Allergic rhinitis is characterized by repeated sneezing: itching, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion. When pollen is the cause, it is called seasonal rhinitis or, more commonly, hay fever. These symptoms are due to abnormal sensitization and an excessive reaction of the immune system to a substance foreign to the body called an allergen.
This foreign substance can be plant pollen, molds, animal hair or even animal skin. It all depends on the person and the reaction of his body to these elements. When this substance comes into contact with the eyes or the respiratory tract of the allergic person, the immune system has an inflammatory reaction: histamine and other inflammatory substances are then “unnecessarily” released.
This reaction leads to the dilation of blood vessels and the increase in secretions related to the appearance of symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis appears in people between the ages of 5 and 20. This phenomenon is probably related to environmental changes such as diet, ecology and lifestyle.
It is good to know that there is also another type of allergic rhinitis. Called “persistent” rhinitis (more than 4 days a week for more than 4 weeks), it is often caused by allergens that are present in the person’s life on a daily basis (e.g. smoke, dust).
This superfood spirulina can be your ally against this hay fever that bothers you so much! Having anti-inflammatory properties, it is beneficial to relieve the known symptoms of allergic rhinitis and acts as an antihistamine in hay fever sufferers.
Spirulina plays two roles in its fight against this phenomenon:
- a preventive role by reducing sensitivity to allergens
- a curative role by inhibiting the secretion of histamine, responsible for all manifestations of allergies
There are many medications that can help you limit the inconvenience of allergies but they can also bring you many undesirable side effects such as drowsiness for example. Spirulina is then a natural food supplement that can replace this kind of medication.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of blue-green microalgae that is able to grow in both fresh and salt water and is consumed by humans and other animals. There are two species of the spirulina plant, including Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.
Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima are cultivated worldwide and used both as a dietary supplement (in tablet, flake and powder form) and even whole food — and even for livestock and fish feed.
So what is spirulina good for? There are tons of spirulina reviews out there, claiming that this amazing algae can do everything from boost metabolism to stabilize blood sugar and prevent heart disease.
Research continues to uncover more and more potential benefits of spirulina, and studies have shown that adding spirulina to your routine could help detox your body, boost energy levels and even enhance brain function.
This unique algae is believed to have been a staple for the Aztecs in Mexico. Referred to as “Tecuitlatl,” spirulina was a primary source of protein for the Aztecs for several hundred years, and Lake Texcoco remains an abundant fountainhead of this superfood still today.
Spirulina that’s standardly produced includes very significant health benefits for people who regularly consume it.
1. Detoxes Heavy Metals (Especially Arsenic)
Affecting people all over the globe, chronic arsenic toxicity is a problem. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is one of the countries affected by inorganic arsenic that is naturally present at high levels.
Arsenic toxicity is an even bigger problem in the Far East. In the words of Bangladeshi researchers, “Millions of people in Bangladesh, India, Taiwan and Chile are consuming a high concentration of arsenic through drinking water, and thousands of them have already developed chronic arsenic poisoning.”
In fact, up to 3 percent of the entire nation of Bangladesh showed clinical signs of arsenic poisoning alone. As Bangladeshi researchers pointed out, “there is no specific treatment” for arsenic poisoning, which is why they evaluated alternatives like blue-green algae.
After giving 24 patients affected by chronic arsenic poisoning spirulina extract (250 milligrams) plus zinc (2 milligrams) twice daily, they compared the results with 17 patients who took a placebo and found that the spirulina-zinc combination worked. Ultimately, the participants experienced a 47 percent decrease of arsenic in their body. Make spirulina part of your heavy metal detox or, in general, as a way to detox your body.
2. Eliminates Candida
According to researchers, “Candida species belong to the normal microbiota of an individual’s mucosal oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.” What does that mean? Well, without a healthy microflora balance in our body, we are simply much more susceptible to sickness and disease.
In fact, leaky gut syndrome and improper digestion are directly connected to microfloral imbalance. Not only is invasive candidiasis the leading cause of mycosis-related death in the U.S., candida overgrowth has become the hallmark sign for most autoimmune diseases today.
Because of our shift toward a diet rich in sugar and unnatural ingredients, antimicrobial resistance and ineffective antifungal drugs, we have seen a significant rise in yeast infections since the 1980s.
Thankfully, spirulina appears to be able to help. Several animal studies have shown that it’s an effective antimicrobial agent, particularly for candida.
Specifically, spirulina benefits have been shown to promote the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which in turn inhibits candida from thriving. Additionally, the immune-strengthening properties of spirulina can help the body eliminate candida cells.
3. Fights HIV/AIDS
When researchers took 11 HIV patients who have never taken antiretrovirals, they split the participants into three groups: one that was assigned to eat 5 grams of brown seaweed per day, one that was to consume 5 grams of spirulina, and one that ate a combination of both. After the three-month trial period was complete, two key findings were discovered:
- Absolutely no adverse effects were experienced from both seaweed varieties and the combination.
- CD4 cells (T-helper white blood cells that fight infection and are used to stage HIV) and HIV-1 viral load (another HIV biomarker) remained stable.
The results were so promising that one participant volunteered to continue the study for an additional 10 months, and this participant actually benefited from “clinically significant improvement in CD4 and decreased HIV viral load.”
An additional study also demonstrated that spirulina deserves a place in natural HIV treatment.
4. Helps Prevent Cancer
A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.
This doesn’t come as a surprise as more than 150 peer-reviewed articles have been published in the scientific literature evaluating spirulina’s ability to affect cancer cells.
Czech Republic scientists pointed out that, in addition to its ability to control blood cholesterol levels, “Spirulina is also rich in tetrapyrrolic compounds closely related to bilirubin molecule, a potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative agent.”
When tested on human pancreatic cells, these researchers discovered that, “Compared to untreated cells, experimental therapeutics significantly decreased proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.”
In addition, a 2019 study showed that spirulina reduces myelosuppression and improves immune function after chemotherapy in patients with malignant tumors. Another study the same year demonstrated how spirulina works against oral cancers.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Phycocyanin is a pigment found in the spirulina that scientists have discovered possesses antihypertensive effects — in other words, it’s a food that lowers blood pressure. Japanese researchers claim that this is because consuming the blue-green algae reverses endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.
This could be extremely promising for Americans because metabolic syndrome has rapidly become one of the main causes of preventable disease today, as it raises one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
6. Reduces Cholesterol
Along those same lines, spirulina benefits have also been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and lower cholesterol levels. An animal study, fed them a high-cholesterol diet containing 0.5 percent cholesterol for four weeks, and then fed them a HCD with 1 percent or 5 percent spirulina for an additional eight weeks.
After the eight-week trial was complete, LDL levels decreased by 26 percent in the group eating 1 percent of spirulina and 41 percent in the group eating 5 percent spirulina, which suggests that the more consumed, the more benefits may result. Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly reduced.
7. Lowers Chance of Stroke
Researchers also discovered that the spirulina supplementation lowered the intimal aorta surface by 33 percent to 48 percent, which suggests that it can prevent atherosclerosis and subsequent stroke.
It’s important to remember that this clinical trial was conducted on animals that were still eating a high-cholesterol diet, and it highlights that regular spirulina consumption may reverse some of the damage done by eating a poor diet.
8. Boosts Exercise Performance
A 2022 study indicated that spirulina may benefit both muscle strength as well as endurance. Meanwhile, a 2020 study showed that supplementing with spirulina could improve oxygen uptake during an arm cycling exercise. Researchers said that it could behave like an ergogenic aid to improve overall athletic performance.
9. Alleviates Sinus Issues
Studies also indicate that spirulina may help treat allergic rhinitis, as it benefits the body by reducing the inflammation that causes people to experience sinus problems. Compared to placebo trials, spirulina is effective at reducing itching, nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing.
A 2020 study demonstrated that spirulina was more effective than an antihistamine called cetirizine to deal with allergies, allergic rhinitis as well as decrease inflammation.
10. Offers Protection for Brain Disorders & Memory Boosting
In a 2012 study, a spirulina-enhanced diet given to rats provided so-called neuroprotection in an α-synuclein model of Parkinson’s disease. This did not occur with the control diet.
In a 2015 study, the effects of spirulina on memory dysfunction, oxidative stress damage and antioxidant enzyme activity were examined with mice. It was found that Spirulina platensis may “prevent the loss of memory possibly by lessening Aβ protein accumulation, reducing oxidative damage and mainly augmenting the catalase activity.”
While both studies are preliminary and involve animals, they hold promise for humans afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, other neurodegenerative diseases and those with memory problems.
Benefits Of Spirulina On Allergic Rhinitis
Several studies have been carried out to prove its effectiveness against all types of allergic rhinitis. A recent trial conducted focused on 129 people with allergic rhinitis and gave promising results: taking 2g of spirulina per day, for 16 weeks, was much more effective than a placebo to reduce the symptoms of the participants.
Another experiment carried out previously proved that ingesting 2 grams of spirulina every day makes it possible to significantly reduce its level of interleukin 4 (IL-4), natural proteins responsible for the production of immunoglobulins E, mediators of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
A significant decrease in IL-6 (interleukin-6) was observed, suggesting an auto-regulation on immune variables. All these studies confirm once again the regulatory effect of spirulina on the immune system.
Spirulina is nature’s richest and most complete source of total organic nutrition and can be found in powder or tablet form. Spirulina is packed with vegetarian protein, marine omega fatty acids, chlorophyll, essential amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, Spirulina is nature’s ultimate wholefood multi-vitamin. This energizing superfood is easy to digest and supports optimal health to multiple body systems.
Risks And Side Effects
Many people wonder: is spirulina safe for kidneys? Or is spirulina bad for your liver? And if not, what are the side effects of spirulina? Despite the multitude of spirulina health benefits, there are potential spirulina side effects to consider as well.
In particular, there have been some published case reports of individuals who had autoimmune reactions after using spirulina. There is a theory that this may be caused by the activation of an inflammatory agent, TNF-alpha, which could be more significant in people predisposed to autoimmune disease.
However, other lab and research studies suggest that spirulina might suppress this inflammatory protein, so more research needs to be completed to evaluate the potential danger of spirulina for those with autoimmune disorders. If you have an autoimmune condition, it’s a good idea to take this supplement under the supervision of your healthcare provider.
When considering where to buy spirulina, be sure to always purchase from a reputable retailer. It’s absolutely critical to make sure that the quality and purity of the spirulina that you consume is of the highest standards.
Particularly, like anything that comes from the sea, be certain to only purchase blue-green algae that is free from contamination. Also, some sources suggest that pregnant women and children should not consume algae. Contact your health care provider to confirm whether or not you should be using spirulina supplements.
READ MORE: Spirulina: Dosage & Side Effects