The Benefits of Chlorella

What You Need to Know About Chlorella Liquid or Tablets

chlorella in powder or liquid form
Chlorella powder can be mixed with liquids such as yogurt or smoothies. Westend61/Getty Images

Chlorella is a type of algae said to offer a range of health benefits. Available in supplement form, chlorella contains a number of antioxidants (including lutein and vitamin C) and is said to be a bioavailable source of vitamin B12 and iron. Proponents claim that chlorella can help promote detoxification and, in turn, protect against cancer. Other purported benefits of chlorella include the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, Crohn's disease, pancreatitis, and liver problems.

Chlorella is commonly found in liquid, tablet, or powder form.

The Research on Chlorella's Health Benefits

Despite abundant marketing claims for chlorella's health benefits, there is a lack scientific support for chlorella's effectiveness in the treatment or prevention of any health problem. Although some animal studies and test-tube research suggests that chlorella may offer some cancer-fighting benefits, these findings have yet to be explored in clinical trials.

The available clinical trials on chlorella's health benefits include a 2003 study, which was designed to test chlorella's effects on the immune system. For the study, researchers assigned 124 healthy adults (ages 50 and older) to take either a chlorella supplement (at a dose of 200 or 400 mg) or a placebo supplement once daily for 28 days. On day 21 of the experiment, participants received a flu vaccine. Study results showed that chlorella failed to increase the antibody response to the vaccine (except among participants ages 50 to 55).

In a previous report, published in 2001, researchers studied the effects of chlorella supplements on 55 fibromyalgia patients, 33 people with high blood pressure, and nine people ulcerative colitis. For two or three months, the study participants took 10 g of chlorella in tablet form and 100 mL of chlorella extract in liquid form each day.

In analyzing their findings, researchers determined that chlorella supplementation may help decrease blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, promote wound healing, and enhance immune function.

A 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal examined the use of chlorella (5 g per day) or a placebo in people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels. Those who took the chlorella had a reduction in serum lipid risk factors, mainly total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Using Chlorella for Health 

Due to the limited science behind chlorella's health effects, chlorella supplements cannot be recommended as a treatment for any health condition. Little is known about the adverse effects possibly associated with long-term or regular use of chlorella supplements. If you're considering the use of chlorella supplements, make sure to consult your physician to weigh the potential benefits and risks. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Sources:

Cha KH, Koo SY, Lee DU. "Antiproliferative effects of carotenoids extracted from Chlorella ellipsoidea and Chlorella vulgaris on human colon cancer cells." J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 26;56(22):10521-6.

Halperin SA, Smith B, Nolan C, Shay J, Kralovec J. "Safety and immunoenhancing effect of a Chlorella-derived dietary supplement in healthy adults undergoing influenza vaccination: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial." CMAJ. 2003 Jul 22;169(2):111-7.

Merchant RE, Andre CA. "A review of recent clinical trials of the nutritional supplement Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the treatment of fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis." Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 May-Jun;7(3):79-91.

Mohd Azamai ES, Sulaiman S, Mohd Habib SH, Looi ML, Das S, Abdul Hamid NA, Wan Ngah WZ, Mohd Yusof YA. "Chlorella vulgaris triggers apoptosis in hepatocarcinogenesis-induced rats." J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2009 Jan;10(1):14-21.

Ryu NH, Lim Y, Park JE, Kim J, Kim JY, Kwon SW1, Kwon O. Impact of daily Chlorella consumption on serum lipid and carotenoid profiles in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J. 2014 Jun 11;13:57. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-57.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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