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Blue-green algae as an immuno-enhancer and biomodulator



In the evolving health management paradigm,1-4 the
general regulation of the immune system as well as the
enhancement of specific immune functions have become a
growing point of interest, and rightly so. Many health prob-
lems result from the inability of the immune system to stop
a disease process in its initial stage. This paper will review
the scientific evidence for the immunomodulatory effects of
blue-green algae and some of the demonstrated effects of
blue-green algae on health and disease.
The human body is constantly being exposed to foreign
organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, all
of which coexist to a certain degree in the skin, the mouth,
the respiratory tract, the intestinal tract, and the genital
tract. Some microorganisms are essential for optimal
health, and the healthy human body is well-equipped to
keep such organisms from becoming a problem. However,
when the natural barriers are compromised, or when we are
exposed to more highly infectious organisms, serious dis-
ease may result. This includes not only acute infectious dis-
eases, but also chronic inflammatory and autoimmune dis-
eases. Optimal support of the immune system is important
for prevention of and intervention with diseases with micro-
biological involvement, whether acute illness or chronic
degenerative disease. Inflammation sets the stage for chron-
ic disease, and for the initiation and progression of cancer.
Enormous research efforts are currently pursuing nutrition-
al and botanical intervention of inflammatory processes.
Winter 2001
Blue-Green Algae as an
Immuno-Enhancer and Biomodulator
Gitte S. Jensen, PhD,1Donald I. Ginsberg, MS,2Christian Drapeau , MS2
1. Holger N.I.S. Inc., Port Dover, Ontario, Canada
2. Medical Student, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3. Desert Lake Technologies LLT, Keno, Oregon
Gitte S. Jensen, PhD
Holger N.I.S. Inc.
12 Denby Road
Port Dover
Ontario, Canada N0A 1N4
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are among the most
primitive life forms on Earth. Their cellular structure is a
simple prokaryote. They share features with plants, as they
have the ability to perform photosynthesis. They share fea-
tures with primitive bacteria because they lack a plant cell
wall. Interestingly, they also share characteristics of the ani-
mal kingdom as they contain on their cellular membrane
complex sugars similar to glycogen. Among blue-green
algae we find both edible and toxic species, adapted to
almost any of the most extreme habitats on Earth, including
deep-sea vents, hot springs, and Antarctica’s ice. Edible
blue-green algae, including Nostoc, Spirulina, and
Aphanizomenon species have been used for food for thou-
sands of years. Habitats with sufficient algae growth
include the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Hawaii, and large
freshwater lakes, including Lake Chad in Africa, Klamath
Lake in North America, Lake Texcoco in Mexico, and Lake
Titikaka in South America. African and American natives
recognized the value of including blue-green algae in their
diet and stored dried algae for year-round use and trade.
Still today, edible blue-green algae are a nutrient-dense
food. As for any other crop, differences exist with regard to
harvest procedures, quality control for contaminating
species, adherence to proper processing to preserve nutri-
ents from degradation, and storage conditions. The nutrient
content depends on the location and environment in which
the algae was grown as altitude, temperature, and sun expo-
sure can greatly affect lipid and pigment composition.
Spirulina is an algae species grown at sea or in man-made
ponds, and the mineral profile will differ from fresh-water
algae such as Aphanizomenon. Algae grown in a natural
environment will differ from algae grown in canals or tanks
due to differences in aeration, nutrient circulation and avail-
ability, and degree of competition with other algal species.
As we learn more about the phytoceutical components of
different blue-green algae species, the optimal growth con-
ditions for obtaining optimal yields can be determined.
Vol.3, No. 4 JANA 24
Winter 2001
The nutrient profile is subject to much variation
between habitats and harvest procedures which influences
the content of vitamins and antioxidants delivered in the
final product. Certain features are common to all blue-
green algae, including a high content of bioavailable amino
acids and minerals, including zinc, selenium, and magne-
sium. Industrial standards still vary greatly in terms of doc-
umenting product composition to the consumer. However,
blue-green algae have the appeal of being a raw,
unprocessed food, rich in carotenoids, chlorophyll, phyco-
cyanin, and many other bioactive components.
Among blue-green algae, many species have docu-
mented biomodulatory effects. This paper will review sci-
entific evidence for immunomodulatory effects of blue-
green algae and some of its demonstrated effects on health
and disease. The research studies span the use of the whole
algae of various species in both human and animal studies,
as well as in vitro studies on algae extracts and purified
compounds (Table 1).
Several studies have examined the use of whole blue-
green algae in the context of the normal functioning immune
response. In our lab, one study using oral doses of 1.5 grams
of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on healthy
human volunteers revealed it slightly decreases the phagocyt-
ic activity of polymorph nucleated cells in vitro.5 This may
indicate an anti-inflammatory, rather than anti-phagocytic
effect on human neutrophils.
In a study looking at the phagocytic function of cat
bronchoalveolar macrophages in vitro, the percentage of
cells that phagocytosed cells increased when they were
exposed to a water-soluble extract of Spirulina for two
hours.6 The number of particles ingested by the phagocyt-
ic macrophages did not change when compared to control
In another study, mice were fed a Spirulina-supple-
mented diet (10% of the dry weight of food) for ten weeks,
and the ability of peritoneal macrophages to ingest latex
particles was evaluated in vitro. The results of this study
showed a slight increase in the percentage of phagocytic
cells (4.6%; from 91.3 to 95.9%).7 A similar effect was
observed in chickens.8
In addition, murine peritoneal macrophages exposed in
vitro to a hot-water extract of Spirulina for 24 hours secret-
ed a substance, (speculated to be IL-1), which induced thy-
mocyte proliferation.7 In the same study, the ability of
spleen cells extracted from algae-fed mice to proliferate in
response to mitogens was examined in vitro. These exper-
iments showed that splenic cells isolated from algae-fed
mice proliferated more when exposed to certain mitogens
compared to control mice.
The effect of blue-green algae on non-specific immu-
nity has also been examined at the level of natural killer
(NK) cell activity. Using a standard chromium release
assay, splenic leukocytes from chickens fed blue-green
algae were shown to exhibit greater anti-tumor cell activity
when compared to those of control animals.8 The authors
speculate that blue-green algae may increase NK cell activ-
ity via the production of cytokines such as interferon.
In a study designed to investigate the mechanism
behind the immunostimulatory effect of blue-green algae
on the human monocyte/macrophage cell line THP-1, a
crude extract of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-
aquae was used to stimulate the cell line. The extract was
half as potent as LPS in activating NF-kB, and the purified
molecule is ten times more potent than LPS (Pasco, manu-
script in press). The molecule responsible for this activation
has been identified as a novel polysaccharide.9
Thus, multiple studies on whole blue-green algae in
humans, mice, rats, cats, and chickens have demonstrated
an effect on phagocytosis, NK cell function, and inflamma-
tion. Some differences exist in the data, including the mild
reduction of phagocytic activity in humans after algae con-
sumption, in contrast to the increase of phagocytosis among
bronchoalveolar macrophages. The cell types and experi-
mental set-ups vary, and further studies are needed to estab-
lish the exact biochemical mechanisms involved.
Hayashi et al7examined the effect of an algae-supple-
mented diet on the ability to build a specific immune response
Table 1. Research On Blue-Green Algae As Biomodulators
Studies on Route of administration Compounds investigated
Human Oral consumption* Whole algae
Chicken Oral consumption Whole algae
Rodents Oral consumption** Whole algae
Injection Isolated fractions
Injection Purified compounds
In vitro Added to media Isolated fractions
Added to media Purified compounds
*) Humans: oral dose was 1.5 – 2.8 grams per day for adult subjects
**) Mice: oral dose varied up to 800 mg/kg
25 JANA Vol. 3,No. 4
Winter 2001
to sheep red blood cells. After immunizing mice (either once
to measure the primary response or twice for the secondary
response), they found that mice fed with the algae-supple-
mented diet showed increased numbers of splenic IgM anti-
body-producing cells when compared to control animals.
Interestingly, this finding only held true for the primary
immune response, as the IgG antibody production in the sec-
ondary immune response was hardly affected. In experiments
involving chickens, there were no differences observed in
anti-sheep red blood cell antibodies during primary responses,
while antibody titers for the secondary response in algae-fed
chickens were augmented compared to control animals.8 The
differences may reflect the anatomical differences between
the rodent and chicken immune systems.
Hayashi et al10 examined other antibody classes such as
IgA and IgE in the context of mice orally immunized with a
crude shrimp extract. They found that whereby both IgA
(intestinal) and IgE (in serum) levels increased with antigen
challenge, only IgA levels showed a greater enhancement in
secretion with concurrent treatment with Spirulina extract
(five-week feeding regimen).10 From this study they con-
cluded that blue-green algae does not seem to induce or
enhance food allergic IgE-dependent reactions. Furthermore,
they suggest that when ingested along with or before a poten-
tial antigenic threat, blue-green algae may enhance IgA anti-
body levels to protect against food allergies.
Along the same lines, further studies have suggested that
blue-green algae may inhibit mast cell-mediated type I aller-
gic reactions and even the anaphylactic reaction in rats.11,12
By injecting a blue-green algae extract intraperitoneally
(100-1000mg/g body weight) one hour prior to an allergic
challenge, mortality induced by the anaphylactic compound
48/80 was decreased, local allergic reaction activated by anti-
dinitrophenyl (anti-DNP) IgE was inhibited, and serum hist-
amine levels were decreased. In vitro experiments from this
group provided similar results.
The effects of blue-green algae on IgE-production and
allergic reactions are encouraging, and warrant further
studies in humans.
Much attention with regards to dietary modulation of
the immune system has been given to stimulating activity of
various immune cell types such as the phagocytic activity of
macrophages, or the tumoricidal activity of natural killer
cells. However, immune cell trafficking and the recruitment
of immune cells from the systemic circulation are of equal
importance. A recent study by Jensen et al5 involving
Algae Species Introduced as: Test Species Effects Reference
Spirulina sp. Food Human Reversal of tobacco-induced oral cancer Mathew et al, 1995
Food Mouse Proportional reduction of IgE, increase of IgA Hayashi et al, 1998
Food Mouse Increased phagocytic activity Hayashi et al, 1994
Increased spleen cell proliferation
Increased antibody production
Food Chicken Increased phagocytic activity Qureshi et al, 1996
Increased NK cell-mediated anti-tumor activity
Increased antibody production
Extract In vitro, cat Increased phagocytic activity Qureshi & Ali, 1996
IP injection Rat Inhibition of mast cells Kim et al, 1998
Decrease in local allergic reaction Yang et al, 1997
Decrease in serum histamine levels
Reduced allergy-induced mortality
Aphanizomenon Food Human Increased transient recruitment of NK cells into tissue Jensen et al, 2000
flos-aquae Increased mobilization of T and B cells into blood
Mild modulation of PMN-mediated phagocytic response
Food Rat Decreased serum levels of arachidonic acid Kushak et al, 2000
Food Rat Source of linolenic acid (omega-3) Kushak et al, 2000
Increased serum levels of EPA and DHA
Extract In vitro, rat Activation of macrophages (NF-kappaB, cytokines) Pasco, in press
Table 2. Immuno-Modulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Whole Blue-Green Algae
Vol.3, No. 4 JANA 26
Winter 2001
humans demonstrated that the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon
flos-aquae was able to trigger within two hours the migra-
tion of nearly 40% of the circulating natural killer cells.
This effect was significantly more pronounced in long-term
consumers than in naïve subjects. In the same study,
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was also shown to stimulate the
mobilization of T and B lymphocytes. This effect appeared
cell-type specific since no changes were observed on poly-
morph nucleated cells.
Blue-green algae in general contain a significant
amount of carotenoids, namely beta carotene, lycopene, and
lutein, providing it with good antioxidant properties. By
their quenching action on reactive oxygen species, antioxi-
dants carry intrinsic anti-inflammatory properties.
However, blue-green algae also contains specific anti-
inflammatory properties as a result of their high phyco-
cyanin content. Phycocyanin is a photoharvesting pigment
that provides the intense blue color in blue-green algae. It
can constitute up to 15% of the dry weight of a blue-green
algae harvest. C-phycocyanin is a free radical scavenger,26
and has significant hepatoprotective effects.27 Phycocyanin
was shown to inhibit inflammation in mouse ears28 and pre-
vent acetic acid induced colitis in rats.29 The anti-inflamma-
tory effect seemed to be a result of phycocyanin to inhibit
the formation of leukotriene B4, an inflammatory metabo-
lite of arachidonic acid.28
In a study performed in rats, the blue-green algae
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was also shown to decrease the
plasma level of arachidonic acid.30 Aphanizomenon flos-
aquae contains significant amounts of the omega-3 alpha-
linolenic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to
inhibit the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins and
arachidonate metabolites. Since Spirulina contains signifi-
cant amounts of omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid, the anti-
inflammatory properties of Spirulina must be due to differ-
ent biochemical pathways.
As part of its program aimed at discovering new anti-
tumor and anti-viral agents in natural sources, the National
Cancer Institute isolated extracts of blue-green algae
(Lyngbya lagerheimii and Phormidium tenue) that were found
to protect human lymphoblastoid T cells from the cytopathic
effect of HIV infection. Upon further investigation, a new
class of HIV inhibitory compounds called the sulfonic acid-
containing glycolipids were isolated; the pure compounds
were found to be strikingly active against the HIV virus in the
p24 viral protein and syncytium formation assays.13 Since
this discovery, there has been further investigation into other
Table 3. Bio-modulatory Effects of Purified Compounds from Blue-Green Algae
Species Compound Effects References
All blue-green algae C-Phycocyanin Anti-inflammatory (reduces leukotriene B4) Romay 1999
Free radical scavenger Bhat & Madyastha 2000
Selective inhibition of COX-2 Reddy et al, 2000
Reduced tissue damage in acetic acid-induced colitis Gonzalez et al, 1999
Hepatoprotective effect Vadiraja et al, 1998
Spirulina Calcium Spirulan Selectively inhibits penetration of virus into host cell Hayashi et al, 1996
(Ca-Sp) (Herpex Simplex, human cytomegalovirus, measles,
mumps, Influenza A, HIV-1)
Reduces lung metastasis of melanoma cells by Mishima et al, 1998
inhibition of tumor cell invasion of basal membrane
Cyanovirin-N Irreversible inactivation of several strains of HIV Boyd, 1997
(inhibited cell-to-cell and virus-to-cell fusion)
Extracellular products Promotion of lactic acid bacteria growth in vitro Parada et al, 1998
Aphanizomenon Unknown Induces apoptosis in some human tumor cell lines Jensen, msp in prep
flos aquae
Polysaccharide Stimulate the macrophage activity Pasco et al, in press.
Lyngbya lagerheimii Sulfolipid Inhibits syncytium formation upon HIV infection Gustafson et al, 1989
Phormidium tenue
Phormidium tenue Digalactosyl diacylglycerols Inhibition of chemically induced skin tumors Tokuda et al, 1996
27 JANA Vol. 3,No. 4
Winter 2001
species of blue-green algae for compounds with anti-viral
properties. Some compounds worthy of mention include a
protein called cyanovirin-N which appears to irreversibly
inactivate diverse strains of the HIV virus and to inhibit cell-
to-cell and virus-to-cell fusion.14 Other studies using a water-
soluble extract of blue-green algae have found a novel sulfat-
ed polysaccharide, calcium spirulan (Ca-SP), to be an antivi-
ral agent. This compound appears to selectively inhibit the
penetration of enveloped viruses (Herpes simplex, human
cytomegalovirus, measles virus, mumps virus, influenza A
virus, and HIV-1) into host cells, thereby preventing replica-
tion.15-17 A review of anti-HIV activity of extracts from blue-
green algae has been recently published.18
An early study on blue-green algae’s cancer-preventive
properties in humans was performed on tobacco-induced
oral leukoplakia.19 Mathew et al found that oral supplemen-
tation with Spirulina fusiformis resulted in complete regres-
sion of 57% of subjects with homogenous leukoplakia. After
discontinuation of Spirulina supplementation, almost half of
the complete responders developed recurrent lesions.
In other studies, extracts of blue-green algae have been
used to treat cancer in animal models. In one model, inges-
tion of an extract of Spirulina and Dunaliella was shown to
inhibit chemically-induced carcinogenesis in hamster buc-
cal pouches.20,21 Earlier studies often attributed the anti-
cancer effect of algae to its content in carotenoids since
beta-carotene has been shown to have an effect similar to
that of algae extract. Amore recent study, however, showed
that the sulfated polysaccharide mentioned above, Ca-SP,
appears to inhibit tumor invasion and metastasis.22 Both the
in vitro and in vivo effects of Ca-SP suggest that the intra-
venous administration of Ca-SP reduces the lung metastasis
of melanoma cells by inhibiting the tumor invasion of the
basement membrane. Awater-based extract of Aphanizomenon
flos aquae containing high concentrations of phycocyanin
inhibited the in vitro growth of one out of four tumor cell
lines tested, indicating that at least some tumor cell types
may be directly sensitive to killing by phycocyanin (Jensen
et al, manuscript in preparation). Another fresh-water blue-
green algae, Phormidium tenue, contains several diacyl-
glycerol compounds which effectively inhibited chemical-
ly-induced skin tumors in mice.23 In addition, Spirulina was
shown to have a modulatory effect on hepatic carcinogen
metabolizing enzymes.24
Of major interest to ongoing research in inflammation
as well as breast cancer is the finding that C-phycocyanin
selectively inhibits COX-2, but has no effect on COX-1.25
The COX enzymes are involved in prostaglandin synthesis.
Since COX-2 is over-expressed in many breast cancer cells,
and inhibition of COX-2 leads to a markedly reduced tumor
growth and blocks angiogenesis, the finding that phyco-
cyanin specifically interferes with this pathway holds
Besides their effects on the immune system, blue-green
algae have also been reported to modulate other systems and
improve metabolism. In the past few years increasing attention
has been given to the study of the therapeutic effects of blue-
green algae. The anecdotal claims for such effects are numer-
ous. Although there is limited data from controlled animal or
clinical studies, such claims include improvement in condition
of Alzheimer’s patients, overall enhancement of immune
response, improvement in fibromyalgia, control of hyperten-
sion, alleviation of depression and chronic fatigue, increased
stamina, healing of internal and external lesions, increased
mental acuity, and general improvement in overall well-being.
This last section will review the scientific evidence supporting
the therapeutic effects of blue-green algae.
Several reports from different labs have shown that cer-
tain species of blue-green algae have cholesterol-lowering
effects in animal and human models. In feeding experiments
in rats, two studies have reported that the elevation in total
cholesterol, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol in serum caused by
cholesterol feeding was reduced when the high cholesterol
diet was supplemented with 16% and 5% blue-green algae,
respectively.31,32 In addition, Kato found that adipohepatosis
induced by a high fat and high cholesterol diet was cured
rapidly when the diet was supplemented with algae.31
Investigations into the mechanism of this phenomenon led to
the finding that the algae-fed group showed a statistically sig-
nificant increase in the activity of lipoprotein lipase, a key
enzyme in the metabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.33
The hypocholesterolemic effect of blue-green algae was
also observed in humans in a study conducted on 30 patients
with mild hyperlipidemia and mild hypertension.34 Patients
took 4.2 grams of algae or placebo per day, and were
observed for two months. At the end of the study, patients
taking the algae showed a significant reduction of LDL-cho-
lesterol (p<0.05) compared to the control group. LDL cho-
lesterol increased back to baseline levels after administration
of the algae was discontinued. In addition to lowering LDL
cholesterol levels, the atherogenic index (a measure of fat
deposition in arteries) declined significantly after four weeks
of algae consumption.
In a recent study by Kushak et al, rats were fed the blue-
green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and total cholesterol
level was monitored. After 43 days, cholesterol levels were
significantly decreased when compared to the control
group.30 Although Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains a
significant amount of the omega-3 polyunsaturated linolenic
Vol.3, No. 4 JANA 28
Winter 2001
acid, the effect on cholesterol levels seemed unrelated to the
lipid content of the diets. Kushak et al30 proposed that the
hypocholesterolemic effect of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
may be due to its chlorophyll content which was shown to
stimulate liver function and decrease blood cholesterol.35
In a double-blind crossover study involving human
patients, supplementing the diets of obese outpatients with 2.8
grams of blue-green algae three times daily over a four week
period resulted in a statistically significant reduction of body
weight.36 In a study measuring the effect of blue-green algae
on glucose levels in diabetic rats, the water-soluble fraction
was found to be effective in lowering the serum glucose level
at fasting, while the water insoluble fraction suppressed glu-
cose levels at glucose loading.37 In another study investigating
the effect of the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
on rat intestinal mucosal digestive enzymes, it was observed
that this alga specifically inhibited the activity of maltase and
sucrase in a dose-dependent manner.38 Furthermore, this
decrease in enzymatic activity was accompanied by a dose-
dependent decrease in blood glucose.
The overall conclusion is that blue-green algae may
have benefits on lipid and sugar metabolism, as well as liver
function. Further human studies are needed to address the
feasibility of using blue-green algae in conjunction with
cholesterol-lowering medication.
Other research studies on blue-green algae consumption
deserve mention. Many reports exist in the literature on its
antimicrobial effects. The secretion of anti-microbial sub-
stances is an important part of the competition for ecological
niches in the natural environment. However, an interesting
caveat exists. In one study, Spirulina was cultured in vitro,
and the extracellular medium was shown to stimulate the
growth of lactic acid bacteria.39 If the growth-promoting sub-
stance(s) exist in sufficient amounts intracellularly, blue-
green algae may play a role in vivo by supporting friendly gut
bacteria. This leads to other facets of health including gut
health and nutrient absorption. On that note, consumption of
Spirulina was shown to support the iron status and hemoglo-
bin of rats during pregnancy and lactation.40 Spirulina
fusiformis had a significant protective effect against lead-
induced toxicity in rats.41 Finally, a report by Valencia et al
has presented evidence that Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
accelerates recovery from mild traumatic brain injury.42
Research results based on the numerous isolated com-
pounds from blue-green algae warrant the exploration of
using whole algae as conjunctive therapy due to the possible
synergistic effects of many phytochemicals within the
whole algae. The emergence of composite algae supple-
ments in contrast to single algae supplements may also yield
further anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and metabolic
benefits. A significant body of data suggests that blue-green
algae immunoenhancing properties could be useful in the
adjunct treatment of various diseases involving 1) sup-
pressed or exhausted immune system, and 2) inappropriate
immune response including allergies, autoimmune diseases,
and chronic inflammatory conditions. The data presented
also suggests that blue-green algae could be useful as an
adjunct in the treatment of cancer and AIDS, and calls for
the design of controlled human clinical studies.
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Table 4. Biomodulatory Effects of Whole Blue-Green Algae on Metabolism
Algae Species Introduced as Test Species Effects Reference
Aphanizomenon Food Rat Reduction of cholesterol Kushak et al, 2000
Food Rat Reduction of blood glucose levels Drapeau et al, 2001
Food Human Modulation of brain activity (EEG) Walker & Valencia, 1999
Spirulina Food Human Reduced body weight Becker et al, 1986
Food Rat Reduction of cholesterol Kato et al, 1984
Food Rat Increased activity of lipase Iwata et al, 1990
Food Rat Reduced glucose levels Takai et al, 1991
Food Rat Inhibition of maltase and sucrase Kushak et al, 1999
Food Mouse Modulation of carcinogen metabolic enzymes Mittal et al, 1999
Food Mouse Modulation of lead toxicity Shastri et al, 1999
Food Rat Increased iron status during pregnancy and lactation Kapoor & Mehta, 1998
Nostoc Food Rat Reduction of cholesterol Hori et al, 1994
29 JANA Vol. 3,No. 4
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Vol.3, No. 4 JANA 30
... Drapeau and colleagues [7] demonstrated that two ligands isolated from Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (StemEnhance, Stem Tech Health, would increase the quantity of CD34+/ CD133+ erythroblasts in the bloodstream, thereby mimicking the effects of granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to increase the number of erythrocytes in circulation as a method to stimulate the repair of damaged tissues. ...
... Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are an ancient class of bacterial microphytes, part of the cyanobacteria phylum. AFA as a species has both nontoxic and toxic forms [7,18,19]. AFA grows throughout the world and is harvested in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. Most sources worldwide are toxic, containing both hepatic and neuroendotoxins. ...
... Most sources worldwide are toxic, containing both hepatic and neuroendotoxins. AFA from Klamath Lake is a non-toxic type of algae of the cyanobacteria phylum [7]. Like other cyanobacter and plants, AFA uses photosynthesis to produce glycogen that is stored and utilized by the cell. ...
... The results of present study showed that the T. suecica paste could significantly enhance the C. chanos growth, and the usage of flocculants did not show any significant variance except weight gain. Use of microalgae-based diets for fish growth would provide many advantages like maintenance of balanced growth [64], enhancement of immune system [65], enhancement of anti-inflammatory value, and antiviral properties [66,67]. Mustafa and Nakagawa [68] recommended that the utilization of algal meal as feed for fish could trigger the growth rate associated with improved physiological functions like lipid metabolism, liver function, protein assimilation, and stress response. ...
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The present study was aimed to evaluate the suitability of various chemical flocculant–produced algal pastes for milkfish larval rearing. The marine microalga, Tetraselmis suecica, was cultured in 120 days old shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) wastewater for 14 days. Then, the cultured microalga was harvested through four chemical flocculants, viz., ferric chloride (FC), ferrous sulfate (FS), aluminum chloride (AC), and aluminum sulfate (AS). The artificial culture medium (ACM)– and wastewater (WW)-cultured microalga was considered as control. The proximate composition and FTIR analyses of flocculated paste revealed that the flocculants did not make any harm to algae and their properties. The larval rearing experiment lasted for 90 days, and the initial concentration of protein, carbohydrate, amino acids, and fatty acids and antioxidant enzyme activity were analyzed in six Chanos chanos. The FS and ACM utilized CC exhibited higher survival (P < 0.05), length (P > 0.05), and weight (P > 0.05), whereas the growth rates (P < 0.05) were higher in AS used CC. Among the treatment, no significant variations (P > 0.05) were found in proximate compositions (protein, carbohydrate), antioxidant and metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and non-enzymatic antioxidants, and significant variations (P < 0.05) were found in lipid accumulation. The glutamic acid, aspartic acid, leucine, and lysine were the dominant amino acids, and palmitic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and stearic acid were the dominant fatty acids in milkfish larvae fed with various algal flocculates. Histology studies suggest that the milkfish fed by flocculated paste using flocculants did not cause any harm to fish parts and their digestive ability. Thus, the results suggest that the flocculation of microalga by chemicals did not exert much toxicity on the feeding of algal pastes by the animals and it is recommended to use such algal-pastes in large-scale level in the future. Graphical abstract
... The dried contents of Arthrospira platensis may play an important role in functional foods because of the bioactive compounds showing immunoregulative and antioxidative properties. A. platensis also suppresses the inflammation, viral infection, cancer progression, and maturity of cholesterol-related diseases (Jensen et al., 2001;Matsui et al., 2012). ...
... The dried contents of Arthrospira platensis may play an important role in functional foods because of the bioactive compounds showing immunoregulative and antioxidative properties. A. platensis also suppresses the inflammation, viral infection, cancer progression, and maturity of cholesterol-related diseases (Jensen et al., 2001;Matsui et al., 2012). ...
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Cyanobacteria have attracted the attention of researchers because of their promising role as primary and secondary metabolites in functional food and drug design. Due to an ever-increasing awareness of health and the use of natural products to avoid the onset of many chronic and lifestyle metabolic diseases, the global demand for the use of natural drugs and food additives has increased in the last few decades. There are several reports about the highly valuable cyanobacterial products such as carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides, and phycobiliproteins showing antioxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, and antimicrobial properties. Recently, it has been shown that allophycocyanin increases longevity and reduces the paralysis effect at least in Caenorhabditis elegans. Additionally, other pigments such as phycoerythrin and phycocyanin show antioxidative properties. Because of their high solubility in water and zero side effects, some of the cyanobacterial tetrapyrrole derivatives, i.e., pigments, facilitate an innovative and alternative way for the beverage and food industries in place of synthetic coloring agents at the commercial level. Thus, not only are the tetrapyrrole derivatives essential constituents for the synthesis of most of the basic physiological biomolecules, such as hemoglobin, chlorophyll, and cobalamin, but also have the potential to be used for the synthesis of synthetic compounds used in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. In the present review, we focused on the different aspects of tetrapyrrole rings in the drug design and food industries and addressed its remaining limitations to be used as natural nutrient supplements and therapeutic agents.
... Microalgae have long been known to be well endowed to enhance the nutritional quality of conventional foods and positively affect human health owing to their high macro-and micro-nutrients content. Indeed, for thousands of years, edible microalgae Arthrospira, Nostoc and Aphanizomenon spices have been used for food [1]. Even though the first commercialized microalgae Chlorella and Spirulina as "health food" in Japan, Taiwan and Mexico emerged over 70 years ago [2], they still have not gained much ground in health foods segment owing to a peculiar flavor and aroma associated with them. ...
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In house cultivated Spirulina powder was incorporated at 2 to 15% concentrations to enrich pasta prepared from semolina. Spirulina incorporation led to development of green color pasta with nutritional and functional fortification resulting in increase in its protein, total phenols, flavonoids, iron and calcium content by up to 77.47%, 76.62%, 162.88%, 296.99% and 57.27%, respectively, without causing detrimental changes to the textural and sensory attributes. FAME analysis revealed 2 to 2.5 times enhanced levels of γ-linolenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in enriched pasta. Significant improvement in phenolics, flavonoids and antioxidant activity were also observed in comparison to control pasta. Analysis of theoretical and realized composition confirmed retention of nutrients post cooking revealing no significant loss in proteins and other nutrients. Principal components analysis demonstrated significant contribution of Spirulina to nutritional and functional attributes especially at higher concentrations. Pasta enriched with 12.5% Spirulina was rated as “liked very much” and the purchase intention was also high. Spirulina enrichment at concentrations above 10% (12.5%) with appreciable increase in nutritional and functional attributes without affecting textural or cooking quality and acceptable sensory evaluation can be a preferred alternative to augment health and prevent sickness. Since green color symbolizes freshness, hope, renewal and physical health, the consumption of Spirulina incorporated green pasta may be a potential option to enhance the livelihood and nutritional security of rural poor and a good alternative for hidden hunger alleviation programs for mass nutrition especially for infants and children in an effective manner.
... In Chad, the consumption of spirulina harvested from Lake Chad, primarily as a source of proteins and micronutrients, has helped improve the nutritional status of people in the landlocked, low-income country (Piccolo, 2012). The nutritional value and health benefits of microalgae have been well recognized (Jensen, Ginsberg and Drapeau, 2001;Habib et al., 2008). Various microalgae extracts are used as dietary supplements or food additives (see more details in section 2.5). ...
Technical Report
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Algae, including seaweeds and microalgae, contribute nearly 30 percent of world aquaculture production (measured in wet weight), primarily from seaweeds. Seaweeds and cmicroalgae generate socio-economic benefits to tens of thousands of households, primarily in coastal communities, including numerous women empowered by seaweed cultivation. Various human health contributions, environmental benefits and ecosystem services of seaweeds and microalgae have drawn increasing attention to untapped potential of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Highly imbalanced production and consumption across geographic regions implies a great potential in the development of seaweed and microalgae cultivation. Yet joint efforts of governments, the industry, the scientific community, international organizations, civil societies, and other stakeholders or experts are needed to realize the potential. This document examines the status and trends of global algae production with a focus on algae cultivation, recognizes the algae sector’s existing and potential contributions and benefits, highlights a variety of constraints and challenges over the sector’s sustainable development, and discusses lessons learned and way forward to unlock full potential in algae cultivation and FAO’s roles in the process. From a balanced perspective that recognizes not only the potential of algae but also constraints and challenges upon the realization of the potential, information and knowledge provided by this document can facilitate evidence-based policymaking and sector management in algae development at the global, regional and national levels.
... In Chad, the consumption of spirulina harvested from Lake Chad, primarily as a source of proteins and micronutrients, has helped improve the nutritional status of people in the landlocked, low-income country (Piccolo, 2012). The nutritional value and health benefits of microalgae have been well recognized (Jensen, Ginsberg and Drapeau, 2001;Habib et al., 2008). Various microalgae extracts are used as dietary supplements or food additives (see more details in section 2.5). ...
... Safety standards are not available for humans regarding the consumption of kainic acid [96]. Blue-green algae supplements (BGAS) are widely sold in markets due to their health benefits like weight loss, detoxification, enhanced energy, immunity etc. [97]. BGAS are available in the form of powders, capsules and pills which are natural in origin and considered as safe. ...
Microalgae are unicellular photosynthetic organisms that have been recently attracted potential interests and have applications in food, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, cosmetics, and biofertilizers industry. Microalgae are rich in a variety of high-value bioactive compounds which have potential benefits on human health and can be used for the prevention and curing of many disease conditions. But scale-up and safety issues remain a major challenge in the commercialization of microalgal products in a cost-effective manner. However, techniques have been developed to overcome these challenges and successfully selling the products derived from microalgae as food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Microalgae are rich in many nutrients and can be used for the production of functional food and nutraceuticals, safety and regulatory issues are major concerns and extensive research is still needed to make microalgae a commercial success in the future. Many practical difficulties are involved in making the microalgal food industry commercially viable. The present review focuses on the industrial applications of microalgae and the challenges faced during commercial production.Graphic abstract
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Phytoplankton, the ecological group of microalgae adapted to live in apparent suspension in water masses, is much more than an ecosystem's engineer. In this opinion paper, we use our experience as phytoplankton ecologists to list and highlight the services provided by phytoplankton, trying to demonstrate how their activity is fundamental to regulate and sustain Life on our Planet. Although the number of services produced by phytoplankton can be considered less numerous than that produced by other photosynthetic organisms, the ubiquity of this group of organisms, and their thriving across oceanic ecosystems make it one of the biological engines moving our biosphere. Supporting services provided by phytoplankton include almost half of the global primary and oxygen production. In addition, phytoplankton greatly pushes biogeochemical cycles and nutrient (re)cycling, not only in aquatic ecosystems but also in terrestrial ones. In addition, it significantly contributes to climate regulation (regulating services), supplies food, fuels, active ingredients and drugs, and genetic resources (provisioning services), has inspired artistic and craft works, mythology, and, of course, science (cultural services), and much more. Therefore, phytoplankton should be considered in all respects a true biosphere's engineer.
It is a point to must agree on the fact that wastewater contains substances like organic matter and non-biodegradable polymers that cause stress and hampers the aquatic life and later on the abiotic and biotic factors. Algae are mainly used for the production of abundant valuable sources focused on pharmaceutical and industrial approaches. The genetically engineered algae have been used due to the fast-growing demands for algae-based biofuels production. Apart from that, microalgae and genetic engineering algae are also been used as a resource for the treatment of wastewater. However, to date, only a few genetic modifications of algal species are reported and investigated as a potential source of wastewater treatment. Thus, it is important to develop efficient algae-based wastewater treatment technologies. An ideal algal strain includes attributes like fast-growth density, east to harvest, and low susceptibility. As an example, the microalgal strains Scenedesmus sp. is capable of mitigating and growing in all the types of wastewaters sourced from industrial, domestic, and agricultural, etc., via accumulating neutral lipids. Marine algae species are easy and have an inexpensive growth requirement which presently the best choice for cell factories of recombinant protein production too. To generate transgenic strain with enhanced profiles, offer advances in genetically modified microalgae for wastewater treatment. The market is still developing for biotechnological applications of algae and future research is very promising. Thus, it is encouraging that the development of sustainable algal products through genetic engineering of algae is needed. This chapter investigates the pros and cons of the conventional methods and also the future microalgae holds for us.
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Objective: To examine the short-term effects of con- sumption of a moderate amount (1.5 grams) of the blue- green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), on the immune system. Methods: Using a crossover, placebo-controlled, ran- domized, double-blind design, 21 volunteers were studied, including 5 long-term AFA consumers. Results: Consumption of a moderate amount (1.5 grams) of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae results in rapid changes in immune cell trafficking. Two hours after AFA consumption, a generalized mobilization of lymphocytes and monocytes, but not polymorph nucleated cells, was observed. This included increases in CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ T cell subsets and CD19+ B cells. In addition, the relative proportions and absolute numbers of natural killer (NK) cells were reduced after AFA consump- tion. No changes were observed in the relative proportions of naïve versus memory T cells, neither in the CD4 nor the CD8 fractions. A mild but significant reduction in phago- cytic activity was observed for polymorph nucleated cells. When freshly purified lymphocytes were exposed to AFA extract in vitro, direct activation was not induced, as evalu- ated by tyrosine phosphorylation and proliferative activity. Discussion: The changes in immune cell trafficking displayed a high degree of cell specificity. Long-term consumers responded stronger with respect to altered immune cell trafficking. In vitro, AFA did not induce a direct activation of lymphocytes. These data support a sig- naling pathway from gut to CNS to lymphoid tissue. The signals from CNS may be crucial for the rapid changes in the general distribution and specific recruitment we observed. Moderate anti-inflammatory modulation may account for the modification of phagocytic activity. Conclusion: Consumption of AFA leads to rapid changes in immune cell trafficking, but not direct activation of lymphocytes. Thus, AFA increases the immune surveil- lance without directly stimulating the immune system.
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Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for human health. There are indications that the lipid fraction of blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains about 50% PUFA and may be a good dietary source of PUFA. The purpose of this study was to investi-gate the effect of diets supplemented with algae on blood plasma lipids. Methods: Rats were fed with four different semisyn-thetic diets: 1) standard, with 5% soybean oil; 2) PUFA-free with 5% coconut oil; 3) PUFA-free with 10% algae; 4) PUFA-free with 15% algae. After 32 days the levels of plas-ma fatty acids, triglycerides, and cholesterol were studied. Results: Rats fed the PUFA-free diet demonstrated an absence of linolenic acid (LNA) in plasma; however, sup-plementation with algae resulted in the same level of LNA as controls, increased levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and a decreased level of arachidonic acid. Dietary supplementation with 10% and 15% algae decreased the plasma cholesterol to 54% and 25% of the control level, respectively (p<0.0005). Plasma triglyceride levels decreased significantly (p<0.005) after diet supple-mentation with 15% algae. Conclusion: Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a good source of PUFA and because of potential hypocholesterolemic properties should be a valuable nutritional resource.
The Sprague-Dawley-strain rats were devided and classified into four groups: (1) the rats fed on the basal diets, (2) the rats fed on the basal diets containing 1% cholesterol, (3) the rats fed on the basal diets containing 16% spirulina, and (4) the rats fed on the basal diets containing 16% spirulina and 1% cholesterol.The results obtained were as follows. Elevation in total cholesterol, LDL+VLDL cholesterol, and phosholipids in serum caused by cholesterol feeding (Group 2) were reduced clearly by feeding (Group 4). Fall' in HDL cholesterol level caused by cholesterol feeding (Group 2) was reduced by feeding spirulina (Group 4). It was expected from these results that spirulina may prevent dietary hypercholesterolemia and arteriosclerosis. And, dietary hypercholesterolemia caused by cholesterol feeding was cured by spirulina feeding.The fatty liver caused by high-fat and high-cholesterol diets was also cured rapidly by feeding spirulina.
スピルリナ水溶性画分, スピルリナ不溶性画分を基本飼料に20%混入して, Sprague-Dawley系雄ラットを28日間飼育し, 生体に及ぼす影響を比較した。1) 成長, 飼料効率は, 対照と等しく良好であった。2) 血糖値i) 空腹時血糖値は, スピルリナ水溶性画分投与群において低い傾向が認められた。ii) 糖負荷時の血糖値上昇抑制傾向は, スピルリナ不溶性画分投与群でスピルリナ水溶性画分投与群より大であった。3) コレステロール値i) 血清総コレステロール値は, スピルリナ水溶性画分投与群が低い傾向にあった。ii) HDL-コレステロール値は, スピルリナ水溶性画分, スピルリナ不溶性画分投与群に高い傾向がみられた。
The blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is shown to be a good source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in rats. It was able to partially reverse the effects on digestive functions induced by a deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is also reported to significantly decrease total cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels.
The modulatory effects of lead toxicity by Spirulina fusiformis (Oscillatoreaceae) were observed on the testes of Swiss albino mice at a dose of 800 mg /kg body weight. The Spirulina fusiformis was non-toxic at the dose given. A significant enhancement in the survival time was observed in the pre- and post- treated Spirulina group compared with the control (lead treated) group. Lead induced toxicity was also reduced in terms of testes weight, animal weight, tubular diameter in the pre Spirulina treated group. The modulatory effects of Spirulina may be attributed to the presence of the antioxidants, β-carotene and SOD enzyme. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Context.— Research both in the United States and abroad suggests that significant numbers of people are involved with various forms of alternative medicine. However, the reasons for such use are, at present, poorly understood.Objective.— To investigate possible predictors of alternative health care use.Methods.— Three primary hypotheses were tested. People seek out these alternatives because (1) they are dissatisfied in some way with conventional treatment; (2) they see alternative treatments as offering more personal autonomy and control over health care decisions; and (3) the alternatives are seen as more compatible with the patients' values, worldview, or beliefs regarding the nature and meaning of health and illness. Additional predictor variables explored included demographics and health status.Design.— A written survey examining use of alternative health care, health status, values, and attitudes toward conventional medicine. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used in an effort to identify predictors of alternative health care use.Setting and Participants.— A total of 1035 individuals randomly selected from a panel who had agreed to participate in mail surveys and who live throughout the United States.Main Outcome Measure.— Use of alternative medicine within the previous year.Results.— The response rate was 69%.The following variables emerged as predictors of alternative health care use: more education (odds ratio [OR], 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-1.3); poorer health status (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5); a holistic orientation to health (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9); having had a transformational experience that changed the person's worldview (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.5); any of the following health problems: anxiety (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.6-6.0); back problems (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.7-3.2); chronic pain (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1-3.5); urinary tract problems (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.5); and classification in a cultural group identifiable by their commitment to environmentalism, commitment to feminism, and interest in spirituality and personal growth psychology (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4-2.7). Dissatisfaction with conventional medicine did not predict use of alternative medicine. Only 4.4% of those surveyed reported relying primarily on alternative therapies.Conclusion.— Along with being more educated and reporting poorer health status, the majority of alternative medicine users appear to be doing so not so much as a result of being dissatisfied with conventional medicine but largely because they find these health care alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations toward health and life. IN 1993 Eisenberg and colleagues1 reported that 34% of adults in the United States used at least 1 unconventional form of health care (defined as those practices "neither taught widely in U.S. medical schools nor generally available in U.S. hospitals") during the previous year. The most frequently used alternatives to conventional medicine were relaxation techniques, chiropractic, and massage. Although educated, middle-class white persons between the ages of 25 and 49 years were the most likely ones to use alternative medicine, use was not confined to any particular segment of the population. These researchers estimated that Americans made 425 million visits to alternative health care providers in 1990, a figure that exceeded the number of visits to allopathic primary care physicians during the same period. Recent studies in the United States2 and abroad3- 4 support the prevalent use of alternative health care. For example, a 1994 survey of physicians from a wide array of medical specialties (in Washington State, New Mexico, and Israel) revealed that more than 60% recommended alternative therapies to their patients at least once in the preceding year, while 38% had done so in the previous month.2 Forty-seven percent of these physicians also reported using alternative therapies themselves, while 23% incorporated them into their practices. When faced with the apparent popularity of unconventional medical practices and the fact that people seem quite willing to pay out-of-pocket for these services,1 the question arises: What are the sociocultural and personal factors (health status, beliefs, attitudes, motivations) underlying a person's decision to use alternative therapies? At present, there is no clear or comprehensive theoretical model to account for the increasing use of alternative forms of health care. Accordingly, the goal of the present study was to develop some tentative explanatory models that might account for this phenomenon. Three theories that have been proposed to explain the use of alternative medicine were tested: Dissatisfaction: Patients are dissatisfied with conventional treatment because it has been ineffective,5- 6 has produced adverse effects,6- 7 or is seen as impersonal, too technologically oriented, and/or too costly.6- 15Need for personal control: Patients seek alternative therapies because they see them as less authoritarian16 and more empowering and as offering them more personal autonomy and control over their health care decisions.14,16- 19Philosophical congruence: Alternative therapies are attractive because they are seen as more compatible with patients' values, worldview, spiritual/religious philosophy, or beliefs regarding the nature and meaning of health and illness.19- 24 In addition to testing the validity of these 3 theoretical perspectives, this study also sought to determine on an exploratory basis how the decision to seek alternative therapies is affected by patients' health status and demographic factors.