scorecardDietitians weigh in on the risks and benefits of drinking liquid chlorophyll
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Dietitians weigh in on the risks and benefits of drinking liquid chlorophyll

Erin Heger,Jason McKnight   

Dietitians weigh in on the risks and benefits of drinking liquid chlorophyll
LifeScience4 min read
  • Chlorophyll is from plants, but liquid chlorophyll is made of synthetic salts.
  • Doctors say liquid chlorophyll may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and an upset stomach.
  • Naturally-occurring chlorophyll may help with weight loss, but there are very few supporting studies.

Chlorophyll is a pigment in plants that helps them absorb energy from the sun to create nutrients. It is also what gives plants their green color and can be found in many green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, and green beans.

But you don't necessarily have to eat plants to get your daily dose of chlorophyll.

Liquid chlorophyll, or chlorophyllin, is a semi-synthetic form of chlorophyll that you can take as a supplement. It is a mixture of sodium-copper salts derived from chlorophyll, says Paula Doebrich, a registered dietitian and founder of Happea Nutrition, a private nutrition practice.

This supplement has made a buzz on social media as influencers tout its benefits, which some say range from weight loss and acne treatment to cancer prevention and blood cell production.

While some research indicates that both liquid chlorophyll and chlorophyll from plants may offer some health benefits, so far the studies have been limited and more research is needed, Doebrich says.

Here's a look at some of the claims surrounding both chlorophyll from plants and liquid chlorophyll (chlorophyllin) and the science behind them.

1. Cancer prevention

Chlorophyll is an antioxidant with potential anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of leafy green vegetables, like spinach or kale, Doebrich says. Antioxidants help combat free radical damage done to cells, which may play a role in the development of cancer.

Most of the research on chlorophyll, chlorophyllin, and cancer so far has been done on animals or in cells and not humans, so the literature is lacking, says Sara K. Riehm, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health.

But some of the studies do show promise. So far, the research includes:

  • A 2012 study on rainbow fish trout found that chlorophyll present in green vegetables reduced the incidence of liver tumors by 29% and stomach tumors by 24%.
  • A 2016 study found that liquid chlorophyll (chlorophyllin) slowed the progression of lung cancer in mice.
  • A 2018 study found that daily oral chlorophyll from green plants reduced the size of tumors in mice that had been transplanted with human pancreatic cancer cells.

2. Weight loss

Weight loss is a popular claim of influencers touting liquid chlorophyll as a "miracle product."

There are not many studies yet examining the correlation between chlorophyll and weight loss, though one 2019 study in mice found that chlorophyll may improve the gut microbiome which could help with weight management.

A small 2014 study of overweight women found that participants who took a green plant membrane supplement, which contained chlorophyll, once daily for three months experienced greater weight loss than those who did not take the supplement.

3. Acne treatment

There is some evidence that chlorophyll may be beneficial for skincare and the treatment of acne, Riehm says. Though it's important to note the studies so far have been small and examined the topical application of chlorophyll, not the oral supplement.

  • A small 2014 study of people with facial acne found that a topical chlorophyll solution in conjunction with light therapy improved acne over the course of a month. Participants who received the chlorophyll solution in addition to the light therapy treatment showed more reduction in the number and severity of pimples than the participants who only received light therapy.
  • Another small 2015 study of people with acne reported improvement in their skin's appearance and reduced visibility of pores after applying topical chlorophyllin gel for three weeks.

How to take chlorophyll

You can find chlorophyllin supplements in liquid, pill, or tablet form at most health food or natural food stores, says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietitian and founder of the consulting practice, Real Nutrition.

There isn't enough research on liquid chlorophyll yet to determine a recommended dose, Riehm, says, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does state that people over 12-years-old should not consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) daily.

Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement, Riehm says. To ensure the purity of your supplement, look for a brand that has been independently certified by a third-party authority, like U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

You can also increase your consumption of chlorophyll by eating chlorophyll-rich foods, like spinach, green beans, and parsley.

Risks and side effects

Overall, chlorophyll is considered safe to consume. There are no known toxic effects from either the chlorophyll you get from food or from the synthetic chlorophyllin when used in moderation, Riehm says.

However, Shapiro says that you may experience uncomfortable side effects from liquid chlorophyll, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Green poop

The safest way to consume chlorophyll is to get it from food, Riehm says. Foods rich in chlorophyll include:

  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Leeks
  • Arugula
  • Parsley

"These foods come with way more benefits than just chlorophyll since they contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber," Doebrich says. "It's always better to eat foods than supplements whenever possible."

Insider's takeaway

Liquid chlorophyll is a semi-synthetic version of the chlorophyll found in plants. Studies on the health benefits of liquid chlorophyll so far are limited, but research is promising in the areas of cancer prevention, acne treatment, and weight loss.

Consult with your doctor before trying any supplement, including liquid chlorophyll. You can purchase liquid chlorophyll supplements at most health food stores. But the best way to get chlorophyll is to eat fruits and vegetables containing it.

"For most people chlorophyll is safe to consume," Doebrich says. "However, it's best to consume the supplement in moderation and rely on real vegetables for nutrients if possible."