Do you remember chlorophyll from your elementary school science class? It’s the substance that gives plants their green color and facilitates nutrient production with the help of the sun. There is a new trend in the health industry promoting liquid chlorophyll concentrate. Add just a few drops to a glass of water, and you’ve made what is called “chlorophyll water.”
Chlorophyll water has become a popular new product due to its many health claims.
Liquid chlorophyll and chlorophyll water are interchangeable terms that both refer to chlorophyllin, the liquid supplement form of chlorophyll.
Chlorophyllin supplements and plant chlorophyll may have different health benefits.
Some of the most promising benefits include detoxification, skin/wound healing, antioxidant properties, and cancer prevention.
The potential risks and side effects of taking chlorophyll water are very low if taken within recommended daily amounts.
The supplement water is believed to heal the skin, guard against oxidative stress, fight cancer, and a lot more. The question is: Does science back up these claims or is this just another passing trend? What are the experts saying and what do you need to know before you try it for yourself?
Are plant chlorophyll and chlorophyll water the same thing?
Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives plants their green color and plays the main role in photosynthesis (the process of plants turning light from the sun into energy and nutrients). Chlorophyll is often considered the foundation of all life on Earth due to its crucial role in sustaining plants, a foundational part of the planet’s food chain.
Chlorophyll water isn’t the same form of chlorophyll you eat in your spinach. Naturally occurring chlorophyll is fat soluble (it needs fat to be absorbed). Liquid chlorophyll is chlorophyllin, a version containing a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll, and it is water soluble (requires water to be absorbed). This type of chlorophyll liquid is sometimes referred to as Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin (SCC).
Chlorophyll from plants has been studied for decades and its benefits are undeniable. But does chlorophyllin, the liquid supplement form, have the same benefits you have come to know about plant chlorophyll, or is it just a passing trend?
Believe it or not, many of the health claims of chlorophyllin (SCC) are quite promising, while others need more research. The good news is chlorophyllin has low health risks and side effects when taken within the recommended dosage so the pros do seem to outweigh any potential cons.
Some of the most powerful health benefits studies are showing for chlorophyllin include:
- Skin healing/youthful-looking skin;
- Increased hydration;
- Antioxidant effects;
- Improved digestion, lowered GI tract inflammation;
- Anti-cancer effects.
“The antioxidant activity of six chlorophyll derivatives and Cu-chlorophyllin [SCC] was investigated by measuring their protective action against lipid oxidation” in a study published in Food Research International.
Oxidized lipids are found in great quantities inside plaques that have been formed in human arteries. Plaque formation is one of the main contributing factors to diseases like atherosclerosis and heart attack. When you can fight against lipid oxidation with antioxidants (like chlorophyll and chlorophyllin), you can protect your entire cardiovascular system, potentially preventing plaque formation in the first place.
When these 6 plant chlorophylls were compared to the supplement form, “cu-chlorophyllin [SCC], tested by both methods [DPPH assay and β-carotene bleaching], presented a higher antioxidant activity than that of natural chlorophylls”. It looks like supplemental chlorophyllin might have higher antioxidant properties compared to plant chlorophylls (at least the 6 tested in this study).
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that both plant “chlorophyll and sodium copper chlorophyllin [SCC] can form tight molecular complexes with certain chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer”, things like tobacco smoke, cured/cooked meats, and tainted food products (like corn, peanuts, and grains).
They theorize that “the binding of chlorophyll or SCC to these potential carcinogens may interfere with gastrointestinal absorption of potential [cancer-causing agents], reducing the amount that reaches susceptible tissues.”
Both plant chlorophyll and chlorophyllin supplements could be preventing your body from absorbing known cancer-causing agents from your everyday life, potentially guarding you against cancer cell formation.
There were positive findings on many types of cancer, including (but not limited to) colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and bladder cancer. We all know plant chlorophylls demonstrated strong anti-cancer benefits, and it’s very encouraging that supplemental chlorophyllin is as well.
It’s important to note that cancer is a complex and multifaceted disease, with many dynamic aspects to consider. Yes, chlorophyllin (SCC) has been shown to induce cancer cell death and have anti-carcinogenic effects, however, more information is needed to know to what extent this is happening in people with the disease. More research is needed to know for sure.
Is liquid chlorophyll water safe?
In general, the answer is “yes,” however it is important to know some potential side effects.
Supplemental chlorophyll (SCC) can cause green discoloration of urine or feces, yellow or black discoloration of the tongue, and potentially diarrhea or other GI distress.
SCC has been known to cause mild burning or itching in some cases when applied topically for skin conditions.
Because the safety of chlorophyll and/or chlorophyllin supplements (SCC) has not been thoroughly tested in pregnant/lactating women, these supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
It is important to note that if you have a serious health condition or take any medication, it's advisable to check with your doctor first, before adding any supplements that could potentially interact with your medication or exacerbate your condition.
Food as thy medicine
If you want to reap the benefits of chlorophyll without adding a supplement to your daily regimen, look to your food to help. In the words of the father of medicine, Hippocrates, “let thy food be thy medicine” in this case, steering your grocery cart through the produce aisle and filling it with green vegetables may be the best place to start if you want the natural benefits of chlorophyll-containing plants.
Foods rich in chlorophyll include:
Not only do these foods contain chlorophyll and the benefits you’ve read above, but they also contain necessary nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that may not be added to chlorophyll drops. The table above illustrates chlorophyll concentrations in 1 cup of each of the vegetables (or ½ cup in parsley’s case).
Studies at Oregon State University have found 75-300mg of chlorophyll per day, in divided doses, to be beneficial for health. This table can help you use food to reach your target chlorophyll goal each day.
If price is a factor for you when deciding whether to supplement or hit the produce aisle to get your chlorophyll needs, the cost between the supplement and the grocery bill may even be the same. Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD says “A bottle of chlorophyll drops isn’t cheap. From a health standpoint, you’d be better off spending the money on vegetables.” She attributes this to the additional nutrients plants have that a supplement alone would not.
It turns out that some of those trendy health claims for chlorophyllin (chlorophyll water) are legitimate. Research is finding supplemental chlorophyllin has very similar health benefits to plant chlorophyll, perhaps being an even stronger antioxidant. Something to consider, however, is that plant food containing chlorophyll comes with other beneficial nutrients, which means important cofactors may be missing in supplementation alone.
In either case, the good news is, recommended dosages have been proven safe with limited side effects. It’s up to you whether you drink your chlorophyll or you eat it, they both have positive impacts you could benefit from.
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