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Blue-Green Algae (Spirolina)

Spirolina or blue-green algae are microscopic plants that grow in brackish ponds & lakes. In 1981, the National Inquirer promoted spirolina as an all-natural, safe diet pill that helps lose weight. The theory was that it was loaded with phenylalanine, an amino acid that goes into your brain to form serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel full.

While the theory is reasonable, it breaks down in practice. Blue-green algae don't contain any more phenylalanine than any other protein-containing food; and nobody has shown that phenylalanine helps to suppress appetite and control weight. Otherwise you would buy phenylalanine pills at your drug store to help you lose weight.

In 1982, Micro-Algae International Sales Corp. and its founder, Christopher Hills, agreed to settle charges that they made false claims about spirolina, and paid $225,000 in fines to the FDA. They had claimed that it controls weight and "had therapeutic value against diabetes, anemia, liver disease and ulcers." Today, more than 30 years later, blue-green algae is still being sold as a super health food to help people lose weight and treat many diseases.  Blue-green algae products are being marketed as treatment for ADD, but there is no evidence to support this claim.

Also in 1982, KC Laboratories of Klamath Falls, OR began selling Blue-Green Manna, their brand name for algae, to treat diseases and health problems. In 1986, a permanent injunction was issued by the FDA ordering all parties to stop manufacturing, distributing and selling Blue-Green Manna.

In 1999, the Canadian Health Protection Branch warned that blue-green algae products may contain toxins harmful to the liver. Some species of algae produce toxins called microcystins. In May 2000, the Oregon Department of Health reported that 63 out of 87 samples of one type of blue-green algae contained microcystin levels above the limit of 1 mcg per gram.

Blue-green algae or spirolina products contain no nutrients that are not readily available from food, they cost much more than food, yhey have no proven value for treating any medical problem, and  some may contain toxins.

Checked 12/3/18

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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