Can Spirulina Detox Heavy Metals?
Spirulina can help you remove heavy metals accumulated on your body (such as Arsenic) and is used for “detoxification”. A study shows that 250 mg Spirulina extract plus 2 mg zinc taken twice daily for 16 weeks removed 47.1% arsenic from scalp hair and caused an increase in urinary excretion of arsenic (138 microg/l).
In the video below, Dr. Josh Axe shares the Health Benefits of Spirulina:
What is Arsenic Poisoning?
Arsenic poisoning is a global health issue affecting millions of people worldwide through environmental and occupational exposure, as well as intentional suicide and homicide attempts.
Although arsenic homicides commonly receive media publicity, the primary source of arsenic toxicity to the general population is by contaminated water, soil and food products.
Arsenic (As) is a nearly tasteless odorless toxic metalloid element that is found ubiquitously in the environment.
What are normal levels of arsenic in the body?
- Normal levels of arsenic in the body are less than 50 micrograms per liter (mcg/L) in urine.
- Between 50 and 200 mcg/L, the levels are considered high but still normal.
- Over 200 mcg/L the levels are considered too high and not normal.
This data comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), from an ongoing survey about the health and nutrition of a representative sample of the U.S. population, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Spirulina as an Antidote for Arsenic Poisoning?
This study shows that a supplement containing Spirulina extract plus Zinc can be effective as an antidote for arsenic poisoning.
If you are unsure of the quality of the drinking water that comes out of your faucet, or you’re not using a water filter, you might be at risk of heavy metal poisoning due to contaminated water.
Title: Efficacy of spirulina extract plus zinc in patients of chronic arsenic poisoning: a randomized placebo-controlled study.
- Number of Subjects: 41.
- Length: 16 weeks.
17 patients of chronic arsenic poisoning were treated orally by placebo and 24 patients were treated to spirulina extract (250 mg) plus zinc (2 mg) twice daily for 16 weeks.
Each patient was supplied with arsenic-safe drinking water by installing a locally made water filter at household level. Effectiveness of spirulina extract plus zinc was evaluated by comparing changes in skin manifestations, arsenic contents in urine and hair, between the placebo and spirulina extract plus zinc-treated groups.
The concentrations of total arsenic in water consumed (without filtration) for each group were the following:
- Placebo-treated group: 150.1 microg/l.
- Spirulina extract plus zinc-treated group: 161.7 microg/l.
Intake of these high concentrations of arsenic lead to increased excretion of arsenic in urine for each group:
- Placebo-treated group: 72.1 microg/l.
- Spirulina extract plus zinc-treated group: 78.4 microg/l.
After 2 weeks of using filtered water, there was a significant reduction of arsenic intake through water:
- Placebo-treated group: 8.3 microg/l.
- Spirulina extract plus zinc-treated group: 18.4 microg/l.
There was also a significant increase of and urinary arsenic excretion, which means more arsenic was being removed from the body:
- Placebo-treated group: 9.7 microg/l.
- Spirulina extract plus zinc-treated group: 21.6 microg/l.
There was a sharp increase in urinary excretion of arsenic (138 microg/l) at 4 weeks following spirulina plus zinc administration and the effect was continued for another 2 weeks.
Spirulina extract plus zinc removed 47.1% arsenic from scalp hair.
Spirulina extract had no major adverse effect that required a physician’s attention.
Results show that spirulina extract (250 mg) plus zinc (2 mg) twice daily for 16 weeks may be useful for the treatment of chronic arsenic poisoning.
Want To Know More?
Click the links below to access the individual topic pages:
This article makes use of information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
- Misbahuddin M, Islam AZ, Khandker S, Ifthaker-Al-Mahmud, Islam N, Anjumanara. Efficacy of spirulina extract plus zinc in patients of chronic arsenic poisoning: a randomized placebo-controlled study. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2006;44(2):135-141. doi:10.1080/15563650500514400
- Kuivenhoven M, Mason K. Arsenic (Arsine) Toxicity. [Updated 2020 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541125/