One unusual phytonutrient in blue-green algae such as spirulina is the natural blue protein pigment called phycocyanin. This is the pigment that gives blue-green algae its blue color. It may be found in concentrations as high as 7 percent in certain blue-green algae, as compared to 1 percent chlorophyll content most commonly found. Phycocyanin is related to the human pigment bilirubin, which is important to healthy liver function and digestion of amino acids.
Part of the global effort to identify natural substances with an immune system boosting or anti-cancer effect focuses on algae because of its important quantity of phycocyanin.
In one Japanese study, phycocyanin was given orally to mice with liver cancer. The survival rate of the treatment group was significantly higher than the control group not given phycocyanin. After five weeks, 90% of the phycocyanin group survived, but only 25% of the control group survived. After eight weeks, 25% of the phycocyanin group still survived, yet none of the control group was alive. This suggests that eating phycocyanin may increase the survival rate of cancer stricken organisms. In another study, after two weeks of being administered phycocyanin, the white blood cell count (lymphocyte activity) of the phycocyanin group was higher than the control group and higher than or equal to a normal group without cancer. This suggests phycocyanin raises lymphocyte activity.1
The lymph system’s general function is to maintain the health of other body organs and protect against cancer, ulcers, bleeding piles and other diseases. These results suggest phycocyanin acts not by a limited attack on local cancer, but by strengthening the body’s resistance through the lymph system. Phycocyanin may be active in preventing a host of degenerative organ diseases by increasing immunity.
Chinese scientists documented that phycocyanin stimulates hematopoesis (creation of blood), emulating the hormone erythropoetin (EPO). EPO is produced by healthy kidneys and regulates bone marrow stem cell production of red blood cells. They claimed that phycocyanin regulates white blood cell production, even when bone marrow stem cells are damaged by toxic chemicals or radiation.2
The algae present in Bio-Algae Concentrates have a high and naturally occurring phycocyanin content. This means that with a regular intake of BAC, you would not need to consume an isolated supplement to get this essential and rare phytonutrient.
- Dainippon Ink x Chemicals and Tokyo Kenkyukai (inventors and assignee). Anti-tumoral agents containing phycobilin- also used to treat ulcers and hemorrhoidal bleeding. 1983, JP 58065216 A 830418.
- Zhang Cheng-Wu, et. al. Effects of polysaccharide and phycocyanin from spirulina on peripheral blood and hematopoietic system of bone marrow in mice. Second Asia-Pacific Conf. Ibid, April, 1994.