Due to the threat of radiation brought by the Japanese nuclear disaster, many people are now concerned about how to protect themselves against this potential health risk. Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends one superfood that can help protect you from the effects of radiation: Spirulina.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that shares similar qualities with sea vegetables like kelp, dulse, nori, kombu, wakame, and arame. Like chlorella, it is a member of the “blue-green” family even though technically they are not algae, but cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are different from bacteria because they contain chlorophyll and rely on the sun as an energy source.
Spirulina is grown and harvested all over the world, even in the alkaline lakes of Mexico and in some parts of Africa. It is easy to harvest because the individual organisms usually stick together. Today, Japan is the largest consumer and producer of spirulina.
The Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina is rich in protein. It’s up to 70 percent protein by weight and contains all of the essential amino acids. It is also high in B-vitamins like B12, carotenoids like beta-carotene, and minerals like selenium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Spirulina also contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that benefits your heart and your joints.
Spirulina has antioxidant properties that can help fight disease and eliminate toxins. Spirulina helps with heavy metal detoxification and may potentially help fight cancer. Spirulina also helps:
- Improve your digestion, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce your risk of diabetes
- Fight candida and balance your gut flora
- Kill viruses
- Prevent eye disease
- Reduce your allergic reactions
- Reduce inflammation
- Normalize your cholesterol levels
- Address thyroid disorders
- Support your immune system
- Protect your liver, kidneys, heart, and brain
Dr. Mercola adds that spirulina’s ability to protect you from ionizing radiation may come from phycocyanin, the unique blue pigment found in cyanobacteria. It is attached to spirulina’s membranes and gives it its distinctive bluish color. Spirulina is 16 percent phycocyanin by weight.
Phycocyanin is also a nitrogen storage molecule. The nitrogen atoms bind to radioactive caesium-137, potassium-40, strontium-90, and other heavy metals, carrying them away from your body.
How Spirulina Help During the Chernobyl Disaster
The first recorded benefits of spirulina for radiation treatment became well-known after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where 134 plant workers and firefighters were exposed to high doses of radiation (800 to 16,000 mSv) and developed acute radiation sickness. Within three months of exposure, 28 of them died.
More than 160,000 children and 146,000 cleanup workers also became victims of radiation poisoning. They experienced health problems like birth defects, anemia, leukemia, thyroid disease, liver and bone marrow degeneration, different types of cancer, and severely compromised immune systems.
According to Bill Bodri’s book How to Help Support the Body’s Healing After Intense Radioactive or Radiation Exposure, a British company shipped spirulina to clinics in Belarus to treat Chernobyl victims, particularly children. For 45 days, Soviet physicians at the Institute of Radiation Medicine in Minsk gave five grams of spirulina to some of the radiation-exposed children. They were surprised to see rapid improvements such as:
- Urine radioactivity levels decreased by 50 percent in 20 days.
- Low white blood cell counts of about 1,000, seen in leukemia patients, rose to 3000 in just 20 days.
“Health restoration was reported even when radiation sickness was so advanced that the children’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets,” Bodri notes. Positive results also occurred even if there was still radiation exposure from contaminated food and water.
The Belarus Ministry of Health says that spirulina speeds up the evacuation of radionuclides from the human body without causing negative side effects. Spirulina was particularly efficient at deactivating radioactive caesium from their bodies.
These findings were confirmed by subsequent studies, and even led to the awarding of a Russian patent for spirulina in the treatment of radiation sickness.
Consuming Spirulina Safely
Dr. Mercola says that if you want to consume spirulina or other sea vegetables and cyanobacteria, you need to make sure they are not contaminated with heavy metals like mercury and chemicals like PCBs and dioxins. Dr. David Brownstein, an iodine and thyroid expert, sent a number of sea vegetable samples to labs and discovered that most of them were contaminated with heavy metals, like bromine, which is the “toxic bully” of the halide group.
If you purchase sea vegetables or spirulina that were harvested after the Japanese nuclear incident, make sure that they have been screened for radiation by an independent third-party lab.
The recommended spirulina dosage is 3,000 milligrams per day for adults and 500 to 1,500 milligrams for children, for preventative use. For therapeutic use, Dr. Mercola recommends 10,000 to even 20,000 milligrams per day for adults.