A Healthy choice for Life

Spirulina, a blue-green algae family member, is actually a cyanobacterium.  Although they use photosynthesis to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy and have chlorophyll the way algae does, it has no membrane enclosed nucleus housing its DNA.  Thus it is not a true algae but a type of bacteria but it's a very good type of bacteria.

Among its many health benefits it has one that stands out as truly amazing, almost unbelievable.  It has the ability to protect cells from devastating radiation and has proven itself to be able to reverse radiation damage.

What was Learned from Chernobyl

Spirulina, from English Wikipedia, author Joan Simon, 5/12/2006, cropped by Perdita from the original, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0

We're not talking about ultraviolet radiation from the sun and protecting against sunburn.  We're talking about nuclear meltdown, Chernobyl type, radiation or dirty bomb radiation...the type that kills.

Photo right:  Spirulina exhibiting its distinctive spiral shape from which its name is derived.

The Russian reactor disaster at Chernobyl way back in 1986 (it seems like yesterday) is brought up here because that is where the important documentation on spirulina's therapeutic effect on radiation damage stems from. 

Due to the reactor melt down, many plant workers and emergency responders came down with acute radiation poisoning.  In addition over 200,000 children and cleanup workers living in the vicinity of the plant became deathly ill from the radioactive environment. 

Birth defects, various cancers, thyroid disease, leukemia, liver and bone marrow degradation and badly compromised immune system became epidemic.

The good news is that a British company called Earthrise sent shipments of spirulina to clinics that were treating young victims of the Chernobyl disaster.  Over a 45 day period, the Soviet doctors gave 5 grams of spirulina per day to the children at the treatment clinics. 

The results were startling.  Children with severe radiation poisoning exhibited increases in white cell blood counts from 1000 to 3,000 in 20 days, livers started to regenerate along with bone marrow and spinal fluid.  Radioactivity levels in their urine decreased by 50% in those same 20 days.

All this and more is documented in a 2004 book by William Bodri (Bill) titled, "How to Help Support the Body's Healing after Intense Radioactive or Radiation Exposure". 

Notice that the author does not say that the alga cures radiation sickness.  He uses the phrase, "help support the body's healing".  If you have read other sections of this site you will know that by regulation, only an FDA approved drug can lay claim to healing.  

Most people familiar with nutraiceuticals and many nutritional supplements know better but the law is the law and defense lawyers cost money.

Bill Bodri is an engineer, scientist, author and deeply into natural health through nutrition, meditation and eastern medicine.  He seems to have the qualification to know what he is talking about. 

A quick search of the usual web booksellers did not come up with any hits for his book so it is probably out of print and used copies not readily available.  That in itself is a little suspicious so perhaps we can be forgiven if we take his claims with a small grain of salt. 
Anyway, if you have had a nuclear power plant melt down in your backyard, it's time to meet spirulina.

What Else Can it Do?

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In reality, not many of us are going to be exposed to deadly radiation.  So why else would we need to supplement with spirulina? 

Glad you asked.  It is a real multi-tasker and its powerful antioxidant and detox abilities make it very effective in supporting numerous bodily functions.  

Many of them are listed below leading to the conclusion that choosing spirulina as an insurance policy for our general health is a good idea.

  • Acts as an anti-viral
  • Enhances immune system response; eases allergic response
  • protects thyroid, may reverse thyroid problems
  • Supports the body in destroying cancer cells
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps control appetite
  • Helps control blood sugar thus reducing risk for diabetes
  • Helps keep cholesterol level in normal range
  • Helps combat eye disorders
  • Supports healthy levels of probiotics in the GI system
  • Provides protection to vital organs: heart, liver, kidneys, brain
  • Purges toxic agent from the body; detoxification
  • What's In It?

    Looking at the items listed above, one might be forgiven for wondering how in the world an alga, even one in a concentrated supplement form, could possibly do that many things for our health.  It turns out that there are many books about Spirulina and what it does.  The one shown to the right is from Amazon, like this one, most can be found and purchased online.  Click on the books image to see their offer. 

    But getting back to the "How does it do it" question, to answer that all we have to do is look at the analysis of a representative product available on the market.  

    For no particular reason, we selected a product from Super Food Spirulina, Ltd in Richmond, South Island, New Zealand.

    Actually they made it easy for us by posting the nutritional analysis and composition of their product right on their Superfood website.

    The first thing that jumps out is that spirulina is a treasure house of amino acids including:

  • alanine - required for the metabolism of glucose and tryptophan; demonstrated cholesterol reducing ability in rats
  • arginine - precursor to nitric oxide, a vasodilator (expands blood vessels)
  • aspartic acid - essential for the production of other amino acids, increases stamina, supports brain and neural health, cleanses toxins from blood stream, supports functioning of RNA and DNA, necessary for production of immunoglobulin and antibodies.
  • cystine - utilization of B6, healing of burns, breakdown of mucus associated with bronchitis and cystic fibrosis, assists in the supply of insulin, increases glutathione levels, detoxification
  • glutamic acid - an excitatory neurotransmitter, metabolism of sugars and fats, transporter of potassium across the blood-brain barrier, detoxification of ammonia from the brain, possible support of prostrate function
  • glycine - inhibitory neurotransmitter, helps in the retardation of muscles, aids absorption of calcium, construction of RNA, DNA and other amino acids
  • histidine - growth and repair of tissue, protection of myelin sheath around neurons, protection from radiation by detox of heavy metals, support of gastric juice production
  • Isoleucine - promotes muscle recovery, contributes to regulation of blood sugar, supports formation of hemoglobin
  • lysine - children's growth and bone development, calcium absorption, nitrogen regulation, building muscle protein and maintaining lean body mass, support production of antibodies, hormones, enzymes and collagen, tissue repair
  • methionine - breakdown of fats, supports digestive system, detox of heavy metals, glutathione precursor, exceptional antioxidant, needed for production of creatine which is needed for muscle building and energy production
  • phenyl alanine - converts to tyrosine, mitigation of chronic pain, animal studies suggest benefits in the treatment of Parkinson's, support production of brain chemicals and thus alleviate depression
  • proline - supports collagen formation, improves skin texture, possible support of muscle, tendons and joints
  • serine - metabolism of fat, supports immune system, supports tissue growth, helps production of immunoglobulin and antibodies, supports production of cell membranes, nerve myelin sheaths and required for formation of certain brain proteins
  • threonine - helps maintain protein balance, support formation of collagen and elastin in the skin, supports proper liver function, supports immune system by production of antibodies, promotes better absorption of nutrients, has been used to treat mental disorders
  • trytophan - required for the production of niacin (B3), used by the body to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, supports brain and nerve function, promotes healthy sleep, used in mood stabilization, mitigation of pain, control of inflammation
  • tyrosine - supports brain function, a factor in the production of dopamine and norepinephrin, appetite control and reduction of body fat, stress reduction, benefits for sleep disorders, depression, allergies and headache
  • valine - support of muscle metabolism, repair and growth, beneficial for neurodegenerative issues and alcohol related brain lesions, energy source for muscles
  • In addition to the cast of amino acids listed above, spirulina has a strong line up vitamins and minerals.  It contains ample quantities of eleven minerals and all the vitamins B1 (thyamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin).  

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    Another important category of nutrients found in spirulina is fatty acids.  Fatty acids fill unique and vital roles in maintaining optimal health.  For example six fatty acids found in spirulina are listed below.

  • myristic acid - saturated fatty acid
  • palmitic acid - saturated fatty acid
  • stearic acid - saturated fatty acid
  • oleic acid - omega-9 unsaturated fatty acid
  • linoleic acid - omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid
  • gamma linolenic acid - omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid
  • Instead of going into the benefits of each one, suffice it to say that fatty acids are vitally important to the ongoing health of the body.  Often, printed articles on fatty acids will refer to them as Omega-3 or Omega-6 or Omega-9 or whatever, which gets into the chemical structure of the particular fatty acid molecule. 

    The number describes where the first double bond appears from the methyl end of the chain.  In an omega-3 fatty acid, the first double bond shows up three carbon atoms from the end.

    There are many, many fatty acids and it is a pretty complex area of organic chemistry.   For our purposes, getting the right fatty acids into our bodies will:

  • assist in oxygen transport in our blood
  • build and repair cellular membranes
  • support the integrity and strength of our cells membranes
  • control inflammation in our bodies; however an imbalance of certain fatty acids such as the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 can create inflammation.
  • support the functioning of major systems such as the immune, nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems
  • control cholesterol levels by raising HDL levels and escorting LDLs to the liver for breakdown and excretion
  • assist in the regulation of certain hormones in the adrenal and thyroid glands
  • keep skin healthy and forestall early aging of skin tissue
  • The main point to be made here is that this blue-green cyanobacterium is rich in fatty acids and in supplement form is easy to consume.  However, spirulina is not a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as little or no significant levels of EPA, DHA or ALA is detected in various test samples. 

    For omega-3 fatty acids, stick with krill oil or high grade, molecularly distilled fish oil or the microalgae chlorella. 

    Anyone wanting to gain a wealth of knowledge about fatty acids will find many sites on the web that will take one as deep as the care to go on the subject.

    Spirulina Sources

    Raw Organic Superfood Smoothie Powders

    There are several excellent sources for spirulina which can easily be found by doing a basic web search.  Livesuperfoods.com featured in the banner above is presented here because they are a broad based supplier of many, many natural, organic products and can quickly supply spirulina in both pill and powder form.  

    Green Foods
    Organic Spirulina

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