Links checked on 30/01/18.
Can Chlorella be used to treat Sweet’s syndrome?
No. Despite the fact that some alternative therapists have started recommending and using the algae, Chlorella, as a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome (SS), there’s no evidence to prove that it’s effective or always safe.
Chlorella is ‘natural’. Does that mean that it doesn’t have side-effects?
No, just because Chlorella is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have side-effects, and these include:
- Green-coloured stools.
- Stomach cramps.
Other effects and reactions.
Common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to Chlorella include:
- Skin rash.
- Swelling of the face and mouth.
Chlorella can also cause a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, and symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Possible death.
Chlorella causes the skin to become extra-sensitive to the sun. This is known as photosensitivity. Some patients with SS will already be sensitive, and overexposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light can potentially trigger a flare-up (read more here). Certain medications used to treat SS, e.g. dapsone, and tetracycline antibiotics such as doxycycline and minocycline, can also increase sensitivity.
Are there some people who should avoid using Chlorella?
Yes, there are some people who should completely avoid using Chlorella, and these include:
- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding: Chlorella has not been proven safe to use, and could potentially harm the baby.
- Those with iodine sensitivity: Chlorella contains iodine, and this can lead to an allergic reaction.
- Those with an allergy to mold: they’re much more likely to have an allergic reaction.
- Those with a weak immune system (immunodeficiency): Chlorella can cause ‘bad’ bacteria to take-over in the intestine of people who have a weak immune system.
- Those with autoimmune, and possibly autoinflammatory conditions: autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions are caused by an overactive and not an underactive immune system – an overactive adaptive immune system in autoimmune conditions and an overactive innate immune system in autoinflammatory conditions. Chlorella has been proven to ‘boost’ the immune system, i.e. make it more active. This can cause an overactive immune system to become even more overactive, potentially making autoimmune conditions worse. Evidence is needed before we know if Chlorella can negatively affect people with autoinflammatory conditions such as SS in a similar way, but as yet, no research has been conducted. However, it’s important to remember that SS can develop secondary to autoimmune conditions, and if this is the case, when the autoimmune condition flares-up then the SS often does too.
Is it safe to take Chlorella alongside medications?
No, not always. Chlorella can interact with, or prevent certain medications from working properly.
Do not use Chlorella if you are taking the following medications:
- Immunosuppressents: these are medications that suppress or ‘dampen down’ the immune system to bring an overactive immune system under control and reduce levels of inflammation in the body. These medications include prednisone, azathioprine, cyclosporine, mycophenolate, and tacrolimus, but there are many others. Supplements such as Chlorella that ‘boost’ the immune system prevent immunosuppressants from doing their job properly. This is because they increase immune system activity while the immunosuppressant is trying to suppress it.
- Warfarin – an anticoagulant: warfarin thins the blood and stops it from clotting, and is commonly used to treat conditions such as heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. Chlorella contains large amounts of vitamin K. This is used by the body to help the blood clot, and prevents the warfarin from working properly.
There is very little reliable information on Chlorella. It should never be taken for more than 2 months, unless under medical supervision, as there are no studies on the long term side-effects in humans. This means that it may or may not be safe to use in the longer term.
Remember, just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it’s safe or doesn’t have side-effects. There are plenty of herbs, plants and extracts that have side-effects, can cause allergic reaction, interact with medications, be poisonous, or even prove fatal.
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