Spirulina can become a precious ally in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's, as well as in improving memory and counteracting mental fatigue. This emerges from two recent scientific studies published in Phytotherapy Research journal by an Iranian team (Tamtaji et al, Phytother Res, 2023) and in Nutrients journal by a Korean team (Choi et al, Nutrients, 2022).
The properties of spirulina
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is considered a powerful superfood. Sold in the form of tablets, powder or flakes, in fact, spirulina provides vitamins, such as B2, B3, B6 and B12, folic acid, mineral salts, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and calcium, but also proteins and precious antioxidants, such as vitamin E and carotenoids. Thanks to these characteristics, spirulina has an anti-free radical action and counteracts inflammation and the toxic action of substances such as arsenic and cadmium. Not only that, studies have shown that spirulina counteracts obesity and hypertension.
As for the action of spirulina on the brain, this algae is able to counteract mental tiredness and support memory. However, until now, little was known about what spirulina can do in the fight against Alzheimer's. And this is where the two very recent scientific studies we are talking about today come into play.
Spirulina fights Alzheimer's, the study
The first research conducted by the group of Iranian scientists analyzed the action of spirulina in the case of full-blown Alzheimer's. The scientists recruited 60 people, all with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Half of the study participants were asked to take 500 mg of spirulina every day for 3 months. The other half took a placebo instead. At the beginning and at the end of the experiment, the volunteers underwent tests to evaluate their cognitive function and blood tests to analyze the effects of the seaweed on the body. Well, what has emerged is that spirulina has been able to improve cognitive function, as all those who had taken it showed, after three months, an improvement in the score obtained in the evaluation tests. Not only that, spirulina has also led to other important improvements in general health, reducing circulating pro-inflammatory substances, fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Spirulina helps prevent dementia, the study
The second study instead focused on the ability of spirulina to prevent Alzheimer's. Specifically, the researchers recruited 80 volunteers, average age 68, who were mentally healthy but with mild cognitive impairment. This condition is thought to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Therefore, acting in this phase and improving the cognitive function that has begun to alter may result in a valid neuroprotective action, capable of preventing or at least delaying the onset of Alzheimer's. Also in this case the volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to take spirulina for three months, while the second group took a placebo. At the end of the treatment, the group that had taken the spirulina showed a significant improvement in cognitive function, with an improvement in learning ability, short-term memory, information processing and communication skills. In fact, the vocabulary used to express oneself was considerably enriched.
In short, spirulina really seems to deserve the title of superfood. This seaweed is not only rich in nutrients, but also acts against free radical damage, inflammation, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and thus protects the heart and brain. Spirulina can, in healthy people, improve memory and counteract mental fatigue and in older people it can help prevent or counteract dementia. Spirulina is found in chemist's and herbalist's shops, it is generally considered safe and without side effects even if rarely and in predisposed people it can cause stomach problems, nausea or insomnia.