Green supplements have been growing in popularity since the mid-1980s. It is a wonderful thing that people have started paying more attention to the origin of their food and supplements, and that they are turning to natural sources more often, prioritizing quality over price. Words like superfoods, organic, or 100% natural might seem like buzzwords and marketing strategies, but there is some true healing magic to natural, bio-available nutrients. Commercial supplements are often full of unnecessary ingredients like artificial sweeteners, fillers, colorings, or just gluten and soy (these, even though perfectly natural, are not a healthy option). The word superfood is randomly thrown around and misused to label the newest food-lab creation as something miraculous. We also learned about the health benefits of algae. Chlorella carries all three labels on its shoulders: it is a common ingredient in greens supplements, a superfood, and an algae. Some people praise and swear by it, while others say it is just a scam, but this is generally by those uncomfortable with anything outside of the bubble of modern western medicine.
There is no miracle cure for everything. There is not just one single food or supplement that will work the same for everyone and save the global health crisis. Even the most natural supplement can have negative side effects when not taken with caution or when used by someone with particular, incompatible, health problems. If you are sensitive to nightshades, you will probably not choose to include tomatoes and bell peppers in your daily dose of vegetables, despite the fact that they are an excellent source of vitamin C. Some people are highly sensitive to everything made with coconut and they might have to stay away from coconut oil, no matter how healthy it might seem on paper. No matter how nutrient dense some foods might be, they will never work for absolutely everyone. Different people have different needs, and there are many things to consider, including their current state of health, metabolic individuality, and also the quality of the supplement they decide to try. When looking for a real food supplement, the quality should always be the first criteria on your list. Chlorella is no exception.
Chlorella is a unicellular freshwater algae. Today it is mostly cultivated in Asia, and we recognize several varieties, the most commonly known and used are Chlorella vulgaris (vul.) and Chlorella pyrenoidosa (pyr.). This green algae is packed with nutrients and has a very strong cellular wall. For the nutrients of this plant to be easily absorbed by a human body, it has to be dried and very finely milled/ground into a super fine powder, allowing us to digest and use all the precious nutrients within the organism. Chlorella is then sold either as a powder or pressed into tablets. There is so much you can read about Chlorella online and many studies have been done on this superfood. The problem with the research that studies Chlorella is the fact that they were mostly performed using Chlorella vul., even though the one that is mostly used in supplements worldwide is Chlorella pyr..
There are mild differences in the nutritional profile of both Chlorella varieties, and for that reason, I would suggest always reading your labels before purchasing any Chlorella supplement, just to be sure which cultivar you are getting (there are supplements available that contain two or more varieties, like our own Chlorella blend). Whether you are a fan of Chlorella or not, there is no denying that all of the types of this algae are very rich in minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. People have used Chlorella for a very long time - it is not a recent discovery. The first study is actually from 1975, and it showed a positive effect on lowering serum levels of cholesterol after just three months of use. Fifteen years later, the results of this old study were confirmed. And over the years, many more studies showed different kinds of benefits. This study using Chlorella vul. showed improved antioxidant action among cigarette smokers. This paper explains how Chlorella helps to improve blood glucose levels and also works as a potent antioxidant. This more recent study proved improved glucose metabolism in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Tests on subjects with high-risk factors for lifestyle related diseases showed some promising results, and this animal study suggests that using Chlorella pyr. might help menopausal women with weight management and lipid metabolism regulation.
In 2002, a study focused on mast cells looked at 11 different types of algae and showed that Chlorella vul. actually helps to decrease the release of histamine after mast cell degranulation, which turned Chlorella into a member of the anti-histamine family! A few years later a study on mice showed similar results with Chlorella pyr., and once again with Chlorella vul. in 2013. Research from 2015 showed positive effects of Chlorella vul. for treating atopic dermatitis. Many animal studies suggest that Chlorella is a great way to boost immunity, but there are also studies on humans. This clinical study shows effects of an 8-week long trial of Chlorella intake on the immune system. Researchers found that it helps to activate natural killer cells in the body and regulates immunity! Peptides present in Chlorella even seem to prevent cardiovascular diseases linked with inflammation.
The positive effects of Chlorella on inflammation are also shown when using it topically to treat skin inflammation and wounds. Another trial studied the positive effects of Chlorella on decreasing the pain and inflammatory markers in rats suffering from urinary tract infection. There is also some promising evidence of Chlorella protecting the gut barrier from bacteria and endotoxins, which suggests that supplementing with this algae might help with gut healing and digestive problems. Chlorella also lowers the negative effects of stress! Last but not least, this clinical study (using Chlorella pyr.) shows the benefits for patients with Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis, high blood pressure, and impaired immune function. This is a lot of scientific evidence that simply should not be ignored!
Chlorella is definitely worth trying, especially if you recognize yourself in any of the symptoms mentioned above. It is not going to miraculously heal you, but it will definitely have a positive effect on your overall health. Many people report improvements in overall digestion (and elimination) after just three months of using Chlorella regularly. Chlorella fans say it helps them with diarrhea, headaches, histamine flares, seasonal allergies, and even faster recovery after drinking or eating something off. Chlorella is rich in protein, which might be problematic for some people. If you are very sensitive to new foods (for example if you are a Celiac, MCAS, or MTHFR patient), start very slowly with a very low dose of Chlorella, if you decide to try it. As little as ¼ of a tablet is a great start, and you can slowly increase the dose based on the feedback your body gives you. You don’t have to dive into a high dose to experience benefit, and definitely don’t think that you have to take Chlorella just because everyone else does, but with all the evidence showing such positive effects, it is definitely worth giving it a go!