The liver performs several essential functions in our body.

It detoxifies the blood and protects the body from harmful substances like alcohol and drugs. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

It stores vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats. It is a site for protein synthesis and many other metabolic activities.

It also helps in the destruction and elimination of old red blood cells. It produces bile which is involved in the process of digestion.

These critical processes require a healthy and active liver.

Damage to the liver can cause disorders and hamper the functioning, which will further lead to ill health effects.

Liver damage can be caused by various factors

  • Viral Infections like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
  • Liver Cancer
  • Fatty liver disease caused by the accumulation of excessive fats
  • Cirrhosis of liver caused by alcohol or drugs
  • Genetic diseases like hemochromatosis or Wilson’s disease

Jaundice, dark urine, vomiting, anemia, nausea, weight loss, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea are some of the symptoms that could be suggestive of a deteriorating liver.

Many foods are beneficial for liver health which can prevent or treat liver diseases and help in the proper functioning of the liver.

It is also important to have a well-balanced nutritional diet.

Spirulina is one such dietary supplement that is very beneficial for maintaining a healthy liver.

It is a storehouse of plenty of nutrients and compounds and is completely natural and free from side effects.

Spirulina is a type of microalgae.

Several species of Spirulina, primarily Spirulina platensis, Spirulina fusiform and Spirulina maxima, have been used since generations as a nutritional supplement.

It is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and phycocyanins. Now, it is grown for commercial purposes in the form of dried powder and pills.

Many types of research depict the hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects of Spirulina.

Spirulina Benefits Liver Health

6 Proven Ways Spirulina Benefits Liver Health

Spirulina improves Liver Health in below-mentioned ways:

1. It is an Excellent Antioxidant

The liver performs many diverse functions and metabolic activities which result in the production of harmful reactive oxygen species.

These can be toxic in nature and can cause liver cell damage and liver cancer.

Antioxidants are required to neutralize these oxygen radicals.

Spirulina is known to increase the number of antioxidants in the liver and reduces liver toxicity. [10] [11] [12]

It also protects the body from oxidative stress (an imbalance in the number of reactive species and antioxidants). [13]

The antioxidants in Spirulina (phenols) inhibit the proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC) that cause liver damage and liver fibrosis. [14]

These antioxidants also protect the liver from damage by alcohol and other drugs.

What does this Mean? Anti-oxidant nature of Spirulina protects the liver from harmful substances and their ill effects.

2. It Helps in Regulating Liver Enzymes

Elevated levels of certain enzymes like aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and gamma-glutamyltransferase are indicative of liver damage or injury.

These proteins perform metabolic activities and are present in the body at low levels.

Studies conducted in both human and animal models prove that Spirulina results in the decrease in the levels of these crucial enzymes which further suggests enhanced liver functioning. [15] [16]

What does this Mean? Spirulina helps in the regulation of essential enzymes indicative of healthy liver functioning.

3. It Helps in Maintaining Required Lipid Profile

Consumption of a diet rich in fats increases the liver fat content and causes Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). [17]

Spirulina helps in maintaining a favorable liver lipid profile and preventing fatty liver disease.

Many studies confirm that Spirulina helps in the reduction of fatty acids and cholesterol levels in the liver. [18] [19]

In a study published in the journal Annals of Gastroenterology, 15 patients were administered 6g Spirulina daily for six months, at the end of which it was reported that the levels of lipids (Triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoproteins (LDL)) were decreased significantly.

The levels of High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and hemoglobin (Hb) were increased. This is favorable for optimum liver function. [20]

This hypolipidemic ( reduction of lipids) effects of Spirulina is believed to be because of the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids ( linolenic acid, omega-6, and omega-3 fatty acids) and vitamin B3 (niacin).

C-phycocyanin, a protein in Spirulina reduces the cholesterol content in serum and liver.[21]

What does this Mean? Spirulina decreases the cholesterol levels and helps in prevention and treatment of fatty liver disease.

It also contains low levels of saturated fats and carbohydrates, while it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber.

Therefore, it can be used as an alternative for treatment and management of fatty liver. [22]

4. It Helps in Removal of Toxins

Arsenic toxicity leads to impaired functioning of multiple organs including the liver. It inactivates several enzymes and inhibits cell repair and synthesis. [23]

Spirulina extract treats metal toxicities and helps the liver in the removal of toxins.

In a study, 41 patients having chronic arsenic poisoning were treated with Spirulina extract and zinc.

It resulted in the removal of arsenic from the body without any adverse side effects. Thus it can be effective in treating arsenic poisoning. [24]

What does this Mean? Spirulina helps in the eradication of toxins and helps the liver in detoxifying the body.

5. It is Antiviral in Nature

Liver health is adversely affected by certain viral infections such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

It can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and even liver cancer. [25]

Spirulina is known to inhibit the action of enveloped viruses and prevent their penetration into the body.

Hepatitis C is also caused by an enveloped virus. Thus, Spirulina can be used to improve the health conditions of people with Hepatitis C virus (HCV). [26]

In research conducted on 66 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection, the effect of Spirulina treatment for six months was studied.

It revealed a considerable decrease in the viral load (inhibiting viral action, replication, and penetration) in the patients. [27]

The mineral Selenium and a polysaccharide called calcium-spirulan in Spirulina are capable of resisting viral infections. [28] [29]

What does this Mean? Spirulina inhibits the activity of viruses that harm the liver and helps in treating these viral infections.

6. It is Anti-Carcinogenic

Spirulina has anti-cancerous properties.

It inhibits the proliferation of cancerous cells and proteins while killing the cells that cause the growth of tumors in the liver. [30] [31]

In research, the effect of Spirulina on inhibiting the growth of human liver cancer cells was studied.

It was reported that the high quantity of phenols in Spirulina was responsible for causing death and impairment of cancerous cells. [32]

Tetrapyrroles and the protein C-phycocyanin in Spirulina decrease cancer cell growth and have chemoprotective (protection against cancer) effects. [33] [34]

Various antioxidants also promote the anti-cancer behavior of Spirulina.

What does this Mean? Spirulina helps in prevention and treatment of liver cancer by inhibiting the growth of carcinogenic cells.

Dosage

  • Dosage can differ for every individual depending on the symptoms and age. One must consult with the physician to determine what dose will be beneficial for his/her condition.[35]
  • It can be taken in the form of tablets or powder, both of which are available commercially.
  • It is recommended to take 6g Spirulina powder per day for fatty liver disease. [36]
  • Adults can consume 4-6 tablets (of about 500gms each) or 1-2 teaspoons of Spirulina powder daily.
  • Spirulina powder can also be taken with shakes or soups.
  • Always use products from a good source or brand to be sure of its purity.

PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN

  • There are risks of Spirulina containing toxic substances if it is grown in contaminated water bodies. In such a scenario, it can cause toxicity and harm to the liver instead of improving liver health. So, it is essential to consume pure products, preferably those which are grown in laboratories. [37]
  • Spirulina is not considered suitable for people with certain health conditions like Phenylketonuria and Autoimmune diseases. This is because Phenylketonurics cannot metabolize phenylalanine which is present in Spirulina. Also, it can worsen the autoimmune disorder caused by the overactive immune system by further stimulating it.
  • Spirulina can interfere with the working of some drugs and medications. So, people who are on medications need to take extra care and advice.
  • Children below 14 years of age and pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with the doctor to know if Spirulina is suitable for use by them.
  • Avoid spirulina in case of seafood allergies.

CONCLUSION

Spirulina is extremely beneficial for maintaining liver health. It is an excellent supplement that can be used to treat or prevent liver conditions.

It has several hepatoprotective properties without known major side effects.

It helps in the regulation of liver lipid profile while regulating the enzymes favorable for optimum liver functioning. It helps the liver in the removal of toxic wastes.

Many antioxidants in Spirulina can prevent liver damage and liver cancer. Also, it has the potential to fight off the viral infections that affect the liver.

Therefore, if taken with precautions, it is highly recommended for people who have liver disorders or who want to maintain good liver health.

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