Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color, has been making waves in the health circles in recent years. Packed with vitamins and minerals, it helps to detoxify the body. Chlorophyll also helps to boost immunity, prevent cancer, clean the intestines, and assist in weight loss.
What is chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is the green pigment in the plants, which gives them their vibrant green color. This pigment allows the plant to absorb sunlight and turn it into energy, which stimulates growth and renewal. It is rich in vitamin A, C, E And K, magnesium, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. You can include chlorophyll in your diet by eating green vegetables like spinach and alfalfa. Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll, and you can take it in the form of juice or capsule and powder.
You can also take wheatgrass in the form of supplements. Chlorophyll supplements contain chlorophyllin, which is a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll. The body better absorbs chlorophyllin than other types of chlorophyll.
How does chlorophyll work?
Just like chlorophyll provides energy to the plants, the various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in it also help us. Chlorophyll supplements prevent oxidative damage caused by carcinogens, UV light, and exposure to radiation.
According to a 2012 study from India, chlorophyll helps to turn off a pro-inflammatory cytokine called lipopolysaccharide-induced TNF- α. This study shows that chlorophyll and its degradation products are anti-inflammatory agents which can be used to treat inflammation and related diseases (1). Chlorophyll has a similar structure to hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen and encourages the production of red blood cells in the body.
Health benefits of chlorophyll
1. Helps in detoxification
Chlorophyll enhances the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body. It promotes the production of the liver’s enzymes that aid the body’s natural elimination process. According to a 1995 study from Korea, chlorophyllin reduces the risk of aflatoxin-induced liver damage by increasing the activity of phase 2 enzymes and removing bodily toxins (2).
During another study, 180 people at a high risk of developing liver cancer took 100 mg of chlorophyllin three times a day for four months. The results showed that chlorophyllin consumption at each meal led to a 55 percent reduction in the urinary level of aflatoxin biomarker (3).
2. Fights cancer
Chlorophyll can bind with carcinogens and prevent them from being absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract. This process helps carcinogens from circulating in the body and reaching susceptible tissues. Studies have shown that chlorophyllin blocks the uptake of aflatoxin-B1 in humans and decreases the biomarkers of aflatoxin-induced DNA damage (3).
According to a 2015 review, chlorophyllin inhibits cancer initiation and progression by targeting multiple molecules and pathways involved in the metabolism of carcinogens, cell cycle progression, invasion, apoptosis evasion, and angiogenesis (4).
Chlorophyll also helps to lower the risk of colon cancer. According to a 2005 study from the Netherlands, chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon (5).
3. Helps to heal wounds
Chlorophyllin is known to reduce inflammation and bacterial growth in wounds. According to a 2008 review, ointments that contain papain-urea-chlorophyllin can help in reducing pain and speed up healing time as compared to other lotions (6). In addition to promoting wound healing, chlorophyllin also helps control odors caused by bacteria accumulation (7).
4. Acts as a deodorant
The water-soluble derivatives of chlorophyll have been used for eliminating unpleasant odors from wounds or the air. Recent research has also discovered that chlorophyll derivatives can reduce unpleasant body odors. Chlorophyll derivatives have been used in mouthwashes and toothpaste, as well (8).
According to a 2004 study, people with trimethylaminuria (a metabolic disorder that causes fishy odors) can benefit from supplements containing activated charcoal and copper chlorophyllin (8).
5. Improves digestion
Chlorophyll helps improve digestion by increasing the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. It’s antimicrobial properties also help to get rid of harmful bacteria. Chlorophyll speeds up waste elimination and balances fluid levels in the body, which helps to prevent constipation. Chlorophyll improves digestion by increasing the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. It is also antimicrobial, so it gets rid of harmful bacteria while maintaining healthy ones.
6. Helps in weight loss
Some studies also suggest that chlorophyll boosts metabolism and helps in weight loss. According to a study from Sweden, when volunteers took thylakoids (chlorophyll-containing membranes from green leaves), it suppressed hunger, increased secretion of cholecystokinin, and prevented hypoglycemia (9).
7. Improves skin
Topical chlorophyll can also be used to improve skin and treat acne. According to a 2015 study, a topical formulation containing sodium copper chlorophyllin complex is useful in treating acne and large visible pores when used for three weeks (10). Studies have also shown that chlorophyll can be used to treat cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. Chlorophyll can also protect the skin from shingles.
8. Builds blood
Chlorophyll is very similar to heme, a part of hemoglobin which is present in the blood. Hemoglobin is essential in red blood cells as it carries oxygen to the lungs and other respiratory surfaces. According to studies, wheatgrass juice, which contains chlorophyll, can help treat hemoglobin deficiency disorders like anemia and thalassemia (11).
Food rich in chlorophyll
While most plant-based foods contain chlorophyll, green vegetables are the best sources.
1. Cereal grasses
Cereal grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass are rich in chlorophyll. One 10 gram serving of wheatgrass contains 55 mg of chlorophyll, while a similar serving of barley grass contains 150 mg of chlorophyll.
Seaweeds like nori and dulse are rich in chlorophyll and several minerals. Eating sushi is a great way to add these sea vegetables to your diet.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, bok choy, cabbage, kale, and swiss chard are good sources of chlorophyll. These healthy vegetables are also rich in several vitamins and minerals. One cup of spinach contains 23.7 mg of chlorophyll. Add these vegetables to bowl of salad to enjoy their health benefits.
Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil are all excellent sources of chlorophyll. You can add these flavorful herbs to any dish to increase its nutritional content. They also make a great addition to detox smoothies as well. A ten-gram serving of parsley contains 15 mg of chlorophyll.
Sprouts are high in chlorophyll content, which is one of the reasons they are considered health food. They are also a powerful source of antioxidants in the form of vitamins and minerals.
Spirulina and chlorella are two kinds of algae that are rich in chlorophyll. Chlorella is often recommended as a binder in heavy metal detoxification protocols. Since it binds with mercury and eliminates it, it can be useful when eating fish. Ten grams of chlorella contains 280 mg of chlorophyll, whereas a similar amount of spirulina contains 300 mg chlorophyll.
7. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are a good source of chlorophyll. They are also an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid, which helps reduce inflammation.
Chlorophyll supplements are available in the form of capsules and as drops that can be added to water or. They can vary in strength and formulation. The supplements of chlorophyll are chlorophyllin, which contains copper instead of magnesium. You can take up to 300 mg of chlorophyllin per day safely.
Side effects of chlorophyll
Any chlorophyll taken naturally in the form of foods is safe. Supplements of chlorophyll may have some minor side effects. Some people may experience nausea or vomiting due to chlorophyll supplements.
Chlorophyllin may cause your urine or feces to turn green temporarily. It can also cause green discoloration of the tongue. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using chlorophyllin as there is not enough research on safety during pregnancy.
Medications that increase sensitivity to light can interact with chlorophyllin. Taking these medications, along with chlorophyllin, can make you more susceptible to burns, blisters, and rashes when exposed to UV rays.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment in the plants, which gives them their vibrant green color. Just like chlorophyll provides energy to the plants, the various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in it also help us. Chlorophyll supplements prevent oxidative damage caused by carcinogens, UV light, and exposure to radiation.
Chlorophyll helps in detoxification, reduces the risk of cancer, acts as a deodorant, speeds up wound healing, improves digestion, aids in weight loss, and improves skin. Adding food rich in chlorophyll can improve health. Some of the foods that are rich in chlorophyll include green vegetables, cereal grasses, seaweeds, herbs, sprouts, and algae like spirulina and chlorella.
You can also take chlorophyll in the form of liquid or capsule supplements. Though chlorophyll is generally considered safe, supplements can sometimes cause side effects like nausea and vomiting. These supplements can also interact with particular medications and make you more susceptible to rashes, burns, and blisters when exposed to UV rays.