and other immune system signals found in the bloodstream before and after taking spirulina. Cytokines are immune system molecules which send signals to alert immune “fighters” to come to the body’s aid when a pathogen is encountered. They act as auto-immune communicators. Cytokines can be either proteins, glycoproteins, or peptides.
According to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, interferons are another type of immune system signal. They work by binding to receptors located on cell membranes, sending a “red alert” message to the cells. Cells then respond to this message by triggering 20-30 genes which then create an anti-viral cellular environment.
Eating spirulina every day significantly improves allergy symtoms
The spirulina study was a typical randomized, double-blind clinical study. Allergic rhinitis sufferers were given either a placebo or a daily dose of either 1000 mg or 2000 mg spirulina for twelve weeks. There was no improvement for the participants taking the placebo. There was also no notable improvement for participants taking 1000 mg spirulina daily. However, the allergy sufferers who took 2000 mg spirulina every day saw significant improvement in their allergy symptoms.
Consumption of spirulina enhances exercise performance
A January 2010 research study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported that spirulina had a positive impact on exercise performance. In this study, nine physically fit men took either a placebo or spirulina for four weeks. The men ran on a treadmill for two hours every day, running at 70-75% of their VO2 max and 95% of their VO2 max to exhaustion. Both exercise performance and respiratory function were measured. Blood samples were drawn at regular intervals during the study.
The results were impressive. The time to fatigue after the two hour run was significantly longer among the men who took spirulina. The carbohydrate oxidation rate was decreased by over 10% and the fat burning rate was increased by almost 11% over the placebo group. The study concluded that spirulina really does enhance exercise performance.
Sources for this article include:
National Institute of Health.gov. “Effects of a Spirulina-Based Dietary Supplement on Cytokine Production From Allergic Rhinitis Patients.” TK Mao, et al. Journal of Medicinal Food, 2005 Spring; 8(1): 27-30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15857205
Nutrition Data. Self. com. “Self Nutrition Data” http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2
Pathmicro.med.sc.edu. “Interferon” http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/mhunt/interferon.htm
National Institute of Health.gov. Orio Ciferri, “Spirulina, the Edible Microorganism.” Microbiological Reviews, 1983, Vol 47, No. 4, pp. 551-578. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC283708/pdf/microrev00019-0101.pdf
National Institute of Health.gov. “Ergogenic and Antioxidant Effects of Spirulina Supplementation in Humans.” M. Kalafati, et al. Medicine and Science http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC283708/pdf/microrev00019-0101.pdfin Sports and Exercise, Jan 2010, 42(1); 142-51.
About the Author
This article is provided courtesy of Donna Earnest Pravel, owner and senior editor of Heart of Texas Copywriting Solutions.com. Get free biweekly tips on natural healing and herbs by visiting her blog, Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy.
Prepared by Sheri McCord
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