Herbal Profile: Chlorella |
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Herbal Profile: Chlorella

Sarena-Rae Santos November 11, 2020

By Sarena-Rae Santos, Contributing Writer 

What is Chlorella?

Chlorella is a green algae superfood from the Chlorellaceae family. Chlorella is found alone or in fresh or saltwater clusters (1). The cells vary in size but are usually 2-12 µm in diameter. The chloroplasts are hollow, cup-shaped, or plate-like and sometimes bear pyrenoids (2). Pyrenoids are dense structures inside or beside chloroplasts of certain algae and are one of the required enzymes in photosynthesis for carbon fixation and sugar formation (3). Pyrenoid proteomes contain 190 proteins responsible for functions such as the carbon concentrating mechanism, starch metabolism, or RNA metabolism and translation (4). Although there are over 30 types of chlorella, the two most common types researched are Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa (5).

Health Benefits of Chlorella

Chlorella is sometimes used as a vegan supplement because it has the highest chlorophyll content (6), but it also has other benefits, such as:

Highly Nutritious

Aside from being the richest source of chlorophyll, chlorella has many different nutritional values; hence it is considered a superfood. Although the nutritional content varies depending on growing conditions, it typically contains small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and other B vitamins (7). Chlorella is rich in the following nutrients:

  • Complete protein (8)
  • Fiber (9)
  • Iron (10)
  • Omega-3s (11)
  • Vitamin B12 (12)
  • Vitamin C (13)

Antioxidant Properties

Aside from being highly nutritious, chlorella is also rich in antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (14). 

Chlorella’s plant compounds, such as chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, all act as antioxidants (15). Studies have found that chlorella interferes with DNA aging and how genes age (16). Other studies demonstrated that chlorella supplements increased antioxidant levels in populations at heightened risk of oxidative damage, such as chronic cigarette smokers (17).

Binds to Heavy Metals, Aiding in Detoxification

Aside from being a highly nutritious superfood, chlorella is most often recognized for its detoxification abilities. Animal studies indicate chlorella effectively removes heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body (18).

Heavy metals that rank highest in toxicity include (19):

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Mercury 

Humans are exposed to these heavy metals daily, from food and water contamination to vaccinations. Thankfully, animal studies have found algae like chlorella to weaken the toxic effects of these heavy metals in the liver, brain, and kidneys (20). Chlorella has also been proven to help decrease the amount of other harmful chemicals found in our food supply, like dioxins (21). 

May Support & Enhance the Immune System

The immune system protects the body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxins (22). When you support and enhance your immune system, you potentially support your body’s ability to fight off sickness. One study found men who took chlorella produced more antibodies than when they took a placebo (23). Another study learned healthy adults taking chlorella showed markers of increased immune activity (24).

May Promote Respiratory Health

Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (25). These respiratory diseases often require controlling inflammation for proper respiratory health management (26,27). Chlorella has components like antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation (28). One study discovered that chlorella supplements improved antioxidant status and pulmonary function in COPD patients (29).

May Promote Eye Health

Chlorella contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin (30). Lutein and zeaxanthin are the primary dietary carotenoids found in the human retina, protecting the macula from blue light damage, improving visual acuity, and scavenging harmful reactive oxygen (31). With that said, studies suggest chlorella’s natural plant compounds would decrease the risk and protect against macular degeneration (32,33).

May Promote Liver Health 

The liver is the largest internal organ, responsible for more than 500 vital functions like bile production, detoxification, production and regulation of vital bodily processes, and more (34). When the liver becomes overburdened, it may become congested or result in liver disease. Several studies have demonstrated that chlorella supplementation can improve markers of liver health in individuals with non-alcoholic liver disease (35,36,37).

May Improve Blood Sugar Levels

As of 2020, 34.2 million (1 in 10) Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million (1 in 3) Americans have prediabetes (38). On the bright side, studies indicate that chlorella may help lower blood sugar levels. An animal study found chlorella to have a hypoglycemic effect on rats with type 2 diabetes (39). A human study discovered that taking chlorella for 12 weeks reduced fasting blood sugar levels in healthy individuals and those at elevated risk of lifestyle-related diseases (40). 

May Improve Cholesterol Levels

Studies have uncovered a link between chlorella and reduced cholesterol levels. One study demonstrated that taking 5–10 grams of chlorella daily resulted in lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high blood pressure and/or slightly elevated cholesterol (41). Chlorella plant compounds like niacin (41), fiber (42), carotenoids (43), and antioxidants (44) are responsible for this effect. 

May Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death here in America. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Americans have uncontrolled high blood pressure here in America (45). Thankfully, chlorella may be able to help. A 12-week study of participants with mildly elevated blood pressure took four grams of chlorella daily. By the end of the 12 weeks, the participants had lower blood pressure readings than those who took the placebo (46). Another study demonstrated that chlorella supplementation was linked to reduced artery stiffness (a factor affecting blood pressure) in healthy men (47).

Safety Concerns

Most experts recommend avoiding chlorella if you are taking blood thinners or have a history of non-melanoma skin cancer (48). Additionally, taking too much chlorella may result in diarrhea, nausea, gas, green stools, and stomach cramping (49). Lowering the dose or temporary discontinuation will resolve these symptoms. 

How to Use Chlorella

You can find ginger in pills, powders, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. 

Follow the recommendations of any supplement; My top recommendation is:

Earthley’s Vaccine Detox is an herbal tincture that helps to restore wellness post-vaccination by supporting gut health. Six herbs combine to help heal leaky gut, support liver health, and boost the immune system, while chlorella powder removes heavy metals from the body. Whether you have taken a vaccine recently or in the past, had a vaccine injury, or are simply looking to detox from the toxins around you, this tincture is for you!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything.  If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.

If you have chlorella in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?

 

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos is the founder of The Holistic Hipppie blog, dedicated to natural health and plant-based eating. Her journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.
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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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