2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Spirulina and Kelp

What Is It?

For thousands of years, traditional healers in China and other parts of the world have looked to the water for healing remedies. Spirulina and kelp were two key finds.

Spirulina is a small, single-celled microorganism that’s rich in chlorophyll, a plant pigment that gives so many lakes and ponds their dark blue-green color. Kelp, in contrast, is a brown algae that grows only in the sea. The name refers to any of the numerous long-stemmed seaweeds that belong to the order Laminariales or Fucales.

In the United States, rockweed is the type of kelp most commonly cultivated for dietary supplements and health drinks. Olive green in color, this kelp measures 3 to 6 feet long and is different from the varieties that naturally wash up along the nation’s shorelines.

Health Benefits

Both spirulina and kelp have been touted as miracle cures, capable of melting away arthritis pain, increasing energy, boosting immunity, improving liver function, warding off heart disease and cancer, suppressing AIDS, controlling appetite, and guarding against cell damage from exposure to X rays or heavy metals. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that there’s little or no scientific evidence to support most of these claims.

These seaweeds do offer certain health benefits, however. Both provide essential nutrients (carotenoids, protein, minerals) and can constitute a nutritious part of a vegetarian or macrobiotic diet.

Specifically, spirulina and kelp may help to:

Control bad breath. Spirulina’s high chlorophyll content makes it an excellent remedy for bad breath as long as the problem is caused by something other than gum disease or chronic sinusitis. It’s frequently the major ingredient in chlorophyll breath fresheners.

Treat thyroid problems. Kelp in particular is rich in iodine and may be worth trying for an underactive thyroid condition caused by a lack of this mineral. However, in the United States very few cases of underactive thyroid are due to iodine deficiency. That’s because the use of iodized salt is now so widespread. Since suspected thyroid problems need to be diagnosed with blood tests–and require prescription medication to be successfully treated–consult your doctor if you believe you have a problem with your thyroid gland before trying kelp or any other dietary supplement.

Forms

tablet
powder
liquid
capsule

Dosage Information

For bad breath: There are three options.
–Use a commercial chlorophyll-rich liquid breath freshener that lists spirulina as one of its primary ingredients. Follow the label directions.

–Stir 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder into half a glass (4 ounces) of water, rinse your mouth, then swallow the solution.

–Chew spirulina tablets three or four times a day, as needed.

For iodine-deficiency hypothyroidism. Take 10 grains of powdered kelp (supplying 300 mcg of iodine) daily as directed by your doctor.

Guidelines for Use

To lessen the risk of stomach upset, take spirulina or kelp with food.

Iodine concentrations loose potency over time, so it’s important to check the expiration date on any kelp supplement before buying it. In one study, kelp tablets that had been on a shelf for 18 months were found to have no discernible iodine content.

General Interaction

Large doses of kelp could provide excessive iodine and interfere with the effectiveness of certain thyroid medications.

Note: For information on interactions with specific generic drugs, see our WholeHealth Chicago Drug/Nutrient Interactions Chart.

Possible Side Effects

Both spirulina and kelp can cause nausea and diarrhea in some cases. If this occurs, reduce the dose or stop taking the supplement.

A small percentage of people (about 3%) are sensitive to iodine and could develop a painful and enlarged thyroid gland if they consume iodine-rich substances such as kelp for several weeks or months. There are occasional reports of this occurring in Japan, where consuming kelp is quite popular.

Cautions

Never take spirulina or kelp that you happen to find on the beach or in your local lake or pond because it could be contaminated with industrial waste or sewage and have high levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, or other toxins.

Kelp has high iodine concentrations that could be harmful to a woman who is pregnant or breast-feeding.

Ailments-Dosage

Bad Breath Rinse mouth with a chlorophyll-rich “green drink.” Or chew spirulina tablets as needed.
Thyroid Disease 10 grains of powdered kelp (supplying 300 mcg iodine) a day


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Infertility Issues? Start With The Guy

    I’ve lost track of the number of couples we treat at WholeHealth Chicago who are involved in one of the hormone injection/surgical procedure stops on the conveyor belt of infertility centers. Currently, it’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of couples are struggling with infertility, half of them due to male factors. The infertility docs are nice enough and certainly well-meaning, but I note a Read More

  • Issues with Endocrinologists: Thyroid Approaches and Big Pharma

    My beefs with endocrinologists pretty much center on how they manage thyroid gland concerns, though they rarely win prizes for managing adrenal issues either. I don’t know any endocrinologists personally and rarely refer my patients to them. Occasionally, a patient with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism (low thyroid) will want to confirm the diagnosis with an endocrinologist. I suggest she prepare for a scolding if she’s taking Read More

  • Six Beefs With Rheumatologists

    If you find yourself in the waiting room of a rheumatologist, you’re likely there because your joints hurt and have been hurting, often for years. You’ve been getting by on aspirin or Advil for the pain, but with things worsening your primary care doctor suggests you should see a joint specialist, a rheumatologist. And because there’s a shortage of physicians in this specialty, your appointment Read More

Join our Discount Program!

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION