Scientific Name/Common Name: Spirulina pratensis / Spirulina
Part(s) Used: Dried powder
Constituents/Active Ingredients: Approximately 60% protein, excellent source of beta carotene, gamma linolenic acid, the antioxidants Superoxide Dismutase and phycocyanin, good source of minerals and vitamins including B vitamins, calcium, iron, chromium, magnesium, and iodine.
Overview: Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae rich in protein, carotenoids, essential fats, and trace minerals. Spirulina has a history of use in Chad where locals traditionally consume 9-13 grams per meal, and these meals make up from 10 to 60% of daily meals. Research on the traditional usage of Spirulina as a food was done by Delpeuch and others and published in 1976 in the article entitled, Consumption as food and nutritional composition of blue-green algae among populations in the Kanem region of Chad. After this report, the United Nation's FAO organized an educational campaign in Chad to encourage consumption of Spirulina harvested from natural sources and more than 6000 meals were distributed under the supervision of the FAO. Spirulina contains a unique compound called phycocyanin not commonly found in most fruits or vegetables. Preliminary in vitro and animal studies have shown that phycocyanin has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and liver protective effects connected to its role as an antioxidant. Aside from being an excellent source of vital nutrients, Spirulina has also been shown to help reduce triglycerides and lipid peroxidation.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: As a concentrated source of key nutrients like protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals. As a source of antioxidants.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References: Romay, Ch, et al. C-Phycocyanin: A Biliprotein with Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective Effects. Current Protein and Peptide Science, 2003, 4, 207-216. Kulshreshtha, A. Spirulina in health care management. Curr Pharm Biotechnol.2008 Oct;9(5):400-5.
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