[Update on the pharmacology of Spirulina (Arthrospira), an unconventional food]

Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2002 Sep;52(3):232-40.
[Article in Spanish]


Spirulina (Arthrospira), a filamentous, unicellular alga, is a cyanobacterium grown in certain countries as food for human and animal consumption. It is also used to derive additives in pharmaceuticals and foods. This alga is a rich source of proteins, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and other nutrients. Its main use, therefore, is as a food supplement. Over the last few years, however, it has been found to have many additional pharmacological properties. Thus, it has been experimentally proven, in vivo and in vitro that it is effective to treat certain allergies, anemia, cancer, hepatotoxicity, viral and cardiovascular diseases, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, immunodeficiency, and inflammatory processes, among others. Several of these activities are attributed to Spirulina itself or to some of its components including fatty acids omega-3 or omega-6, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, phycocyanin, phenol compounds, and a recently isolated complex, Ca-Spirulan (Ca-SP). This paper aims to update and critically review the results published over the last few years with regards to these properties. The conclusion is that even if this cyanobacterium has been one of the most extensively studied from the chemical, pharmacological and toxicological points of view, it is still necessary to expand the research in order to have more consistent data for its possible use in human beings.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Spirulina


  • Bacterial Proteins