Chlorella vulgaris is the scientific name for a single-celled algae that lives in bodies of fresh water. It is also known as sun chlorella or green algae. Its name comes from the Greek word for green, chloros, and ella, which means small, and vulgaris means common or ordinary. Chlorella Vulgaris contains lutein, an antioxident thought by some to be possibly beneficial in protecting against cataracts and other eye disorders associated with aging. It is also thought to be a probiotic, a substance that fights cell damage.
Certain proponents believe Chlorella vulgaris' probiotic properties help relieve the side affects of chemotherapy and may even play a part in cancer risk reduction. There are laboratory studies dating to 1985 that report shrinkage in the cancerous tumors of mice who were given the algae as a daily part of their diet. More recent experiments have pointed to certain strains of chlorella vulgaris possibly inhibiting human cancer cells in a petri dish. There is presently no clinical trial showing the effects or benefits of humans ingesting the algae as a supplement.
Chlorella vulgaris is thought to increase the kind of bacteria beneficial to the digestive system. It is also thought to aid sufferers of intestinal disorders like ulcers, colitis or Crohn's Disease, an often severe and painful inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. While helping so-called good bacteria in the intestines to flourish, chlorella vulgaris may also decrease bad bacteria thought to be responsible for halitosis or bad breath. It is also believed by some to strengthen the immune system to fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
Those who take chlorella vulgaris extract may want to cleanse the blood and detoxify the system. The algae contains chlorophyll, a substance that creates the green pigment in plants and allows them to absorb the sun's energy. This process is known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is thought by some to help aid the body's elimination of environmental pollutants such as mercury and lead. It is also reported to aid the body in breaking down and eliminating pesticides.
Chlorella vulgaris may be taken as a dietary supplement in pill, capsule or powder form. There are some possible side effects when taking chlorella vulgaris such as sensitivity to sunlight, nausea and allergic reactions that may cause tightness in the chest or difficulty breathing. The claimed benefits have not been evaluated by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A physician should always be consulted before taking any supplement.