Is Chlorophyll a Cure-All?

There’s been a huge surge in interest around Chlorophyll lately.

This is largely thanks to TikTok influencers promoting benefits from skin health to eliminating bad breath and more!

But is it really worth the hype?

Read on to find out.

The Foundations: What is Chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is the pigment present in all green plants. It’s responsible for keeping these plants healthy by helping them to absorb energy from the sun. It’s concentrated in sources such as spirulina, algae and chlorella. Chlorophyll also contains vitamins and antioxidants which have the potential to benefit your body.

We do get chlorophyll through our diet when we eat green plant foods such as spinach, but chlorophyll may be more concentrated in a supplement form. Furthermore, there’s doubt over whether chlorophyll survives digestion long enough to be absorbed when we ingest it with other foods.

The marketed benefits of chlorophyll are as follows

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Preventing cancer
  • Detoxification of your blood
  • Cleansing of the intestines
  • Eliminating bad breath and body odour
  • Eliminating fungal infections in the body
  • Boosting energy levels

We need larger, more comprehensive research to come out in future in order to fully describe how chlorophyll may or may not improve our health, but for now here’s what we do know…

The Benefits of Chlorophyll

1. Weight Management

Weight loss is a popular request for those looking to change their health. According to TikTok influencers, chlorophyll is claimed to be supportive of weight loss. Research to back this up however, is limited. One small study showed that females who took a supplement including chlorophyll had greater weight loss than a group that did not take the supplement, and did see a reduction in their cholesterol levels. The mechanisms behind this process are still unknown, and further research is needed.

2. Detoxification

The second most popular request when it comes to health changes is for a detoxification product. There have been a few small studies examining the effects of chlorophyll on detoxification processes and cancer to date. In animal studies, oral chlorophyll has been shown to reduce tumour size in mice with pancreatic cancer. Human studies have not yet been able to replicate this result, however more trials are currently underway. 

3. Skin Healing

In line with the weight loss and detox requests, are requests for clearer skin. Chlorophyll has been shown to:

  • Reduce inflammation and bacterial growth in skin wounds
  • Improve skin health and appearance when used to manage acne and large pores
  • Improve skin health and appearance in sun-damaged skin

These trials, although very promising, are still smaller in scale and all involved using chlorophyll topically.

4. Natural Deodorant

Chlorophyll has been used since the 1940s to neutralize a variety of odours. However, studies are often conflicting in their results or outdated. There is, sadly, very little evidence to support the fact that chlorophyll reduces bad breath or body odour although there is a plethora of anecdotal data.

Are there any Risks?

Chlorophyll isn’t known to be toxic to the human body in any way. With that being said however, there are a few side effects including:

  • Diarrhoea and digestive distress
  • Itching or burning (when applied topically in an ointment)
  • Green or yellow stools

Although regarded as safe, if taking any medications or if pregnant or breastfeeding it is always prudent to check with your practitioner before supplementing with chlorophyll.

Sources of Chlorophyll

Liquid chlorophyll doesn’t seem to be available in South Africa currently, however chlorophyll is concentrated in a number of fresh vegetables and herbs. A good rule of thumb is to choose foods that are fresh and bright green in colour. These include:

  • Wheatgrass (often also available in powdered form and in capsules)
  • Green Beans
  • Spinach (often also available in concentrated forms)
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Leeks
  • Chlorella (available in a concentrated tablet form as well as capsules)

A high quality blend of green foods will also be a good way to ingest a large quantity of chlorophyll.

Final Thoughts on Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll may have several health benefits from reducing cancer risk to improving skin health. It has a good safety profile and is found in a variety of foods already known to be extremely healthy for us. Whilst research to back up the TikTok claims isn’t quite there, including more green foods such as spinach or wheatgrass (or concentrated supplements derived from these foods), will certainly only benefit your overall health and wellbeing.

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