Spirulina is a nutritional supplement made from some species of blue-green algae that live in Southeast Asia and Mexico. It’s rich in nutrients such as amino acids, protein, B complex vitamins, minerals, beta carotene and Vitamin E. It is commercially available in pills, powders or in freeze-dried flakes. It is also a popular food for algae-eating pet fish.
Some medical studies suggest that spirulina can boost the immune system and help lessen the affects of allergy symptoms, but these claims have not been proven. Some dieters take spirulina to help them curb their appetites, but these spirulina side effects should not be relied upon.
Those Who Should Not Take Spirulina
Spirulina usually does not cause any negative side effects, but anyone wanting to take spirulina should first consult with their doctors or nutritionists. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that people suffering from an autoimmune disorder or who are taking certain medications may suffer bad spirulina side effects. Spirulina interferes with many medications that suppress the immune system.
Spirulina should not be taken by people with these medical conditions:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Addison’s disease
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Any other autoimmune disorder not listed here
- Phenylketonuria – not because of negative spirulina side effects, but because people suffering this disorder will not be able to digest all of the nutrients in spirulina.
Common Side Effects
The most common spirulina side effects are no side affects whatsoever, as long as a person does not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended dose. People who have never taken spirulina before may suddenly experience negative side effects such as gastrointestinal problems or light-headedness. Many advocates of spirulina recommend first taking a half-dosage to reduce the risk of these negative side effects.
There have been some reports of other negative spirulina side effects such as making blood pressure medications and hormonal therapies less effective. Although there is not any definitive study to back up these claims, it is best for people with those conditions to err on the side of caution and refrain from taking spirulina.
Uncommon Side Effects
Uncommon spirulina side effects include diarrhea lasting longer than two weeks, vomiting, increased flatulence, abdominal cramps and headaches. A study on female mice fed spirulina showed a loss in bone density; however there has never been a similar study on human females.
Spirulina harvested in polluted waters may contain toxins like heavy metals that may cause side effects like sudden increase in thirst; stomach pain; nausea; vomiting; liver function problems and sudden rapid heartbeat.
It is rare for anyone for to be allergic to spirulina, but it is possible. Allergy spirulina side effects include but are not limited to:
- Sudden skin rash
- Hives or large bumps on the skin
- Problems breathing
- Runny nose
- Sudden swelling of the face, lips, tongue or any other body part
If these or any other strange symptoms suddenly appear, contact a doctor or hospital at once.