© AVRORRA | Getty Images
You may have heard about the potential benefits of liquid chlorophyll. People have been dropping this supplement into water. The water turns green and then you drink it. Makers of this supplement make the claims that it can prevent cancer, heal wounds, control body odor, treat skin conditions like acne, relieve constipation, help you lose weight, and boost your energy.
What Is Chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll gives plants and algae their green color and the ability to trap light for photosynthesis. It is the most abundant pigment in plants. Photosynthesis is the way plants get energy from sunlight. Chlorophyll can also be used fo health benefits. Liquid chlorophyll, or chlorophyll water, may offer benefits from skin care to cancer prevention.
What Is Liquid Chlorophyll?
Liquid chlorophyll is the name of a popular supplement. It is not the same as natural chlorophyll. Natural chlorophyll is not water-soluble, which means it does not dissolve in water. Liquid chlorophyll supplements are actually a semi-synthetic mixture of mineral salts derived from natural chlorophyll. This product is called chlorophyllin, and it is water-soluble.
Chlorophyllin is also used to make “chlorophyll” supplements that come as pills and products you use on your skin. Chlorophyllin has been used as a medicine since the 1940s to reduce bacteria and odor in infected wounds. It is also used as an internal deodorant to reduce the smell of feces in people who have had their colon removed and need to wear a colostomy bag or in people who are incontinent (can’t control their urine or bowel movements).
“One of its main contributions to the skin is its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as reducing bacterial growth in wounds.” Niyla Carson, Nutritionist at Fast Food Menu Prices
An over-the-counter chlorophyllin drug called Derfil is used to reduce odors from colostomies and incontinence. There is also a prescription spray and ointment used to treat infected wounds that contain chlorophyllin and an enzyme called papain that cleans infected wounds.
What Are the Benefits of Chlorophyll Water?
Chlorophyllin may have benefits against cancer. It can bind to toxic substances called carcinogens that increase your risk for cancer. Examples of carcinogens reduce by chlorophyllin are hydrocarbons in tobacco smoke, heterocyclic amines in cooked meat, and a toxin from a species of fungus called aflatoxin.
Chlorophyllin also has strong antioxidant properties that may prevent cancer by decreasing DNA damage from radiation and carcinogens called oxidative stress. Most of the studies on the benefits of chlorophyllin as an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen have been found only in laboratory studies or in animal studies.
In one human study from China, chlorophyllin reduced the amount of aflatoxin in people exposed to it through their diet. Aflatoxin comes from moldy grains and legumes and is common in countries with poor food safety and high humidity. Aflatoxin in foods increases the risk of colon cancer. However, it is not known if chlorophyllin can reduce the risk of colon cancer in people not exposed to aflatoxin.
“The major benefit that comes with the use of liquid chlorophyll is definitely the fact that it may assist in reducing DNA damage. This includes damage from oxidative stress – we are consistently exposed to elements that cause free radicals in the body,” says Dr. Ahmed Helmy at calisthenics-gear.com
Liquid Chlorophyll Side Effects & Safety Risks
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, chlorophyllin used as medicine has been around for over 50 years and has proven to be very safe. Some chlorophyll side effects may cause green discoloration of feces or urine and may turn your tongue black or yellow while you use it, and some people may have diarrhea. It also may cause mild burning if used on an open wound. Chlorophyll has not been tested in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; so it should be avoided in those situations.
Bottom Line on Liquid Chlorophyll
A review of chlorophyllin supplements, including liquid chlorophyll, from the Cleveland Clinic says you can get all the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of chlorophyll more naturally from fresh green vegetables. Vegetables are less expensive than supplements, and they also add fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that you do not get from supplements.
“Since supplements on the market are made with a synthetic form of chlorophyll called chlorophyllin, which has little information available about how it interacts with our bodies, I recommend adding a juice made of leafy greens, even a simple drink of parsley and water, to your diet instead,” says Dr. Jenelle Kim, DACM, L.Ac., founder and leader formulator for JBK Wellness Labs
Green vegetables high in chlorophyll include spinach and parsley. Other good sources of natural chlorophyll are green beans, arugula, leeks, endive, sugar peas, and Chinese cabbage.