Dietary Algae May Have Benefits for People with HIV/AIDS

While it is far to early for any definitive claims, a recent phase I/II clinical trial on the safety and possible effects of dietary algae found that two types of algae may be beneficial for people with HIV and AIDS.

Spirulina

Algae, especially the types of algae known as seaweed, have been popular foods in several parts of the world for centuries. Wakame is a type of brown algae that is frequently used in Japanese and Korean cuisines. A very different type of algae, spirulina, has become popular in recent years as a supplement and ‘superfood’ due to its high levels of protein and nutrients. In addition to the more general health benefits dietary algae can offer, some laboratory studies have demonstrated that some types of dietary algae can interfere with HIV insertion and replication. The new study followed up on these lab findings, testing whether or not wakame and spirulina are safe and if they have potential benefits for people with HIV/AIDS.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that something which has been a food source for hundreds of years was found to generally safe to eat. The study used a dosage of 5 grams a day of either wakame, spirulina or a combination of both. The study participants experienced no side effects. None of the study participants were taking antiviral medication when the study started, and all kept the same CD4+ counts and viral load levels throughout the length of the study. One participant, who continued with the study for over a year, saw significant improvement in CD4+ counts and viral load levels.

One small scale study (there were at total of 11 participants) isn’t enough to say for certain that dietary algae can provide benefits to people with HIV/AIDS. However the results of the study are promising, and worth further research. Such research will, as always, take several years to come to any definitive conclusion.

Boiled Wakame

For people looking for ways they can fight HIV/AIDS today, this study is significant for a different reason. We know that wakame and spirulina are safe, that eating them regularly won’t cause any side effects, and we know that they have shown promise in helping people with HIV/AIDS. So one simple and easy thing that may help fight HIV/AIDS, is to start taking spirulina dietary supplements, or eating wakame regularly.

Spirulina can be found in most health food stores and ordered off the internet. Wakame can be harder to find, but is carried in some health food stores, almost every asian market, and can also be found on the internet. Wakame is usually boiled or added to soups, but can be used in many dishes.

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