Side Effects of Chlorella Supplements
According to the American Cancer Society, chlorella (sun chlorella, green algae) is a single-celled freshwater alga that has an abundance of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives leafy vegetables their green color. Chlorella is commonly used in Japan to treat a number of medical conditions. In the United States, sun chlorella is sold as a dietary supplement.
Supporters maintain it can eradicate some cancers, improve the immune system and encourage the healing of intestinal ulcers. Other touted uses include fighting off viral and bacterial infections, cleansing the liver and blood. The ACS says there is no scientific proof to verify these promoted effects. Sun chlorella may produce a number of side effects.
Some people who take sun chlorella may suffer from gastrointestinal problems including gas, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation. Additional side effects may include fatigue, irritability and increased sensitivity to sun exposure.
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Chlorella seems to be safe for people who are not allergic. An allergic response includes breaking out in skin hives or a rash, a swelling of the skin and possible chest pain. You may also have difficulty breathing and feel tightness in your chest or throat. If you have any of these symptoms, stop taking sun chlorella immediately.
- Chlorella seems to be safe for people who are not allergic.
- An allergic response includes breaking out in skin hives or a rash, a swelling of the skin and possible chest pain.
There have not been any studies conducted in humans to determine whether sun chlorella causes negative side effects--or what, if any, effects may be associated with prolonged use.
The ACS cautions not to depend on chlorella to replace traditional medical treatments for serious health conditions such as cancer.
Take only the recommended dosage listed on the label. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease. Don't take sun chlorella if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
- There have not been any studies conducted in humans to determine whether sun chlorella causes negative side effects--or what, if any, effects may be associated with prolonged use.
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- American Cancer Society
- Physicians desktop reference
- Kwak JH, Baek SH, Woo Y, et al. Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorellasupplementation: enhancement of Natural Killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial). Nutr J. 2012;11:53. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-53.
- Azamai ESM, Sulaiman S, Habib SHM, et al. Chlorella vulgaris triggers apoptosis in hepatocarcinogenesis-induced rats. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2009 Jan;10(1):14-21. doi:10.1631/jzus.B0820168.
- Azocar J, Diaz A. Efficacy and safety of Chlorella supplementation in adults with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb 21;19(7):1085-90. doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i7.1085.
- Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M. Chlorella pyrenoidosa supplementation reduces the risk of anemia, proteinuria and edema in pregnant women. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Mar;65(1):25-30. doi:10.1007/s11130-009-0145-9.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know. Bethesda, Maryland; updated April 29, 2019.
- Ryu NH, Lim Y, Park JE, et al. Impact of daily Chlorella consumption on serum lipid and carotenoid profiles in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J. 2014 Jun 11;13:57. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-57.
Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.