Spirulina (Cyanobacteria)

What IS Spirulina?

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater. It’s also commercially produced for use in food and supplements

Spirulina is one of the earliest photosynthetic organisms dating back 3.5 billion years! 

What IS Spirulina?

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater. It’s also commercially produced for use in food and supplements

Spirulina is one of the earliest photosynthetic organisms dating back 3.5 billion years!

The consensus of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) properties vary somewhat:

Subjective Nature: Cooling  

Subjective Taste: Sweet,   Salty,   Slightly Bitter  OR, Just Salty

TCM Meridian:     Spleen,  Kidney, Liver  (OR: Ancient Chinese medical texts cite that it enters the liver.)

Tonifies:   Blood, Yin, Jing (Vital substances)

Special Properties:  Eliminates toxins

Possible Benefits:

  • Boosts the immune system
  • Lowers cholesterol and prevents heart disease
  • Detoxifying
  • Contains anti-aging properties
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
  • Improves digestion and bowel health
  • Increases energy and metabolism
  • Treats iron deficiency such as anemia 
  • Tonifies the Spleen, Kidneys, Qi, Blood
  • Clears Heat
  • Detoxifying
  • Strengthens the Lungs
  • Prevents and calms allergies
  • Promotes digestion
  • Improves mental faculties, energy, metabolism

As a supplement, it’s antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and cholesterol-lowering.

Possible substitutes for spirulina:

Bitter, Cool and Cold herbs:

Huang Lian ( Coptidis rhizoma)

Huang Qin ( Scutellariae radix)

Huang Bai ( Phellodendri cortex)

Zhi Zi ( Gardeniae fructus

Long Dan Cao ( Gentianae radix)

Salty, Cool and Cold herbs:

Qing Dai (Indigo naturalis

Xuan Shen ( Scrophulariae radix

Herbs that tonify Blood:

Shou Di Huang (Rehmannia glutinosa)

Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) 

Bai Shao (Paeonia lactiflora_ 

He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum) 

(Those are just some suggestions, talk to your TCM doctor for a perfect substitute)

Spirulina as a binder, and, What is a binder?

Binders are substances that ‘bind’ to toxins to help transfer them out of your body. What they do is “bind” to toxins and transport them out of the body. 

Normally toxins travel through your liver, where they go to your small intestine in the bile. If the toxins aren’t bound to anything, many of them can get reabsorbed in your gut.

Binders work by attaching to the toxins to prevent reabsorption and enhance their elimination, keeping your toxic burden under control.

List of other binders to consider instead:

  • Activated Charcoal.
  • Chlorella.
  • Bentonite Clay.
  • Modified Citrus Pectin.
  • Humic and Fulvic Acids.
  • Silica.
  • Diatomaceous earth.
  • Chitosan.
  • Zeolite Clay.
  • Glucomannan.

These last two are the most important:

  • FIBER!
  • PROBIOTICS! (Especially from naturally fermented food such as Kim Chee or Miso)


Spirulina may  help decalcify your pineal gland, the third eye, by removing heavy metals that are stuck to the gland. 

An awakened third eye will give you the ability to experience and explore other dimensions, to experience Bliss and unity.

Possible replacement for spirulina if you are talking it to detox pineal gland:

100% pure cocoa. 

Blackcurrants are said to benefit the third eye.

Kundalini Yoga

Side effects and downsides of spirulina:


Spirulina harvested in the wild poses a significant risk of contamination. The algae may be contaminated with toxins if it grows in a body of water that’s polluted with heavy metals, bacteria, or  microcystines.  

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning:

Certain varieties of spirulina that are produced under unrestrained settings are often infested with significant traces of heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and lead.

Signs and symptoms vary for each type of metal and range in severity based on your body’s exposure. Symptoms could include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Chills or a low body temperature.
  • Dehydration.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Feeling weak.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • A scratchy feeling in your throat.
  • Numbness or prickly sensation in your hands and feet.

Severe symptoms of heavy metal poisoning that can be life threatening include:

  • Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia).
  • Anemia.
  • Brain damage and memory loss.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Liver damage.
  • Miscarriage in people who are pregnant.
  • Risk of developing cancer.

Symptoms of microcystin poisoning:

There have been several previous reports of contamination by cyanotoxins.

Spirulina harvested from the unrestrained wild sources, such as lakes, ponds, and littered seas, can contain toxic strains.

Such morphologically similar blue-green algae produce neurotoxic chemicals like β-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA, can cause severe neurodegenerative disorders like motor neuron disease (MND), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, anxiety, and insomnia. 

These products generally contain non-toxic cyanobacteria, but the methods of cultivation in natural waters without appropriate quality controls allow contamination by toxin producer species present in the natural environment.

Microcystin primarily affects the liver, causing minor to widespread damage, depending on the amount of toxin absorbed.  Adverse effects may range from a mild skin rash to serious illness or in rare circumstances, death. 

Possible (non-contamination) side effects of Spirulina:

Exacerbates The Symptoms Of Autoimmune Diseases.

Renal Disorders (Our body produces a significant amount of ammonia as it metabolizes the protein in spirulina, which gets converted into urea. Can result in decreased efficiency of the kidneys and even renal failure.)

Edema (Hydrate, drink more water)

Digestive upset (Eat more fruits and decrease fatty foods and heavy caloric foods)

Headaches (Hydrate)

Dizziness (Avoid caffeine, and get rest, drink coconut water)

The side effects will stop in a day or two after stopping the supplement. 

See a doctor if:

  • You have severe allergic skin reactions
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You have blackouts
  • If symptoms get WORSE after a few day after stopping supplement

Though algae like spirulina are beneficial getting the right dose and source matters!


Dr Anna Bäck

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