Botanical Description & Habitat
Chlorella vulgaris, C. pyrenoidosa, C. regularis
Warm stagnant waters
The whole part, dried
Historical Properties & Uses
Chlorella, an ancient, single-celled, green algae, is currently the subject of great attention. Lay people and scientists alike are fascinated by the universe of beneficial activity contained in this microscopic, fresh-water plant. Chlorophyll has been shown to be active in several ways: wound healing; cancer treatment; pancreatitis treatment, anemia therapy, and others.
Though it is one of the most ancient organisms known, chlorella stands as one of the best modern-day therapeutic agents. Without any significant toxicity, without any side-effects, the substance provides large quantities of protein, chlorophyll, amino acids, and so forth, and promotes the function of the immune system, digestive system, detoxification and healing mechanisms, and may even promote longevity.
All of the components of chlorella are contained in a practically indigestible cellulose container--the cell. Much effort has been used to discover ways to break the cell wall open without destroying either the cell wall itself or the sensitive enzymes and nutrients within the cell. Several commercial patents have been issued for such processes.
Method of Action
Every chlorella cell contains an incredible array of nutrients: 50-60% protein, chlorophyll (highest in the plant kingdom), Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folic acid, Biotin, Minerals (Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper), PABA, Inositol, fiber, nucleic acids (RNA, DNA), and enzymes. Chlorella has contains a full complement of amino acids, including the 8 essential amino acids and several others (19 in all). Special extracts of chlorella which concentrate the nucleic acids have been called the Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF).
Some sources divide these nutrients into four groups:
cell wall chlorophyll beta carotene CGF
Chlorella's multi-layered cell wall contains the polysaccharides which research has shown to be responsible for much of the plant's immune-stimulating and detoxification properties. To the presence of beta carotene can be attributed much of the observed anti-cancer action. CGF is also implicated in cancer prevention and treatment.
Chlorella Enhances the Immune System
Chlorella has been shown to affect immune system functioning in the following ways:
1. Macrophage stimulation. Chlorella has been shown in numerous studies to accelerate the reproduction, stimulate the rate of movement and increase the ingestion of microorganisms by these cells.
2. T-cells stimulation. White blood cells are also stimulated by chlorella, including the T-lymphocytes that activate specific immunity (antibodies) to targeted antagonists (antigens).
3. Interferon stimulation. Chlorella extracts increase circulating levels of interferon for a few hours. Polysaccharides isolated from the cell walls of chlorella also induce rises in interferon which has been shown to protect mice against experimentally-produced influenza infection.
Chlorella Possesses Potent Anti-cancer Action
Whole chlorella/cell wall extracts. The same properties affecting the immune system have been implicated in the prevention and cure of some forms of cancer. Thus, chlorella's observed anti-tumor properties are felt to be due at least partially to a combined, synergistic effect of increased macrophage and lymphocyte activity. Likewise, interferon-induced anti-tumor effects have been attributed to the cell wall polysaccharides of chlorella.
Two important groups of T-cells are the helper cells and the suppressor cells. The helper cells stimulate B lymphocytes to produce large quantities of antibodies (up to 2,000/second); the suppressor cells inhibit helper cells in an attempt to hold the production of antibodies in check and keep the immune system from running amok. Occasionally, cancer patients exhibit depressed levels of helper cells in relation to high levels of suppressor cells, indicating that perhaps normal antibody reaction is insufficient to destroy the cancer. Research has shown chlorella reverses the helper/suppressor ratio.
The anti-cancer activity of chlorella must be viewed as indirect. No study as ever shown chlorella directly attacks and kills a cancer cell. Rather, chlorella stimulates the body's own defense mechanisms, its immune system, so the body is better able to fight off foreign substances on its own. Naturally this means chlorella anti-cancer therapy should be supported by other nutritionally sound and therapeutically effective measures.
Many people maintain chlorophyll and its derivatives are also good anti-cancer agents. But research to date has not been conclusive. The degradation products of chlorophyll seen to have some anti-tumor properties, but whether those effects are shared by the parent substance is not certain.
While whole chlorella and chlorophyll do not seem to directly inhibit tumor growth, the action of CGF is more certain. The Chlorella Growth Factor is a simple hot water extract of whole chlorella. It concentrates the amount of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, sugars and especially nucleic acids and their building blocks, e.g., adenosine and cytidine. Glycoproteins found in CGF have been shown to directly inhibit experimentally induced cancers of various kinds in animals, including sarcoma 180, leukemia, fibrosarcoma, breast cancer and liver cancer.
In humans, at least one study has found good, but not conclusive, results and good tolerance in women suffering from colon cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancers.
The content of vitamin A and beta carotene in chlorella may be partially responsible for observed anti-cancer effects. Both of these have been repeatedly known to be effective in preventing cancer and in suppressing it during the initial stages.
Chlorella Stimulates the Body's Natural Detoxification Systems
In addition to the immune-stimulating function discussed above, chlorella helps the body's other waste treatment systems.
For instance, chlorella, like so many other algaes, complexes with and inactivates heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury) in the intestine, so they are excreted harmlessly from the body. It detoxifies other materials in a similar manner, including P.C.B., ethionine, pesticides, insecticides, hydrocarbons, and radioactive substances. The polysaccharides of the cell walls are thought to be responsible for this action. In one interesting study, chlorella was able to prevent the death of brewer's yeast cells exposed to a highly toxic combination of cadmium, mercury, copper and P.C.B.
The liver's ability to detoxify such agents as alcohol and ethionine is enhanced by chlorella ingestion.
The chlorophyll in chlorella "sanitizes" the bowel about the same way it does the kitty litter box, by destroying bacteria causing gas and odors.
Chlorella Stimulates Growth and Tissue Repair
Wounds & burns
Extracts from green plants stimulate the growth of new skin tissue in wounds. Chlorophyll has been identified as the active substance. In one study, 1,372 cases of experimentally induced wounds and burns were treated topically by a 17 different ointments. Only the chlorophyll preparation showed consistent significant results. Infected wounds did not show improvement with this preparation, but other studies, using more concentrated chlorophyll preparations have reported anti-infectious activity also.
Chlorophyll has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of penicillin by as much as 35%. Radiation burns have also been effectively treated with chlorophyll. Wounds that have not yielded to conventional treatment have been repaired with chlorella itself.
Chlorella is routinely used in Japan as an adjunct in the treatment for duodenal ulcers and gastritis.
Perhaps the most phenomenal research of all was done in Japan on elementary-age school children. One group ingested 2 grams of chlorella daily for 112 days. Compared to the control group, they experienced significantly greater growth rates in terms of weight and height (boys only). Animals studies have yielded the same results.
Other Properties of Chlorella
Chlorella has been shown to have the following effects: Lower blood pressure; Inhibit aging processes due to deteriorating RNA/DNA by providing replacement RNA/DNA and substrates; Accelerate healing of diabetic ulcers; Promote the healing of pancreatitis, through the action of chlorophyll degradation products; Decrease cholesterol levels thereby aiding recovery from arteriosclerosis; Promote the relief of arthritis, due to beta carotene content and ability to stimulate interferon activity.
Drug Interactions & Precautions
Veratrum alkaloids may potentiate the activity of chlorella (up to 50%).
Additive effects may occur between the hypotensive property of chlorella and that of dopamine receptor agonists such as bromocriptine mesylate.
Chlorella should be used with caution in conjunction with CNS depressants or stimulants.
The hypotensive effect of this herb may be potentiated by anoretic drugs such as fenfluramine whose effects are mediated by brainstem serotonin, and may be additive with analgesics nalbuphine HCl and propoxyphene HCl.
The hypotensive property of this herb may be additive with the CNS depressant activity of the analgesic nalbuphine HCl. The same is true of the analgesic propoxyphene HCl.
Due to hypotensive principles, it would be wise to avoid using chlorella with procarbazine antineoplastic agents, to eliminate the chance of CNS depression.
Safety Factors & Toxicity
Preparation & Administration
Generally, chlorella can be used as desired; when in doubt, follow manufacturers' directions on packing slips.
Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.
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