Related Terms

  • ABCG2 substrates, chlorin e6, chlorin p6, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, chlorophyll c, chlorophyll d, chlorophyllin, chlorophyllpt, chlorophyll lipiodol, chlorophyll phytol, copper chlorophyll, Laminaria, microalgae, nutraceutical, Nullo®, peridinin chlorophyll-alpha protein, pheophorbide, pheophorbide a, pheophytin a, photodynamic antimicrobial therapy (PACT), phytanic acid, phytochemicals, porphobilinogen, porphyrin, PPBa, pristanic acid, protochlorophyllidae a, protoporhyrin IX, purpurin-18, retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist, uroporphyrinogen-III.

Background

  • Chlorophyll is a chemoprotein commonly known for its contribution to the green pigmentation in plants, and is related to protoheme, the red pigment of blood. 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 has been used traditionally to improve bad breath and other forms of body odor including odors of the urine, feces, and infected wounds. More recently chlorophyll has been used to aid in the removal of various toxins via the liver and remains a key compound for improving the function of essential detoxification pathways. Supportive evidence suggests it may be used as an anti-inflammatory agent for conditions, such as pancreatitis as well as exhibiting potent antioxidant and chemoprotective activities. Scientific research 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 diabetes and obesity are also being explored as areas where chlorophyll can also be used.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    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. Further research is required to support its use for reducing photosensitivity symptoms.

    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 (simplex and zoster)

    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 in autoimmune diseases.

    Tuberculosis

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

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • There is no proven effective dose for chlorophyll. For bad breath, 100 milligrams has been taken two or three times daily. For colostomy odor, 75 milligrams three times daily for up to 100-200 milligrams daily in divided doses has been used. 300 milligrams daily has been used if odor was still not controlled. 1-2 tablets of 100 milligrams have been placed in the empty pouch each time it is reused or changed in a patient who has had an ostomy. For protection from aflatoxins, chlorophyllin 100 milligrams three times daily for four months has been studied. For pancreatitis, an infusion of 5-20 milligrams water-soluble chlorophyll-a daily for one to two weeks followed by intermittent administration thereafter has been used. For pneumonia, infusion of 0.25% chlorophyllypt solution in physiological sodium chloride solution administered by intravenous drip has been studied.
    • Theoretical evidence suggests chlorophyll may aid the growth of new tissue when applied topically (on the skin) for burns and wounds.
  • Children (younger than 18 years)

    • There is no proven effective dose for chlorophyll in children.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to chlorophyll or any of its metabolites; contact may result in a photosensitive rash. Copper chlorophyll (E141) could be a pseudoallergen.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • It appears that chlorophyll is generally safe and without many side effects or toxicities in non-sensitive people. Adverse effects are usually gastrointestinal or dermatologic in nature. Common gastrointestinal complaints may include nausea, diarrhea, green stools, and abdominal cramping. When taken by mouth, chlorophyllin may cause green discoloration of the urine.
    • Use cautiously in patients who show signs of photosensitivity, such as a rash, to chlorophyll or any of its metabolites.
    • Use cautiously in patients with compromised liver function due to the possibility of the development of jaundice.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking immunosuppressant agents as chlorophyll may normalize T lymphocyte counts.
    • Use cautiously in patients with diabetes or taking diabetes agents as chlorophyll may have antidiabetic effects.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Chlorophyll is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • The chlorophyll metabolite phytanic acid may have antidiabetic activity. Caution is advised when using medications that may lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
    • Phytanic and pristanic acids are thought to affect catabolic lipid metabolism. Caution is advised when taking chlorophyll with agents that lower cholesterol, such as statins.
    • Although not well studied in humans, chlorophyll or its metabolites may have antineoplastic (anticancer) properties. Caution is advised in patients taking other anticancer agents.
    • The chlorophyll metabolites phytanic and pristanic acids may have antiobesity properties. Caution is advised when taking chlorophyll and other agents for weight loss.
    • Chlorophyll may have antioxidant and antiviral properties. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs with antioxidant and antiviral properties due to possible additive effects.
    • Chlorophyll may have detoxifying effects, especially dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs).
    • Chlorophyll and some of its synthetically produced derivatives may be photosensitizing. Chlorophyll may cause hyperpigmentation, dermatitis, or make a patient more sensitive to laser treatment.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Phytanic and pristanic acids are thought to affect catabolic lipid metabolism. Caution is advised when taking chlorophyll with herbs or supplements that lower cholesterol, such as red yeast rice.
    • Although not well studied in humans, chlorophyll or its metabolites may have antineoplastic (anticancer) properties. Caution is advised in patients taking anticancer herbs or supplements.
    • Chlorophyll may have antioxidant and antiviral properties. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements with antioxidant and antiviral properties due to possible additive effects.
    • Although not well studied in humans, chlorophyll may have detoxifying effects, especially dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs).
    • The chlorophyll metabolite phytanic acid may have antidiabetic activity. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
    • Chlorophyll and some of its synthetically produced derivatives may be photosensitizing. Chlorophyll may cause hyperpigmentation, dermatitis, or make a patient more sensitive to laser treatment. Beta-carotene or canthaxanthin may prevent or lessen chlorophyll-induced photosensitivity.
    • Although not well studied in humans, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and pantothenic acid may exert preventative effects against photosensitized hemolysis.
    • The chlorophyll metabolites phytanic and pristanic acids may have antiobesity properties. Caution is advised when taking chlorophyll and other herbs or supplements for weight loss.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
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    View Abstract