Chlorophyll’s reputation as a health and wellness supplement started way before the recent TikTok-fueled rage by decades. It has long been praised for a wide range of health benefits, including cancer prevention, healing wounds, skin care and acne treatment, weight loss, relieving constipation, and boosting energy. However, when looking at the scientific literature, is chlorophyll’s helpful, harmful, or just a plain hoax?
First off, what is Chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives plants their green color and plays a critical role in photosynthesis, which is a fancy way of explaining how plants convert sunlight into usable, chemical energy for plant-growth.
It’s also the pigment responsible for making some plants green in color. Chlorophyll is simply a phytonutrient. It also contains vitamins, antioxidants, and other properties that can benefit your overall health. However, the green liquid supplement drops are chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts that is derived from chlorophyll.
How does Chlorophyll effect our bodies?
Despite current research, we still don’t fully understand how chlorophyll acts on our bodies. There are solid theories. One being the ‘Metabolic Plant Feedback Hypothesis’ It’s this idea that consuming bulk amounts of phytochemicals (like micronutrients or chlorophyll) may inhibit a lot of harmful inflammatory processes. (Basically, eating plants is good for you because they are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids, all of which help reduce inflammation and protect the tissues from oxidative damage.)
The next therapy involves blood-building. One study in anemic rabbits showered intravenous liquid chlorophyll significantly improved the quality of bone marrow and blood. Best to remember this study was done in anemic rabbits where they pumped liquid chlorophyll into their veins…not super applicable to humans. However, some clinical herbalists like to add liquid chlorophyll to a diet where supplemental iron is already present for better results in treating anemia than with iron alone.
Preventing Altitude Sickness
On a similar note, preventing altitude sickness is a more anecdotal situation where chlorophyll’s blood-building attributes could come in handy if supplementing with a dropperful of liquid chlorophyll 1-2 times per day for a few weeks prior to traveling and continuing throughout travel.
But what does the research say about chlorophylls claims on acne, seasonal allergies, skin cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol. Research has verified certain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but I caution you against considering Chlorophyll as a cure-all for any of the conditions. More studies are needed.
Preliminary research in young adults with acne shows that applying facial sheets containing chlorophyll to one side of the face for 30 minutes twice weekly, in combination with (LED) irradiation therapy, improves acne severity and reduces acne counts by 32% more than LED irradiation alone after 2 weeks of treatment.
Research shows taking chlorophyll daily for 8 weeks reduces the use of rescue medications but does not improve symptoms or quality of life in people with seasonal allergies.
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Preliminary research shows administering a chlorophyll product as an intravenous solution or topically as a gel in combination with laser irradiation or light therapy seems to be effective in achieving complete and sustained remission in patients with basal cell carcinoma.
A study on overweight women presents reported significant decreases in cravings as well as LDL levels compared to the control group.
Also, it's important to note that there is no recommended amount of chlorophyll human beings are supposed to ingest per day, because there is very little research about this topic. As far as safety and potential side effects, there are some potential side effects, including mild stomach or gastrointestinal issue flare ups, discolored poop (most likely green) and a potential increase in the risk of sunburn for those using chlorophyll drops. Seems like if a healthy person on no medications want to try it in moderation is no real harm but remember to talk with your health care provider before supplementing.
In my professional opinion…
Now if it were me, I’m not sure I would hop on the liquid chlorophyll bandwagon just yet, but only for the purposes of saving money and spending it on a natural source of chlorophyll from a variety of green veggies, particularly spinach, kale, arugula, parsley, and green peas. When you consume green veggies, you're not only getting a healthy dose of chlorophyll, but also getting a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which is a better option than the liquid chlorophyll. For this reason, I am going to classify chlorophyll as potentially helpful due to the current scientific literature, relative safety and potential benefits outweighing the risks of taking chlorophyll.
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DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational and/or entertainment purposes only. Nothing contained in these videos should be considered as providing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The Superfood Pharmacist has used all reasonable care in compiling the evidence-based information but make no guarantee as to its accuracy. You should consult with your health care provider regarding any medical concerns you may have.
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27277115/ (seasonal allergies)
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21112549/ (skin cancer)
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11018464/ (antioxidant)
10. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Devarajan-Karunagaran/publication/51752771_Chlorophyll_Revisited_Anti-inflammatory_Activities_of_Chlorophyll_a_and_Inhibition_of_Expression_of_TNF-a_Gene_by_the_Same/links/0046351a3339f93c3b000000/Chlorophyll-Revisited-Anti-inflammatory-Activities-of-Chlorophyll-a-and-Inhibition-of-Expression-of-TNF-a-Gene-by-the-Same.pdf (lowering cytokines)
11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31338957/ (Obesity and Modulates Gut Microbiota in Mice)
12. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318244748_Effects_of_Chlorophyll_on_Body_Functioning_and_Blood_Glucose_Levels(Blood Glucose Levels in Mice)