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How Blue Green algae benefits were found?

Blue-green algae are a type of cyanobacteria and considered as the most ancient life in the world. Cyanobacteria were discovered almost 3.5 billion years back and considered as a most primitive organism to attain photosynthesis. [1] 

In many cultures like Africa, Asia, America, China, Aztecs, and Mayans, cyanobacteria were already on their diet list. These countries utilized cyanobacteria not only as a food, but commercial utilization is also significant.    

In 1980, first Blue-green algae were harvested for preparing a human dietary supplement. It becomes so popular within a few years that in 1998 2.2 million lbs Blue-green algae was harvested for dietary supplement production. [2] The Blue-green algae are abundantly grown in Klamath Lake. It is mainly harvested in late summer and early monsoon season for a commercial purpose. [1] However, all the commercial supplements vary in their composition. 

What are the phytochemicals present in Blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is a combination of two phytochemicals phycocyanine and chlorophyll. Phycocyanine provides blue color and chlorophyll provides the green color to this algae. 

Blue-green algae (BGA) or AFA is a nutrient-rich natural dietary product. It contains Vitamin B complex, essential amino acids, γ-linolenic acid, calcium,  iron, phosphorus, fibers and some essential pigments including chlorophyll, xanthophylls, β-carotene, and other bioactive nutrients. [3]

Phytochemical present in Blue Green Algae | HealthSoul

What is the Mode of action of Blue-green algae health benefits?

Blue-green algae able to absorb the intact spectrum of sunlight. Blue-green algae break down the water molecules in the presence of sunlight and convert them into essential nutrients. [1]

Blue-green algae have many pharmacological properties including cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering effect, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory effect, antioxidant property. 

Blue-green algae modulate intestinal cholesterol absorption and hepatic lipogenic gene expression, which reduce cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering effect.

BGA inhibits the NFκB activity, consequently reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines production to treat inflammation. 

BGA inhibits lipid peroxidation and act as a free radical scavenger, which is beneficial to provide protection against oxidative stress. 

Thus, BGA is an effective preventive measure against multiple metabolic and inflammatory diseases. [3]

What are the different forms of Blue-green algae?

Nostoc commune var. sphaeroides Kützing and Spirulina platensis are the two species of BGA used to prepare health supplements. [4]

Spirulina species is widely used to prepare Blue-Green algae health supplements.  Super Blue-Green Algae capsules are available to treat leukoplakia (the recommended oral dose is 1 g four times a day for 12 days treatment period) and blepharospasm (recommended oral dose is 1500 mg). [5]

The most important consideration of the selection of Blue-Green algae supplement. The chances of presence contaminants such as toxic metals, microcystins, and harmful bacteria are high, which can cause liver damage. [6]

The recommended maximum safe dose of BGA supplement is 19 grams per day for a maximum two months time period. For the 6 months treatment period, the recommended dose is up to 10 g/day.

Blue-green algae uses

Effective to treat Hypercholesterolemia

Hypercholesterolemia is a condition associated with increased concentration of cholesterol in the blood. Blue-green algae is an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Investigation studies reported that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) can reduce blood cholesterol levels. 

Animal study report showed that PUFAs in Blue-green algae is easily absorbable. Consumption of Blue-green algae provides increase amount of PUFAs in the body system. Thus it provides cholesterol-lowering effect and controls hypercholesterolemia. [7]

Improve cardiac health

Blue-green algae contain almost 50 percent of polyunsaturated fatty acids in total lipid fraction. We can get a sufficient amount of PUFAs by supplementing Blue-green algae. The PUFAs in Blue-green algae are not only beneficial for the cholesterol-lowering effect; but also improves cardiac health by preventing hypercholesterolemia. [7] Chronic familial hypercholesterolemia leads to premature atherosclerosis. [8] PUFAs present in Blue-green algae assist to control cholesterol level in blood and is able to prevent atherosclerosis. These help to maintain cardiac health. Studies also reported that Blue-green algae also improves blood circulation. [9] Thus, it reduces cardiac over-load and improve cardiac health. 

Immunity booster

Blue-green algae is an effective immune modulator, it increases the transportation of lymphocytes and monocytes in T cell and B cell subsets. Therefore, the immunological changes of AFA are cell-specific and it boosts the immune system by activating the defense system. [10]

Anti-Cancer Property

Research conducted at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal reported that Blue-green algae has remarkable activity on Natural Killer cells due to the presence of its vital phytonutrients. Natural Killer cells facilitate to identify the cancerous cells and destroy them. [11]

Anti-Viral Effect

Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal conducted a study also reported that Natural killer (NK) cell activity is facilitated through Blue-green algae and thus NK cells also able to detect virally infected cells and then destroy them. [10]

Brain Booster

AFA improves blood circulation in the brain and improves brain functioning. Therefore, Blue-green algae are considered as a brain booster. All the essential fatty acids like ALA, EPA, DHA present in Blue-green algae are essential for brain development and prevents brain degenerative condition.  [9]

Anti-Oxidant Effect

Reactive oxygen species (ROS), which increase the free radicals formation and causes different chronic metabolic ailments. Blue-green algae contain a high amount of C-PC  blue pigments. C-PC is a potent anti-oxidant and prevents lipid peroxidation and accumulation of free radicals. In addition, C-PC present in Blue-green algae also protects DNA damage. Chlorophyll and phycocyanin are extensively present in Blue-green algae act as potent antioxidants. The anti-oxidant effect of Blue-green algae prevents different disease progression.  [3]

Supply Essential Nutrients

Blue-green algae consumption gives all the essential nutrients to keep healthy. The protein content in Blue-green algae is almost 60 percent. It also supplies a variety of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E, and K. Blue-green algae also a rich source of different types of vitamin B including B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, niacin, choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Essential trace minerals including iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, sodium, magnesium, chloride, chromium, and zinc are also present in Blue-green algae. [2]

Anti-Depressants 

Blue-green algae contain a sufficient amount of phenylethylamine. This trace amine has a role to increase the concentration of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain by inhibiting the reuptake of these neurotransmitters. The resultant of this leads to elevation of mood and alleviates depression syndrome.[11]

Anti-Inflammatory Property

It has been estimated that Blue-green algae contain almost 45 percent of essential fatty acids which is made up of a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids content. Both of these fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect. They regulate different pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and cytochrome P450 secretion. Thus, Blue-green algae potentially beneficial for controlling multiple inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. [12]

Hepatoprotective Effect

Researchers reported that Blue-green algae are effective to treat and prevent synthetic drug-induced liver damage due to its potent antioxidant property. [13] In addition, it also assists to cure the fatty liver condition.[3]

Natural Healer

Stem cells transportation, relocation, and differentiation in the target tissue is a natural healing process of the human body. Blue-green algae promote stem cell functioning. Animal study report showed that CD34+ stem cell mobilization is significant after dietary intake of Blue-green algae. [14]

Anti-Diabetic

Blue-green algae have hypoglycemic properties and effective to control diabetes. In a clinical trial, the efficacy of Blue-green algae as an anti-diabetic agent is already proved. This study report showed that the administration of Blue-green algae can decrease fasting blood glucose levels and reduces the Glycatedhemoglobin level. [14]

Blue-Green Algae Uses | HealthSoul

Blue-Green Algae Side Effects

Short term use of contaminants free oral intake of Blue-green algae products POSSIBLY SAFE for most of the users. Short term therapy with limited dosingcauses nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea,  headache, fatigue, and dizziness.

Microcystins and other contaminants containing BGA supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, liver damage,  thirst, weakness,  rapid heartbeat, shock, and death. [10]

Blue Green Algae Side Effects | HealthSoul

When Should I Avoid Blue-Green Algae?

Pregnancy, lactation, and certain autoimmune disease conditions like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, pemphigus Vulgaris affected individuals should avoid blue-green algae supplement.

Blue-green algae supplement does not recommended to children, as they are more susceptible towards contamination.

Individuals having bleeding disorders and phenylketonuria should avoid Blue-green algae supplement, as the intake of this supplement can cause a worsening of the condition.
Apart from these, patients undertaking anti-coagulant medications like warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel, analgesics like diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen may increase the risk of bleeding due to blood-thinning properties of Blue-green algae. [6] 

References

  1. Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae.
  2. Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae (dietary supplements)
  3. Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  4. Effects of Long-Term Supplementation of Blue-Green Algae on Lipid Metabolism in C57BL/6J mice
  5. Blue Green Algae (Herb/ Supplement)
  6. Blue Green Algae.
  7. AFA Algae Cholesterol Study
  8. Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.
  9. AFA, Blue Green Algae
  10. BLUE-GREEN ALGAE
  11. β-phenylethylamine, a small molecule with a large impact.
  12. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health.
  13. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Linn against paracetamol intoxication in rats
  14. Consequences of AphanizomenonFlos-aquae(AFA) extract (StemtechTM) on metabolic profile of patients with type 2 diabetes.

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