Last Update: March 17, 2015
Chlorella is a whole food algae supplement usually available in powder or tablet form. It's primary claim to fame in the superfood world is as a detoxification agent as it is known to be helpful for removing toxic substances and heavy metals from the bloodstream and body.
It can be consumed in low doses throughout the day for a period of time to offer a gentle detox to the blood, lymph and liver. Or, it can be taken as an adjunct to a juice fasting regimen to help assist in the elimination of various harmful substances that most people are inevitably exposed to on a daily basis.
This could include any range of contaminants such as lead, mercury and cadmium as well as other poisonous substances like PCB's, fluoride, DDT, dioxin, pesticides and herbicides.
We believe that at some point, with the evolution of the human race and a genuine regard for environmental protection, these life-inhibiting materials will in future generations not be so much of a problem or concern. In today's day and age, however, it is advised to routinely purify the body once or twice a year to eliminate the potential accumulation of these toxic residues and the effects they can have on our overall physical and mental health over time.
While, in our opinion, maintaining a healthy whole foods diet with plenty of
antioxidants and chlorophyll-rich superfoods can be very helpful for enhancing
immunity and the body's own natural detoxification process, sometimes toxins are known to build up and do not always leave
on their own accord but must be routinely cleansed or chelated.
There have been a number of studies investigating chlorella's ability to bind to and eliminate lead, cadmium and the high levels of mercury that can result from amalgam filling removal.
In a study documented in the journal entitled International Immunopharmacology, the administration of C. vulgaris extract (chlorella) to lead-exposed mice showed its ability to provide chelating effects and "reduce blood lead levels" especially when administered simultaneously.
An article published in the Journal of Environmental and Public
Health entitled "A Safe Protocol for Amalgam Removal", chlorella use is
recommended for the removal of mercury-concentrated amalgam fillings. This dental procedure can cause high levels of mercury leakage into the
bloodstream, so it is a good idea to take the necessary precautions to
effectively get it out of the body as quickly as possible. Chlorella used along with
other chelation therapies is an advised option by many health authorities.
Chlorella is different than other edible microalgae's, like spirulina and blue-green algae (AFA) because it is an "algae" rather than a cyanobacterium species. It is actually more closely related to seaweeds which are multicellular marine algae's or macroalgae's.
Typically, the two algae's used for supplemental purposes are the species Chlorella pyrenoidosa (C. sorokiniana) and Chlorella vulgaris. The microscopic cells of the algae are very small, round and easily multiply under the right conditions. The name comes from the Greek word "chloros", which means "green" and the Latin word "ella" meaning "small" and belongs to a genus of single-celled algae in the phylum Chlorophyta.
One unique characteristic about this microalgae is that it is known to quadruple in size every 24 hours and is regarded as one of the fastest growing food crops in existence. This is commonly referred to as the Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) and is thought to be a result of its high amount of phytonutrients, like beta glucans, peptides, nucleic acids and various other polysaccharides that likewise help to speed up cellular regeneration when consumed as a dietary food source.
Some health authorities believe that CGF, which is found specifically in the nucleus of the molecule, actually encourages the repair and growth of nerve tissue, which can be particularly helpful for brain and nerve disorders. CGF is known to supply a wealth of nucleic acid materials, including the longevity enhancing compound RNA, as well as beta glucans. These features are known to promote a healthy immune system and may also contribute to nerve regeneration.
CGF is often associated with the algae's ability to rapidly increase the growth of friendly bacteria in human gut microbiota. It is also thought to be related to its properties as a cleansing agent.
The best quality chlorella is one that is grown in a controlled environment free of industrial pollutants and microbial impurities. This can either be achieved by growing the algae in protected outdoor fresh water ponds or indoor tanks. Both methods have their advantages with each eliminating exposure to environmental pollutants that may contaminate the end product.
It is always important to purchase chlorella powder or tablets from reputable sources who follow strict production guidelines. This includes techniques for purity testing, low heat processing and for creating an easily digested high quality algae supplement.
Because chlorella has a tough cellulose fiber surrounding the algae molecule, it needs to be "broken" for it to be properly digested when consumed. This is done through a special process that cracks the outer cell wall and pulverizes it for enhanced absorption.
Usually this is accomplished via a pressure-release technique that opens the cell walls and micronizes it down to smaller particles. This procedure eliminates the use of heat or light in order to preserve nutritional integrity ensuring the chlorophyll and living enzymes remain present.
In today's world we are all subject to some degree of heavy metal toxicity from any number of environmental contaminants. This dilemma, from our perspective, can cause a buildup of these compounds over the course of one's lifetime. Often linked to many modern-day diseases, a backlog of these particles in the bloodstream, tissues and organs can have enormous effects on overall energy levels, mental health and general well-being.
Because the effects of these poisonous substances are cumulative, that is they "accumulate" over a period of ongoing exposure, you may not feel their impacts immediately. However, over time, they can slowly start to have negative repercussions with symptoms that may include foggy thinking, candida overgrowth, joint pain, neurological disorders and stressed immune functions.
Some of these metallic and chemical substances, including mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, plastics and various radioactive isotopes, have been associated with many autoimmune and neurological diseases such as fibromyalgia and Alzheimer's.
In a 2011 study
published in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease it
states, "It is widely accepted that aluminum is a recognized neurotoxin,
and that it could cause cognitive deficiency and dementia when it
enters the brain and may have various adverse effects on the central
The biosorption of heavy metals is believed to be the result of the certain polysaccharides and metal binding proteins like metallothionein. (Source) Metallothionein has been shown to bind to a broad spectrum of metallic substances including cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic.
on mice, documented in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, it was found that CV treatment (Chlorella vulgaris) "significantly reduced lead levels in blood and tissues" and other evidence suggested is benefits as a chelating agent "to protect the host from the damage induced by lead poisoning."
In other research testing the effect of chlorella on cadmium (Cd) toxicity, it was suggested that chlorella could inhibit "Cd absorption, promoting the excretion of Cd from the body into feces."
It is important, even for individuals following a health promoting diet and lifestyle, to undergo periodic cleansing protocols to remove these potential toxins from the body.
Chlorella can be a beneficial top superfood supplement to take during
a yearly or biyearly detox regimen. Using appropriate dosages over a
scheduled amount of time has demonstrated to facilitate urine and fecal
mercury excretion as well as an array of other heavy metals and chemical
It can be used independently as an added adjunct to the diet for a period of weeks or months, depending on the situation, or it can be used with other detoxifying superfoods like zeolite, fulvic acid, charcoal, seaweeds, milk thistle, cleansing herbs and MSM. Green leafy vegetables, like cilantro, are also great detoxifiers and can be consumed in high concentrations in green juices throughout the day along with chlorella supplementation.
The length of a chlorella cleansing protocol is dependent on a number of factors including dose amount in addition to one's current state of health and level of toxic accumulation.
Chlorella contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of any plant known and is in fact why it closely resembles the spelling of the word. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that collects energy from sunlight and uses that energy for the process of photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll works to purify as well as nourish the bloodstream and is high in iron which helps to build the blood, energize the body and prevent anemia. It is one of the specific components in the algae responsible for neutralizing toxins as well as supplying absorbable phytonutrients to the cells.
Chlorophyll is known to reduce inflammation, a key factor in cardiovascular disease and many other health conditions. In research conducted in 2012 it was established that "chlorophyll is a valuable and abundantly available anti-inflammatory agent and promising for the development of phytomedicine to treat inflammation and related diseases."
Chlorella can significantly improve immune system functions by helping to stimulate the production of T-cells, B-cells as well as increase macrophage activity.
It also contains chlorellan, a molecule that activates the production of interferon, a group of signaling proteins that ward off harmful parasites, bacteria and viruses. In addition, the algae helps to encourage the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria, a key component to a healthy immune response.
Chlorella, like spirulina, is very high in protein content, usually making up between 45-60% and is a complete protein with all essential amino acids available. It also contains an abundance of phytonutrients like polysaccharides, nucleic acids, essential fatty acids in addition to a number of vitamins including the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. The microalgae is also high in iron and is comprised of some of the B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin and B6 as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium.
Microalgaes are some of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This is why fish is naturally high in omega fats because they eat algae and phytoplankton, the original sources of these essential nutrients.
High quality powders are low heat processed and high in living enzymes, like pepsin and chlorophyllase, which help to aid in proper digestion of food and nutrients.
In addition, as we mentioned, the microalgae supports the growth of friendly flora in the intestinal tract providing a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and yeast strains.
Always drink plenty of water when taking chlorella powder or tablets. High dosages can tend to cause constipation if inadequately hydrated. It is best to take the microalgae in small doses to start and build up to more over a few days time.
It can be taken directly by mixing the powder into water or blending the either the powder or tablets into a green smoothie or other beverage, like coconut kefir or charcoal lemonade.
Although we love using spirulina as a condiment on top of salads, chlorella has a stronger flavor and is not as palatable when used in this fashion.
The most effective way to use it for detox purposes is in water first thing in the morning or during a juice fast.