Chlorella – the discovery of the famous survivor

Scientists estimate the world to be around 4.5 thousand million years old. The first microscopic life forms from excavated fossils of the earliest geological era date back to the Precambrian period, 4.5-0.57 thousand million years ago. Chlorella belongs to the first unicellular organisms from this time. This microscopic green algae is, therefore, a true survivor, enduring a constant battle for survival over this immense period to survive until this day.

Life requires survival; survival reproduction; and reproduction is dependent upon the passing on of genetic information. Chlorella is ideally suited to this continuous life cycle and battle for survival. Equipped with an especially strong multi layer cell wall, Chlorella has protected itself against life threatening environmental conditions and has consequently developed an extremely efficient behaviour pattern. Drought, radiation, highly concentrated poisons such as heavy metals, pesticides and other organic solvents have not managed to drive Chlorella to extinction. On the contrary, it has constantly developed new survival strategies against these unfavourable conditions.

Fitted with armour of thickest cellulose, Chlorella can resist even the harshest desert climate. Additionally, it possesses various mechanisms to neutralise toxins or even make them useful. In an age of increasing environmental pollution, this quality is extremely useful to humans. Filter systems using Chlorella nuclei are becoming increasingly widespread and, amongst other things, help to purify and maintain the cleanliness of drinking water. In recent years, Chlorella has been increasingly recommended for the detoxification of poisoned people in Asia, the USA and Europe. An increasing number of health conscious people are taking Chlorella as prevention against environmental pollution. Even dead Chlorella algae soaks up toxins like a sponge, rendering them unable to re-release themselves from the bonds with Chlorella.

A single Chlorella algae is invisible to the naked eye. As one of the biggest discoveries in healthy, holistic foodstuffs, Chlorella is so small it can only be seen through a microscope. For this reason, it is described as a microalgae. Chlorella was discovered just over a hundred years ago by the Dutch microbiologist Beijnerinck. He also succeeded in breeding the first strain of Chlorella vulgaris. Without exact knowledge of its contents, Beijnerinck recommended Chlorella to improve the diet. Perhaps he knew of reports from China, where famines were successfully overcome with the cultivation of the algae.

In her remarkable family history novel, the Chinese author Jung Chang wrote that rural families fed themselves on Chlorella algae they had cultivated during times of famine. The high protein content of Chlorella was known and exploited by people to survive through lean periods. Piquantly, Chlorella flourishes in human urine; consequently, instead of going to the toilet normally, people urinated in barrels in which the algae then flourished splendidly. The grown algae was then washed, cooked, and eaten with a little rice.

In 1917, towards the end of the First World War, as the German civilian population was suffering from hunger, the German microbiologist Lindner began his first attempts to cultivate Chlorella as a foodstuff. Even at this time, it was known that Chlorella, with its high protein content of over 60%, offered a solution to the food shortages. 100 grams of Chlorella supplies the daily protein requirement for an adult. The end of the War, together with technical problems and the poor digestibility of the raw algae destroyed Lindner's plans.

In 1942, during the food shortages of the Second World War, the German scientist Hardner returned to Lindner's experiments. He too, however, was not successful in completing his experiments. It was first reported in 1948 by the Stanford Research Institute, that it was possible to cultivate and harvest Chlorella in large quantities throughout the year. This was of considerable importance to the Japanese, who although traditionally possessing a great deal of knowledge about the algae, had previously been unsuccessful in mass producing it. Dr Nobuko Tamiya of Tokugawa Institute for Biological Research in Tokyo was finally able to continue his research. He was responsible for solving the problem of how to achieve continual production and harvest of Chlorella throughout the year, allowing it to be developed into a first class foodstuff.

In the 1970's, Japanese researchers finally dedicated themselves to the last problem: the exploitation of the valuable components from Chlorella by the human digestive system. Without special processing, more than 50% of the protein from the algae leaves the intestine undigested. Its extremely resistant three layer cell wall prevents a higher exploitation. Japanese researchers developed a process (the broken cell wall process), which destroys the cell wall of the algae, enabling the human digestive enzymes to reach the previously inaccessible foodstuffs. Another development resulted in the modification of the drying process, producing fine cracks in its outer skin. The effects of the digestive enzymes then penetrate these cracks, causing the cell wall to break, aiding digestion.

The result of both processes is an improved digestion rate of around 80%. In the mid 1970's, all the problems concerning the digestion and exploitation of the algae by humans were solved. Unfortunately, these processes are very expensive, so that a relatively high price, along with the rather original taste of the algae, prevented its distribution as a proper foodstuff outside of Japan. However, because of its valuable active ingredients, Chlorella is an important food substance. Every day, millions of people place their trust in its health and energy giving properties.

Environmental catastrophes in various Asian countries drew man's attention to more of Chlorella's properties. Japanese patients who, after accidentally eating rice contaminated with cadmium, developed cadmium poisoning (Itai-itai illness). Many patients died from this acute heavy metal poisoning. However, when infected patients were given Chlorella over a period of several days, their pains desisted and they recovered visibly. Examination of the stools of the cadmium-victims after Chlorella intake showed high levels of cadmium.

Japanese medical researchers were quickly unanimous in agreeing that they had found in Chlorella a potent natural medicine for detoxification. Research in this area gave interesting results, which are still used today, concerning the detoxification property of the algae. Most of this research was carried out in Japanese laboratories and is published in Japanese. Only occasionally is it translated into English.

The cellular relationship between Chlorella and humans gives rise to a great deal of speculation. It is often published that, on average, Chlorella are as big as a red blood cell. A one off experiment in a special laboratory in a large Chlorella farm showed that, on average, a fresh Chlorella algae is clearly smaller than a red blood cell. The small size of the single algae led researchers to the conclusion that the consumption of digested cell components in the human intestine was much easier than previously recognised. Chlorella and the human red blood cell have visibly different forms: the Chlorella cell is spherical whereas the red blood cell is disc shaped with a central indentation.

Chlorella has been used as an experimental object in many scientific experiments and has consequently developed a certain "prominence".
- Otto Warburg, the famous Nobel Prize Winner for medicine from Freiburg, published his pioneering work on cellular metabolism following intensive experiments on Chlorella in 1919.
- In 1961 the American scientist Melvin Calvin won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He described the process by which carbon dioxide and water, with the help of sunlight, are turned into oxygen and organic materials. This process has since been named photosynthesis. For his experiments, Calvin used the freshwater algae Chlorella.

A tiny, unicellular organism such as Chlorella lives in constant danger of being threatened by its environment, necessitating the development of an efficient survival strategy. Chlorella has succeeded in this by living together in million strong groups, constantly increasing its numbers thanks to a high rate of cell division. Under optimum conditions and with intensive photosynthesis and the help of C.G.F., four daughter cells can be produced from one mother cell within the space of 20 hours. In scientific experiments growth in children and animals was improved as a result of healthy cell reproduction with the help of C.G.F. Consequently researchers have given this unique substance the name "Chlorella Growth Factor = C.G.F.".

After proving that C.G.F. was capable of increasing healthy cell reproduction, scientists occupied themselves with the question, of whether the extract was also capable of increasing the development of unhealthy cellular growth in tumours and cancers. Multiple experiments always showed the same result: C.G.F. does not in any way increase the growth rate of cancer cells. Rather, it is in the position of preventing such growth. This will be dealt with in greater detail later (see pages 35 and 43).

Chlorella's rapid growth rate is not the only way in which it protects itself from the environment. Potential sources of danger also exist within the cell. During photosynthesis, Chlorella constantly produces oxygen inside its cell. To avoid the possibility of auto-oxidation, Chlorella also contains many extremely effective antioxidants. These antioxidants help reduce and neutralise the effects of sunlight, oxygen from within the cell and toxins from the environment, the so-called xenobiotika.

Photosynthesis and negative factors in the environment are responsible for the high content of antidioxidants in Chlorella. These include trace elements, vitamins, bioflavinoids, lipoid acids, enzymes, amino acids, proteins, as well as plant substances and fatty acids. The fatty acids enable Chlorella to live in varying water temperatures and maintain the ability to move in low water temperatures.