Blue-green algae called Spirulina investigated by ALSUntangled

An unproven treatment called ‘Spirulina’, which is a type of blue-green algae, has recently been investigated by ALSUntangled*. They concluded that there is no evidence that Spirulina is effective for treating MND. Their findings also suggest that it could be toxic to people with MND.

In their investigative paper, which is free to download and easy to read (link at the bottom of this article), ALSUntangled discuss the research behind this unproven treatment.

The study that was critiqued examined the effect of feeding mice that model MND with Spirulina against those that were not fed the supplement. From their findings, the research group concluded that “a Spirulina supplemented diet may have future clinical benefit in treating ALS as an alternative or adjunctive therapy”. By reviewing the original research paper, ALSUntangled did not come to these same conclusions and identified significant flaws in the study.

For example, the study in question had no data on whether it slowed progression of motor symptoms. The treatment was also given before the onset of the disease, which is not clinically possible for people with MND.

ALSUntangled also used PatientsLikeMe.com as a resource to find out how many people had taken Spirulina. All six members with ALS (the most common form of MND) who had stated they were taking blue-green algae had decided to stop taking the treatment due to lack of effectiveness or cost –which had been reported as being between $50-$200 a month.
 

Importantly, the possible toxic effects of Spirulina are also discussed in the ALSUntangled paper, stating that it could theoretically accelerate the progression of the disease.
 

 Read the ALSUntangled article published on in the journal ALS:  http://informahealthcare.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/17482968.2011.553796 
 *ALSUntangled is a group of international clinicians/researchers in MND who investigate the claims of unproven treatments.
 
 ALSUntangled also have a twitter page where people can suggest unproven treatments that they should investigate.

ALSUntangled are not alone in their endeavour, as within the research development team a number of us are able to make sense of the claims of unproven treatments for MND. We provide people with the facts so that people affected by MND can make up their own minds about whether it’s an option they would like to consider.

If you are considering an unproven treatment and would like to know the facts about the information they provide, please contact us at research@mndassociation.org.

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