A: Chlorella species of green algae are in many dietary supplements and are touted to have healing properties. So far, there are several good things to say about chlorella. First, chlorella’s bright green color is due to the high content of chlorophyll and robust quantities of the carotenoid lutein, commonly found in spinach. Because commercial chlorella is often grown in a bioreactor rather than in an open-water reservoir, it avoids exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Although clinical studies on the medicinal benefits of chlorella are few in number, one placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study enrolled 43 subjects with fibromyalgia. Researchers found that daily supplementation with 10 grams of Sun Chlorella brand tablets and 100 ml of Wakasa Gold, a liquid chlorella preparation, produced some improvements in patients’ symptoms. However, the number of those who felt their fibromyalgia symptoms had improved did not significantly differ between the two test groups. Unfortunately, no objective or immunological markers were measured.

In another recent study, 124 subjects older than 50 years who had received influenza vaccines took 200 mg or 400 mg per day of Respondin brand carbohydrate-rich chlorella pyrenoidosa extract or placebo for 28 days. Those subjects 50 to 55 years old and receiving Respondin showed a significantly greater antibody response to the vaccine. Given the promising evidence, certain chlorella extracts may prove to be promising immune response modifiers.

This month ASK THE EXPERT is written by nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS. He has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition. IMAGINutrition is a paid consultant to Ocean Nutrition Canada, marketers of Respondin brand chlorella extract.