NMU 153 – Algae and IBS
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 153 (Feb 20, 2020)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Unique Green Algae Shown to Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gut-Inflammatory Conditions
Source: Journal of Functional Foods (February 2020)
Studies over the years have shown that nutritional marine algae products such as spirulina, chlorella, and various seaweeds, can add nutritional value to the diet with the further suggestion that some algae-derived compounds may potentially reduce the occurrence of cancer, combat the effects of aging, help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, help control obesity and mitigate inflammation. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods has turned our attention to less well-known marine algae known as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which has shown impressive effects in a study involving patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and related gastrointestinal symptoms. For 30 days this group of 51 subjects ingested 1 or 3 gm per day of C. reinhardtii algae, orally. The results showed that those who typically experience frequent gastrointestinal symptoms reported significantly less bowel discomfort or diarrhea, significantly less gas or bloating more regular bowel movements, and better stool consistency when regularly consuming the algae product. Analysis of their stool samples suggested that this supplement did not have any negative effects on the gut microflora. This study comes on the heels of a 14-day mouse study performed by the same researches, showing that C-reinhardtii algae supplementation given to mice, who had been induced to develop acute colitis (bowel inflammation), experienced significantly less weight loss than the mice not given this supplement.
The researchers concluded that less bowel wall damage had occurred in the mice ingesting the algae product, enabling the absorption of more nutrients from the intestinal tract. The researchers suggested that the benefits seen in these studies are perhaps caused by a bioactive molecule in the algae or possibly a shift in gene expression of the gut bacteria. Although more studies are required to establish the overall health benefits of ingesting this form of algae, the researchers conclude that the “addition of C. reinhardtii into the diet will not only add nutritional value but may also function to relieve some gastrointestinal symptoms in certain individuals”. So, if you have IBS, which affects 10-15% of the population, or other on-going gastrointestinal issues, and your doctors are at a loss to advise you further, you may wish to include 1-3 gm of the C. reinhardtii Aalgae into your diet to see if it can help improve your symptoms.
I have included the reference for this study in the text below.
Francis J. Fields, Franck Lejzerowicz, Dave Schroeder, Soo M. Ngoi, Miller Tran, Daniel McDonald, Lingjing Jiang, John T. Chang, Rob Knight, Stephen Mayfield. Effects of the microalgae Chlamydomonas on gastrointestinal health. Journal of Functional Foods, 2020; 65:
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