History of spirulina

History of spirulina

The cyanobacteria are believed to have evolved 3.5 billion years ago and they are the first group of bacteria that evolved that could fix atmospheric carbon dioxide into organic carbon compounds using water and thereby evolving oxygen (**26).

The first recorded history of the use of Arthrospira (Spirulina) as food comes from Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a member of Hernan Cortez’s troops who reported in 1521 that Spirulina maxima (A. maxima) was harvested from Lake Texcoco, dried, and sold for human consumption in a Tenochtitlan (today Mexico City) market during the Aztec civilization about 1300 AD (**12, **23).

The present Republic of Chad in Africa, about 10,000 km away from Lake Texcoco, provides additional evidence for the use of Spirulina as food. It is still being used as food by the Kanembu tribe in the Lake Chad area where it is sold as dried bread called “dihe”.
Very likely the use of Arthrospira as food in Chad dates back to the same period, or even earlier, to the Kanem Empire (ninth century AD) (**24).
Dihe, the greenish. edible substance is almost entirely composed of Arthrospira.

From a 1997 survey it was revealed that Kanembu women daily gather Arthrospira around the Lake Kossorom. Dihe is obtained by filtering and sun drying the algal biomass on the sandy shores of the lake.
The dried dihe is then cut into small squares and sold to local consumers or to wholesalers, who trade the product in several markets of the country.
Dihe is mainly used to prepare a kind of fish or meat and vegetable broth. (24). Daily consumption of dihe per Kanembu person is about 9-13 g (25).

(**) Literature on the subject