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Algae Supplement Spirulina Studied for ALS Treatment

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Algae Supplement

Patients suffering from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, could find some help from the algae supplement Spirulina that has been found by University of Florida researchers to have neuroprotecitve properties.

The effect of the supplement was found in mouse studies. A spirulina supplement was found to delay the progression and onset of symptoms of ALS, perhaps from the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory effect.

The Florida researchers have also explored the effects of spirulina and blueberries in past studies, finding neuroprotective properties related to stroke and aging. Now they say there may be some antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the blue-green algae that could keep Lou Gehrig's disease from progressing.

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Lead study author, Svitlana Garbuzova-Davis, PhD, DSc, assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at USF says, "Most available treatments relieve symptoms without altering the underlying disease. However, evidence for oxidative stress has been associated with ALS and, in our past studies, we demonstrated potent decreases in markers of oxidative damage and inflammation in aged rats fed diets supplemented with spirulina or spinach."

For the initial study, spirulina was given to mice without ALS symptoms. For the current study, two groups of mice were compared - one group received the spirulina supplement and another was used as a control. Over the ten week study period, the mice receiving the blue-green algae supplement experienced reduced inflammatory markers and motor neuron degeneration that is characteristic of Lou Gehrig's disease as it progresses.

In the future, the scientists will explore the effect of the supplement on mice with symptomatic Lou Gehrig's disease. The researchers plan to look at the effect on lifespan and perform motor neuron counts to delve deeper into whether spirulina might be able to help treat ALS patients.

The Open Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Journal (3:36-41)