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Spirulina is an excellent choice as extra nutrition after exercise and stress


Arthrospira platensis Phormidiaceae

Spirulina is rich in a wide range of essential nutrients including vitamin A, B6, B12, iron, magnesium, iodine and calcium.

Sustainability Status

Sustainability status

Not currently on risk lists but complete data may be missing on the status of the species. Read more about our sustainability guide.

Key benefits
  • Nourishing effect on nervous and brain tissue
  • Regenerates red blood cells
  • Skin detox
  • How does it feel?

    Spirulina is a single-celled microscopic freshwater cyanobacteria that has a deep blue-green colouring. Its name is derived from its characteristic ‘spiral’ structure that this particular cyanobacteria forms.

  • What can I use it for?

    Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis)
    Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis)

    Spirulina is 60% protein and contains all the amino acids making it a complete protein that is easily digestible. It is rich in a wide range of essential nutrients including vitamin A, B6, B12, iron, magnesium, iodine and calcium. This makes it perfect for treating any form of nutritional deficiencies. It contains Beta Carotene (Vitamin A), a powerful antioxidant protecting against free radicals and strengthening the skin, B Vitamins and B12 which nourish the nervous system, help generate red blood cells, synthesise DNA and aid the metabolism of protein and fat. B12 especially helps with energy-yielding metabolism. It also contains iron which is vital for the health of the blood as it forms part of the haemoglobin protein which enables oxygen to be carried around the body.

    Spirulina contains a special blue-green pigment called phycocyanin which is a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals. Phycocyanin also assists in nerve and brain regeneration by bringing together amino acids that nourish the creation and functioning of neurotransmitters.

    Spirulina is also a source of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) which helps promote certain prostaglandins that reduce inflammation and support immune function. GLA also prohibits excessive cellular division and nourishes brain cells.

  • Into the heart of spirulina

    Spirulina power (Arthrospira platensis)
    Spirulina power (Arthrospira platensis)

    Spirulina has a unique nutritional profile that makes it an excellent choice for those who require extra nutrition as a result of excessive exercise, stress or restrictive diets. It is a complete protein and contains all essential and non-essential amino acids in easily digestible forms. It is packed with vitamins and minerals including iron, all the B vitamins and Vitamin A as beta-carotene which support production of red blood cells, energy-yielding metabolism and healthy skin. Spirulina contains a special pigment known as phycocyanin which is a potent antioxidant that also supports neurotransmitter functioning in the nervous system and the brain.

    Spirulina is a complete protein and contains a wide spectrum of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Because it is easily digested, spirulina is excellent for any form of nutritional deficiencies and for use during convalescence.

    Spirulina is a naturally high source of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) which has a specifically nourishing effect on nervous and brain tissue, indicating it in mental fatigue and chronic degenerative conditions affecting the nervous system and the brain. The pigment present in Spirulina known as phycocyanin is a powerful and very protective antioxidant that has a regenerative effect upon nerve and brain tissue, making it excellent where there has been any nervous and or brain tissue damage.

    Spirulina contains Beta-carotene and B vitamins which will regenerate red blood cells, indicating spirulina in any blood based deficiencies such as anaemia and where there may have been blood loss or contamination through injury.

    Beta-carotene strengthens skin cells and is also a powerful antioxidant that will protect the skin from harmful damage caused by free radicals present in sunlight and/or from environmental pollutants.

  • Traditional actions

  • Traditional energetic actions

    Herbal energetics are the descriptions Herbalists have given to plants, mushrooms, lichens, foods, and some minerals based on the direct experience of how they taste, feel, and work in the body. All traditional health systems use these principles to explain how the environment we live in and absorb, impacts our health. Find out more about traditional energetic actions in our article “An introduction to herbal energetics“.

  • Did you know?

    Spirulina is one of the earliest photosynthesising microscopic blue-green cyanobacteria evolving over 2 billion years ago.

Additional information

  • Safety

    No drug-herb interactions are known.

  • Dosage

    500mg-3000mg per day for maintenance and up to 9000mg per day for short periods (1-2 weeks).

Spirulina illustration (Arthrospira platensis)
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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