Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Chlorophyll Print

Chlorophyll

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Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

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

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. GRADE *


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.

C


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.

C


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

C


Chlorophyll-a may reduce the mortality rate of experimental pancreatitis. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


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.

C


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.

C


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.

C


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.

C


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.

C


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.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

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.

  • Anemia, cancer prevention, antioxidant, antiviral, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), bad breath, blood disorders (porphyria), constipation, deodorant, detoxification, diabetes, food uses (colorant), gastrointestinal conditions, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), obesity, wound healing.

Dosing

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

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

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 (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Abbott BL. ABCG2 (BCRP) expression in normal and malignant hematopoietic cells. Hematol Oncol 2003;21(3):115-130.
  2. Acheson DW, Flegg PJ. Diagnostic delay due to chlorophyll in oral rehydration solution. Lancet 1-17-1987;1(8525):171.
  3. Adida A, Spener F. Intracellular lipid binding proteins and nuclear receptors involved in branched-chain fatty acid signaling. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2002;67(2-3):91-98.
  4. Bezpalov VG, Barash NI, Ivanova OA, et al. [Investigation of the drug "Mamoclam" for the treatment of patients with fibroadenomatosis of the breast]. Vopr Onkol 2005;51(2):236-241.
  5. Egner PA, Munoz A, Kensler TW. Chemoprevention with chlorophyllin in individuals exposed to dietary aflatoxin. Mutat.Res 2003;523-524:209-216.
  6. Fahey JW, Stephenson KK, Dinkova-Kostova AT, et al. Chlorophyll, chlorophyllin and related tetrapyrroles are significant inducers of mammalian phase 2 cytoprotective genes. Carcinogenesis 2005;26(7):1247-1255.
  7. Lim DS, Ko SH, Kim SJ, et al. Photoinactivation of vesicular stomatitis virus by a photodynamic agent, chlorophyll derivatives from silkworm excreta. J Photochem Photobiol B 2002;67(3):149-156.
  8. Lozovskaia ME. [Effectiveness of using the biologically active additive to food from Laminaria in adolescents during complex treatment of the pulmonary tuberculosis]. Vopr Pitan 2005;74(1):40-43.
  9. Mukherji M, Schofield CJ, Wierzbicki AS, et al. The chemical biology of branched-chain lipid metabolism. Prog Lipid Res 2003;42(5):359-376.
  10. Nagayama J, Takasuga T, Tsuji H, et al. Promotive excretion of causative agents of Yusho by one year intake of FBRA in Japanese people. Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi 2005;96(5):241-248.
  11. Nagayama J, Takasuga T, Tsuji H, et al. Active elimination of causative PCDFs/DDs congeners of Yusho by one year intake of FBRA in Japanese people. Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi 2003;94(5):118-125.
  12. Schluter A, Yubero P, Iglesias R, et al. The chlorophyll-derived metabolite phytanic acid induces white adipocyte differentiation. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2002;26(9):1277-1280.
  13. Sugiyama C, Nakandakari N, Hayatsu H, et al. Preventive effects of chlorophyllin fixed on chitosan towards DNA adduct formation of 3-amino-1-methyl-5H-pyrido [4,3-b]indole in CDF1 mice. Biol Pharm Bull 2002;25(4):520-522.
  14. Tajmir-Riahi HA, Neault JF, Diamantoglou S. DNA adducts with chlorophyll and chlorophyllin as antimutagenic agents: synthesis, stability, and structural features. Methods Mol Biol 2004;274:159-171.
  15. Tsukagoshi S. [Development of a novel photosensitizer, talaporfin sodium, for the photodynamic therapy (PDT)]. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho 2004;31(6):979-985.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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