Spirulina for Dogs // Cancer, Allergies and the Immune System (Rabies Study) | Blooming Culture
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a naturally occurring blue-green algae that contains phycocyanin, a powerful antioxidant and the plant pigment that gives spirulina its beautiful blue-green color.
The Spirulina and the Rabies Study in Dogs.
In May of 2021 a new research paper was published looking at the influence that spirulina has on the immune system of dogs, including the effects of supporting negative immune responses from rabies vaccinations. A rabies vaccine was used in the study to stimulate the immune system into produce antibodies, just like it would after being exposed to the disease. Anything that triggers an immune response is called an antigen. An antigen can be any microbe such as a virus bacteria, toxins, chemicals, allergies, or other substances that come from outside the body. If the body comes into contact with an antigen for the first time, it will store information about the germ and how to fight it.
There are different factors that play into how your dog will respond to antigens, and their immune system is a big factor. Since we know that apx. 80% of the immune system lives in the gut, the study used spirulina to evaluate if it would be able to improve or change IgA levels during an immune trigger. We can make the case that if spirulina was able to improve gut health, in-turn your dog's immune system will be stronger.
A Breakdown of the Study. The main differences were seen in 3 categories: immune response to the rabies vaccination, IgA, and gut microbiome stability.
- 1. Spirulina supplementation caused a significantly increased antibody response to rabies vaccination.
- 2. The addition of spirulina to the diet caused a significant increase in fecal IgA levels from weeks 9 to 42.
- 3. Dogs fed a diet supplemented with spirulina had increased microbiome stability
“Spirulina increased fecal IgA levels after just 9 weeks of feeding, and this effect was maintained throughout the study. Gut microbiota maintained enhanced stability following a challenging exercise in the spirulina fed dogs as compared to the control group.”
Supplement Used in Study: Arthrospira platensis, Cyanotech Corporation, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA
Spirulina for Environmental Allergies in Dogs.
An example of this would be to understand how environmental allergies and the immune system work in people and pets.
Imagine your family lives in the mid-west where many outdoor allergens tend to be high because of the diverse climate, grass, humidity and high pollen count. It's a perfect storm to be a breeding ground for lots of allergens, but only certain strains.
A dog that is suffering from outdoor allergies in Ohio, could move to California and have minimal to allergy problems, at least for awhile. In a perfect world, your dog's body will not see the new allergens as a danger, therefore the allergies will be eliminated or limited. But, in reality, your dog’s body has enough immunity built up to fight off the new allergens it is exposed to, unfortunately only for so long. It takes on average approximately 9 months to 1 year for new allergies to begin to develop as the body's immune system can no longer fight off the new antigens. By building up the immune system, you are creating a better chance to fight off anything that the body sees as a threat. Therefore strengthening your dogs gut with spirulina, will also strengthen your dog's immune system.
Cancer Studies using Phycocyanin.
There have been multiple studies in humans using spirulina's therapeutic ingredient, phycocyanin, for cancer therapy. The results have been positive thus far when using phycocyanin as a cancer "inhibitor" and in conjunction with cancer drug therapy. "Spirulina has also been shown to improve people’s blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and oxidative status, and it likely has anti-inflammatory effects, too." pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Combined use with drugs and radiation.
"Many studies have shown that two or more drug combinations can be used to treat the disease in order to improve the therapeutic effect 102. In the course of tumor treatment, different drug combinations can effectively improve the safety and efficacy of a single drug in cancer treatment regimen. When phycocyanin is combined with these chemotherapy drugs, chemotherapy drugs dose can be reduced and thus minimize side effects. Phycocyanin can potentially improve the efficacy of currently available anti-cancer drugs. It is reported that diverse drugs and radiation may combine with phycocyanin to kill human cancer cells (Table Table55)."
Health and Nutritional Benefits of Spirulina.
- Spirulina has 4x more potassium than bananas, 9x more iron than spinach, and 2x more vitamin A than carrots.
- The high levels of beta-carotene can help improve digestion.
- Spirulina is natural algae and has been found to absorb metals and toxins from the body so that they can be easily passed.
- Spirulina is a great source of essential fatty acids, which can help to maintain healthy skin and coat.
- It is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, is rich in Vitamins E and C, both of which are known to reduce inflammation, but these antioxidants also protect your dog from a cellular level.
- Spirulina can help to balance and boost the immune system and can enhance the body's ability to create new antibodies such as blood cells. It contains phytonutrients (nutrients found in colorful fruits and vegetables) which contribute to overall health due to its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that spirulina can help to improve the health of your dog's immune system in fighting disease and infection.
When choosing what type of spirulina to give to your dog there are many choices. Spirulina comes in multiple different forms which include powder, pills, capsules, liquid and fresh raw. As much as we personally love fresh raw spirulina, due to the fact that it is in it's purest form, it is expensive and hard to find. If you do get it shipped, raw spirulina has to ship frozen which can be costly and once defrosted, it must be consumed within 7-10 days. We also like the liquid form of spirulina, but again due to the process, it has to be kept refrigerated. Some studies have shown that the powder form has less bioavailability, but it is still powerful, easy to find and can be mixed into anything you chose.
*As with all dietary changes, please introduce new foods or supplements slowly to avoid digestive upsets. Remember, just because it's a "natural" plant-based supplement does not mean that it can't cause negative reactions, just like it can cause positive ones.