What is Chlorophyll and what is it used for?

Chlorophyll is a chemoprotein that gives plants and algae their green colour. It is also commonly known to be related to protoheme, the red pigment of blood. Chlorophyll has been used clinically for over half a century for various symptoms and conditions. It also removes toxins from the liver, which makes it a great detox aid.

Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Chlorophyll

medicinalNatural chlorophylls are not known to be toxic, and no toxic effects have been attributed to chlorophyllin despite more than 50 years of clinical use in treating humans.

Traditionally, Chlorophyll has been used to improve bad breath and acts as natural antiperspirant against body odor including odors of the urine, feces. Moreover, chlorophyll has for more than 50 years been commonly used to reduce local inflammation and promote healing of infected and slow-healing wounds. More recently chlorophyll has been used to help remove various toxins via the liver and remains a key compound for improving the function of essential detoxification pathways. Research suggests it can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent for conditions, such as pancreatitis as well as exhibiting potent antioxidant and chemoprotective activities. Science has demonstrated it may be an effective therapeutic agent in the treatment of herpes simplex,  benign breast disease,chemoprevention, tuberculosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Type 2 and obesity are also being explored as areas where chlorophyll can also be used.

Below is a list of conditions that chlorophyll has shown a positive effect on

Cancer (laser therapy adjunct): Preliminary evidence suggests that chlorophyll may aid in the reduction of side effects associated with photodynamic therapies such as those used in management of malignant tumors. A recent study showed that human colon cancer cells undergo cell cycle arrest after treatment with chlorophyllin. The mechanism involved inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase activity. Ribonucleotide reductase plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, and is a target of currently used cancer therapeutic agents. This provides a potential new avenue for chlorophyllin in the clinical setting, sensitizing cancer cells to DNA damaging agents

Fibrocystic breast disease: The benefits of chlorophyll in benign breast disease may be attributed to its ability to alter liver enzyme pathways involved in estrogen metabolism. A combination product containing chlorophyll may be beneficial for this condition, but more research is needed to confirm these preliminary results. 

Herpes: Clorophyll may treat herpes simplex and herpes zoster, although more research is needed in this area.

Pancreatitis (chronic): Chlorophyll-a may reduce the mortality rate of experimental pancreatitis. Additional study is needed in this area.

Pneumonia (active destructive): Chlorophyll may help to regulate T lymphocyte counts in patients with active destructive pneumonia. Further studies are required to further elaborate on the immune-modifying effects of chlorophyll.

Poisoning (reduce Yusho symptoms): Yusho is a poisoning caused by ingestion of rice oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, specifically polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A chlorophyll-rich diet may increase PCDF and PCB elimination, but further high quality research is needed.

Protection from aflatoxins: Chlorophyll may be of use as a chemopreventative agent due to its ability to inhibit the tumor-promoting effects of carcinogens. Chlorophyll may act to improve the detoxification of toxins involved in cancer promotion. However, more research is needed in this area.

Reduction of odor from incontinence/bladder catheterization: Based on historical use, chlorophyll has been suggested to improve bodily odor in colostomy patients. Despite empirical use, clinical research did not support these findings.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Diets high in chlorophyll have been hypothesized to modify intestinal flora resulting in improved management of immune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. More evidence is needed to support the use of chlorophyll inautoimmune diseases.

Tuberculosis: Preliminary evidence suggests that chlorophyll intake duringchemotherapy treatment in patients with tuberculosis may improve immune parameters and free radical indices, such as malonic dialdehyde. Additional study is needed in this area.

What foods contain Chlorophyll?

medicinal 2Chlorophyll is found in green plants; generally the darker green the higher content.  It can be obtained from green leafy vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach), algae (Chlorella and Spirulina), wheat grass, and numerous herbs (alfalfa, damiana, nettle, and parsley. Chlorophyll can easily be implemented into your diet through juices and smoothies, salads and stir fries.

The chlorophyll contents of selected vegetables are presented in the table below

Chlorophyll Content of Selected Raw Vegetables
Food Serving Chlorophyll (mg)
Spinach 1 cup 23.7
Parsley ½ cup 19.0
Cress, garden 1 cup 15.6
Green beans 1 cup 8.3
Arugula 1 cup 8.2
Leeks 1 cup 7.7
Endive 1 cup 5.2
Sugar peas 1 cup 4.8
Chinese cabbage 1 cup 4.1


What is Chlorophyllin? 

Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll and unlike natural chlorophyll, chlorophyllin is water-soluble – not fat-soluble. Most chlorophyll supplements available in the supermarket and health stores contain some chlorophyllin as it is less expensive than the natural substance.