Is it legit or scam?
Chlorella has been called one of the world's top ten health supplements, and alternative health practitioners and manufacturers of chlorella supplements claim a host of extravagant benefits including providing virtually complete nutrition, clearing the body of toxins, boosting the immune system, and fighting cancer and other diseases.
But mainstream medicine warns that this bright green powder from dried algae not only fails to live up to those extravagant claims, but it can also cause potentially serious side effects and pose risks to those taking certain medications. Recent studies on chlorella's nutritional and healing benefits suggest that the truth about its healing powers lies somewhere between these two extremes.
What is Chlorella?
Chlorella is a subspecies of algae, that vast and endlessly proliferating family of aquatic and terrestrial organisms that are among the most ancient on the planet. It reproduces rapidly and nourishes itself through photosynthesis, hence its brilliant green color.
Chlorella is sold as a powder, in capsules or tablets, or in smoothies and juice drinks. It's a relatively inexpensive, readily available dietary supplement sold online and in health food stores just about everywhere.
In terms of its nutritional content, chlorella may deserve its reputation as one of the world's most perfect foods. Over half the calories in a serving of chlorella come from protein. It also contains over 100 percent of the USRDA of Vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, zinc and iron, as well as significant amounts of Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and phosphorus.
Chlorella has been investigated as a possible food source for famine plagued areas of the world such as Africa, where it has been used as a protein supplement for children. Recent studies also demonstrate that chlorella can clear up to 98 percent of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic from polluted waters.
Because chlorella is rich in iron and B vitamins, it can be effective in treating pregnancy-related anemia and edema. Studies suggest it can also protect cells from damage during chemotherapy and radiation, and may also boost the body's white blood cell production to fight infection.
Chlorella's rich nutritional content makes it a useful short-term supplement for people with severe food restrictions and absorption problems. It may also help those with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis, and has also been studied for use in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
False Claims and Real Risks
Though chlorella does have demonstrated benefits, they fall far short of the more extravagant claims about its ability to fight cancer and rid the body of heavy metals, neither of which is supported by clinical research.
Though chlorella is generally safe for most people in moderate amounts, it can cause potentially serious side effects that include diarrhea, stomach cramping, light sensitivity and fatigue - though the list of documented chlorella side effects is significantly shorter than that of common over the counter medications such as ibuprofen. Medical experts also warn that allergic reactions in sensitive people can be severe, including breathing problems and in rare cases anaphylaxis.
For those with thyroid disorders, chlorella should be used with caution, since many supplements contain iodine. It can also interfere with the effectiveness of some blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin and Warfarin, and those taking those drugs are urged to discuss using chlorella with their doctor.
Chlorella may not be the miracle cure for all ailments that its most ardent advocates claim. But this ancient freshwater alga has proved its worth in boosting nutrition and easing the discomfort of a variety of modern day ills.