I am always a bit skeptical when one medication or supplement boasts it has a variety of benefits and actions. That is likely due to my upbringing in medicine with the “one drug-one effect” phenomenon western medicine adheres to.
My colleagues and I, who are firm believers in the power of nutrition, used to joke that once the benefits of a said product surpassed two or three effects, the next benefit be a financial one. There are, however, a few products out there that really do have some data that show multiple benefits.
One of those products is the microscopic filamentous algae rich in protein, vitamins, essential amino acids, minerals and essential fatty acids like gamma linolenic acid. This nutritional supplement is called Spirulina. Spirulina is in the family of single-cell microbes often referred to as blue-green algae. It is a cyanobacterium that produces energy from sunlight via photosynthesis.
Seven grams of dried Spirulina (about one tablespoon of dried powder) contains 4 grams of protein, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, copper, iron, and 1.7 grams of digestible carbs. Spirulina has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, benefits in optimizing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, improving anemia and enhancing muscle strength and endurance.
How this tiny little algae has so many benefits is hard to say. I would guess it is simply the benefit of a nature-made product versus a man-made product.
As with all nutritional supplements, talk to your doctor to see if Spirulina may be something you can use in your quest for better living.
Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at drwilley.com.