Spirulina is a blue-green algae. It is an easily produced, non-toxic species of Arthrospira bacteria.
Spirulina is often used as a vegan source of protein and vitamin B12. It is between 55-70% protein, but studies suggest it is a subpar source of B12, as the vitamin is not absorbed well after ingestion.
Human evidence suggests that spirulina can improve lipid and glucose metabolism, while also reducing liver fat and protecting the heart. Animal studies are very promising as well, as spirulina has been shown to be of similar potency as commonly used reference drugs, when it comes to neurological disorders. These effects also extend to arthritis and immunology.
Spirulina has a few active components. The main ingredient is called phycocyanobilin, which makes up about 1% of spirulina. This compound mimics the body’s bilirubin compound, in order to inhibit an enzyme complex called Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. By inhibiting NADPH oxidase, spirulina provides potent anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
The neurological effects of spirulina need more human evidence. Based on animal evidence, spirulina appears to be a promising anti-oxidant and supplement for metabolic issues.