From The Cancer Chronicles #23
© Sept. 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

Editor's note: We saw Dr. Merchant in Philadelphia in November, 1996. The one patient referred to at the end of this article is still alive. Although he by no means regards chlorella as a "cure-all," he still gave a generally positive impression of the effect of this agent in cancer.

Chlorella is a one-celled marine vegetable that is often found `blooming' on the surface of freshwater ponds in spring. To its detractors, Chlorella is merely overpriced "pond scum." But, upon closer examination, Chlorella shows great promise as a source of essential nutrients, a means of detoxification, and a stimulator of the often flagging immune systems of cancer patients.

Chlorella pyrenoidosa is the scientific name for a class of tiny unicellular green algae. It is not to be confused with Spirulina, or blue-green algae, the focus of FDA prosecution in the 1980s. (See FDA Consumer 3/85 and 7-8/86.) In its nutritional composition, Chlorella rivals beefsteak, with 60 percent protein; it includes all the essential amino acids, as well as liberal amounts of 20 vitamins and minerals and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Some would say it's too bad it doesn't taste like steak, or the world would have adopted it years ago.

The cell wall of the algae is deliberately broken in processing to liberate the nutrients. But these indigestible cell walls have a special affinity for heavy metals, such as mercury. Thus, Chlorella offers a unique means of `chelating' or removing such harmful minerals, which some scientists believe play a role in promoting chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer.

Research into the health effects of Chlorella began in the 1950s. There were reports on its successful use in Hansen's disease and in preventing the development of liver necrosis in mice. Most algae research has been done in Japan, where Chlorella is the top-selling supplement.

In the 1960s, it was found that Chlorella decreased the side effects of chemotherapy—there was far less damage to the immune system. Chlorella also counteracts well-known carcinogens. At Japan's Kanazawa Medical College, scientists gave Chlorella to mice, either before or after the implantation of breast, ascites, or leukemic cancer cells. While all the control mice died within 20 days of the implantation, animals receiving Chlorella lived three times as long.

The main effect was seen when the supplement was given before the implantation of the cancer cells—a good argument for its preventive use. Surviving mice were then injected with implants of either the same tumor cells they have previously received, or a different type. They resisted the re-implantation of the same type of tumor, but not the new types. This strongly suggested that Chlorella, which has no cancer-killing effects in the test-tube, exerts its effects by enhancing the cellular immunity of the host animal.

Dr. Kanki Komiyama has also reported that an extract of Chlorella (called Chlon A) "showed remarkable life prolongation effects in mice bearing Sarcoma 180 [cancer cells] with a broad optimal dose range." This extract, he wrote, was "a potent modifier of some biological responses," such as the cancer-killing ability of macrophage cells.

One clinical experiment with Chlorella took place at the Medical College of Virginia (Phytotherapy Research 1990;4:220-231). Dr. Randall E. Merchant and colleagues gave Chlorella to patients with various forms of deadly brain cancer (e.g., malignant gliomas). These patients were advanced and had conventionally incurable disease. After two years in the study, 7 out of 20 evaluable patients were alive and had yet to show any reappearance of their tumors.

Dr. Merchant recently informed us that after the ending of his Chlorella research grant in 1990 he did not follow up on these patients. For what it's worth, however, he did encounter one of these patients recently—alive and well, and still taking her Chlorella, four years later.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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