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To learn more about Spirulina choose a topic of interest below.
Spirulina and Chlorella differences
Spirulina's efficacy on HIV and other RNA/DNA viruses
Spirulina's efficacy on cancer and tumors
Harvard Study results
History making results
Quotes from researchers
The Study of Spirulina Effects on the AIDS Virus, Cancer and the Immune System By Richard Kozlenko, D.P.M., Ph. D., M.P.H., and Ronald H Henson
Spirulina (rhymes with "ballerina") is a traditional food of some Mexican and African peoples. It is a planktonic blue-green algae found in warm water alkaline volcanic lakes. Wild spirulina sustains hugh flocks of flamingos in the alkaline East African Rift Valley lakes. It possesses an amazing ability to thrive in conditions much too harsh for other algae. As might be expected, it has a highly unusual nutritional profile.
Spirulina has a 62% amino acid content, is the world's richest natural source of vitamin B-12 and contains a whole spectrum of natural mixed carotene and xanthophyll phytopigments. Spirula has a soft cell wall made of complex sugars and protein, and is different from most other algae in that its easily digested.
Millions of people worldwide eat spirulina cultivated in scientificaly designed algae farms. Current world production of spirulina for human consumption is more than 1,000 metric tons annually. The United States leads world production followed by Thailand, India and China. More countries are planning production as they realize it is a valuable strategic resource.
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Spirulina is not chlorella, or the blue-green algae harvested from Klamath Lake, Oregon. Chlorella, a green micro-algae, is a nutritious food but does not have the same anti-viral, anti-cancer and immune stimulating properties of spirulina. The chlorella cells wall is made of indigestible cellulose, just like green grass, while the cell wall of spirulina is made of complexed proteins and sugars.
The Klamath Lake blue-green algae has the scientific name Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. There are serious concerns about the safety of eating it because it can sometimes contian potent nerve toxins. While the scientific literature is full of information concerning the toxicity of A. flos-aquae and its dangers to humans and animals, there are few, if any, peer reviewed scientific papers regarding therapeutic benefit. In contrast, the scientific literature is full of information concerning the benefits and safety of humans and animals eating chlorella and spirulina.
Spirulina is gaininig more attention from medical scientists as a nutraceutical and source of potentioan pharmaceuticals. There are several new peer reviewed scientific studies about spirulina's ability to inhibit viral replication, strengthen both the cellular and humoral arms of the immune system and cause regression and inhibition of cancers. While these studies are preliminary and more research is needed, the results so far are exciting
In April 1996, scientists from the Laboratoory of Viral Pathogenesis, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and Earthrise Farms, Calipatria, California, announced on-going research, saying "Water extract of Spirulina platensis inhibits HIV-1 replicateion in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. A concentration of 5-10 ug/ml was found to reduce viral production." HIV-1 is the AIDS virus. Small amounts of spirulina extract reduced viral replication while higher concentrations totally stopped its reproduction. Importantly, with a therapeutic index of >100, spirulina extract was non-toxic to the human cells at concentrations stopping viral replication.
Another group of medical scientists has published new stdies regarding a purified water extract unique to spirulina named Calcium-Spirulan. It inhibits replication of HIV-1, herpes simplex, human cytomegalovirus, influenza A virus, mumps, virus and measles virus in-vitro, yet is very safe for human cells. It protects human and monkey cells from viral infection in cell culture. According to peer reviewed scientific journal reports this extract, " holds great promise for treatment of HIV-1, HSV-1, and HCM infections, which is particularly advantageous for AIDS patients who are prone to these life-threatening infections."
Calcium-Spirulan is a ploymeriez sugar molecule unique to spirulina, containing boht sulfur and calcium. Hamsters treated with this water-soluble extract had better recovery rates when infected with an otherwise lethal herpes virus. How does it work? When attacking a cell, a virus first attaches itself to the cell membrane. However, because of spirulina extract, the virus cannot penetrate the cell membrane to infect the cell. The virus is stuck, unable to replicate. It is eventually eliminated by the body's natural defenses. Spirulina extracts may become useful therapeutics that could help AIDS patients lead longer, more normal lives.
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Several studies show spirulinal or its extracts can prevent or inhibit cancers in humans and animals. Some common forms of cancer are thought to be a result of damaged cell DNA running amok, causing uncontrolled cell growth. Cellular biologists have defined a system of special enzymes called endonuclease which repair damaged DNA to keep cells alive and healthy. When these enzymes are deactivated by radiation or toxins, errors in DNA go unrepaired, and cancer may develop.
In vitro studies suggest the unique polysaccharides of spirulina enhance cell nucleus enzyme activity and DNA repair synthesis. This may be why several scientific studies observing human tobacco users and experimental cancers in animals, report high levels of suppression of several important types of cancer after being fed whole spirulina or treated with its water extracts.
Spirulina is a powerful tonic for the immune system. In scientific studies of mice, hamsters, chickens, turkeys, cats and fish, spirulina consistently improves immune system function. Medical scientists find spirulina not only stimulates the immune system, it ectually enhances the body's ability to generate new blood cells.
Important parts of the immune system, the bone marrow stem cells, macrophages, T-cells and natural killer cells, exhibit enhanced activity. The spleen and thymus glands show enhanced function. Scientists also observe spirulina causing macrophages to increase in number, become "activated" and more effective at killing germs.
Feeding studies show that even small amounts of spirulina build up both the humoral and celiular arms of the immune system. Spirulina accelerates production of the humoral system (antibodies and cytokines), allowing it to better protect against invading germs. The cellular immune system includes T-cells, macrophages, B-cells and the anti-cancer natural killer cells.
These cells circulate in the blood and are especially rich in organs like the liver, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, adenoids, tonsils and bone marrow. Spirulina up-regulates these key cells and organs, improving their ability to funcition n spite of stresses from environmental toxins and infections agents.
Spirulina has a dark blue-green color, because it is rich in a brilliant blue polypeptide called phycocyanin, which affects the stem cells found in bone marrow. Stem cells are "grandmother" to both white blood cells that make up the cellular immune system and red blood cells that oxygenate the body. Chinese scientists document phycocyanin as stumulating hematopoiesis (the creation of blood), emulatin the affect of the hormone erythropoetin (EPO).
EPO is produced by healthy kidneys and regulates bone marrow stem cell production of red blood cells. Chinese scientists claim phycocyanin also regulates production of white blood cells, even when bone marrow stem cells are damaged by toxic chemicals or radiation.
Based on this effect, spirulina is approved in Russia as a "medicine food" for treating radiation sickness. The children of Chernobyl suffer radiation poisoning from eating food grown on radioactive soil. Their bone marrow is damaged, rendering them immunodeficient and unable to produce normal red or white blood cells. They are anemic and suffer from terrible allergic reactions. Children fed just five grams of spirulina tablets each day make dramatic recoveries within six weeks. Children not given spirulina remain ill.
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Spirulina is one of the most concentrated natural sources of nutrition known. It contains all the essential amino acids, is rich in chlorophyll, beta-carotene and its co-factors, and other natural phytochemicals. Spirulina is the only green food rich in GLA essential fatty acid. GLA stimulates growth in some animals and makes skin and hair shiny and soft yet more durable. GLA also acts as anti-inflammatory, sometimes alleviating symptoms of arthritic conditions.
Spirulina acts as a functional food, feeding beneficial intestinal flora, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidus. Maintaining a healthy population of these bacteria in the intense reduces potential problems from opportunistic pathogens like E. coli and Candida albicans. Studies show when spirulina is added to the diet, beneficial intestinal flora increase.
Based on this preliminary research, scientists hope the use of spirulina and its extracts may reduce or prevent cancers and viral diseases. Bacterial or parasitic infections may be prevented or respoond better to treatment, and would healing may improve. Symptoms of anemia, poisoning and immunodeficiency may be alleviated.
Scientiests in the US, Japan, China, Russia, India and other countries are studying this remarkable food to unlock its potential. More research is needed to determine its usefulness against AIDS and other killer diseases. However, it is already clear that this safe and natural food provides concentrated nutritional support for optimum health and wellsness. Richard Kozlenko received his Masters in Public Health and Ph. D. in nutritional biochemistry from USCL School of Medicine and Public Health. He is also a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.
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This article is about a 3 year Harvard Study done on Phycotene, which was developed by Dr. Christopher Hills, the founder of Light Force. Phycotene was found to enhance the immune system and fight cancer 25 times better than beta-carotene.
Harvard Study: Research Results with Spirulina Extracts, Phycotene and Cancer
We are pleased to announce the results of the important research conducted by Harvard University scientists, Drs. Joel Schwartz and Gerald Shklar of the Department of Oral Pathology, research that has been sponsored by Microalgae International, (Drs. Schwartz and Shklar are two prominent members of the Microalgae International Scientific Advisory Board.) Under the direction of Dr. Christopher Hills, Microalgae International entered into sponsored research and exclusive patent licensing agreements with Harvard University on the use of beta-carotene and beta-carotene-rich algae extracts to inhibit the development of cancer tumors and cause regression of existing tumors. The objectives of the research at Harvard have been to compare the effects of naturally occurring beta-carotene-rich algae complexes with pure synthetic beta-carotene in the inhibition and regression of cancer, and to explore the mechanism of the effect. The Harvard research team hopes to determine how these substances affect the immune system and trigger the body's natural defense mechanisms: recruitment and stimulation of macrophages, and the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF2) and possibly other immune-system modifiers.
Macrophages are front line immune cells that digest debris and alert helper T cells to foreign invaders; they also stimulate the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha. An immune system chemical potent enough the help destroy certain tumors.
Early results of the research at Harvard show that beta-carotene causes the inhibition and regression of cancer in animals and in human and animal cancer cells in culture. The research also shows that beta-carotene-rich extracts of Spirulina and Dunaliella supplied by Microalgae International were more effective than pure synthetic beta-carotene in killing cancer cells in culture in some experiments. The preliminary results suggest that beta-carotene and the algae products work, at least in part, by triggering the body's own immune system defense mechanisms. Results of this research have been published in the scientific literature, including CARCINOGENESIS, Harvard Medical Area FOCUS, and BIOCHEMICAL BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS. Recently, in a paper entitled "Growth Inhibition and Destruction of Oral Cancer Cells by Extracts of Spirulina" presented at the American Academy of Oral Pathology's annual meeting the Harvard group reported finding that the algae complex was more effective than pure beta-carotene in some experiments on tumor cells in culture. This is an exciting development in cancer research. Preliminary results from the Harvard study suggest that a natural carotene protein complex prepared from algae may act as an immune system modifier that marshals the body's own intricate immune defense system to combat cancer. This promising substance, trademarked PHYCOTENE consists of beta-carotene, fifteen other natural carotenes's, and photodynamic pigments like chlorophyll and other porphyrins.
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"Research Produces Several Firsts"
Several firsts were achieved in this historic research:
1. For the first time, researchers discovered a non-toxic substance that destroyed cancer tumor cells and totally regressed large cancer tumors without any harmful side effects to normal healthy cells.
2. This is the first time that we have seen complete regression of induced cancer tumors in hamsters without toxicity to normal cells. The hamster cheek pouch model (used in the Harvard research) acts similarly to human squamous cell carcinoma and has the same oncogene that makes this model very close to the human and very promising.
3. These are the first scientific laboratory and animal studies that are consistent with large-scale human population studies which show that diets high in beta-carotene and other carotenes may lead to reduced cancer risks. As a result, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the National Research Council recommend increasing the levels of carotene in our diet.
4. This is the first time we have evidence of a natural substance that activates the body's own Interleukin system, enhances the immune system and triggers the white blood cell macrophages to produce enough tumor necrosis factor-alpha to specifically target and kill cancer cells without killing normal cells or producing side effects.
The Harvard Medical Aria FOCUS reported on the presentation made by Drs. Schwartz and Shklar at the American Academy of Oral Pathology meeting in Toronto in May. "[The doctors reported] that extracts of a blue-green algae called Spirulina - of which beta-carotene is a major component - inhibit growth and destroy oral cancer cells in vitro. The Spirulina alga [PHYCOTENE] appears to accomplish this by the same immunological means as beta-carotene alone. " FOCUS quotes Dr. Schwartz as saying, "We're getting the same response [from PHYCOTENE] at a lower does [than pure beta-carotene] so we know that beta-carotene is working in conjunction with other components to enhance the inhibition of tumor cell growth."
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Dr. Schwartz: In another series of experiments, we used two different types of Spirulina extra or PHYCOTENE, in relationship to the control tumor cells, again demonstrating that as we increased the concentration, there is dramatic decrease in the number of oral cancer cells, oral tumor cells. Dr. Schwarz: What is important about our results here is that beta-carotene PHYCOTENE, are relatively non-toxic, and in fact, our evidence right now is that they're totally non-toxic. Dr. Schwartz: As you begin to treat with the PHYCOTENE, or beta-carotene, you begin to see shriveling up, a death, the destruction of the tumor cell and this becomes more evident as you go to a higher concentration.
Dr. Shklar We were so amazed by these results initially, that he [Dr. Schwartz] called me down to see the animals, we called other people down; none of them who saw these animals, with the quick disappearance of the tumors, could believe they were the same animals. You'd see this huge tumor in the animal and then four days later, the tumor is gone more or less in this animal model. Almost unbelievable. And we had to look at this many times.
Dr. Shklar: We had qualms about this mixture [PHYCOTENE] being free of contaminants, and we're very pleased to find that it was free of contaminants, and worked very effectively and more effectively than beta-carotene that we were using. So we were very happy to extend our work with PHYCOTENE extract, and when Dr. Schwartz uses PHYCOTENE, it has to be free of contaminant, because those cells are growing in tissue culture, and the slightest contaminant would kill those colonies. So we would have gotten no results at all if there were any contaminants.
Dr. Shklar: Well, I'd like to say that we're cautiously optimistic. We either will have a cure for cancer in hamsters, which we have at present or we will have a major breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. If this works in other species and works in humans the way it does in the hamster, and there are enough reasons to believe that it will work, then I hate using the word "breakthrough" because every day we have a breakthrough in cancer treatment, but this will be an entirely new approach, an approach using non-toxic agents not only to prevent cancer, but to regress cancer, to treat cancer, so that the future could be fantastic.
Dr. Shklar: We feel the future involves, on the one hand, prevention of cancer, and on the other hand, its regression, its treatment, by nontoxic agents. I think this is what the future should be.
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