Article at a glance:
- Allergic reactions or symptoms are a result of inflammation. With spirulina showing the potential to tame inflammatory factors, the nutritional supplement has been widely considered for its effects on allergies.
- While spirulina is not classified as an antihistamine, the blue-green algae showed protective effects against allergy symptoms in human and animal studies.
- Taking spirulina in tablet or powder form may be an excellent addition to your anti-allergy regimen.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies or hay fever can occur for most parts of the year. While they’re relatively minor symptoms, they can easily get in the way of your daily tasks.
There are already a ton of allergy treatment options out there. But the microalga spirulina’s potential in modulating immune functions and anti-inflammatory properties suggests it could help in this case, too.
Read on to find out what science has said so far about the promising effects of spirulina for allergies.
What Is an Allergy?
If you have an allergy, your immune system recognizes allergens as antigens. Even substances that are generally safe, such as certain foods, pollen, or dust, are seen as harmful foreign invaders by the immune system. This hypersensitivity to certain substances signals the immune system to release antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight the antigens or allergens.
IgE antibodies are bound to tissue mast cells with granules where histamine and other body chemicals are stored. When the immune system overreacts to an allergen, the release of IgE causes mast cell degranulation, ultimately leading to the release of histamines.
Once an excessive amount of histamine enters the bloodstream, it causes inflammation that triggers allergic reactions. These allergy symptoms affect specific body parts, including the skin, nose, sinuses, lungs, and throat. That explains why the most well-known allergy symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rashes, and, in more severe cases, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
The IgE antibody has radars but may only react to specific allergens. Some people may be sensitive to multiple substances, while others may be allergic to a particular substance.
There aren’t that many risk factors for allergy, although it’s more likely to occur in children, people with asthma, and if it’s in the family medical history. While many allergy conditions are lifelong, some patients experience fewer reactions as they age.
What Supplements Are Natural Antihistamines?
Managing this condition begins by identifying what allergens are causing your allergic reactions and doing your best to avoid them. Depending on the severity of your allergy condition, being prepared for any reaction can entail wide-ranging actions.
It could be as simple as stocking up on a few pieces of over-the-counter antihistamines. But it could also be as drastic as keeping an injectable allergy medication for severe reactions and emergencies. It’s also become quite common for people living with allergies to incorporate natural remedies in the form of herbal or dietary supplements.
One study interviewed 230 patients in Turkey with perennial allergic rhinitis, who confirmed they’d taken supplements for their allergy. The top three supplements were stinging nettle, black elderberry, and spirulina.
Nearly 6% of the participants reported taking spirulina for allergy relief.
The same research noted that the prevalence of taking spirulina for allergy symptoms follows studies that, among its other benefits, the algae superfood may regulate the immune system.
Is Spirulina Good for Allergies?
Although further studies are still encouraged, some evidence shows the positive effects of consuming spirulina for allergies.
Spirulina exhibited an antihistamine-like activity in a few animal studies. In some human clinical trials, the blue-green algae also worked effectively against inflammation and symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The rich nutritional profile of spirulina may also be contributing to its potential benefits for people with allergies.
Spirulina has been a top-choice dietary supplement for years because of its antioxidant profile. Its most abundant pigment, phycocyanin, is known as a potent antioxidant agent in its own right.
The microalga also contains carotenoids (like beta carotene), vitamin E, and zinc — nutrients that are known for their antioxidant effects.
So why are these vitamins, minerals, and pigments worth noting if you take spirulina for allergies? Some studies have shown a link between oxidative stress and allergic rhinitis. Aside from the mentioned essential nutrients, amino acids, and essential fatty acids in spirulina may also strengthen one’s defense against allergic reactions in the long run.
Research suggests that these nutrients and bioactive compounds could explain the anti-inflammatory effects of spirulina. The algae superfood’s potential to regulate the immune system has also been attributed to its rich profile of vitamins and minerals.
Can Spirulina Help With Histamine Modulation?
The mechanisms that demonstrated supplementing spirulina for allergies could help manage the symptoms are yet to be fully explained. However, a few studies observed that spirulina may regulate histamine levels by reducing mast cell degranulation.
A 2005 animal study on white rats with allergic rhinitis found that supplementing Spirulina platensis led to reduced mast cell degranulation. It also found that spirulina helped lower serum histamine levels and IgE expression in subjects treated with spirulina.
Another study observed the effects of phycocyanin-rich spirulina supplements and the antihistamine drug hydroxyzine in five healthy dogs.
There was a significant decrease in mast cell degranulation during the period of administering spirulina to the subjects than when they received antihistamine.
Is Spirulina an Antihistamine?
If you’re considering taking spirulina for allergies, it’s only natural to ask whether the blue-green algae has antihistamine activity. To be clear, antihistamine is a class of FDA-approved drugs for treating allergy symptoms.
While spirulina supplementation has shown positive effects in managing allergies in several cellular and animal studies, as well as a few human trials, spirulina tablets or powder are not approved yet for treating allergies.
However, there’s available scientific evidence that indicates spirulina improves allergy symptoms.
Is Spirulina Good for Allergic Rhinitis?
Most clinical trials conducted to study the effect of spirulina on allergies were done with allergic rhinitis patients. While these studies have relatively small numbers of participants, they generally suggest that spirulina has promising results in treating allergic rhinitis.
A 2020 clinical trial with 53 allergic rhinitis patients concluded that taking spirulina for allergies may be “more effective” than an antihistamine. The spirulina treatment group took 2 g Spirulina platensis daily for 2 months, while the control group took 10 g cetirizine. Results showed that allergic rhinitis symptoms like rhinorrhoea (a.k.a. runny nose) and a reduced sense of smell were significantly improved in the spirulina group. Its findings also indicate that supplementing spirulina for nasal congestion may be effective.
An earlier study had similar findings, noting that spirulina supplements may be “clinically effective” to improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Spirulina helped reduce symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and nasal congestion.
The study also observed improvements in itchiness, indicating that consuming spirulina for allergy rash may have favorable effects.
Is Spirulina an Inflammatory Defense?
Experts have also categorized allergic rhinitis as an inflammation. It’s worth noting that spirulina has been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory properties.
One study also found some anti-inflammatory activity of spirulina in allergic rhinitis patients. A dose of 2 g spirulina daily for 12 weeks may have helped regulate the Th profile of allergy patients by inhibiting interleukin (IL)-4 cytokine production.
Simply put, these findings indicate that spirulina may provide protection against inflammation in allergic patients.
How Long Does It Take Spirulina to Work for Allergies?
As it stands, research on spirulina as an antihistamine drug is very scarce. There’s no solid information yet on how long the dietary supplement could work for allergies.
You should note that most clinical trials with allergic rhinitis patients administered spirulina supplements daily for 2 to 3 months. Studies indicate that spirulina may improve your body’s response to allergic reactions when taken as a daily supplement.
Does Spirulina Work Immediately?
Most oral antihistamine drugs could take effect between 30 minutes to 2 hours. On the other hand, there’s no evidence yet that spirulina supplements will work as fast as approved medications to put allergy symptoms under control.
If you have allergies, you should not replace your allergy medications with spirulina supplements, even though the latter has shown some natural antihistamine activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Right Spirulina Dosage for Allergies?
In the few human studies on spirulina’s effects on allergic symptoms, participants took 1 g to 2 g spirulina daily. The standard recommended dose is between 3 g and 5 g daily, but you can go lower if you start with this supplement. Higher doses of 10 g and up to 19 g are “possibly safe” when taken short-term — up to 6 months and 2 months, respectively.
Is Spirulina High in Histamine?
Information on whether spirulina has low or high histamine is scant, and cases of allergic reactions following spirulina consumption appear to be rare. However, if you have severe allergies, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before starting spirulina supplementation.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Take Spirulina?
A spirulina tablet may usually contain 500 mg or 1,000 mg doses. The common suggestion is to take several doses at different meal times throughout the day. There’s minimal research on the different impacts of spirulina in the morning or evening. However, some evidence suggests that spirulina may help improve your energy levels. Long-time supplement consumers prefer taking spirulina after breakfast, after lunch, and several hours before bedtime.
Are You Supposed to Take Spirulina Every Day?
Yes. To reap spirulina’s long list of health benefits, it’s highly advised to take the supplement regularly. Spirulina-based dietary supplement was administered daily in studies where positive effects of spirulina on allergic rhinitis patients were observed.
Spirulina Will Provide More Health Benefits Than You Expect
Thanks to the research-backed benefits of spirulina, you don’t have to wait until it’s allergy season to fight the symptoms. Thanks to its long list of nutrients, the microalgae spirulina could be a fantastic addition to your diet for better regulation of immune response. Many vitamins, minerals, pigments, fatty acids, and essential amino acids in spirulina are also known for their anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant power.
Together, these nutrients in spirulina may bring you closer to an overall health improvement. Unsurprisingly, spirulina has also demonstrated positive effects in managing blood pressure, cholesterol levels (especially LDL cholesterol), blood flow, and blood sugar.
With a stronger body, you may also enhance your defense against allergens. So whether you’re managing seasonal or food allergies, taking spirulina to manage your symptoms is worth considering.
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