Bangladesh, India, Taiwan and Chile have millions of people drinking groundwater which contains excessive arsenic. Many of these people have symptoms of arsenic poisoning. The patients in Bangladesh have been using groundwater from tubewells for 12 to 20 years. The tubewells supply water which is heavily contaminated with arsenic. Filtering water greatly reduces the arsenic content.
This study evaluates the use of spirulina and zinc to treat arsenic poisoning in forty-two people with chronic arsenic poisoning. The spirulina dose was 250 mg and zinc was 2 mg twice a day for 16 weeks. The subjects were all given filtered water. Comparison was made of changes in the skin lesions and changes in the urine and hair arsenic levels. High levels of arsenic intake reduced levels of reduce glutathione (GSH). Previous studies show that spirulina increases GSH levels in liver tissue.
Two weeks of drinking filtered water lead to a reduction of urinary arsenic output for all treated and placebo patients. After 4 weeks of treatment with spirulina and zinc there was a marked increase of urinary output of arsenic lasting 2 weeks. Hair analysis for the spirulina and zinc patients showed a reduction of arsenic by nearly 50%. The spirulina plus zinc patients had a statistically significant reduction of hyperpigmentation (melanosis) of the upper chest and arms and cracks and fissures (keratosis) of the palms and soles starting at 8-12 weeks of treatment.
Retinol is used for chronic arsenic poisoning. Beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, folic acid, zinc and selenium in combination are of benefit. Spirulina is an algae and is grown for animal and human food. Zinc is removes arsenic from tissues.
CONCLUSION: Spirulina and zinc are beneficial treatments for chronic arsenic poisoning. The treatment is considered safe. Discontinuation of the use of arsenic poisoned water is necessary.
NOTE: Read about remediation of heavy metal pollution of soils and water using plants.