If you are healthy, then a supplement based on the green algae Chlorella vulgaris can help you to remain healthy. Researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea discovered thatChlorella vulgaris can help sharpen the immune system by putting the Natural Killer cells on red alert, thereby increasing their chance of effectively fighting cancer cells or pathogens.
Immunologists tend to divide the human immune system into humoral and cell-mediated parts. The humoral part of the immune system relies on a battery of antibodies that the system has learned to produce. These antibodies recognise pathogens and then attack them. The cell-mediated part of the system works on the basis of cellular aggression. When the immune cells – often the Natural Killer cells – see something they don't like the look of they annihilate it.
The Korean researchers will soon publish the results in Nutrition Journal of a human study they did on 51 healthy and non-infected Koreans. The test subjects were given a placebo or 5 g Chlorella vulgaris in tablet form every day for eight weeks. The pills were produced by the Korean company Daesang. [daesang.com]
Before and after the supplementation period the researchers extracted Natural Killer cells from the blood of the test subjects and added them to cancer cells in test tubes. The Koreans then looked at how fast the Natural Killer cells annihilated the cancer cells.
The figure below shows the results of the Koreans' observations. You'll notice that Chlorella vulgaris boosted the activity of the Natural Killer cells.
Chlorella also boosted the concentration of interferon-gamma and interleukine-1-beta in the blood. These are the cytokines that Natural Killer cells use to warn each other if there's trouble brewing somewhere and that they need to start arming themselves. The higher the concentration of cytokines, the more aggressively the Natural Killer cells attacked the cancer cells in the test tubes.
It's the first time that a scientific study has shown that Chlorella vulgaris activates the cell-mediated immune system of healthy humans.
"These results add to the growing literature on the beneficial immunostimulatory effect of Chlorella supplementation through a clinical human study", the researchers write. The study was not financed by Daesang, but by the South Korean government.
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