What is chlorophyll and what is it good for? (evidence-based)

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Chlorophyll is a natural compound that gives plants green pigment. It is a vital compound that supports the plants photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis refers to the process by which plants absorb carbon dioxide and water and transform the water into oxygen and the carbon dioxide into glucose. The role of chlorophyll in photosynthesis is that it helps plants absorb the sunlight and use it for energy to fuel photosynthesis.

In this post, we will take a look at the chlorophyll function, its health benefits, uses and side effects in the human body.

What is chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is a natural compound that gives plants their green pigment, the best way to obtain chlorophyll is by eating green leafy vegetables. It can also be taken in a supplement form either by liquid or tablets. The chlorophyll supplements go by the name of chlorophyllin.

Natural sources of chlorophyll include green cabbage, spinach, wheatgrass, algae, kale and much more.

Wheatgrass is particularly rich in chlorophyll and is available to purchase online as a powder, juice, or capsule.

There are two types of this compound – chlorophyll a and b. The function of chlorophyll a and b differ despite both being water-soluble and containing similar antioxidant properties.

Chlorophyll A is the primary pigment of photosynthesis, trapping the light energy and emitting high-energy electrons into the two photosystems. Chlorophyll B is the accessory pigment, passing the trapped energy into chlorophyll A.

Lakna, A graduate in molecular andbiochemistry

Some early research suggests that chlorophyll may be good for strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, boosting energy levels, and eliminating bad odours. However, some studies are controversial so, let’s take a look at what science says!

The health benefits of chlorophyll

Recently, chlorophyll has become more popular amongst those looking to become healthier and lose weight. You can purchase chlorophyll in a liquid shot which you can add into water or you can also get it in tablets.

However, you can actually obtain enough chlorophyll by eating just half a cup of spinach. With that, you’ll also get your boost of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and much more.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of taking chlorophyll.

May tackle or prevent skin aging effects caused by the sun

A 2016 study found that sodium copper chlorophyllin (chlorophyll supplement) mixed with retinol reduces the appearance of age-related problems caused by the sun and UV light.

A 2014 study also reported a significant reduction to wrinkles and improved skin elasticity in female participants over 45 years old.

Summary

Early studies show chlorophyll to reduce the signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as improving skin elasticity.

May reduce acne

Chlorophyll may be a great acne treatment as it has shown to clear the skin, reduce any redness and minimise pores.

A 2015 study shows that chlorophyll added to creams or facial wash gels can significantly reduce acne and facial redness. Another 2015 study shows chlorophyll to be safe and effective when used on acne-prone skin. Participants experienced a significant reduction in pores and acne after 3 weeks of using salts of copper chlorophyllin complex.

Summary

Chlorophyll included in creams and face wash products may significantly reduce pores and acne.

May reduce odour from the inside

Chlorophyll has been used to neutralise a number of odours since the 1940s, but the studies are well outdated and demonstrate controversial results.

A recent study which was conducted in 2004 included persons with trimethylaminuria which causes a fish odour from the lower genitalia area. This study reported a great reduction in the odour after 3 weeks of taking a chlorophyll supplement. A 2008 study also shows a significant reduction in body odours.

However, due to numerous studies that show little to no results, it’s difficult to say at this moment whether it is useful for reducing odours.

Summary

There is little to no evidence that shows chlorophyll to be useful in reducing natural body odours. The studies are outdated and controversial

May help with wound healing

Taking chlorophyll may also support wound healing. Limited research shows chlorophyll to be great for post-surgical wound healing as well as the prevention of infections.

A 2008 study shows that ointments that contain chlorophyll may improve wound healing.

Summary

More research is required, but the early suggests that it may be useful  for improving wound healing.

May prevent or help to treat cancer

Early studies using animals like rodents show that chlorophyll may inhibit the formation of cancerous cells. Chlorophyll has been discovered to form close bonds with carcinogenic chemicals known as aflatoxins. Chlorophyll helps to inhibit the absorption of aflatoxins (cancer-causing agents) in the intestines as they bind.

A 2015 study has discovered that it can prevent or slow down the growth of tumour.

A number of other studies show that chlorophyll may prevent the formation of liver, pancreas and stomach tumours [1] [2].

A 2019 study shows that chlorophyll found in spinach can inhibit or reverse multi-drug resistance in cancer cells. This means that when cancer cells have stopped responding to medications, chlorophyll may help in re-sensitizing them. As a result, this compound may help in treating cancer.   

Summary

Chlorophyll has shown great potential in preventing and slowing down the growth of cancerous cells.

May support weight loss

There is very limited number of studies showing it to be effective for weight loss. However, a 2014 study has found that taking chlorophyll every day can significantly reduce body fat, waist circumference as well as appetite. However, the difference between the group that took this supplement and the group who didn’t wasn’t significant.

If you’re looking to lose weight, nutrition2change offers a variety of personalised diet plans as well as exercise programs but if you’d prefer to learn how to successfully shed weight yourself then an online weight loss course may be a better choice.

Side effects of taking chlorophyll

Side effects of taking this supplement includes diarrhoea, green urine and faeces, and itching when applied to the skin.

Always make sure to see a doctor before you change your diet in any way, and especially when trying out new supplements. Currently, there is no evidence that discusses the safety and dangers of taking it during pregnancy.

Summary

There is a lot of research done on chlorophyll and some early studies show it to be effective for a number of things like reducing and slowing down the growth of cancer cells as well as reducing acne and facial redness.

There is not enough research to say that it can be used to aid weight loss or reduce signs of aging.

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