What Does Chlorophyll Do to Your Body?

Medically Reviewed on 3/23/2021

Chlorophyll is a plant pigment that gives the plants and algae their green color. It is chlorophyll that helps the plants absorb the sunlight and make their food by a process known as photosynthesis. Studies report the benefits of chlorophyll in the alleviation of certain health issues. Chlorophyll is used as the following:

  • Topical application: Most of the convincing evidence available on chlorophyll is on its local application, which dates to the 1950s.
    • Healing of wounds: Many studies conducted on humans have shown chlorophyll to accelerate the wound healing process. It can also reduce the foul odor in wounds. Chlorophyllin-containing ointments are available in the United States by prescription.
    • Acne: Topical chlorophyll has shown to be of some benefit in reducing acne in some small studies.
    • Anti-aging: Chlorophyll offers a good potential for diminishing the signs of aging on the skin caused by photosensitivity.
  • Internal use: Chlorophyll is available for oral consumption in the form of tablets, powder, and liquid forms. However, sufficient evidence to recommend these supplements for the claims is not there. We advise the use of such medications only after consulting a doctor.

What are good food sources of chlorophyll?

Foods that are green inside as well on the outside are the best sources of chlorophyll. Some of the rich sources of chlorophyll include:

  • Wheatgrass
  • Parsley
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Alfalfa
  • Matcha

Other foods that are good sources of chlorophyll include:

  • Pistachios
  • Hemp seeds
  • Leeks
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Garden cress
  • Green tea

If you are consuming green vegetables by cooking, avoid overcooking them. To get the maximum amount of chlorophyll, it is better to consume them raw or steamed.

Does chlorophyll cause any side effects?

Natural chlorophyll is not as stable as chlorophyllin. Most of the supplements available in the market contain chlorophyll in the form of chlorophyllin, which is a synthetic form of chlorophyll that contains copper.

Natural chlorophylls are typically nontoxic. There are no reports of the toxicity of chlorophyllin in low doses. However, in high doses, it may be poisonous. The side effects of chlorophyll include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Green-colored stools
  • Green-colored urine
  • Yellow or black discoloration of the tongue
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Mild itching or burning in wounds (when applied locally)

The United States Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the manufacturing and labeling of supplements. Hence, there is no recommended dose of these supplements. If you are planning to take a chlorophyll supplement or thinking of consuming a lot of green vegetables to increase the chlorophyll intake, make sure you ask the doctor. This applies specifically to people who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as liver and kidney ailments, and are on certain medications. There is insufficient data available for drug interactions with chlorophyll. Pregnant women and lactating mothers should avoid consuming chlorophyll supplements due to a lack of evidence on its safety amongst special population groups.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/23/2021
References
Oregon State University. Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/chlorophyll-chlorophyllin#supplements

Jiang LI, Hino PD, Parker L, Stephens TJ, Mccook J, Gotz V. Efficacy and Tolerability of an Acne Treatment Regimen with Antiaging Benefits in Adult Women: A Pilot Study. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(6):46-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6011872/

McCook JP, Stephens TJ, Jiang LI, Law RM, Gotz V. Ability of Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin Complex to Repair Photoaged Skin by Stimulation of Biomarkers in Human Extracellular Matrix. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. Published July 25, 2016. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S111139