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Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae

by Sarah Terry


Blue-green algae is a nutrient- and antioxidant-rich plant group that is used as a food, nutritional supplement and alternative medicinal supplement. The most common type of blue-green algae is spirulina. Little scientific research has been conducted on blue-green algae using human subjects, but animal and laboratory studies have hinted that the plant might be beneficial in treating several different conditions. Blue-green algae typically comes in the form of tablets and is taken in doses of 500 milligrams four to six times daily. Many types of blue-green algae can naturally contain toxic substances, such as microcystins and anatoxin, which can be dangerous in high doses. Blue-green algae can also absorb toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, from the environment. Because government agencies in most regions don't regulate the amount of these toxins in blue-green algae, you should use caution when taking it in higher doses.

Treats Infections

Blue-green algae may help to boost the immune system and fight infections. Laboratory test-tube and animal studies have found that blue-green algae can fight herpes, HIV and influenza infections, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, the evidence from these studies is “too weak to mean much,” warns the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, citing one double-blind trial of healthy adults that found no improved immune-system response to the flu vaccine. Also, no evidence exists indicating that the test tube and animal studies’ results can be duplicated in human trials, the University of Maryland notes. Conversely, blue-green algae may help to promote probiotics, or the beneficial bacteria in the body. Test tube studies have found that blue-green algae stimulated the growth of probiotics, which are sometimes killed by antibiotic medications.

Prevents Cancer

Taking blue-green algae supplements may help to fight cancer. “Very preliminary” studies have indicated that blue-green algae may have preventive effects regarding cancer, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The University of Maryland Medical Center points to a placebo-controlled study that found taking spirulina reduced precancerous lesions in individuals who chewed tobacco and were at risk for oral cancer.

Supports the Liver

Blue-green algae such as spirulina might help to support and protect the liver. Blue-green algae may protect the liver from toxins, damage and cirrhosis in people with chronic hepatitis, according to preliminary studies cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Treats Allergy Symptoms

Spirulina and other types of blue-green algae might help to block hay fever, hives and other common allergic reactions, but the evidence supporting this claim is “highly preliminary,” says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Test tube and animal studies have found that spirulina can inhibit the release of histamines, which cause allergy symptoms like swelling and respiratory irritation, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.