Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
I personally believe Chlorella is one of the best natural superfoods and natural remedies in the world. And you should agree with me after reading this article. According to Roman Sasik, PhD “Chlorella is a type of unicellular aquatic organisms that acquired a superfood status, in part because of its complete amino acid profile and a high omega-3 DHA and EPA fatty acid content. It has also been reported to lower blood pressure in humans, lower serum cholesterol, boost immunity, and fight cancer.” (Chlorella, January 19th, 2012)
WHAT IS CHLORELLA
Chlorella is a tiny single-cell freshwater alga which has been found in numerous studies to be an amazing health-promoting superfood. The Dutch scientist M W Beijerinck found this alga in 1890 and called it Chlorella (Chloros = green) + (Ella = small).
Chlorophyll is literally the “blood” in all green plants that allows them to turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis. It just so happens that the world’s #1 highest source of chlorophyll is chlorella!
Chlorella contains more of the extremely beneficial for our health chlorophyll per gram than any plant – about 10 times more than alfalfa and green leafy vegetables, 5 times more than wheatgrass and two times higher than spirulina.
Through chlorophyll, chlorella helps our body to process more oxygen thus boosting energy, detoxifying blood and promoting repair of tissues.
Chlorophyll is identical to human haemoglobin (which is the substance that makes up most of a red blood cell). The only difference is that in chlorophyll the central atom is magnesium whereas in haemoglobin it is iron. When we consume the chlorella algae we get a massive dose of “plant blood” which through biological transmutation, turns into our own blood.
PHYTONUTRIENT & NUTRITIONAL CONTENT
Chlorella is 50% protein, and a great source of amino acids, including alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Apart from being the highest source of chlorophyll, chlorella is also an excellent source of natural iron, many vitamins and minerals, all essential amino acids, various phytonutrients, omega-3 EPA and DHA and other essential fatty acids.
The phycocyanin found in chlorella is a great immune booster as it helps the body produce more stem cells.
It contains glycosaminoglycan (glucosamine precursor) important for people suffering from arthritis and beneficial in maintaining and improving joint and skin health.
Chlorella’s main constituent is the Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) a nucleotide-peptide complex derived from chlorella. It is made mostly of nucleic acid derivatives. It was discovered that CGF is produced during the intense photosynthesis that enables chlorella to grow so fast. Each cell multiplies into four new cells about every 20 hours, and CGF promotes this rapid rate of reproduction.
Chlorella Growth Factor promotes faster than normal growth without adverse side effects, and in humans, it appears to enhance RNA/DNA functions responsible for the production of proteins, enzymes and cellular energy, stimulating tissue repair and protecting cells against toxic substances.
Probably, out of all the chlorella facts, the most remarkable component for lifespan development is its high content of DNA and RNA.
CHLORELLA’S NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER 100G
CHLORELLA VS SPIRULINA
Though they look, smell and even taste similar, there are few key differences. Like Spirulina, chlorella is a freshwater alga. However, spirulina is multi-cell while chlorella is a single-cell freshwater alga. It is also one of the oldest known species on the planet and it has the unique ability to reproduce 8 times a day, making it a sustainable nutrient source.
Unlike Spirulina, Chlorella has unique properties in its cell walls that make it bind to heavy metals and other contaminants.
Both are a good source of nucleic acids DNA and RNA, but Chlorella has almost twice as much as Spirulina.
Although chlorella contains less beta-carotene and protein than spirulina, yet it has more essential fatty acids and is twice higher in chlorophyll.
Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, a blue-green type of algae, while Chlorella is a green alga.
Spirulina is higher in Iron, protein and Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Spirulina can be consumed easily after harvest while Chlorella has to go through a process to break its cell walls before the body can use it. Chlorella has a very hard outer shell, making it almost completely indigestible to humans, so supplemental forms undergo a special process that cracks this outer shell for enhanced digestibility.
CHLORELLA IN JAPAN
Chlorella is one of the most widely used supplements in Japan, where over 10 million people use it regularly. The Japanese use of chlorella is more widespread than the North American use of vitamin C.
Chlorella as a food supplement has been known to have beneficial effects, including growth, immuno-modulation, antioxidant activity and tissue rebuilding. It is reported that dietary chlorella improved growth performance, modulated immune response and affected intestinal microbial diversity.
DETOXIFICATION & LIVER
Research on the health benefits of chlorella has led it to be used in naturally detoxing people from radiation exposure, heavy metal poisoning as well as chemical toxicity from various pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.
The chlorophyll in chlorella benefits and cleanses the liver, which is the chief organ for detoxing your body on a daily basis. If your liver is functioning at its optimal level, it will speed up the process of detoxification from the myriad of poisons we come in contact with on a regular basis.
Chlorella is an excellent detoxifying agent that neutralizes many poisons in a human organism including heavy metals and pesticides. It binds to radioactive particles flushing them out of the body and is very effective in detoxifying our organism from deadly mercury, which is very important as most of us might be contaminated with mercury through dental fillings, vaccination, or fish consumption. It also detoxifies our body from aluminium and fluoride regarded as a neurotoxin.
In addition, Chlorella seems to “know” which chemicals are beneficial and which need to be removed and therefore it does not bind to beneficial minerals like magnesium or zinc.
Chlorella safely absorbs toxic metals present in our colon. It has a unique ability to bind lead, cadmium, or polychlorinated dibenzodioxins.
In one of his articles about Chlorella, Dr Joseph Mercola says that “Chlorella is a powerful detoxification aid for heavy metals and other toxins including fluoride, pesticides and herbicides, persistent hydrocarbons, mercury, cadmium, lead, DDT and PCB while strengthening the immune system response.
A three-year study with 350 participants was undertaken at a Russian metal foundry, where more than 20 natural detoxifiers were used to remove heavy metals from people who had been exposed at very high levels to four main metals – mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. The trial using chlorella eliminated ALL heavy metals, including mercury! With no reported side-effects!” (Chlorella, 01 Feb 2012)
Another important ability found in the myriad of chlorella facts is how well it rebuilds nerve tissue. Damaged nerve tissue is a component in many debilitating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, seizures, Alzheimer’s, sciatica, Parkinson’s and more. Mercury poisoning is specifically known to cause nerve damage by destroying the myelin sheath around nerve cells. Chlorella benefits this by first pulling mercury out of the body (which may or may not be implicit in the above-mentioned diseases) while at the same time the chlorella growth factor then stimulates bodies own innate ability to repair its own damaged nerve tissue.
Chlorella helps to repair our nerve tissues, enhancing our ability to focus and concentrate. Because it is believed that a powerful phytochemical found in chlorella can even repair nerve damage in the human brain and nervous system chlorella is being often recommended for people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, peripheral neuropathies and other problems associated with nerve damage. Chlorella also repairs damage from radiation.
Nerve repair can happen whether or not there has been mercury contamination present in the first place. However, the rapid rise of these diseases in recent decades indicates a hidden cause that is thought by many to be due to mercury poisoning along with other lifestyle factors and not the old scapegoat of genetics. Chlorella facts have also shown that it contains the essential fatty acids necessary for building and repairing nerve and brain tissue.
IMMUNE SYSTEM & CANCER
Like spirulina, Chlorella has been clinically shown to demonstrate stunning preventive and curative properties when it comes to different types of cancers.
The phycocyanin found in chlorella is a great immune booster as it helps the body produce more stem cells, which can be used to destroy bacteria and viruses in the body.
A 1989 study conducted by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences revealed that Chlorella was able to increase the production of spleen stem cells and bone marrow greatly improving the functioning of the human immune system.
Some sources claim Chlorella has the ability to modulate the immune responses. If it is true, it means that it might be helpful in preventing and treating autoimmune conditions that are caused by abnormal immune responses (leukocytes sending antibodies and attacking their own body). Apart from Chlorella also certain nutritional supplements such as Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium are vital in coping with autoimmune diseases as deficiency of these nutrients
Another amazing ingredient of chlorella is its growth factor (CGF) which enables chlorella to quadruple itself every 20 hours, making its growth rate faster than any food crop on earth. CGF promotes normal cell growth, without promoting the growth of cancer cells.
In addition, CGF also increases the activity of the most important cells of the human immune system (T- and B- cells) which fight with viruses or cancer cells.
Chlorella, spirulina and blue-green algae have all been found to be potent cancer fighters. In particular, the chlorella growth factor makes this the most desirable ally to have when fighting or recovering from any degenerative disease. The chlorella facts and research point towards it being particularly effective in the treatment of cancer, especially if you have made the choice to undergo chemotherapy (which is a massive toxic assault on your entire body).
INTESTINAL & DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Chlorella is regarded as the best prebiotic or food for intestinal probiotic bacteria as it improves bowel function by stimulating the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria (resulting in improved mood, immune system function, digestion and an increased ability to absorb nutrients in your longevity diet).
DIABETES & INSULIN RESISTANCE
According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers from Kyoto, Japan chlorella intake resulted in noticeable reductions in body fat, fasting blood glucose levels, and total serum cholesterol.
Chlorella has very high levels of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), which help regulate gene activity, cellular function, detoxification, and is very effective in slowing down the ageing process through supporting cellular repair. Used regularly, Chlorella would assist in the repair of damaged genetic material in human cells, protecting our health. When our RNA and DNA are in good repair and are able to function most efficiently, our bodies get rid of toxins and avoid disease.
When Dr Benjamin Frank treated his patients with sardines and other foods high in nucleic acids, they looked and felt much younger, improved their memory and concentration, and recovered from different health problems including depression and arthritis.
Today, however, a regular fish consumption (including sardines) is not a good idea due to the high levels of mercury, lead and other heavy metals present in fish. For this reason, it is much better to use Chlorella, all the more since it binds mercury and other toxins removing them from our body and has approximately 5 times more RNA than canned sardines, making it the ideal anti-ageing food.
Our bodies require nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) for directing cellular growth, renewal and repair. The human body’s ability to repair its DNA and RNA with nucleic acids diminishes with age. In fact, a lack of nucleic acids speeds up the ageing process as well as weakening immunity. Getting a source of these building blocks for genetic repair is definitely a major key to winning the longevity game.
The RNA and DNA Chlorella contains will make the skin more elastic. Many centenarians that are questioned about their diet for longevity happen to eat a lot of foods high in nucleic acids like sardines. However, the health benefits of chlorella algae indicate that it is a much better and safer source for DNA and RNA than sardines or organ meats.
CHOLESTEROL & BLOOD PRESSURE
It reduces high blood pressure, accelerates wound healing, and lowers cholesterol levels. Chlorella also balances the body’s pH levels, improves digestion, and reduces radioactive damage.
Studies in Japan have shown chlorella helps reduce bad cholesterol, hypertension, and body fat.
Numerous reports indicate that chlorella may be effective in reducing the symptoms of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, presumably due to its glycosaminoglycan (glucosamine precursor) content.
Researchers have demonstrated that Chlorella and Spirulina are effective in treating hepatitis C infections! The scientists treated patients who suffered from chronic hepatitis C with Chlorella. After 3 months of treating patients with relatively small doses of Chlorella, the researchers discovered that the condition of 70% of the patients significantly improved.
In addition, the immune system of the patients treated with Chlorella was stronger and almost 80% of them reported increased energy levels. The scientists also noted that the chlorella didn’t cause any negative side effects.
Similar positive results were achieved by another group of scientists who treated patients with hepatitis C virus for six months with either Spirulina or Silymarin (an active ingredient found in Milk thistle) with no negative side effects. The researchers noted that according to the study, which was published in 2012, Spirulina was slightly more effective than Milk thistle.
According to a recent study, a 6-week Chlorella supplementation helped patients to reduce symptoms of major depressive disorder! (>)
Some of the amazing health benefits of chlorella growth factor include a greatly increased rate of tissue growth and repair (great for athletes as it helps repair the muscle and nerve damage).
EXCELLENT PREBIOTIC FOR PROBIOTIC BACTERIA
Chlorella is known for its ability to speed up the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria (resulting in improved digestion and an increased ability to absorb nutrients in your longevity diet).
Chlorella has an alkalising effect on the body due to its high content of alkaline minerals.
A reasonable daily dosage is believed to be approximately 5 grams. If you are using it to clear out accumulated toxins you can go as high as 10 grams a day for quite a while. The other problem you might experience with chlorella is if you go on it too fast it has a tendency to help you evacuate your bowels quite thoroughly. This is because it pulls water into the colon. As with any new food you are trying out for the first time, start with a smaller dosage and work upwards. On that note, is great for constipation!
Since Chlorella is a powerful detoxifier and energy booster it is better if you start with a smaller dose such as 1 teaspoon or 3 tablets 30 minutes before breakfast and the same amount 30 minutes before lunch with 2 glasses of water, vegetable juice or smoothie. Then gradually increase the intake every day (by approximately 1 tablet) until reaching the maximum dose of 2 heaped tablespoons or about 20 tablets (500mg) 30 min before breakfast and not more than half of the amount 30 min before lunch. Altogether you can take 2-4 round tablespoons or about 20-40 tablets (500mg per tablet) of organic chlorella a day. The dose of course also depends on age and body weight.
The younger the children the smaller dose should be used. In case of small children, I would start from half a teaspoon mixed with breakfast and slowly increase to 1 teaspoon 2 times a day. Older children can start from 1 flat teaspoon and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon with breakfast and lunch.
If you don’t like the taste of Chlorella powder take tablets without any binders or fillers.
Since Chlorella is a form of highly nutritious food it is advisable and more beneficial to chew or at least break the tablets in mouth before swallowing them as it will make easier for the digestive system to process it later.
If you decide to take spirulina and chlorella together take 1 tablespoon (about ten 500mg tablets) of each about 30 min before breakfast.
While taking chlorella, remember to increase your water intake to 3 times a day 2-3 glasses between meals.
If you experience sleeping problems due to the fact that chlorella boosts energy I would suggest to take it only before breakfast.
Some sources advise to not take Chlorella with supplemental vitamin C (especially high strength) as it tends to loosen the binding of the mercury and other heavy metals the chlorella is holding. According to this theory, it is supposed to mean that these toxins will go right back into the body tissues rather than being eliminated. Vitamin C is allowed about 3 hours after taking Chlorella.
SAFETY AND SIDE EFFECTS
Although no known side effects associated with chlorella intake were discovered by now, yet due to the detoxification and colon cleansing process or your present state of health you may experience some temporary side effects such as bloating, gas, itchy skin, problems with getting asleep, excitement, or feelings of restlessness.
Keep in mind that there are many sources and types of Chlorella available so make sure you buy organic chlorella with attestation and from a reliable source.
Individual chlorella algae have tough indigestible cellulose walls, so it’s important for you to only purchase cracked cell chlorella.
All of the amazing chlorella facts are based on cracked cell chlorella that is organic, non-pasteurized and not freeze-dried. If you buy a brand or variety that is contaminated or damaged (due to high heat or extreme cold) the chlorella benefits simply won’t be as optimal, most notably the essential fatty acid content is very susceptible to extreme temperatures as well as oxidation. You don’t want to lose the benefits of nutrients such as the GLA (which inhibits excessive cell division, which is the case in tumour growth).
To help preserve these nutrients store your chlorella, spirulina and other microalgae in a cool dark place.
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REFERENCES & SOURCES
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© 2016 Slawomir Gromadzki – All Rights Reserved
Chlorella works by:
- Decreasing inflammation: It decreases NFκB, TNF-alpha, nitric oxide, and inflammatory enzymes (COX, LOX, MPO); it also decreases the marker of chronic inflammation, hs-CRP [10, 11, 12, 13]
- Improving immune function and resistance to infections 
- Preventing allergies: It increases Th1 cytokines (IFN-gamma and IL-12) and decreases Th2 cytokines (IL-5) 
- Preventing tumour growth: It decreases cell-survival factors Bcl-2, survivin, and XIAP, and increases cell-death-causing Bax [16, 17]
- Boosting antioxidant levels: Chlorella contains various antioxidants and compounds that boost antioxidant enzyme levels 
- Lowering stress response (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response) 
- Improving detoxification of heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals, and preventing radiation-induced damage [20, 21, 22, 23]
- Increasing phase II detox enzymes and increasing the detox master-regulator Nrf2 
- Increasing GABA: Chlorella is rich in GABA (y-aminobutyric acid), which widens blood vessels and thereby lowers blood pressure 
Lutein, also present in Chlorella, is an inhibitor of an age-related vision loss condition (macular degeneration) and an anticataract agent .
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHLORELLA
In a DB-RCT of 51 healthy participants, Chlorella tablets enhanced immunity. They increased NK cell activity, IL-1beta, and the Th1 response (INF-gamma) in people who ingested these tablets for 8 weeks .
Intense exercise can weaken the immune system. In a placebo-controlled study performed in 10 female athletes, 5 weeks of Chlorella prevented the decrease in immune function (measured by salivary immunoglobulin A) during a training camp for a competitive sport .
IgA is an antibody that represents the first line of defense against respiratory tract infections in the body .
Another study of 15 men, revealed that salivary IgA was increased in participants when they ingested Chlorella tablets for 4 weeks .
Furthermore, a study performed in 35 pregnant women showed increased IgA levels in breast milk of women that consumed Chlorella for 6 months before giving birth. Higher levels of IgA in breast milk helps reduce the risk of infection in nursing infants .
In mice, Chlorella counteracted the effect of a chemotherapeutic drug (Cyclophosphamide) that suppresses the immune system by recovering NK cell function and increasing Th1 cytokines (IL-2, IL-12, TNF-a, IFN-y) .
Also in mice, C. vulgaris prevented the immunosuppressive effects caused by stress .
In mouse cells, C. vulgaris increased the production of IL-6 and IL-1a, which are stimulators of immune responses .
2) Increases Antioxidant Activity
In a study performed in 38 smokers for 6 weeks, Chlorella reduced the levels of malondialdehyde in the blood, a marker of oxidative stress, and increased blood levels of 7 different antioxidant measures :
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Glutathione (GSH)
- Superoxide dismutase activity (SOD)
- Glutathione peroxidase activity (GPx)
- Catalase activity (CAT)
- Total antioxidant status
Furthermore, another 6-week study with 52 smokers revealed that Chlorella powder increased blood levels of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin C. It also raised the activity of superoxide dismutase and erythrocyte catalase .
3) May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Lycopene isolated from Chlorella marina lowered inflammatory enzymes (COX, LOX, and MPO), improved blood markers (including CRP, hemoglobin, and white and red blood cell counts), and markedly decreased swelling in the paw and joints of rats with arthritis. It had more potent activity than tomato lycopene .
Chlorella ellipsoidea reduced the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), thus lowering inflammation in a type of white blood cell (macrophage) of mice fed with a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet .
A Chlorella component (Chlorella 11-peptide) suppressed the inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha and an inflammatory mediator (nitric oxide) in both injured rats and white blood cell cultures (macrophages) .
4) May Prevent Allergies
- vulgaris extract improved allergic inflammation in mice by inhibiting IL-5 production (IgE-dependent) and reducing the recruitment of major inflammatory cells to the allergic airways (eosinophils and neutrophils). IL-5 is an important cytokine involved in the development of allergic inflammation .
- vulgaris enhanced cell-mediated immunity (Th1 response) in mice allergic to casein. It decreased IgE levels in the blood and increased cytokines that mitigate allergies (IL-12 and IFN-gamma) .
Consequently, C. vulgaris may be helpful for the prevention of allergic diseases that prevalently induce humoral immunity (Th2 response) .
- vulgaris also suppressed histamine release in mice mast cells by inducing Th1 IFN-gamma and IL-12 production .
Moreover, in human mast cells, C. vulgaris inhibited the production of IL-5 .
5) Helps Improve Cholesterol
Recently, a meta-analysis of 19 randomized control trials with 797 subjects revealed that Chlorella significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol .
Although Chlorella (according to the meta-analysis) was beneficial for decreasing heart disease risk factors and fat cell size, there was no significant evidence that it could help with weight loss .
Chlorella (C. pyrenoidosa) dried powder decreased the levels of cholesterol (LDL and total cholesterol) and triglycerides (TG) and raised levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in animals (rats and hamsters) on a high-fat diet .
6) Helps Improve Blood Sugar
A DB-RCT performed in 70 non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients revealed that those who ingested C. vulgaris for 8 weeks had reduced blood glucose levels .
A meta-analysis of 19 randomized control trials with 797 subjects revealed that Chlorella significantly decreased fasting blood glucose .
According to results obtained from mice studies, Chlorella enhanced glucose uptake by liver and muscle cells, decreased non-esterified fatty acid levels and consequently, lowered blood glucose [43, 45].
7) Decreases High Blood Pressure
A DB-PCT performed in 80 individuals (with normal-high levels of blood pressure and borderline hypertension), showed that those who consumed GABA-rich Chlorella tablets for 12 weeks reduced their blood pressure significantly .
A meta-analysis of 19 randomized control trials with 797 subjects revealed that Chlorella significantly decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure .
8) May Prevent Stroke
In stroke-prone rats with high blood pressure, the combined action of multiple ingredients of Chlorella powder (C. regularis), containing carotenoids and arginine, improved blood vessel function, decreased the incidence of stroke, and increased lifespan .
9) May Combat Diabetes
A placebo-controlled study with 57 borderline diabetic patients showed that genes were modified in individuals who consumed Chlorella tablets for 12 weeks in such a way that alleviated some features of type 2 diabetes :
- It decreased the production of resistin, which has been linked to insulin resistance.
- It increased the adiponectin receptor (ADIPOR1), which is generally low in patients with insulin resistance. Adiponectin is a hormone that improves insulin resistance by promoting fatty acids and glucose breakdown.
Chlorella reduced cataract formation in diabetic rats by decreasing the oxidative stress in the lens .
10) May Help Fight Cancer
- vulgaris extract increased the lifespan of mice with tumors by stimulating the production of white blood cells (granulocytes and macrophages) .
Another species of Chlorella (C. sorokiniana), killed human lung cancer cells and reduced tumor growth in mice (by decreasing cell-survival factors Bcl-2, survivin, and XIAP, and increasing cell death causing Bax) .
- pyrenoidosa improved breast cancer in mice by decreasing tumor frequency. It significantly increased the production of cell death inducer caspase-7, while decreasing the production of a blood vessel growth factor receptor (VEGFR-2), which helps tumors grow by recruiting new blood vessels .
On the other hand, a study revealed how C. vulgaris promoted tumor growth in mice with breast cancer when given in high doses (200 mg/kg). This may be a consequence of the expression of diverse cytokines that promote tumor growth (IFNy and IL-4 were decreased, while TGFβ1, IL-10, and IL-1b were increased) .
Hot water extract of C. vulgaris triggered the death of human liver cancer cells by increasing p53, Bax, and caspase-3. these proteins induce cell death .
Lycopene extracted from Chlorella (C. marina) suppressed the growth and induced the cell death of human prostate cancer cells .
11) May Have Anti-Aging Properties
A 2-month DB-RCT performed in 12 elderly subjects revealed that Chlorella decreased oxidative damage to red blood cells by reducing phospholipid hydroperoxide (PLOOH) concentrations, thus enhancing their ability to transport oxygen to the brain .
- vulgaris may have an anti-aging effect because it :
- removes free radicals (due to its high levels of antioxidants)
- inhibits telomere shortening (oxidative-stress-induced DNA damage) by enhancing telomerase activity
Cells age when the telomeres (ends of chromosomes) are shortened. This happens every time your cells divide, with each round of replication (DNA synthesis). Therefore, increased telomerase activity boosts telomere production and increases the lifespan of cells [56, 57].
Although superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an antioxidant enzyme, it produces hydrogen peroxide that has to be removed by GPx and catalase. A study shows that as cells age, they have increased SOD activity, but reduced catalase and GPx, which causes the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and cell aging. C. vulgaris reduced SOD levels in cells and thereby slowed cell aging .
12) May Be Beneficial for The Skin
Chlorella minutissima extract increased antioxidant enzymes (GST) while it decreased the activity of enzymes involved in skin disorders (tyrosinase and elastase). This extract could be potentially used in cosmetic products for irritated, reactive, and aging skin .
Another study suggested that some Chlorella extracts have an inhibitory effect on Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium that has been described as one of the major causes of acne .
Additionally, Chlorella decreased the production of an inflammatory mediator (TNF-a) and inhibited lipase, an enzyme produced by P. acnes that induces severe inflammation .
13) May Help Against Atopic Dermatitis
Chlorella improved atopic dermatitis symptoms in mice by :
- Reducing white blood cells infiltration into the skin (eosinophils and mast cells)
- Decreasing pro-inflammatory mediators (thymus- and activation-regulated chemokine and macrophage derived-chemokine)
- Decreasing the levels of IL-4 and IFN-y cytokines
14) May Improve Wound Healing
Chlorella extract improved skin reconstitution and accelerated wound healing when given to wounded mice at high doses (orally and topically) .
15) May Improve Brain Function
Chlorella (Parachlorella beijerinckii) prevented cognitive decline in a mouse model of dementia by reducing oxidative stress and decreasing the number of activated astrocytes (glial cells), which can cause brain inflammation and impairment .
In addition, Chlorella improved cognitive ability in mice; this could be due to its folic acid and antioxidant content .
Lipid extract of C. sorokiniana improved memory in rats by increasing noradrenaline and serotonin content in the hippocampus. Noradrenaline is a molecule (neurotransmitter) that regulates many brain functions: Attention, perception, arousal, sleep, learning, and memory, whereas serotonin regulates hippocampal electrical activity and cognitive performance .
16) May Help Against Parkinson’s
In a mouse model of Parkinson’s, polysaccharides from C. pyrenoidosa prevented the loss of dopamine and neuron death, inhibited inflammation, improved symptoms, and delayed disease progression .
17) Helps Against Depression
A pilot study performed in 125 patients with major depressive disorder showed improvement in depression and anxiety in patients who consumed C. vulgaris tablets in addition to their standard antidepressant medications for 6 weeks .
This result could be explained by the neuroprotective components contained in C. vulgaris (linoleic acid and vitamin B12/methylcobalamin), which have been reported to improve depressive symptoms .
18) Combats Liver Diseases
Liver function improved in fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients who consumed C. vulgaris tablets, in a DB-RCT performed in 60 individuals for 8 weeks .
Another DB-RCT of 70 fatty liver disease patients showed that Chlorella enhanced patients’ condition by reducing weight and blood glucose levels and decreasing inflammatory indicators (TNF-a and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) ,
Levels of alanine transaminase (ALT), a marker of liver inflammation, were significantly reduced in 85% of 18 hepatitis C patients treated with C. pyrenoidosa extract for 12 weeks .
19) May Improve Heavy Metal Detoxification
Parachlorella beijerinckii accelerated the excretion of methylmercury and consequently decreased tissue levels of mercury in mice .
Chlorella improved the elimination of radioactive strontium from mice through adsorption in the intestine. This means that Chlorella bound strontium after passing through the stomach, inhibiting absorption, and therefore enhancing its excretion from the body .
A study in pregnant mice revealed how C. pyrenoidosa suppressed methylmercury transfer to the fetus and reduced its accumulation in brains of the mothers .
- vulgaris improved the condition of lead-exposed mice by increasing their levels of white blood cells (NK cells), IFNy, IL-1a, and TNF-a, and preventing a decrease in zinc bone concentrations .
- vulgaris protected rats against cadmium liver toxicity by decreasing cadmium accumulation and stimulating the expression of metallothioneins in the liver. Metallothioneins are heavy metal-binding proteins found in the circulation and produced by several tissues in the body .
On the contrary, in one study, C. vulgaris was unable to increase cadmium excretion nor detoxification through urine in rats fed this heavy metal .
20) May Help Remove Toxins
A DB-RCT of 6 individuals revealed that Chlorella consumed for 2 weeks decreased urine levels of a cancer-causing heterocyclic amine .
In a study with 35 pregnant women, taking C. pyrenoidosa tablets for 6 months during pregnancy reduced the transfer of dioxins to children through breast milk .
Dioxins are highly toxic, cancer-causing chemicals.
In mice, C. pyrenoidosa accelerated the breakdown of dioxins, preventing their accumulation in the liver .
Chlorella had a protective effect against carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in rat colon because it :
- Increased the excretion of these cancer-causing compounds through feces
- Decreased DNA damage
- Reduced the production of 2 important cancer-causing proteins (b-catenin and cyclin D1)
- Reduced the cell death inducer caspase-8 in colon tissue
21) May Protect From Radiation
- vulgaris had a protective effect in mice irradiated with gamma-rays by decreasing the damage to red blood cell precursors (a decrease of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes), and preventing the decrease of bone marrow cells 22, 23].
Moreover, the water extract of Chlorella boosted the production of stem cells in the bone marrow and spleen, which increased the survival of mice after being irradiated with gamma rays .
22) Increases Endurance and Stamina
A 14-day DB-RCT performed in 10 individuals revealed that Chlorella increased aerobic endurance capacity by improving maximum oxygen uptake .
- vulgaris improved physical stamina in mice .
In rats, Chlorella consumption, combined with high-intensity intermittent exercise, enhanced exercise performance and improved muscle metabolism by increasing the activity of the enzymes :
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
- Phosphofructokinase (PFK)
- Citrate synthase (CS)
- Cytochrome-c oxidase (COX)
23) May Decrease Fatigue
A pilot trial performed in 18 fibromyalgia patients revealed that 2 months of ingesting Chlorella tablets decreased pain intensity .
An RCT performed in 45 breast cancer patients showed that 50% of individuals who consumed Chlorella extract for 1 month had a better quality of life, were feeling less fatigue, and had better skin and hair quality, .
24) May Prevent Muscle Wasting
Chlorella improved the condition of mice with muscle atrophy by reducing oxidative stress and decreasing creatine phosphatase levels (a muscle impairment marker), it also helped to maintain the activity of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase .
25) May Combat Stress
- vulgaris prevented psychological stress by suppressing the increase in serum corticosterone level (a mouse analog of cortisol) .
- vulgaris reduced the effects of stress in mice by lowering the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response. This means that Chlorella caused a decrease in :
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone response (ACTH)
- Corticotropin-releasing factor expression (ACTH precursor)
- Excess blood sugar (induced by stress)
- C-fos expression (a stress response marker)
- vulgaris decreased ulcer incidence in stressed rats and showed a protective effect against stress-induced ulcers .
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Hearing problems
- Vision problems
- Itching and rash
- Muscle pain
Pre-existing medical conditions, such as renal failure and hypothyroidism, but not Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, increase the risk of side effects .
Some people develop allergies to Chlorella or its components .
Chlorella can cause kidney injury in people who are allergic .
Limitations and Caveats
Although many studies have shown that Chlorella may fight certain diseases, some of them were only evaluated in animals or cells. Further research in humans is needed to corroborate its efficacy.
Some suggest that Chlorella may interfere with immunosuppressive drugs. However, there is no evidence to support this statement .
The recommended daily intake is below 10 g .
Chlorella vs. Spirulina
Diverse trials have exposed many of the health benefits of Chlorella and spirulina.
Chlorella increases insulin sensitivity, enhance immune system function, counteract the effects of free radicals, and decrease blood pressure .
On the other hand, spirulina improves hemoglobin, protein, and vitamin levels in malnourished children, increases immune function, has a great antioxidant capacity, and is a good source of beta-carotene .
Spirulina has a greater quantity of beta-carotene and protein content than Chlorella, whereas Chlorella has a better protein quality for human nutrition .
According to registered data obtained from microalgae consumers, spirulina has a higher rate of adverse events than Chlorella .
“I just started this a couple of weeks ago. Let me tell you, please start out very slow! My body is detoxing right now and I have been sick from the detox of Chlorella for about a week now. Stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and nausea. I knew to expect these common side effects. I am here to clarify it is true! Start out very slowly with this and work yourself up in pills every day. Wow, it is scary to think how bad a person’s body is when the cleansing of Chlorella causes such discomfort. I have never felt so sick in my life. but it is well worth it. Would go through it all over again. Hope the worst is over.”
“When I take only 5 tablets per day, the detox effect is such that the white of my eyes looks bright and clear. I did not experience any kind of discomfort from taking this supplement, building up from 1 to 5 tablets per day.”
“I don’t normally write reviews, however as I developed severe nausea and vomiting from this product I decided to share this experience. For the first few weeks, I was tolerating it well. I was getting mild headaches and mild upset stomach. But I thought these were maybe detox symptoms. However, symptoms became worse, and so I stopped taking them. My symptoms went away after about 24 – 48 hours. Then I decided to try again, and immediately about 3 hours later woke up from sleep and had an extreme amount of nausea followed by 5 minutes of intense vomiting. I have not vomited in maybe 9 years before this. I have not had Chlorella before on an ongoing basis, but I have had spirulina for a long period with no issues.”