Spirulina is a simple, multi-celled form of algae that thrives in warm, alkaline fresh water bodies. It is unusual among algae because it is a “nuclear plant”, meaning it is on the developmental cusp between plants and animals. It is considered above plants because it does not have the hard cellulose membranes characteristic of plant cells, nor does it have a well-defined nucleus. Yet its metabolic system is based on photosynthesis, a process of direct food energy production utilizing sunlight and chlorophyl, which is typical of plant life forms.
Spirulina, being a unique vegetable plankton, is an excellent source of the protein and other nutrients necessary for health. The plant grows in warm and highly alkaline lakes and ponds of subtropical areas of the world, taking from its environment a rich supply of minerals and converting them into a natural, easily digestible form. Its many cells curl into the shape of tiny ringlets, thereby earning it the scientific name meaning “little spiral”. Although it is microscopic, 8 cells spiral to great lengths –
making it easy to harvest.
Spirulina had been eaten for centuries by ancient Aztecs and Mayans of Mexico and is still being used today as an important protein source of African peoples. But Spirulina was not discovered by modern science until 1964, when a Belgian scientist crossing the African desert happened upon locals harvesting the natural bounty from nearby Lake Chad. After drying, they formed it into small cakes. Intrigued, the scientist brought some home and found through analysis that Spirulina contains all the nutrients necessary for life. The Spirulina analysis is extraordinary.
Dr. Christopher Hills from Santa Cruz, California and Dr. Nakamura from Japan are responsible for bringing this important algae to the world.