blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria, Spirulina)

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Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

GENERIC NAME: Blue-green algae

BRAND NAME: Cyanobacteria, Spirulina

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Blue-green algae is a natural herbal supplement. Blue-green algae has high amounts of protein, iron, and other minerals and claims have been made that it has beneficial effects on the immune system, inflammation, and against viral infections. Individuals should check with their physicians before using this supplement.

PRESCRIPTION: No

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Blue-green algae are available in tablets, capsule, and powder form. The concentration of blue-green algae may vary from product-to-product due to multiple manufacturers producing various products.

STORAGE: Due to multiple manufacturers making different forms of blue-green algae, storage requirements may vary based on individual manufacturer practices.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Blue-green algae are used as a source of protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals. It is used for leukoplakia, blepharospasms, attention deficithyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diabetes, premenstrual symptoms (PMS), allergies, stress, fatigue, digestion aid, wound healing, and to improve the immune system.

DOSING: (recommended by suppliers):

  • Leukoplakia (white patches and sores on gums inside of cheeks): Take 1 gram by mouth daily for 12 days.
  • Blepharospasms (abnormal blinking of eyelids): Take 1500 mg of SBGA (Super Blue-Green Algae) capsules by mouth daily.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Blue-green algae may have blood thinning effects and it may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding if combined with blood thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), and pain medications like naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Motrin), and diclofenac (Voltaren).

PREGNANCY: There are no adequate studies done on blue-green algae to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known whether blue-green algae enter breast milk; therefore, it is best to be cautious before using it in nursing mothers.

SIDE EFFECTS: Contaminated blue-green algae may contain microcystins which can cause liver damage, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, shock, fast heartbeat, and death.

REFERENCE: Coastal Health District. Frequently Asked Questions About Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) and Their Toxins.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/23/2014



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