Health food trends can be confusing. In the rush and flood of new superfoods, alternative methods, and (let’s be honest) just plain weird ingredients, it’s difficult to know what is a superfood and what is just super trendy. I’m not sure yet on which side Chlorella falls. Let’s take a closer look at Chlorella and its possible benefits for the skin.
What is Chlorella?
Are you ready for your microbiology lesson of the day? Because to describe this health ‘food’ we go a bit deeper than just the fruit of this tree or the seed of that. In Greek, It’s name means both small and green, so you have a bit of an idea how Chlorella looks. Chlorella is indeed small. It is really small, only a single spherical cell. It is green algae from the phylum Chlorophyta. It doesn’t take much for this little cell to reproduce. It only asks for a bit of sun, CO2, water and a few minerals. Chlorella reproduces by means of photosynthesis. It is in this seemingly simple reproduction that some people around the world see great hope (Holistik Health). Perhaps it can be used to solve world hunger? Hopefully! Imagine a product that not only benefits the skin, but also feeds the starving.
How did Chlorella Use Come About?
In the end of the 19th century scientists discovered Chlorella. It was also discovered that it had a relatively high level of proteins and could grow and reproduce very quickly. The dream that it might solve world hunger is not limited to the present. They also thought, after the devastation of World War II, that Chlorella might serves as a quick means for a food source in critical times. This idea was taken beyond the dream state and investigated further. Later, it was even researched in Japan whether it could have any positive effects during chemotherapy or even slow how fast cancer cells grow (Cancer.org).
It wasn’t always seen as a little, green cell of hope, it is difficult to digest so much research and hope stopped with that hurdle. But in 1975, a way to make it more digestible was discovered. This discovery cleared the way for Chlorella to be a potentially life and world changing nutritional component (Holistik Health).
It’s hard to imagine too much fitting inside a single cell. But Chlorella, and its contents, may surprise you. Chlorella, which is 60% proteins, also contains:
- 18 amino acids (some of which are essential)
- phytonutrients (CGF)
- pro-vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- B vitamins
- Vitamin K
- biotin and inositol
- folic acid (Herb Wisdom)
What are the Benefits of Chlorella?
Knowing what’s inside Chlorella, we could almost stop there and assume it has grand health benefits. From vitamins, to minerals, to essential fatty acids, Chlorella seems to have it all. In searching for skin benefits, it is wise to note what is to be said for overall and holistic health. Some general health benefits, while not explicitly linked to skin health, may foster or enhance skin health in a roundabout way. So let’s learn some of Chlorella’s benefits to both health and the skin:
Detoxing Heavy Metals
There are many ways that your body becomes tainted with heavy metals: location, lifestyle or maybe livelihood. Whatever the reason, it’s important to do what you can to cleanse your system of these metals. Chlorella is said to be able to surround metals such as lead, cadmium, and murcury and prevent these metals from being resabsorbed by the body. Stopping this reabsorption saves the organs, tissues, and skin from accumulated metals (Dr. Axe).
Supposedly Chlorella is able to reduce oxidative stress. This stress can come from several means such as pollution, stress, and less-than-healthy eating habits. Chlorella is said to make you look younger by improving the appearance of your skin. Because of its contents (vitamin A, vitamin C, and glutathione) it can make your skin look younger. These help to protect your cells and also get rid of free-radicals that otherwise cause damage. It is claimed that results from Chlorella can be seen as soon as two weeks after beginning the supplement (Dr. Axe).
Reduce the appearance of spider veins
In a study conducted by Pierre-Yves Morvan and Romuald Vallee through Codif International, France Chlorella vulgaris was successful in reducing the appearance of spider veins by reducing the redness caused by the vascular irregularities. According to the researchers,”The treatment improved the size and the color of the spider veins.” (Osmosis Skin Care)
Cancer treatment, we agree, is a hefty claim and not so clearly related to skin benefits, but we will not be so quick to judge neither the claim nor the connection. A healthy body can attack and manage the minor situations of abnormal cells. A healthy immune system gets rid of these cells before they are able to take root in our bodies and cause greater damage (cancer). Some studies have shown that Chlorella can help us in the struggle against cancer, both before, during and after diagnosis. There are several reasons it is said to be able to do this:
- Chlorella is believed to help build up our immune system. A high functioning immune system may help to fight cancer before it even starts.
- It flushes the system of heavy metals and other dangerous toxins. A body cleared of these is not as prone to suffer from some cancers caused by environmental situations.
- If you are already diagnosed with cancer, Chlorella is said to make T cells even more useful. Their abiltiy to fight the abnormal cells is enhanced.
- Chlorella is also believed to help during the chemotherapy process by reducing side effects (Dr. Axe).
A healthy body and mind usually equal healthy skin. When we are out of balance weight-wise, it can be harder to keep the rest of our body healthy, too. A healthy weight may help support healthy skin. At least it shouldn’t hurt! Chlorella is said to help us lose weight both in body fat percentage, chloesteral, and glucose levels. It does this by keeping hormones regular, improving metabolism, and making you feel more energized which might prevent you from overeating. As if weight loss and lowered body fat weren’t enough, Chlorella is also said to increase circulation and decrease toxins (Dr. Axe).
Some studies have shown that treatment using Chlorella can help with the effects of scars on the skin. Chlorella was applied topically and orally to heal wounds on mice and showed “both oral and topical routes appeared to have beneficial effects on skin lesions.” (NCBI)
“Nice, Glowy Skin”
If you’re not into scientific studies and would rather rely on word-of-mouth you’re in luck. Information from author and registered dietician Gloria Tsang about the nutritional content of Chlorella was summed up in a snappy way by Maegan Morris of Cosmopolitan: “All of that,” referring to the nutritional benefits, “ends up giving you nice, glowy skin—and who doesn’t want that?”
How do you use Chlorella?
Well, I want that. And if you do too, let’s find out how to get a little Chlorella into our lives. It seems we’ll have our choice of a few routes to Chlorella. You can take Chlorella in the form of:
- Tablets. This is an easy way to include Chlorella in your daily diet, but some may have issues digesting tablets.
- Capsules. Capsules are ideal for those that have trouble digesting the tablets. They are not as widely available though.
- Powder. Powder is a fun and versatile way to get your Chlorella. It allows you to include it easily into smoothies or other drinks. There are many recipes and hints available from health sites and recipe blogs to help keep your Chlorella diet interesting.
Is it safe?
Like any nutritional item, allergic reactions can occur, including symptoms such as breathing difficulties, chest tightness, or stomach problems. If you have any side-effects discontinue your use of Chlorella (Herb Wisdom). And of course, and as always, consult your physician or nutritionist before beginning new nutritional or health regiments.
- Cancer.org, Chlorella, online.
- Herb Wisdom, Chlorella (Chlorella Pyrenoidosa), online.
- Hidalgo-Lucas S, et.al., Benefits of oral and topical administration of ROQUETTE Chlorella sp. on skin inflammation and wound healing in mice, Anti-Inflammatory and Antiallergy Agents Med Chemistry. 2014;13(2):93-102 online at NCBI.
- Holistik Health, Chlorella, online.
- Personal Care Magazine, Effects of Chlorella Extract on Skin, 2007.
- Image Source: tastyhealthproducts.com & exhibithealth.com