Use as immunomodulator
Stimulating the immune system to produce enhanced or reduce its actions by modulating substances are referred to as Immuno-modulators. Use of such immune-modulators is well established in management of various diseases like allergic reactions, cancer therapy etc. These are commonly referred to as ‘immunotherapy’.
Role of Spirulina in immunomodulation: Spirulina composition and proportion make it almost ideal for using it as immunomodulatory supplement1.
Spirulina acts as an immunomodulatory food substance; either activating or suppressing the immune system. Spirulina has been shown to reduce the viral load in HIV2 and herpes, possible mode of action thought to be by regulating natural killer cells. Hence, playing role in activating the immune system to combat the diseases3. It is also been proposed that Spirulina might regulate the cytokines levels to enhance the immune activity.
Spirulina has also been shown to have high concentration of antioxidants and a combination of varied antioxidants like phycocyanin, superoxide dismutase, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help in regulation of free radicals and subsequently its effect on the release of cytokines from the immune cells. Hence, this property of Spirulina can be explored in many ailments from allergy to cancer.
Spirulina is also endowed with probiotic effect leading to increase in the growth of normal gut flora. Thus the beneficial effects produced by the intestinal flora are restored.
An illustration explaining possible immunomodulatory mechanism:
- Malabsorption syndromes: Spirulina is endowed with properties like easy digestibility, pro-biotic effect and high bio-availability; beneficial in relieving malabsorption conditions. Additionally, the immunomodulatory effect helps in the regulation of mucosal inflammation; thereby reducing the tissue damage on one hand and providing the essential nutrients as supplements for recovery.
- Lactose intolerance: Spirulina is devoid of lactose and exhibits anti-allergic properties. These characteristics help individuals having lactose intolerance and allow better tolerability of lactose during future exposures.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases: The ability to regulate damages caused due to extensive inflammatory response plays a major role in IBS. Additionally, the high amount of protein supplementation aids in faster recovery.
- Allergic reactions: the possible ability to compensate excessively produced allergens makes Spirulina an ideal choice of substance employed for regulating the excess inflammatory response.
- Wu, Q., Liu, L., Miron, A. et al. The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: an overview. Arch Toxicol (2016) 90: 1817. doi:10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5
- Ayehunie S., Belay A., Baba T., and Ruprecht R. Inhibition of HIV-1 replication by an aqueous extract S.platensis. Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes and human retrovirology (1998)18:7-12
- Hayashi et al. Calcium Spirulina, an inhibitor of enveloped virus replication, from blue – green algae Spirulina. Journal of natural products, 59, 83-87