Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation


Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.

Scientific Name:

Arthrospira platensis

Botanical Family:


Common names in Spanish:


Where is it found?

Some of the original sources of this freshwater alga include the alkaline lakes of Texcoco, Mexico, and Chad, in Africa. Currently, spirulina is cultivated in many parts of the world.

Parts of the plant used:

The full plant

How is it used?

Spirulina is usually ingested as a powder, tablets, or capsules.

What is it used for?

At least two species of freshwater algae (A. platensis and A. maxima) are used as a nutritional supplement, since they are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. As a dietary supplement, spirulina is employed in weight loss programs or in cases of malnutrition, constipation, gastritis, high cholesterol, and gastro-duodenal ulcers (Gutiérrez-Salmeán et al., 2015; Hernandez-Lepe et al., 2015; Wan et al., 2016).

Spirulina contains abundant proteins (60 to 70%) amino acids, especially tryptophan, vitamins and provitamins, essential fatty acids (especially gamma-linolenic acid), mucilage, selenium and other minerals (Vanaclocha and Cañigueral, 2003; Wan et al., 2016; Lupatini et al., 2017).

Intake of spirulina decreases appetite, due to its content of mucilage and proteins, which produces a feeling of fullness in the stomach. It has a demulcent (soothing) effect as an anti-inflammatory and protective of the gastrointestinal mucosal. Spirulina is also a non-irritant laxative due to its content of mucilage, and is used to treat dysfunctions of the thyroid gland The

alga also has antiviral and anticancer effects in vitro, possibly due to its antioxidant effects (Vanaclocha and Cañigueral, 2003; Wan et al., 2016; Gargouri et al., 2018).

There is no established dose, but some authors mention the following: Spirulina powder: 150 mg per day to decrease appetite, 150 mg, 3 times a day, as a dietary supplement, or up to 500 to 3,000 mg per day, for a maximum of 6 weeks (Vanaclocha and Cañigueral, 2003). Consult with a nutritionist before taking this product.

Safety / Precautions

Safety /Precautions

* The safety of this product during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.

* Some products containing spirulina may be contaminated with other types of cyanobacteria that produce dangerous toxins (Vanaclocha and Cañigueral, 2003;Wan et al., 2015).

* Avoid in patients suffering from gout (Vanaclocha and Cañigueral, 2003).

* The lakes where this alga was grown originally, especially Lake Texcoco in Mexico and Lake Chad, in Africa, are highly contaminated with several pollutants, including heavy metals such as cadmium and lead (Gutiérrez-Salmeán et al., 2015). For this reason, do not ingest spirulina from these sources.

-)Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side