The Wonders of Micro-algae – a Green Food

Micro-algae: Spirulina, Chlorella, and Blue-Green Algae

These organisms were among the first life forms on this planet.  They are extremely high in chlorophyll (the “blood” of plant life which gives them their rich green color), protein, beta-carotene, Omega-3 fatty acids, and nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA and RNA), with some variability between algae types.  Interestingly, chlorophyll is virtually identical in structure to our own hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in our blood, except its central mineral is magnesium, where ours is iron.  Chlorophyll has many health-benefiting properties, including the ability to detoxify, deodorize, inhibit bacterial growth, modulate inflammation, promote normal intestinal flora, and activate enzymes that produce the fat-soluble vitamins E, A, and K.  Therefore, these micro-algae which are very high in chlorophyll also have these effects on the body.

The nucleic acids in these algae can promote cell regeneration and repair, as well as protecting from the effects of UV radiation.  Nucleic acids are depleted in the body by lack of exercise, stress, poor diet, and pollution.

Spirulina is a microalgae that grows in hot climates and alkaline waters around the globe.  It produces twenty times more protein than soybeans per square foot.  It contains GLA and linoleic acids, B12, iron, 60-70% protein by weight, essential amino acids, RNA, DNA, chlorophyll, and a blue pigment called phycocyanin, which may have protective effects on the body.  It is easily digestible and helps to strengthen the immune system, reduce cholesterol, and increase mineral absorption.  Spirulina is good for recovery and repair and for those with weaker constitutions and digestive systems.  The proteins are well absorbed and digested and can be helpful for those with liver damage and who overcosume refined foods and pharmaceutical drugs, as well as helping to protect the kidneys from injury due to strong prescription medications. Its overall properties, according to Paul Pitchford, author of “Healing with Whole Foods” are that it’s cooling, nourishing, detoxifies liver & kidneys, builds and enriches blood, cleanses arteries, enhances intestinal flora, inhibits growth of fungus, bacteria, and yeasts.  in addition, the blue pigment, phycocyanin, has been shown to inhibit cancer-colony formation & can also help increase mental capacity.

Chlorella is grown primarily in cold waters and is widely cultivated.   It contains around 58% protein, carbohydrates, all the B vitamins, vitamins C & E, amino acids, and rare trace minerals.  Contains more B12 than liver, although its useability is questionable, and high beta carotene.  Processing is necessary to improve digestibility of the tough cell wall of chlorella,  however the cell wall binds to heavy metals, pesticides, and PCB’s and carries them out of the body.  The cell wall also contains complex polysaccharides which stimulate interferon production as well as other anti-tumor and immune enhancing activity.

Chlorella is the least cooling, most tonifying, and most gently cleansing of the micro-algae, according to Paul Pitchford.  It is the most useful for improving growth patterns in children, healing injuries, and initiating growth where it has been stunted by disease or degeneration.  It also contains more fatty acids than the other micro-algae.

Wild blue-green algae is the most specific in its actions of the micro algae.  It grows and is wild-harvested in Klamath Lake in southern Oregon.  High in chlorophyll, trace minerals, and blue pigment like spirulina, it is bitter in flavor, which can focus the mind and enhance digestion, also helping with depression and sluggish physical/mental conditions.  This algae is considered bitter, cooling, drying, mildly diuretic, neurostimulant, antidepressant, and helpful for liver stagnation.  Paul Pitchford in his book “Healing with Whole Foods” writes that this algae is excellent for  an overweight, excessive person, someone with dampness or heat, and with a poor diet.  He also reports that it’s useful for treating neuro-stimulant addictions (cocaine, amphetamine).  Generally, this algae should be used cautiously by those with a cold, dry constitution and is not as generally easily used as the other two micro-algae for anyone and everyone.

About Katya

Katya has a deep respect and passion for the natural world and the ongoing healing journey. Having experienced her own health challenges in her teenage years, and having to find balance throughout life, she can empathize with the health challenges many of us face at points in our lives. Having these experiences and seeing the connection time and again between physical health and mental, emotional, & spiritual states, has helped her to see health as part of a whole system. She formally studied Herbal Sciences at Bastyr University and has owned Herban Wellness since 2009.