IIMSAM Spirulina Resource Centre

Worldwide Studies Involving Spirulina
Each day around forty thousand children die because of severe malnutrition and related diseases across the world. Malnutrition disempowers and affects the lives of around 852 million people globally in a drastic way. According to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO: 1996), more than starvation the real challenge today is malnutrition-the deficiency of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids) that no longer allows the body to ensure growth and maintain its vital functions.

Malnutrition severely diminishes the human capital of a country and its multifarious impacts hinder the universal achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Developing countries are especially vulnerable to this easily avoidable catastrophe.

Spirulina offers remarkable health benefits to an undernourished person. It is rich in beta carotene that can overcome eye problems caused by Vitamin A deficiency. The protein and B-vitamin complex makes a major nutritional improvement in an infant's diet. It is the only food source, except for mother's milk, containing substantial amounts of an essential fatty acid GLA that helps regulate the entire hormone system.

One tablespoon a day can eliminate iron anemia, the most common mineral deficiency. Spirulina is the most digestible protein food, especially important for malnourished people whose intestines can no longer absorb nutrients effectively. Clinical studies have shown it helps rebuild healthy intestinal flora. These health benefits have made it an excellent food for rapid recovery of children from malnutrition related diseases in Mexico , Togo , Romania , China , Rwanda , Zaire , India , Ukraine , and Belarus .

Spirulina is being produced in more than 22 countries and used in over 77 countries.

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that Spirulina represents an interesting food for multiple reasons, and it is able to be administered to children without any risk. Other proposed uses of Spirulina are for cancer prevention, fibromyalgia, hay fever, herpes infection, high cholesterol, hives, HIV infection, liver protection, weight loss.


Advantages of Spirulina
  • Spirulina does not need fertile land for cultivation and therefore conserves fertile land and soil. It has over 60 % protein that is higher than any other food besides benefits of rapid growth and higher yield.

  • Spirulina requires less energy input per kilo than soy, corn, or bovine protein. As cheap energy sources are depleted, costs of energy dependent foods will rise up with energy prices .


  • Spirulina uses less water per kilo of protein than other foods as the water is recycled back to the ponds after harvesting .


  • Spirulina is a big oxygen producer that is even more efficient than trees and forests to absorb Carbon dioxide and release Oxygen.


  • Spirulina production uses non-fertile land and brackish water and is a potent remedy to deforestation to cultivate food. As people eat lower on the food chain, the pressures to destroy wilderness can be halted and help re-green our planet.


  • Spirulina has no externalized hidden costs in terms of depletion of fresh water, fertile top soil and forests, pollution from pesticides, herbicides, and toxins. No long term medical costs from unhealthy foods with chemical additives.

“For WHO, Spirulina represents an interesting food for multiple reasons, rich in iron and protein, and is able to be administered to children without any risk. We at WHO consider it a very suitable food” - United Nations World Health Organization (WHO),
Geneva , Switzerland June 8 th , 1993




A child suffering from
acute malnutrition
The same child 90 days
after taking Spirulina


Composition of Spirulina

Protein about 60% ( 51 to 71 )
Carbohydrate about 14%
Lipids about 6%
Amino Acids
(essentials)
Spirulina
grams
Egg Protein
per 100 grams of
FAO Standard proteins
Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylalanine
Threonine
Tryptophane
Valine
6.4
10.4
4.5
2.2
5.4
5.4
1.5
7.5
5.8
9.0 <
6.7
3.0
5.3
5.3
1.8
7.2
4.0
7.0
5.5
5.5*
6.0
4.0
1.0
5.0
* includes cystine
Table from Busson, F., Spirulina Platensis (Gom) Geitler et. Spirulina geitleri, J.Dr Toni, Cynophycées Alimentaires, Armée Française, Service de Santé, Parc de Pharo, Marseill,1971.


Carbohydrates Per 100 grams
Ramnose 9.0
Glucane 1.5
Phosphorolated Cyclitols 2.5
Glucosamine Muramic acid 2.0
Glycogen 0.5
Scialic acid and others 0.5
Lipids (Principal Ones) mg/Kg
Palmitic acid (saturated fatty acid) 16-,500 to 21,141
Linoleic acid (unsaturated FA) 10,920 to 13,784
Gamma linoleic acid (omega 6) 8,750 to 11,970
Alpha linolenic acid (omega 3) 699 to 7,000
Chlorophyll-a 6,100 to 7,600
Beta sitosterol 30 to 97
Beta carotene average 1,700
Vitamins mg/Kg
Biotin 0.4
Cyanocobalmin ( B12 ) 0.45 ( analogs not included )
Delta-calcium Panthothenate 11.0
Folic acid 0.5
Inositol
350
Nicotinic acid ( PP ) 118<
Pyridoxine ( B6 ) 3
Riboflavine ( B2 ) 40
Thiamin ( B1 ) 55
Tocopherol ( E ) 190
Ascorbic acid ( C ) 90
Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Vitamins; Source- SOSA TEXCOCO, Mexico


BelarusBelarus


  • Spirulina- natural sorbent of radionucleides.
    by L.P. Loseva and I.V. Dardynskaya . Sep 1993. Research Institute of Radiation Medicine, Minsk, Belarus. 6th Int'l Congress of Applied Algology, Czech Republic. Belarus.
Spirulina, a natural food supplement, reduced urine radioactivity levels by 50% in only 20 days. This result was achieved after giving 5 grams a day to children at the Institute of Radiation Medicine in Minsk, Belarus. The Institute has developed a program to treat 100 children every 20 days. This 1993 report confirms 1990-91 research on the beneficial health effects of spirulina on children with radiation sickness. It concludes: "Use of spirulina decreases radioaction dose load received from food contaminated with radionuclides, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90. Spirulina is favorable for normalizing the adaptative potential of children's bodies in conditions of long-lived low dose radiation."
  • Spirulina platensis and specialties to support detoxifying pollutants and to strengthen the immune system.
    by L.P. Loseva. Sep 1999. Research Institute of Radiation Medicine, Minsk, Belarus. 8th Int'l Congress of Applied Algology, Italy. Belarus.
Main purpose of the study is researching the influence of spirulina platensis on the immune system on normalization of peroxide lipid oxidation and anti-oxidant activity, also on the content of long-life radionucleides. In the studies were involved children and teenagers residing in the areas with radiant pollution and people injured by the Chernobyl catastrophe. To achieve desirable results with spirulina it is recommended to take it during 3 months and if not continued, this course should be repeated in half a year again. Possible therapeutic mechanisms: a) The natural combination of nutrients supports the formation of non-absorbable complexes of radionucleides through analogues such as calcium, potassium, etc., and promotes their excretion. b) the general intake of easily digestible micro and macro elements of spirulina has a positive influence on many functions of the immune system.
ChinaChina


  • Spirulina in Jiangxi China.
    by Miao Jian Ren . 1987. Academy of Agricultural Science. Presented at Soc. Appl. Algology, Lille France Sep. 1987. China.
In Nanjing Childrens Hospital, 27 children, 2-6 years old, recovered in a short period from bad appetite, night sweats, diarrhea and constipation from a baby nourishing formula containing 1.5g spirulina, 12g baked barley sprout, Vitaimn B1 and Zinc. The clinical effects showed spirulina is a genuine health food for children.
  • The study on curative effect of zinc containing spirulina for zinc deficient children.
    by Wen Yonghuang, et al. 1994. Capital Medical College, Beijing. Presented at 5th Int'l Phycological Congress, Qingdao, June 1994. China.
Spirulina with a high zinc content may be twice as effective as a zinc supplement in curing zinc deficiency in children. The effective dose of zinc from spirulina was 2 to 4 times less than the zinc from a common supplement, zinc sulfate. More than two times the children were cured with high zinc spirulina. One hundred children were diagnosed as suffering from zinc deficiency. For a three month period, 50 children were given zinc sulfate and 50 were given spirulina tablets. Doctors concluded spirulina's effect was much better than zinc sulfate. Spirulina had no side effects and was easy to administer for long periods of time. They theorized that high zinc spirulina had many bioactive and nutritious substances which improved mineral absorption, general health and the immune system.
Democratic Republic of CongoDemocratic Republic of Congo


  • Effectiveness of spirulina algae as food for children with protein-energy malnutrition in a tropical environment.
    by P. Bucaille. 1990. University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France. Oct. 1990. Zaire. (in French).
GermanyGermany


  • Clinical and biochemical evaluations of spirulina with regard to its application in the treatment of obesity.
    by E.W. Becker, et al. 1986. Inst. Chem. Pfanz. Pub. in Nutrition Reports Int'l, Vol. 33, No. 4, pg 565. Germany.
IndiaIndia


  • Evaluation of chemoprevention of oral cancer with spirulina.
    by Babu, M. et al. 1995. Pub. in Nutrition and Cancer, Vol. 24, No. 2, 197-202. India.
The blue-green microalgae spirulina, used in daily diets of natives in Africa and America, has been found to be a rich natural source of proteins, carotenoids and other micronutrients. Experimental studies in animal models have demonstrated an inhibitory effect of spirulina algae on oral carcinogenesis. Studies among preschool children in India have demonstrated spirulina fusiformis to be a effective source of dietary vitamin A. We evaluated the chemoproventative activity of spirulina (1 g/day for 12 months) in reversing oral leukoplakia in pan tobacco chewers in Kerala, India. Complete regression of lesions was observed in 20 of 44 (45%) evaluable subjects supplemented with spirulina, as opposed to 3 of 43 (7%) in the placebo arm. When stratified by type of leukoplakia, the response was more pronounced in homogeneous lesions: complete regression was seen in 16 of 28 (57%) subjects with homogeneous leukoplakia, 2 of 8 with erythroplakia, 2 of 4 with verrucous leukoplakia, and 0 of 4 with ulcerated and nodular lesions. Within one year of discontinuing supplements, 9 of 20 (45%) complete responders with spirulina developed recurrent lesions. Supplementation with spirulina did not increase serum concentrations of retinal or beta carotene, nor was it associated with toxicity. This is the first human study evaluating the chemopreventive potential of spirulina. More studies in different settings and different populations are needed for further evaluations.
  • Bioavailability of spirulina carotenes in preschool children.
    by V. Annapurna, et al. 1991. National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India. J. Clin. Biochem Nutrition. 10 145-151. India.
The bioavailability of total carotenes and beta carotene from spirulina was examined in apparently healthy preschool children and found to be comparable to those values reported for other plant sources like leafy vegetables and carrots. The study also showed spirulina is a good source of Vitamin A, as there was a significant increase in serum retinol levels. Researchers concluded spirulina can be used as a source of Vitamin A in the diet, is relatively inexpensive, has higher beta carotene than any other plant source and can be cultivated throughout the year.
  • Large scale nutritional supplementation with spirulina alga.
    by C.V. Seshadri . 1993. All India Coordinated Project on Spirulina. Shri Amm Murugappa Chettiar Research Center (MCRC) Madras, India.
A one year feeding program with 5,000 pre-school children showed a symptom of Vitamin A deficiency, "Bitot's spot", decreased from 80% to 10%. These rural children near Madras consumed 1 gram of spirulina a day for at least 150 days. This small amount provided the daily requirement of beta carotene (Vitamin A) which can help prevent blindness and eye diseases. In another study with 400 school children, a daily dose of beta carotene from spirulina increased their Vitamin A status to the same level as those administered pure Vitamin A. Spirulina was given to children in a unique way: extruded noodles, sweetened with sugar to preserve the beta carotene. Called "Spiru-Om", it was well accepted by the children. This project was sponsored by the Indian Government.
JapanJapan


  • Clinical experiences of administration of spirulina to patients with hupochronic anemia.
    by T. Takeuchi, et al. 1978. Tokyo Medical and Dental Univ. Japan.
Eight women had been limiting their meals to stay thin and were showing hypochronic anemia - lower than normal blood hemoglobin content. They took four grams of spirulina after each meal. After 30 days blood hemoglobin content increased 21% from 10.9 to 13.2, a satisfactory level, no longer considered anemic.
  • Cholesterol lowering effect of spirulina.
    by N. Nayaka, et al. 1988. Tokai Univ. Pub. in Nutrition Reports Int'l, Vol. 37, No. 6, 1329-1337. Japan.
Thirty healthy men with high cholesterol, mild hypertension and hyperlipidemia showed lower serum cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL (undesirable fat) levels after eating spirulina for eight weeks. These men did not change their diet, except adding spirulina. No adverse effects were noted. Group A consumed 4.2 grams daily for eight weeks. Total serum cholesterol dropped a significant 4.5% within 4 weeks from 244 to 233. Group B consumed spirulina for four weeks, then stopped. Serum cholesterol levels decreased, then returned to the initial level. Researchers concluded spirulina did lower serum cholesterol and was likely to have a favorable effect on alleviating heart disease since the arterioscelosis index improved.
MacedoniaMacedonia


  • Influence of extensive training on the number of erythrocytes and hemoglobin level and its correction.
    by Z. Trojacanec et al. 1998 . Institute for Medical, Experimental and Applied Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Skopje, Macedonia. Pub in XXIV FIMS World Congress of Sports Medicine, June 1998.
Extensive training processes are very often followed by changes in blood composition. There is evidence of the high correlation between the training rate and intensity of exercise and the athlete's hipochromy. In athletes we found a characteristic non-anemic iron deficit. Our goal was to monitor the hematological parameters in athletes with hipochromy and to examine the period of correction using iron supplementation. 20 male and 20 female athletes ages 18-22 years took part in the study. Blood samples were collected and the total number of erythrocytes, hemoglobin, serum iron and the staining index were calculated. All athletes received Earthrise Spirulina tablets, containing 1.5 mg Fe2+, 3 times a day for 2 months. Monitoring was done for 3 months. Significant changes were found in the female group for hemoglobin level, as well as increase of the serum iron and staining index. Distinct rise of the serum iron was observed in both male and female athletes. The clinical symptoms such as exhaustion, muscle fatigue and somnolence disappeared after the correction of the iron deficit. Addition of spirulina improves the prevention of non-anemic iron deficiency in athletes expecially females. Improvement of the iron reserves is a simple dietary modification that can optimize athletes health and physical capacity.
MexicoMexico


  • Clinical experimentation with spirulina.
    by R. Ramos Galvan. 1973 . National Institute of Nutrition, Mexico City, Mexico (in Spanish).
RomaniaRomania


  • Observations on the utilization of spirulina as an adjuvant nutritive factor in treating some diseases accompanied by a nutritional deficiency.
    by V. Fica, et al. 1984. Clinica II Medicala, Spitalui Clinic, Bucuresti. Med. Interna 36 (3). Romania. (In Romanian).
Spirulina tablets were given to 21 patients with various nutritional deficiencies. They had suffered weight loss in conjunction with gastric resection, tubercular infection, chronic pancreatitis and gastritis, rheumatoid arthrtis, anemia and disbetes mellitus. With spirulina the patients gained weight and their proteinograms improved.
RussiaRussia


  • Means to normalize the levels of immunoglobulin E, using the food supplement Spirulina.
    by L. Evets, et al. 1994. Grodenski State Medical Univ. Russian Federation Committee of Patents and Trade. Patent (19)RU (11)2005486. Jan. 15, 1994. Russia.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) of children living in highly radioactive areas is greatly above normal. Studies with 270 children show that consuming about 5 grams per day of spirulina tablets normalized IgE within 6 weeks. Children not consuming spirulina did not change IgE levels. No side effects were observed. Spirulina lowers the amount of IgE in the blood, which in turn normalizes and reduces allergies.

Ten Spirulina centers of ten hectares each, can produce over 360 million Spirulina doses annually, comprising 10 grams of Spirulina per dose, to be mixed with cereal(s) flour, that can recuperate and save lives of over six million people a year.


SPIRULINA FARMS AROUND THE WORLD

IIMSAM's Cultivation & Feeding Centre in Kenya Thailand Chad


Links Below:
PubMed (a service of the NIH/US National Library of Medicine containing 19 million literature citations) lists over 800 studies involving Spirulina.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page
National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health


Related Links:
Research for Progress- Antenna Technologies
Cultivation of Spirulina benefits the Environment
Nutritional Rehabilitation and Spirulina - Burkina Faso Scientific Report on Spirulina Benefits in Fighting HIV-Infected Patients in Burkina Faso, Africa
Latest Scientific Report on the Benefits of Spirulina, 29 August 2008 From American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition
Indian Medical Report On Benefits Of Spirulina Against Diabetes
Rehabilitation with Spirulina Against Malaria
Sustainable Approaches to Combat Malnutrition
Potential Complementarity of High-Flavenol Cocoa Powder and Spirulina for Health Protection (Mexico, 2009)
Hepatoprotective and antioxidant potential of Spirulina fusiformis on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in mice (Malaysia, 2009)
Dietician proposes natural products against viral infection (Japan, 2009)
Spirulina inhibits H1N1 virus, says researcher (Japan, 2009)
Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications
Potential of Spirulina Platensis as a Nutritional Supplement in Malnourished HIV-Infected Adults in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Randomised, Single-Blind Study
Anthena Technologies Geneva Based Research Foundation:2011 - New data show an important potential of spirulina in malnourished patients infected by HIV in Africa