Taking spirulina for allergies can not only help your allergy symptoms but it’s a powerhouse of nutrition. This nutrient-dense food is incredible for your overall health.
Spirulina is a blue-green alga. It grows in fresh water and saltwater. Spirulina gained popularity after NASA used it as a dietary supplement for astronauts.
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How Spirulina Helps Allergies
Spirulina is nutrient-dense and filled with antioxidants that it can make up for nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies can cause problems with your immune system. Spirulina can help by making up for any nutritional deficiencies and helping your immune system work better.
The anti-inflammatory effects of spirulina have been studied( 1 , 2 ). These studies were done on rats but the effects should be similar for people. Spirulina is thought to decrease inflammation by inhibiting histamine release from mast cells. Decreasing inflammation and histamine can greatly improve allergy symptoms.
This study ( 3 ) shows spirulina at a dose of 2,000 mg/day can help regulate the production of IL-4. This helps regulate immunoglobulin E- mediated allergy. Basically a complicated way of saying it can help you be less reactive to some allergy triggers.
Spirulina, in this double-blind placebo-controlled study, was shown to significantly reduce allergy symptoms. The symptoms included nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, and itching ( 4 ).
More studies are needed to know exactly how spirulina helps allergies. Even though more studies are needed it is apparent spirulina can help allergy sufferers.
Spirulina has many other health benefits. Spirulina can help your allergies and improve your overall health at the same time.
Spirulina is so nutrient-dense it isn’t surprising it can help more than just allergies. Some other benefits of spirulina include:
- Spirulina may be able to low “bad” cholesterol LDL, VLDL and triglycerides, and raise “good” cholesterol HDL.
- This study shows little effect on HDL but lowered LDL. 4.2gms daily was given for 8 weeks in this study ( 5 ).
- This study ( 6 ) was done for 3 months with three separate groups. Group A received 2,000mg daily, group B 4,000mg daily, Group C was the control group. This study showed the groups that received spirulina had an increase in HDL, decrease in LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides.
- A study was done on 78 elderly individuals ages 60-87 ( 7 ). 8g per day of spirulina was used and showed a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. This study was 16 weeks long.
- A group of 36 people received 4.5g per day for 6 weeks ( 8 ). Within the 6 weeks, there were cholesterol-lowering effects.
- This study ( 9 ) showed improvement in cholesterol after 12 weeks even when participants were given only 1g of spirulina.
- Spirulina was studied with oral cancer ( 10 ). When given a placebo only 3 out of 43 had their oral lesions disappear after a year. Those who received 1g per day of spirulina for 12 months, 20 out of 44 were completely rid of oral lesions.
- An animal study ( 11 ) suggests that spirulina might have anti-tumor properties and liver protectant properties.
- Even though studies show spirulina may be helpful in some cancers it is not a cure. Discuss taking spirulina with your doctor before adding it to your diet if you have cancer.
- A 12-week study ( 12 ) on older adults (50 years or older) who had no history of major disease were given a spirulina supplement. Over the course of the 12 weeks, there was a steady increase in hemoglobin in both men and women who participated.
Improves Endurance Exercise
- This study ( 13 ) had nine males run on a treadmill for two hours. Then at 95% of VO2max until exhaustion. Each participant either received 6g daily of spirulina or a placebo for 4 weeks. Those that received the spirulina supplement were able to run significantly longer before becoming exhausted vs the placebo group.
- Spirulina supplements may help prevent skeletal muscle damage with exercise. According to this study ( 14 ) after 3 weeks of supplementation students had less muscle damage after the Bruce incremental treadmill exercise.
Lower Blood Sugar
- In animal studies, ( 15 , 16 ) spirulina was shown to help lower blood sugar.
- Spirulina 2g per day was given for 2 months ( 17 ). There were 25 participants all with type 2 diabetes. It showed a beneficial effect on controlling blood sugar and improving cholesterol in the participants.
- More studies are needed to determine how effective it is at controlling blood sugar. But it could be very helpful especially for those having a hard time controlling blood sugar.
Reduce Blood Pressure
- This study ( 8 ) not only showed how spirulina can lower cholesterol but its possibility to lower blood pressure.
How Much Spirulina Should You Take?
For allergies, a dose of 2,000mg per day to 4,000mg per day appeared to have benefits. Starting with a lower dose of 500mg or 1,000mg and working up to a higher dose if needed could be helpful.
Some studies showed spirulina helped for some symptoms at 1,000mg taken daily and was safe for a period of at least 12 weeks.
Everyone is different and finding a dose that works for you may take some adjusting. Spirulina was taken in doses up to 19,000mg daily for 2 months. This is the higher end and it is best to start lower. Many times a dose of 2,000mg to 4,000mg is sufficient to see results. Several studies have gone up to 6,000mg or 8,000mg for several weeks without issue. If you don’t see the results you want immediately wait a few weeks before increasing the dose.
A healthy diet should accompany any supplements. Supplements are meant to fill in the gaps of a healthy diet not completely make up for a terrible diet.
Even with all the health benefits of spirulina, there are a few health concerns to be aware of.
If you have an autoimmune disease, spirulina could cause a problem. There are case reports of 3 people who have had flare-ups after taking spirulina. This isn’t very many people or a large amount of evidence but still something to be aware of and cautious about.
Be especially careful if you take immunosuppressant medications. Spirulina may boost or improve your immune system and cause problems with these medications. Don’t include a spirulina supplement until talking to your doctor.
Spirulina may interact with blood sugar medication, blood pressure medications, or medications for cholesterol. Since spirulina may lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, those levels should be monitored closely when taking spirulina and the medications may need to be decreased. Make sure to have your health care provider monitoring these closely.
The vitamins in spirulina may interact with blood-thinning medications or increase your bleeding time. It may be best to avoid this supplement while on these medications.
It may decrease iron absorption. A simple way to fix this is don’t take it with any high-iron meals. If you are on an iron supplement just take it at a separate time. It is hard to know how true this is since spirulina has also been shown to improve anemia but if you have issues with low iron take it at a separate time than an iron supplement to be on the safe side.
Be careful where you get your products from. If spirulina is grown in an area with large amounts of heavy metals it will end up in the final product that you are consuming. Look for reputable brands with good quality control.
If you are trying it for the first time start slow. Too much may cause nausea, bloating, cramps, or gas.
How to Take
You can get spirulina in a powder or tablets. I typically prefer powders vs a tablet so there aren’t extras added in to keep it in tablet form or a capsule to swallow.
If you have a hard time drinking something that tastes earthy and bitter I suggest the tablets. Adding it to a smoothie or something with a stronger taste can improve the taste. This is the brand I currently have.
When looking for spirulina make sure to find one grown where it will not pick up heavy metals from the environment. This brand is grown in tanks with purified water.
Mixed with juice or a smoothie the taste is ok. Some mix with applesauce to take. If you are brave you can mix it with just water but for most, I believe the taste would be very unpleasant.
Regardless of the taste, I find it helps me feel better. I don’t get as tired while exercising so despite the taste I continue to drink it.
Spirulina can be great for allergies along with many other health benefits. If it’s beneficial enough to give to astronauts it may be able to do some good for the average person.
Be careful if you have prior health concerns and inform your doctor of any supplements you are taking.
Overall this is a powerhouse for nutrition and a great supplement to help fill a nutritional gap.
If you are looking for additional options to improve your allergies here are a few other products to check out.
- Quercetin and Bromelain
- Stinging nettle
- Important Vitamins for Allergies
- Neti Pot
Disclaimer – Medical advice is not provided in this article. This article simply reflects my opinions and experiences. Consult a healthcare provider before adding any supplements or making a lifestyle changes.