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Chlorella is a type of algae that grows in fresh water. The whole plant is used to make nutritional supplements and medicine.

Most of the chlorella that is available in the U.S. is grown in Japan or Taiwan. It is processed and made into tablets and liquid extracts. These extracts contain "chlorella growth factor," which is described as a water-soluble extract of chlorella containing chemicals including amino acids, peptides, proteins, vitamins, sugars, and nucleic acids.

Be aware that chlorella products can vary significantly depending on the way "the crop" used to make them was cultivated, harvested, and processed. Investigators have found that dried preparation of chlorella can contain from 7% to 88% protein, 6% to 38% carbohydrate, and 7% to 75% fat.

Chlorella is used to prevent low levels of iron in women who are pregnant. It is also used for depression, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Chlorella is a good source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. It may act as an antioxidant and help to decrease cholesterol, but more research is still needed.

When taken by mouth: Chlorella is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth, short-term (up to 29 weeks). The most common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, gas (flatulence), green discoloration of the stools, and stomach cramping, especially in the two weeks of use. Chlorella can cause skin to become extra sensitive to the sun. Wear sunblock outside, especially if you are light-skinned.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if chlorella is safe or what the side effects might be when applied to the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Chlorella is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately during pregnancy. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking chlorella if you are breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Allergy to molds: Chlorella might cause an allergic reaction in people who are also allergic to molds.

Weak immune system (immunodeficiency): There is a concern that chlorella might cause "bad" bacteria to take over in the intestine of people who have a weak immune system. Do not use chlorella or use with caution if you have this problem.

Iodine sensitivity: Chlorella can contain iodine. Therefore, chlorella might cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to iodine.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Chlorella might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, chlorella might decrease the effectiveness of medications that are used to decrease the immune system.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Chlorella contains large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, chlorella might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:

  • For low iron levels in women who are pregnant: 2 grams three times daily has been taken from the 12-18th week of gestation, until delivery.

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