Treating Hepatitis C with Chlorella

Treating Hepatitis C with Chlorella
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Improvements in natural killer cell immune function may explain both the anti-cancer benefits of exercise as well as the apparent anti-virus effects of the green algae chlorella.

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Multiple studies published over the last two decades suggest that exercise can mitigate the deleterious effects of age on immune function, thus increasing anti-cancer immunity, in part by stimulating natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells, a part of our immune system, work to eliminate both tumor cells and virus-infected cells. And we can boost their activity by exercising.

Here’s the difference in natural killer cell activity between women involved in athletic competitions compared to their sedentary counterparts. There is a growing consensus that natural killers appear to be the immune system component that is most responsive to the effects of both acute and chronic exercise across the board, from older women to younger men. Significantly higher NK cell activity in racing cyclists in their twenties. Even just moderate exercise like daily walking appears to significantly improve NK activity within six weeks. This may be why exercise helps protect against cancer.

But sustained, vigorous exercise may actually impair natural killer cell immunity, which may be one reason endurance athletes like marathon runners may appear more likely to get upper respiratory tract infections.

In my video on preserving athlete immunity with chlorella, I featured a study that showed that consuming chlorella appeared to prevent the loss in immune function as measured by antibody production, but what effect might the green algae have on natural killer cell activity?

Petri dish and animal studies suggested that the algae, chlorella, could affect natural killer cell activity, but there was no direct evidence for the effect of chlorella supplementation on such a response in humans, until this randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial gave people about two teaspoons of chlorella a day for eight weeks, and compared to placebo, they got a significant increase in natural killer cell activities.

Does this actually translate, though, into clinical benefits? We didn’t know until now. The efficacy of chlorella supplementation in adults with chronic hepatitis C infection. It is estimated that up to four million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, the leading cause of liver transplants, and estimated to kill a quarter million Americans this decade. The current treatment is costly and brutal, costing up to $85,000, and nearly half can’t even complete the treatment, due in part to the many complications associated with the treatment. So that’s why there’s such a need for novel treatment options.

After three months of chlorella, there were reported improvements in quality of life, but that could have just been a placebo effect, since the control group wasn’t given green sugar pills. This, however, is harder to explain. A significant improvement in ALT, which is a marker of liver inflammation, which could be explained by a beneficial immunostimulatory effect of chlorella supplementation.

No serious adverse effects were reported, so why not give it a try? Well the brand they used was tied to a disturbing case report recently, Chlorella-Induced Psychosis. A 48-year old woman in Omaha suffers a psychotic break, out of the blue two months after starting chlorella. They stopped it and started her on an antipsychotic drug and a week later she was fine.

Now chlorella has never been linked to psychosis before, so presumably it was just a coincidence that the psychosis started after she started taking chlorella, and the reason she felt better after stopping it was because the drug was kicking in. But seven weeks later, still on the drug, she became psychotic again after starting back on the chlorella. They stopped the chlorella again—this time that’s all they did, and the psychosis resolved.

Now maybe it wasn’t the chlorella itself, but some toxic impurity or adulteration, they don’t know. While chlorella is marketed to promote mental health, this case underscores the importance of educating the public about the potential adverse effects and the need for more research in herbal products being marketed in the United States.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to FF2011 via Wikimedia.

Multiple studies published over the last two decades suggest that exercise can mitigate the deleterious effects of age on immune function, thus increasing anti-cancer immunity, in part by stimulating natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells, a part of our immune system, work to eliminate both tumor cells and virus-infected cells. And we can boost their activity by exercising.

Here’s the difference in natural killer cell activity between women involved in athletic competitions compared to their sedentary counterparts. There is a growing consensus that natural killers appear to be the immune system component that is most responsive to the effects of both acute and chronic exercise across the board, from older women to younger men. Significantly higher NK cell activity in racing cyclists in their twenties. Even just moderate exercise like daily walking appears to significantly improve NK activity within six weeks. This may be why exercise helps protect against cancer.

But sustained, vigorous exercise may actually impair natural killer cell immunity, which may be one reason endurance athletes like marathon runners may appear more likely to get upper respiratory tract infections.

In my video on preserving athlete immunity with chlorella, I featured a study that showed that consuming chlorella appeared to prevent the loss in immune function as measured by antibody production, but what effect might the green algae have on natural killer cell activity?

Petri dish and animal studies suggested that the algae, chlorella, could affect natural killer cell activity, but there was no direct evidence for the effect of chlorella supplementation on such a response in humans, until this randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial gave people about two teaspoons of chlorella a day for eight weeks, and compared to placebo, they got a significant increase in natural killer cell activities.

Does this actually translate, though, into clinical benefits? We didn’t know until now. The efficacy of chlorella supplementation in adults with chronic hepatitis C infection. It is estimated that up to four million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, the leading cause of liver transplants, and estimated to kill a quarter million Americans this decade. The current treatment is costly and brutal, costing up to $85,000, and nearly half can’t even complete the treatment, due in part to the many complications associated with the treatment. So that’s why there’s such a need for novel treatment options.

After three months of chlorella, there were reported improvements in quality of life, but that could have just been a placebo effect, since the control group wasn’t given green sugar pills. This, however, is harder to explain. A significant improvement in ALT, which is a marker of liver inflammation, which could be explained by a beneficial immunostimulatory effect of chlorella supplementation.

No serious adverse effects were reported, so why not give it a try? Well the brand they used was tied to a disturbing case report recently, Chlorella-Induced Psychosis. A 48-year old woman in Omaha suffers a psychotic break, out of the blue two months after starting chlorella. They stopped it and started her on an antipsychotic drug and a week later she was fine.

Now chlorella has never been linked to psychosis before, so presumably it was just a coincidence that the psychosis started after she started taking chlorella, and the reason she felt better after stopping it was because the drug was kicking in. But seven weeks later, still on the drug, she became psychotic again after starting back on the chlorella. They stopped the chlorella again—this time that’s all they did, and the psychosis resolved.

Now maybe it wasn’t the chlorella itself, but some toxic impurity or adulteration, they don’t know. While chlorella is marketed to promote mental health, this case underscores the importance of educating the public about the potential adverse effects and the need for more research in herbal products being marketed in the United States.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to FF2011 via Wikimedia.

Doctor's Note

That psychosis case report makes me nervous. Unlike blue-green algae, which can produce neurotoxins (Is Blue-Green Algae Good for You?), chlorella does not (Is Chlorella Good for you?), but neither does spirulina, yet toxins have been found in spirulina supplements, presumably due to contaminants (Another Update on Spirulina).

There are other ways to counter the impact of over-strenuous exercise. See:

And other ways of Boosting Natural Killer Cell Activity.

2018 Update: I just published a new video on Detoxifying with Chlorella. Check it out. 

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

34 responses to “Treating Hepatitis C with Chlorella

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  1. In your words, Dr. Greger,

    “But seven weeks later, still on the drug, she became psychotic again after starting back on the chlorella. They stopped the chlorella again—this time that’s all they did, and the psychosis resolved.

    …While chlorella is marketed to promote mental health, this case underscores the importance of educating the public about the potential adverse effects and the need for more research in herbal products being marketed in the United States.”

    I think the headline (and premise) of today’s video should be a bold warning, note of caution, for anyone considering taking chlorella. Obviously, in your own opinion, there is reason for concern, and I think some viewers see bold headlines “Treating Hep C With Chlorella” and just assume that this is safe, and the solution, while missing out on possibly the most fundamentally vital piece of information the whole video brings to light: that chlorella might cause some bad reactions. And they have to wait to the end of the video (if they even got this far without having rushed out to the nearest health food supplement store to pick up some chlorella).

    ON THE WEBMD.COM WEBSITE: WARNING ON CHLORELLA:

    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. Be careful with chlorella if you have this problem.

    “Autoimmune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Chlorella might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using chlorella.

    http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-907-Chlorella.aspx?activeIngredientId=907&activeIngredientName=Chlorella

    Maybe (just maybe) the chlorella is altering the human’s (in this case, the woman from Omaha) bacterial health in a detrimental way that is triggering mental illness…or maybe the chlorella triggered an autoimmune reaction, in her case psychosis. Maybe these “super foods” are so intense and super that they bring to the surface diseases, in susceptible folks, that would likely have remained dormant for life.

    1. as a researcher I have a lot of cases in my hydrobyologist experience, when commonly not infective algae become a part of the body of some fishes. It’s much more often than we usually think – the situation when some organism come into other and the immune system failed to take it away.
      So it’s not about chlorella itself, it’s rather about you ability to fight the food :).
      simple cooking should help a lot.

  2. I’m not inclined to add chlorella to my shopping list; it’s more of a supplement than something I can pick up at the green grocer. I’m more inclined to spend my money on real food than on mail order herbs and supplements. So, following the advice of previous videos on this site, (look up immune function in the side bar to the left or go to http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/immune-function/ ) I make eating mushrooms, blueberries, pepper, and apples along with plenty of fruits and vegetables a part of my daily regimen, along with moderate exercise to boost my immune system.

  3. A friend of mine developed psychosis twice during interferon treatment for hep-c. Could the psychosis be related to the eradication of the virus from the liver, rather than to the agent of eradication? Has anyone taking chlorella without hep- c developed psychosis?

  4. This is so interesting. And scary.

    I wonder if Dr G would mention chlorella to a patient with HepC. If a patient with HepC was being watched for psychoses maybe it’s worth the risk?

    I’m always glad we can trust Dr. G to tell us about the negative side effects associated with different holistic treatments in an evidence based manner.

    Lots of holistic type people come off as crackpots, thanks Dr. G!

  5. the part in this video which discusses psychiatric symptoms from chlorella is very interesting to me since my recent discovery about the relationship between parasites and debilitating “suicidal depression.” Perhaps you too have come across some very interesting news article which describes an alternative medical discovery (the content of which would steer the reader away from a pharmaceutical “solution”), and upon reading this article about an herb alternative or food-based medicine, the article suddenly disappears from the Internet altogether. I am a self-treated cancer patient and spend about 30 hours/week researching the latest alternative medicine findings as well as the reported ancient plant wisdom, and I can attest to this fact — there must be an army of paid techies whose job description is simply to scrub the Internet for any stories which infringe on the pharmaceutical-medical-hospital industrial complex’s bottom line profits because I witness this phenomena every day. For example, I recently read (and then the story disappeared completely) an article by a reputable medical research center which showed how an overgrowth or longstanding case of parasites in humans is strongly correlated to suicide and/or “suicidal depression.” As someone who has lived a long life with depression caused by brain injuries, I need to explain there is a big difference between depression and suicidal depression in both quantity and quality. According to this article, autopsies revealed the entire body of suicide victims was consumed with parasites at a rate much higher than death by any other cause, and the report stated that the medical postulation was that perhaps there is some metabolic byproduct? of many common parasites which causes this unbearable psychiatric condition leading to suicide. Now imagine my surprise in finding this story when I myself, recently experienced this exact scenario – while on a 45-day highly disciplined, top-of-the-line parasite cleanse program I experienced a total disappearance of what I was describing at the time to my closest friends, was a “suicidal depression.” This happened in a relatively brief time (weeks) during my Cancer Treatment Protocol #4 (month 8). This is my long-winded way of saying I think this is also why chlorella causes negative cognitive and mood (and allergic-type) symptoms in me too. I have to wonder if it could have something to do with chlorella’s questionable identity (some call it a fungus) which acts like a fungus in fungus-sensitive people, and also the fact that it is grown in “fresh water” which as we know is polluted all over the world and in fact becomes a sponge for pollutants. In other words, I think the days of being able to produce truly clean chlorella might be over and it may also be too close (botanically-biologically) to parasites for some people sensitive to psychiatric symptoms (a group of Americans that is apparently increasing in numbers, for various reasons). For those of us dealing with advanced immune breakdown, these things matter – circulating information about the alternative medicine choices, as the information comes in and is disseminated through education and sharing, is essential to the survival and quality of life for a large group of distressed bodies. Thanks again, Dr. Greger for focusing on this detail.

    1. interesting post… maybe the wayback machine could help you to find the “disappeared” papers/post… https://archive.org/web/… just search for the site you want to look for… anyway i found your parasite/suicide hypothesis interesting ’cause parasites could steal particular nutrients from the body and maybe (it depends on where the parasites are located) impares organ fuction, or brain areas that need those nutrients… it seems there is some research in the field: http://scholar.google.it/scholar?q=parasites%2Bsuicide+attempts&btnG=&hl=it&as_sdt=0%2C5

        1. fascinating… maybe before to make use of psycho drugs it’s better to check the psyco patient for possible parasitic infection…

          1. There seems a consensus that atherosclerosis requires both inflammation (leading to endothelial dysfunction, LDL oxidation etc.), and a surplus of cholesterol building blocks.

            Some useful entries into the literature which I liked, undoubtedly there’s better out there:
            Roberts, W. C. (2008). The cause of atherosclerosis. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 23(5), 464-467.
            Galkina, E., & Ley, K. (2009). Immune and inflammatory mechanisms of atherosclerosis. Annual review of immunology, 27, 165.
            Hulsmans, M., & Holvoet, P. (2010). The vicious circle between oxidative stress and inflammation in atherosclerosis. Journal of cellular and molecular medicine,14(1‐2), 70-78.
            Thanassoulis, G. (2013). Mendelian randomization: how genetics is pushing the boundaries of epidemiology to identify new causes of heart disease. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 29(1), 30-36.

  6. A mechanistic note of caution. In the lab, Chlorella polysaccharides activate Toll-like receptors prominent in pathogen pathogen recognition and innate immune response signalling 1, 2. TLRs are also active in inflammation, chronic inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, and one Korean study biopsied cases of autoimmune hepatitis possibly attributable to Chlorella 3. There’s a similar story with fungal β-glucans, another food compound that stimulate immune response via TLRs, for both good and ill: 4, 5, 6. There’s perhaps a fine and individual balance between adequate and excess immune stimulation.

    1. So what your saying is that the algae could help stop the hep-c, but then continue to cause symptoms similar to hep-c itself through its various pathways?
      Man, it seems like nature just gave with one hand and then took away with the other. At least they still have coffee to fall back on as a helpful natural remedy.

      1. If there’s is a negative effect from uncontaminated chlorella, its very rare. I’m just fascinated with hormesis, of which this may be yet another example, and have also been reading reviews on the TLRs, possible important mediators of negative effects of saturated fats and endotoxins in atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis and neurodegeneration.

        1. When you first mentioned hormesis I knee-jerked “wacko” new age bunk. But youre so sharp on other topics I had to look into it more. It is fascinating. The alcohol J-curve and even low doses of radiation seem to elicit protective effects. I even notice that my seedlings do better when I withhold water, just enough to stress them a little.

          Is it possible that, dare I ask, an occasional bite of animal could activate innate protective systems?

          1. Epidemiology trumps benchtop speculations, and studies like TC Campbell’s China study note “no evidence of a threshold beyond which further benefits did not accrue with increasing proportions of plant-based foods.”

            While hormesis seems established, at present we don’t know where we lie on the many curves for different stressors. We’ll all (including vegans) already have some circulating saturated fats and endotoxins (from our own metabolism and microbiota) as well as strange polysaccharides from other biological kingdoms we eat. We don’t know whether this places vegans left or right of a possible hormetic dose response peak for the innate immune/inflammation stimulating TLR agonists. And where that peak lies probably differs if we’re fighting infection or cancer.

            There’s a much stronger case with all the plant polyphenols (berries, cruciferous vegs, tea, cocoa, etc) which activate phase II responses, where pretty much everyone benefits from more intake from whole foods, and hence we know most of us are starting from left of the peak. Yet even here, people manage to push themselves over the peak into the long trough with concentrated green tea extracts and broccoli juicing.

    2. more and more, doctors don’t necessary look at the root causes of illnesses/inflammation.

      Role of Toll-like Receptors in Gastrointestinal Malignancies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821878/
      It might, just might be the case that chlorella and beta-glucans activate an immune system, which in turn, causes it to respond, favorably, to the infection. He/she might want to try an immune modulating natural alternatives.

  7. I want to share that I know a person that cure the hepatitis C with chamomile tea, that is all what she had to drink, she stay in her room until the infection was gone refused to go to the doctor.
    She had one cup and one spoon and the tea and warm water.
    Lunch and dinner was rice and beans

    1. Just skimming from wikipedia in order to illustrate a cautionary counterpoint: “The infection resolves spontaneously in 10–50% of cases, which occurs more frequently in individuals who are young and female.”

      Think critically, people.

      1. I searched for the source, could not find it. I do see a website that lists your pasted quote, but this website does not list a source for this quote. Please provide the exact source and scientific literature that came up with this observation.

        1. Say that sort of thing to Marjorie. I was making a rhetorical point with wikipedia, a source that includes a lot of readily accessible information on most topics that is reasonably likely to be true, which anyone can very easily use in order to check against potential holes in their reasoning.

          This sort of accessibility is also what has your reply boggling my mind, and thinking that your request might be sarcastic. But in case you are actually serious, the current English-language Wikipidia article for “Hepatitis C” has the sentence that I am quoting when discussing acute infection. The source that Wikipedia is using for that claim is this scholarly book: http://www.springer.com/medicine/internal/book/978-1-4614-1191-8. And yes, I know that there is unevenness in wikipedia’s sources, and that wikipedia is not the most accurate reference on most topics. But that issue was basically irrelevant to the point that I was trying to make.

  8. I have been taking chlorella daily for 27 years. I started it to treat herpes…problem put to bed! Everyone asks why I have so much energy and they assume I drink crazy amounts of coffee, but I don’t drink any. I attribute my vitality to the chlorella.

    1. Sounds like you were already very active before you started taking chlorella.

      I’m sorry Rose but you handed me that joke on a silver platter.
      I hope you can share my laugh, and I didn’t ruin your day ;)

  9. Although expensive, there are now FDA approved Hep c treatments that have virtually no side effects. They are short in duration 12 weeks or less. The current one is Gilead’s Sovaldi. Perhaps next year a Solvaldi combo will be available without Ribavirin. In 95% or more! the treatment effected a cure.

  10. He is a doctor trying to convince you not use natrual herbs.
    Chlorella is safe. It’s clears the mind and does the opposite of psychosis.
    Geese people.

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