In water, blue-green algae (also known as Cyanobacteria) is a major issue that poses a serious risk to humans, animals and fish. An algae bloom (an overgrowth of bacteria in the water) can cause water discolouration, poor oxygen levels and the release of toxins.
If a human is exposed to toxic bloom for a short time, they may experience health issues including sickness, diarrhea, fever and rashes. Long term exposure can lead to more serious issues such as nerve and liver damage.
In animals and aquatic life, this exposure can prove fatal.
So why then, do some people consider blue-green algae to be beneficial to health? Well, when blue-green algae is free of the toxins found in a bloom, and it has been processed into supplements or other health products, many believe there are multiple health benefits.
Source of protein – Blue-green algae is a good source of protein when taken orally. Spirulina, one of the most commonly supplemented forms, contains 57g of protein per 100g.
Vitamins – It is a good source of vitamin B, iron and many other vitamins and antioxidants.
Weight loss – It is believed to increase the metabolism, so it’s only to be expected that one claimed benefit is aiding weight loss. Study results remain inconsistent, however, some studies show that taking it orally for 3 months slightly improves weight loss.
Hayfever – Research suggests that taking just 2 grams of blue-green algae each day for 6 months can help to relieve some of the symptoms of hayfever.
PMS – In addition to containing anti-inflammatory and pain releiving properties (both of which are greatly welcomed at that time of the month!), it is claimed blue-green algae can help with PMS; this is likely due to it being a great source of PMS reducing vitamins and minerals.
Wound care – Studies suggest that certain strains of spirulina show significant wound healing activity. One popular use is reducing oral leukoplakia in chewing tobacco users.
Immune system – There is some evidence that blue-green algae helps to boost the immune system. Some early, as yet inconclusive research, suggests that daily use for 3 months can help to reduce the incidences of infections in HIV/AIDS patients.
Overall wellbeing – Blue-green algae is said to help improve overall wellbeing including reducing stress, fighting fatigue, anxiety & depression, improving memory and increasing energy.
There are many other reported benefits, so blue-green algae is definitely something worth considering if you’re looking for an overall health boost. As always, you should consult your doctor first to make sure that it’s right for you and isn’t going to interract with any medications or exacerbate any existing medical conditions.