Chlorophyll – The Green Elixir

Chlorophyll is currently being hyped as a miracle cure on many channels. The plant substance has been known as a healing elixir for many decades. Chlorophyll is used in particular for detoxification and to protect the liver, but also for the skin and against bad body odors. We explain how chlorophyll works and how you can best use chlorophyll.

This is how chlorophyll, the green plant substance, works

Chlorophyll has long been known as an extremely healthy plant substance – not just since the substance was hyped on Tiktok and other channels. Chlorophyll, for example, is extremely helpful in blood formation. It supports the detoxification of carcinogenic substances (e.g. mold toxins and heavy metals), is good for the intestines, and solves some skin problems.

In addition, chlorophyll supports wound healing and ensures a pleasant body, urine, and stool odor. Its anti-inflammatory potential also makes the green plant substance an effective component in the therapy of chronic inflammatory diseases.

What is chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is a pigment that colors plants and algae green – the so-called leaf green. Chlorophyll is a plant substance. One often reads or hears that it is a secondary plant substance, which, strictly speaking, is not correct. Because secondary plant substances are called secondary because they are not vital for the plant, e.g. B. Anthocyanins, which color berries blue or black, or carotenoids, which color carrots orange.

Chlorophyll, on the other hand, is clearly essential for the survival of the plant. Because with the help of chlorophyll, the plant can only carry out photosynthesis in the first place. Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and transmits the light energy within the plant so that it can now produce sugar (starch) and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water. As a result, the plant grows, forming leaves, flowers, and finally fruit.

Why is chlorophyll green?

There are different forms of chlorophyll in the plant, e.g. Chlorophyll a and b, which only differ in their ability to absorb different wavelengths of light. Chlorophyll a specializes in yellow and red light, and chlorophyll b in blue to purple. Green light is not absorbed. It just gets passed through so we can see it. This is also the reason why plants appear green to us.

But what about red-leaved plants? How can they carry out photosynthesis? how to survive In these cases, the plants also contain chlorophyll, but the green color is absorbed by other plant pigments, the anthocyanins mentioned above. These reflect blue and red tones of light so that the corresponding leaves then appear red to our eyes.

Why is chlorophyll actually called chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll has nothing to do with chlorine, although given its name one might think so. Nearly nothing. The only similarity is the color. Chlorine gas is green, just like chlorophyll. And in Greek, green means chloros. The second part of the word chlorophyll also comes from the Greek: phýllon means leaf. So chlorophyll simply means green leaf.

What plants have in common with humans

Although plants and humans really don’t have much in common, parallels can be seen from time to time. For example, there are striking similarities between chlorophyll and the heme in human hemoglobin. Chlorophyll colors the sap green, while hemoglobin colors the “sap” in us humans – the blood – red. In the case of hemoglobin, to be more precise, it is only heme that is responsible for the red color. Because hemoglobin consists of two parts, the pigment heme, and the protein globin.

Both dyes – chlorophyll and heme – have a similar structure, namely a so-called porphyrin ring. As the name suggests, it is a ring-shaped molecule. In the case of chlorophyll, there is a magnesium atom in the middle of the porphyrin ring, in the case of heme, it is an iron atom. If there is a copper atom in the center (or any metal other than magnesium), then it is chlorophyllin, the semi-synthetic chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll vs. Chlorophyllin: The Difference

The natural green pigment in plants is called chlorophyll. Chlorophyllin is a type of semi-synthetic chlorophyll that is used in particular by the food industry as a coloring agent, for example in gummy bears or in chewy candies (which are often used to treat bad breath).

To produce chlorophyllin, copper salts are added to the natural chlorophyll after extraction from the plant. The copper atoms now replace the magnesium atoms inside the chlorophyll molecules. This synthetic chlorophyll is therefore no longer a magnesium supplier.

In addition, the chlorophyll loses its phytol chain in the conversion to chlorophyllin. This is long-chain alcohol of 20 carbon atoms, which is also why natural chlorophyll is fat-soluble. When the phytol chain falls off, a molecule is formed that is now water-soluble, which is beneficial for the food industry as water-soluble materials are easier to process.

Copper chlorophyllin has even more advantages for the food industry: it retains its green color even in fruit acids and is also UV-resistant, which is not the case with natural chlorophyll. With copper chlorophyllin, the gummy bears stay green even when the pack is on the shelf and exposed to light.

Natural chlorophyll is not UV stable, which is why chlorophyll drops come in a dark glass vial and should be refrigerated.

However, chlorophyllins can also arise from the natural chlorophyll in the human body. Basically, chlorophyll is always called chlorophyllin when the magnesium atom in the middle of the chlorophyll is exchanged for another metal atom. It can also be aluminum, cobalt, or iron.

Chlorophyll and its E numbers

If you see green colored foods (candy, chewing gum, fruit gums, liqueurs, etc.) and want to know if they contain natural chlorophyll (which is unlikely) or modified chlorophyll, check the ingredient list. Natural chlorophyll has the E number E140, while chlorophyllin has the E141.

Chlorophyll protects against mold toxins

Mold toxins (aflatoxins) have an extremely toxic effect on the liver and can lead to liver cancer if contaminated food is consumed regularly. It has long been known from animal studies that chlorophyllin can inhibit the development of cancer by aflatoxins. Because chlorophyllin forms a complex with the toxins in the intestine so that they can no longer get into the bloodstream and thus can no longer reach the liver.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on this topic was published in November 2001. Participants were 180 adults who received 100 mg chlorophyllin three times a day or a placebo preparation for 4 months. It showed that taking chlorophyllin could reduce aflatoxin exposure by 55 percent. The scientists thus wrote in their conclusion: “Prophylactic intake of chlorophyllin or even increased consumption of chlorophyll-rich foods at mealtimes appears to be a viable means of preventing liver cancer and other environmental cancers”.

Another study was published in 2009, unfortunately with only 4 subjects. Nevertheless, the test subjects showed that taking 150 mg of chlorophyll was able to inhibit the absorption of aflatoxins.

Chlorophyll protects against heavy metals

The cell-damaging effect of heavy metals, such. B. cadmium, can be reduced by chlorophyll. The plant substance reduces the oxidative stress caused by heavy metals by quickly absorbing the metal ions so that the chlorophyll-metal complex can now be excreted with the stool. In a study from 2013, detoxification through chlorophyll could be supported by the plant substance lycopene. Lycopene is conveniently found together with the chlorophyll in many green plants, such as spinach.

Detoxify regularly with chlorophyll

Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin not only form the complexes mentioned with aflatoxins and heavy metals (whereby chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are equally effective), but also with many other harmful and carcinogenic toxins, such as with chlorinated and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH, e.g. benzopyrene). Cigarette smoke, with dioxins or with heterocyclic aromatic amines that are produced when roasting and grilling meat and fish. The green plant substance can therefore reduce the danger of these substances if it is taken at the same time as the corresponding foods.

Chlorophyll protects against the harmful effects of red meat

A meat-rich diet that also contains few green vegetables is considered a risk factor for colon cancer. It should i.a. be the heme iron in meat, which is converted in the intestines into a substance that has a cytotoxic effect and promotes tissue proliferation on the intestinal mucosa. In February 2005, a study with rats showed that chlorophyll can compensate for the cytotoxic effects of heme iron in the gut. Green vegetables – so the conclusion – can for this reason a meat-related risk of colon cancer.

Chlorophyll is anti-cancer

In addition to the above studies on chlorophyll reducing the risk of cancer, there is another study (from 2016) in which chlorophyll capsules were able to slow the progression of lung cancer in mice [Reduce colorectal cancer risk]. For the prevention or therapy of cancer, a diet rich in chlorophyll and vital substances should be practiced – no matter what type of cancer is present.

Chlorophyll shows anti-viral effects

It is known from initial studies that chlorophyllin even has a certain anti-viral effect, e.g. B. against enteroviruses. Depending on the type of enterovirus, enteroviruses can cause various diseases, such as respiratory infections (summer flu) or feverish diseases with a skin rash. There are no medications for many of these infectious diseases.

In a 2020 study, chlorophyllin was discovered to have potent inhibitory activity against Enterovirus A71 and also against Coxsackievirus-A16 (CV-A16) with an excellent safety profile. Chlorophyllin prevents the viruses from entering the cells. This virus-hostile effect of chlorophyll is certainly another reason why a diet rich in vital substances, i.e. vegetables and therefore chlorophyll, leads to a strong immune system and a lower susceptibility to infections.

Chlorophyll absorbs bad body odors

Chlorophyll has long been used as a remedy for bad breath and other bad body odors. In Asia, the green substance is therefore considered “deodorant from within” [2]. A very old study from 1951 shows that chlorophyllin can significantly reduce odors in people with an artificial bowel outlet (some). It has been known for at least as long that chlorophyll is of great help in absorbing bad odors in incontinent patients.

In geriatric care, in particular, many people live with incontinence, but also with chronic constipation. In a study from 1980 one read that the two to three doses of 100 mg chlorophyllin per day quickly regulated digestion (so that one no longer needed laxatives with many side effects) and at the same time the putrid smells of the stool, but also of Reduced bloating, which is a problem for many older people. The 62 old people received 100 mg chlorophyllin three times a day for the first 10 days, then 100 mg twice a day for a total of 6 months. There were no side effects.

Of course, not only do older people suffer from bad body odors, but a chlorophyll-rich diet or dietary supplementation with chlorophyll drops can be a great relief for many people who are struggling with the smell of sweat or foul-smelling flatulence. However, the chlorophyll dose should be at least 100 mg two to three times per day, as a study from 1983 found only a slight improvement in body odor at 100 mg chlorophyll per day.

Chlorophyll for beautiful skin and against acne

Most chlorophyll videos talk about the miraculous anti-acne effects of chlorophyll. There are probably several properties of the green plant substance in combination that ultimately have such a positive effect on the complexion.

Firstly the detoxifying effect, secondly the antibacterial effect (against the acne bacterium Propionibacterium acnes), thirdly the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, and fourth the intestinal flora-regulating effect. Because the fewer toxins circulating in the body and the healthier the intestinal flora, the less oxidative stress occurs and the fewer pro-inflammatory messenger substances are in the blood. All of this together makes acne disappear and the complexion clearer.

A study from 2016 also showed that a skin gel with 0.05% copper chlorophyllin is a very good anti-aging measure. Despite exposure to the sun, the skin ages much more slowly. It was interesting that the chlorophyll gel worked just as well as a 0.025 percent tretinoin cream, which is currently considered THE anti-aging agent. In the link to the study, you will find the composition of the gel. Unfortunately, we do not know whether it is commercially available in this form.

Chlorophyll for better wound healing

As early as the 1940s and 1950s, research was being carried out into the wound-healing properties of chlorophyll. Some of these studies showed that chlorophyll in wounds prevented infection and thus accelerated wound healing. In the USA there is now a combined preparation (Panafil cream) made from papain (papaya enzyme), urea (urea), and chlorophyllin. The cream keeps wounds clean, promotes healing, and prevents the development of unpleasant odors.

Chlorophyll and blood formation

Chlorophyll also supports blood formation – presumably because of the similarity to hemoglobin, the red blood pigment, described at the beginning. Studies on mice have shown that chlorophyll increases hemoglobin and ferritin levels (ferritin = iron stores) in anemic patients. This is surprising since chlorophyll is known to contain no iron.

A study dating back to 1936, also found that the administration of chlorophyll can help with anemia (anemia). The explanation for this was: If there is a lack of hemoglobin in the case of anemia, then the administration of iron alone is often not enough. After all, hemoglobin does not consist solely of iron. Chlorophyll doesn’t provide iron, but everything else it needs to form hemoglobin. There is even a report from an even earlier study (from 1933) in which anemia in rats could be cured solely by the administration of chlorophyll.

In an interesting human study from 2004, the blood formation-promoting property of chlorophyll was even shown in thalassemia, a genetic disease in which there is a hemoglobin deficiency and patients, therefore, need a blood transfusion every 2 to 4 weeks, otherwise, pronounced anemia would develop.

In the study mentioned, the necessary blood transfusions in thalassemia patients could be reduced by more than 25 percent of the patients who drank wheatgrass juice. The study lasted 1 year and the subjects drank 100 ml of wheatgrass juice daily, which is considered to be particularly rich in chlorophyll.

If you frequently suffer from iron deficiency or anemia, a chlorophyll-rich diet is particularly important for you. If you are taking iron, it would be wise to always take chlorophyll as well.

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