AlgaeKelp and spirulina

Kelp and Spirulina are two very different groupsof algae. Kelp is a seaweed of very long stem, made mostly of the algae Fucus and Laminaria. It is an excellent source of iodine, an element essential for the prevention of thyroid gland disease.

Spirulina (or blue-green algae) is much smaller; it is actually a unilateral organism or microalgae. It is very similar to bacteria. Since her spirally coated fibers contain a lot of herbal pigment chlorophylls, the lake and pond waters in which they grow produce dark blue-green color.

How do they work?

In China, kelp and spirulina have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. Their devotees talk about many beneficial effects (from preventing hair loss to increasing libido), but most have not been confirmed. These algae, however, have some proven therapeutic properties.

MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: a large amount of iodine in kelp helps him to heal the reduced thyroid function caused by the deficiency of this element. Since iodinated salt is a good source, kelp is rarely used. Sometimes it is advertised as a substance that helps in weight loss, but is likely to be effective only when the cause of obesity is a weaker function of the thyroid gland due to lack of iodine. For the treatment of thyroid gland diseases, kelp should only be used under the medical supervision.
Spirulina is an excellent source of chlorophyll and is ideal for combating small, but very unpleasant problems – an unpleasant smell. It is very effective, unless the cause of an unpleasant smell is a gum disease or chronic sinusitis. Spirulina is the main ingredient of many commercially available chlorophyllic breath fresheners.

ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: Sometimes, kelp and spirulina are part of the vegetarian and macrobiotic diet. Kelp is not only the source of iodine, but also carotenoids, fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and other nutrients. Spirulina contains proteins, vitamins (including vitamin B, and folic acid), carotenoids and other useful substances. However, it should be said that the concentrations of these substances are rather low. There are many other sources of vitamins and minerals that are both cheaper and more delicious than kelpa and spirulina – let’s just remember all the various vegetables from our gardens!

Some people talk about the additional effects of these algae; they supposedly give energy, alleviate arthritis problems, improve liver function, prevent heart disease and some cancers, improve immunity, work well in people who are infected with HI and AIDS, and protect cells from damage caused by ionizing radiation and heavy metals such as lead. Most of these studies are carried out in a laboratory or on animals, so further research is needed.

How to take them?

DOSAGE: using kelp in reduced thyroid activity: use only at the advice of a physician; if you are lacking iodine, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate dose. Powdered formulations dissolve well in water. Capsules, tablets and tinctures are equally effective.

For refreshing breath using spirulina: take liquid chlorophyll-rich preparations (usually, the note on the package says if chlorophyll comes from spirulina). You can also mix spoonful of spirulina powder with half a glass of water. Then, rinse your mouth with liquid and swallow it. You can also chew and then swallow the tablet. You can do this three to four times a day or as needed.

USE GUIDELINES: these preparations are taken with food to reduce the possible stomach irritation. Pregnant women and women who breastfeed should avoid kelp because they contain many iodine. It seems that spirulina is safe.

Possible side effects

Taking kelp and spirulina may sometimes cause nausea or diarrhea. If that happens. lower the dose or stop taking these preparations. Up to 3% of people are susceptible to iodine, so long-term use of kelp can cause painful enlargement of the thyroid gland. This side effect disappears when the person stops using kelp. Such side effects are the most common in Japan, where seaweed is part of the menu.

IMPORTANT: kelp may exacerbate the condition of people who are taking medicines against excessive work of the thyroid gland.