3/4 Spirulina 101: The Uses

A little toolbox in disguise

Nutritional Properties

Way back in 1974, the United Nations declared spirulina a superfood. Having a 55–70% complete protein content places it above almost all other protein sources including meat, eggs, and milk.

You mean one green thing can replace all of these green things?

How to Not Get Sick

Spirulina’s effect on our immune systems is one of the best backed areas of research.

Pretty cytokines that spirulina helps us make more of I Physiopedia

Sneezing in Spring

Spirulina is also very effective in controlling allergies and relieves symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching. It’s also been shown to restore lost smell.

Basically, all the nose things I Unsplash

Quantity Matter When It Comes to Candida

According to researchers, “Candida species belong to the normal microbiota of an individual’s mucosal oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.” This means healthy levels of it are fine and actually help prevent disease and sickness!

Unlike cytokines, this pretty medical image is something we definitely don’t want more of I Tips for Women

Stopping Anemia in 8 Weeks

Anemia is the condition when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Globally, almost 50% of preschool aged children and over 40% of pregnant women are anemic. In India, the numbers are higher at 70% for children under five and 50% for women in general.

Severely anemic young women in India I Times of India

3 Causes

Anemia can be caused in three ways: blood cell loss from bleeding, blood cell destruction, and decreased blood cell production.

Iron Deficiency Causes 50% of Anemia Cases

Iron plays a vital role in our bodies by making hemoglobin. This is a protein in our blood cells that transports oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body.

That’s why it’s often advised to take iron supplements with orange juice I Gestational Diabetes UK
Laid out side by side, it’s clear to see spirulina works much better than iron supplements I Paper
What the bars may have looked like I Fifty5 Plus

B12 Controversy

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to anemia because it helps produce red blood cells and decreases weakness and fatigue.

How to Save Millions of Arsenic Poisoned People

It’s 1993 and you’re in Bangladesh. Most of your drinking water comes from shallow tube wells. People all around you are sick, falling ill to all sorts of disorders that no one can trace.

An example of a tube well in Bangladesh that could be contaminated I Vox Dev
This is all that was needed to cure their horrible symptoms I Retail Pharma

When There’s No Food, There’s Spirulina

In 2016, a study hoping to decrease malnutrition in children living on the Gaza Strip experimented with spirulina supplements. After only three months of study, the previously malnourished children had increased their weight and height. Many who had been anemic improved as well.

Chronic conflict on the Gaza Strip has lead it to become almost unlivable I UNRWA
Spirulina tablets and capsules last a long time, perfect for uncertain environments I Dermstore
All the babies need is a spoonful a day I PBS News Hour

Fresh vs. Dry, a Trade Off

Although all of the studies above used a dry form of spirulina, fresh and frozen spirulina are 5x more powerful against anemia than powders which contain only 20% of the vitamins and minerals that fresh spirulina does.

Frozen cubes from We Are The New Farmers and fresh spirulina from Raw Living Spirulina

Way Beyond Food

Although the focus of the series has mostly been on spirulina production for human food, there plenty of other reason to grow it.

Pigments but Safe + Healthy

Pigments are substances that add color to products. This section will focus on food coloring but I’ve seen spirulina used to color soap, beauty products and even paint.

The rise and fall of synthetics

What even is a blue raspberry?!? I Touchstone Essentials
I guess the myth about tainted Halloween candy wasn’t so wrong after all? I Delish

Green

The first color spirulina offers is pretty obvious: green! Whether you like it or not, the chlorophyll in spirulina will turn anything and everything you add to it green.

Everything in here automatically not only looks healthier, but is healthier with spirulina!

Blue

Something that has recently been all over social media is azure “mermaid” food colored with blue spirulina.

Just some of the many, many, many things you can color with blue spirulina
Instant 1 million coolness points I Unicorn Superfoods
Spira’s Electric Sky blue pigment next to Umi, their plain green pigment

Yellow

If a yellow pigment is desired over a blue one, spirulina also contains high amounts of lutein, although this is used much less commonly.

It’s much harder to extract this from a blue-green algae than a blue color I Pine Pollen Tablet

Animals + Spirulina = 😻📈

Today, half of all spirulina production is used in livestock and fish feeds. One benefit of feeding it to animals instead of humans is that although unpleasant, desalinated wastewater and animal faecal matter can be added to enrich the growth medium. And yes, I know it’s kind of disgusting, but studies show it’s perfectly safe to be used.

See! They only look a tiny bit suspicious :) I Algenerg
The many shades of salmon — darker colors sell for more I The Globe and Mail

Biopolymers for Greener Materials ;)

Not only will spirulina soon be in the food we eat, it might also help package it! Biopolymers are analogous to polymers of petrochemical origin and used to create bioplastics. PHA is a biopolymer naturally produced by prokaryotic microorganisms as a storage material, typically when under stress. PHB, a type of PHA, functions in carbon energy storage.

Bioplastic made with agar and spirulina I Recipe here

Even Your Car Will Love Spirulina

Because of how quickly microalgae grow, they’re a great crop to create biofuel out of. Microalgae are rich in lipids like the oil crops commonly used for biofuels, but they grow much quicker.

Algae meant for biofuel I Digital Trends

Smear It On Your Skin

There are dozens of claimed benefits beauty brands feel entitled to market you on as soon as they stick the slightest bit of spirulina extract in their product. Although many promises can’t be backed up, spirulina does have remarkable effects on skin when applied topically.

Moisturization Station

In one 2015 study, gel-cream moisturizer with and without dry spirulina extract was given to women of varying ages.

There are a few companies, such as Earth Harbor, that make spirulina moisturizer

Spirulina Sun Protection

When put into sunscreen, the flavonoids in spirulina help to protect against UV radiation. The perfect amount is 7% spirulina, which is a great balance between high SPF (30) and stability.

Kōkua Sun Care makes a sunscreen with spirulina, one of the very few that do!

Why Use Zit Cream When You Can Use Spirulina?

While acne may not be the most important health issue facing the world, I know as a teen with frequent acne, it can lead to insecurity and body shame.

And Many More

These are just a few applications of spirulina. There are new applications being explored everyday! Like just last week I saw an article about using algae to purify air in an indoor playground…who could’ve imagined!

Who could’ve imagined I Dezeen

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Klara Zietlow

Klara Zietlow

56 Followers

15 year passionate about the future of food and the environment. Likes animals too :)