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.
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.
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.
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.
The first thing that jumps out is that spirulina is a treasure house of amino acids including:
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).
Note: Use the Google Search Box below to locate specific items of interest on the health-choices-for-life website.
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.
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:
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.
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.