What is Spirulina about exactly? What is it? Is it safe for me to take? Where did it come from? Why do so many people rave about it, and yet a few are sceptical or critical?
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Chad and spirulina.
The Aztecs and spirulina.
Today, NASA using spirulina.
Those who should best avoid spirulina.
Spirulina provided the evolutionary gap.
The United Nations promoting the benefits of spirulina.
Iodine and spirulina.
When Cortes arrived in America, his soldiers noticed the Aztecs were eating something the locals called Tecuitlatl. In the 1960´s, French Researchers found Spirulina in abundance at Lake Texcoco, Mexico.
The Mayas, and Toltecs (3) in Mexico consumed spirulina during the Aztec civilization.
Apparently, the Aztec emperor Montezuma (1467-1520) really enjoyed fish. He would send messengers to collect fish in the Gulf of Mexico from what today is Mexico City, a one way distance of almost 400 km. The runners had enhanced EPO, giving them increased endurance & energy, to run the distance, thanks it would seem to spirulina.
Unfortunately, it seems the natural sources of spirulina disappeared after the Spanish conquistadors dried up the lakes to develop farmland and pastures.
A few hundred years later, an engineer from France was running a sodium hydroxide facility in Mexico, and had to manage a “blue slime” getting into their machines – after initially burning it together with the rubbish, he finally identified it as spirulina.
In the 1940`s, on the other side of the world in Chad Africa, a French botanist found people eating a dry bread called “daei”. In Chad, Spirulina is known as “daei”. They still eat “daei” today, harvested from their lakes and used for cooking. The Kanembu people in Africa have been using spirulina for many generations.
This well presented video from the United Nations, highlights how spirulina “has been the secret of the good health” of people in Chad:
The 1940´s & Cortes Are Modern History!
Researchers think it’s; “the evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants” and yet Spirulina is not well understood, particularly in the “West”. It’s thought to be one of the building blocks for plant DNA.
And the story does not end there. NASA are studying Spirulina for long distance space flights.
So what is Spirulina about exactly?
Spirulina is NOT a seaweed. You will find a lot of people referring to spirulina as an algae (alga). It isn´t. Technically it’s a cyanobacteria. However, for the sake of simplicity many people refer to it as a “blue-green algae”. “Modern botanists restrict the term algae to eukaryotes”.
Some people mistakenly refer to it as a seaweed, we repeat, it isn´t. That’s really important to understand because seaweed has far more iodine than spirulina.
Today, Quality spirulina is usually, but not always, produced in freshwater and generally only has the same amount of iodine that is found in fresh water. River water has about 5 parts per billion (ppb) of iodine. Most quality spirulina producers, have carefully monitored production plants.
But even if it does have iodine, as may be the case (We recommend you check before purchasing) if you can eat fish and seafood without any difficulty, generally you ought to be fine taking Spirulina supplements. But please check with your Doctor or Health professional first whether it is right for you.
A word about Iodine in seaweed (Not SPIRULINA)
Iodine is found naturally in the air, soil and water. Particularly seawater. Seawater has about 60 parts per billion (ppb) of iodine. That is why brown seaweed (This is NOT SPIRULINA) can have as much as 0.45% (dry mass) of iodine.
Iodine is also found in your body and is necessary for it to function properly. It’s when you have an imbalance it can be a problem. In which case you need to check carefully with your Doctor or Medical Professional before you take any supplements that may be high in iodine. Well sourced Spirulina typically has low or insignificant levels of iodine. – much less than you already have in your body
Why we think Spirulina is a terrific “super-food” supplement.
We have experienced ourselves or researched the many benefits of taking the Spirulina “super food” – (that’s the 3.6 billion year old cyanobacteria) supplements, covering a wide range of conditions. Check our Frequently Asked Questions page for the many ways spirulina can help (and a few where it does not). It might surprise you, but it also helps with weight loss!– it is packed with so many nutrients that you feel “fuller” and so eat less! Along with exercise, it has helped me to lose 28 kilos!
Please refer to our FAQ page for a full list of our research on different conditions that the spirulina super food might help you with. We also have a page giving suggestions on how much to take?. This is important, so you can slowly build up, and over a period on months, you will start to experience the benefits. Remember, its a superfood, not a medication, most people experience the benefits after a few months, and for those who are obese, its likely to take a little longer, as their body goes through a detox.
Although its a superfood, don´t forget to check with your doctor or medical professional before using it. There are a few pre-existing conditions (see below), where it might impact on any traditional medications you might be taking.
– Also is it right for you, from where? There are so many brands. You are right to be cautious to choose a safely sourced supply.
Spirulina is not recommended for rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions associated with an overactive immune system e.g lupus or multiple sclerosis.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions associated with an overactive immune system, including conditions such as multiple sclerosis or lupus. Also if you are taking blood thinning medication. We advise you not (not) to take spirulina, unless you have confirmed you may do so with your Doctor on your specific personal circumstances. Only if your Doctor or medical professional, gives you the go ahead, should you take spirulina.
During our research of the cyanobacteria known as Spirulina we have found a few relatively rare examples of people who have not had a good experience with Spirulina. We suspect they may have purchased contaminated Spirulina and that may have made them feel sick.
Or if its processed in the same factory or line, where seafood, or fish are processed, the levels of iodine are likely to be higher. That’s why we are so careful with our recommendations as to which supplier (s).
Or perhaps like me, they didn´t realise they were going through a detox
Its also important to be aware, that as Spirulina grows, it soaks up anything that’s in its environment. Some supplies, particularly from China, have been found to contain quite high levels of toxins. I have some reviews of different suppliers on this page that you may find useful.
Use a Quality Supplier
To avoid these risks, we particularly recommend specialist companies like E-vitamins or Whole Foods. The problem with a huge generalist online (Department Store e.g. Amazon) with massive warehouses, customs clearance storage etc., that cater for millions of different items, is that they might be hot and so impact on the useful shelflife of the spirulina. The fresher spirulina is, the better the quality and more likely you will see the benefits.
You may also wish to check on how much to take. Put simply, we recommend you build up slowly, but the how much to take page, provides fuller advice. Remember, buying from a quality producer is essential.
Let’s keep things in perspective, spirulina is a natural food that the Aztecs ate and the people in Chad eat and seem to thrive on. However, if you are considering taking this superfood supplement for the first time and you have a pre-existing condition, do check with your doctor first, if its right for you.
US Regulations on Spirulina
*Please see the About Page. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
*when we say “helps” we do not mean or want to suggest its a “cure” for anything, but it is something that may help you to manage or mitigate symptoms of certain conditions mentioned on this site.
Top picture/Diagram by Joan Simon
(1) Tarantino LM. Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN000127. FDA Home page, October 2003.
(2) Earth Food Spirulina (Arthrospira): Production and Quality Standards
by Edis Koru, Ege University, Turkey
(3) Spirulina Study on its Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory properties
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