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Spirulina Herb - Health Benefits, Uses And Side Effects

Other Names : Blue-green algae, dihe, and tecuitlatl.


Spirullna is a microscopic, corkscrew-shaped alga that lives in high-salt, alkaline waters in subtropical and tropical areas. The bluish-green color of the roughly 35 Spirulina species stems from the chlorophyll (green) and phycocyanin (blue) pigments In the plant's cells. Some people find spirulina's color less than appetizing. Fortunately, the color can easily be changed.

Description of the herb Spirulina

Spirulina is a genus of the phylum Cyanobacteria . Cyanobacteria are classified as either blue-green algae or as blue-green bacteria. Spirulina is a popular food supplement in Japan and is marketed as a nutritional supplement in the United States. Spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass and chlorella are sometimes referred to as "green foods." There are several species of spirulina. The ones most commonly used in nutritional supplements are Spirulina platensis (also called Arthrospira platensis ) and Spirulina maxima.

Spirulina used for the production of nutritional supplements is either grown in outdoor tanks or harvested from lakes in as Mexico, Central and South America, and Africa.

Common doses of Spirulina

Spirulina comes as:

  • capsules (500 and 750 milligrams)
  • tablets (250, 380, 500, and 750 milligrams)
  • powder (20 milligrams)
  • fruit drink (20 milligrams)
  • fresh plant.

Some experts recommend the following doses:

  • 3 to 5 grams daily taken orally before meals.
  • To promote rapid weight gain in malnourished infants, 3 to 15 grams daily taken orally.

Uses of Spirulina herb

Spirulina is a low fat, low calorie, cholesterol-free source of protein containing all the essential amino acids. Spirulina has shown the ability to enhance immune function. Spirulina promotes hematopoiesis (formation and development of red blood cells) due to the high levels of iron present in this food supplement. Spirulina may protect against allergic reactions by blocking the release of histamines. Specifically, spirulina may help to :-

  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Hair loss
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreas inflammation
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Stress
  • To curb the appetite
  • To promote weight loss

Side effects of Spirulina

Nutritional tests have found no side effects from spirulina, but you should call your health care practitioner if you experience unusual symptoms while using it.

Are there any interactions?

Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Tell your health care practitioner about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you're taking.

Important points to remember

  • Use spirulina cautiously if you're pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Know that spirulina may contain significant amounts of mercury depending on where it's grown. Eating 20 grams daily may give you more mercury than the maximum 180-microgram safety limit. Spirulina also may contain arsenic, cadmium, and lead.
  • Consult your health care practitioner before using spirulina. For some people, the risk of heavy-metal poisoning exceeds the benefits obtained from the herb.
  • Be aware that this herb may contain tiny amounts of radioactive ions, depending on where it was produced.
  • Keep in mind that spirulina has a slight marine odor but a mild taste.
  • Know that spirulina's GLA content is 25% to 30% compared with other sources, such as evening primrose oil or black currant berries, which contain 10% to 15%.

What the research shows

Unquestionably, spirulina has nutritional value. However, it's more expensive than other protein and nutrient sources. Also, unlike commercial vitamin and nutrient supplements, it carries the risk of heavy metal poisoning and exposure to radioactive ions. Official recommendation of spirulina as a medical remedy won't come until additional supportive data are available.

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