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Spirulina – Good for Allergies and Hay Fever?

Spirulina is a nutrient-rich blue-green algae that has been associated with a wide range of interesting health benefits. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Applied Phycology, pre-clinical as well as a few clinical studies suggest that spirulina might help reduce cholesterol levels, provide protection against cancer and fight nephrotoxicity caused by heavy metals, but there is also evidence that spirulina might be good for you if you suffer from allergies and hay fever. Below take a look at some studies that suggest spirulina seaweed might help relieve symptoms associated with certain types of allergies, including seasonal allergic rhinitis caused by pollen allergy (aka hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis which is caused by airborne allergens other than pollen.

Spirulina Inhibits Mast Cell-Mediated Allergic Reactions in Rats, Study Shows

Many allergies, including asthma, eczema and hay fever, are mediated in large part by mast cells. When an individual with a sensitized immune system is exposed to an allergen – be it pollen, dust or anything else – the allergen triggers the production of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to mast cells which then release histamine, a chemical that causes the typical symptoms associated with allergies (e.g. runny nose and itchy eyes in case of hay fever). In the late 1990s, a group of researchers discovered that spirulina seaweed could inhibit artificially-induced mast cell-mediated allergic reactions in rats by reducing their histamine levels. Published in the April 1998 issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal Biochemical Pharmacology, this study found that the natural anti-histamine effects of spirulina that were observed in the test animals were dose-dependent, meaning that the higher the dose used, the stronger the protective effect.

Spirulina Appears to Provide Protection Against Allergic Rhinitis in Humans

An intriguing study published in the Journal of Medical Food in Spring 2005 found that spirulina also appears to have protective effects against allergic rhinitis in humans. In this randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study, allergic individuals received either a placebo or a spirulina-based dietary supplement marketed by Earthrise Nutritionals, Inc., a California-based producer of spirulina algae (you can view Earthrise's spirulina products currently available on Amazon here). This 12-week trial involved a total of 34 adults ranging between 18 and 55 years of age with a clinical history of allergic rhinitis, but no other health problems. The researchers discovered that spirulina, administered at 2,000 mg/day, inhibited the production of Interleukin-4. Interleukin-4, or IL-4 for short, is a cytokine that promotes the production Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that can trigger an allergic reaction such as seasonal allergic rhinitis caused by pollen (i.e. hay fever) or perennial allergic rhinitis which is caused by airborne allergens other than pollen. This study, partly funded by Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Inc. and Earthrise Nutritionals, Inc., was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of California, Davis.

Another randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study, published in the European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology in October 2008, found that regular consumption of spirulina significantly reduced allergic rhinitis symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching. Conducted between June 2006 and February 2007 to avoid seasonal exacerbations of symptoms, this study involved a total of 150 allergic rhinitis patients, of whom 129 completed the treatment as defined by the protocol. The patients included both men and women, all of whom were between 19 and 49 years of age. During the 6-month study period, each patient took five tablets a day, consuming either 2,000 mg of spirulina per day, or placebo. The patients were not allowed to take any anti-allergy or hay fever medication during the study period.

Spirulina and Hay Fever

Where to Buy Spirulina Algae?

Spirulina products are widely available in health food stores and other stores that sell dietary supplements, but you can also buy them conveniently online. The online retailer Amazon, for example, sells a wide variety of spirulina products, ranging from spirulina tablets manufactured in Asia to U.S.-grown spirulina algae processed into powder. If you live in the US, take a look at the spirulina products on Amazon.com. If you live in the UK, check out the spirulina products on Amazon.co.uk.

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