Drinking liquid chlorophyll has taken TikTok by storm.
Swiping through videos, you will be hard-pressed to escape the sight of people sipping on a green concoction touted as a “miracle product.”
And with claims that this green juice is helping people lose weight, have more energy, and reduce their acne, it is no wonder why people are quickly jumping on the chlorophyll bandwagon.
But is it really as healthy as it's cut out to be?
What is liquid chlorophyll?
While it may sound foreign and scientific, chlorophyll is found in many foods that you likely already eat.
“Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants (including those that we eat) their green colour,” Dr Lisa Young, a registered dietitian, adjunct professor at New York University and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, tells her TikTok users.
She explains that “plants use chlorophyll to trap light needed for photosynthesis. Green veggies, like spinach, kale, and green beans, are rich natural sources of chlorophyll.”
Chlorophyll is also found in algae, wheat-grass, potatoes, green tea particles, and numerous herbs like alfalfa, damiana, nettle, and parsley.
The benefits of chlorophyll
The liquid chlorophyll featured on your social media is likely chlorophyllin instead of pure chlorophyll. As Young explains, chlorophyllin “is a semi-synthetic mixture of water-soluble sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll.”
Social media influencers tout liquid chlorophyll as a cure-all for a slew of ailments, from healing cancer to beating bloat.
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But while liquid chlorophyll may offer some benefits, many of the claims made on social media surrounding this supplement are exaggerated and not backed by science. However, there are some cases where it may improve your health.
It may be protective against certain cancers
Taking chlorophyllin daily may be beneficial if a person is trying to reduce their risk of certain cancer risks in very specific ways.
Chlorophyllin may decrease your body's absorption of aflatoxin B—a toxin produced by a fungus linked to an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
And in a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers showed that in volunteers, taking 150 mg of chlorophyllin significantly decreased the absorption of aflatoxin B.
Chlorophyllin may also be a useful alternative treatment for bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer in certain cases.
It may support weight loss
While there is no substitute for a healthy diet and physical activity, there is some limited evidence that suggests including liquid chlorophyll into a lifestyle every day may result in weight loss, specifically in overweight adult women.
In one small study (under 40 subjects), people who consumed green-plant membrane supplementation (like liquid chlorophyll) experienced more weight loss than those who did not take this supplement after 12 weeks of usage.
However, more clinical trials need to be conducted before a definitive recommendation surrounding liquid chlorophyll and, weight loss can be given.
Areas where evidence for taking chlorophyll is lacking
Although many claims surrounding chlorophyll exists, not all hold true in medical research.
Researchers evaluated available data and graded the strength of the evidence surrounding claims, publishing the results in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
In this review, the researchers show that there is either unclear or conflicting scientific evidence surrounding chlorophyll intake and benefits surrounding: inflammation control for pancreatitis, cancer prevention, fibrocystic breast disease, herpes, leukopenia, metabolic disorders, pancreatitis, pneumonia, poisoning, reduction of odour from incontinence/bladder catheterisation, rheumatoid arthritis, sepsis, tuberculosis.
Plus, the researchers report a lack of sufficient evidence that shows benefits of taking chlorophyll for the following conditions: anaemia, antiviral, atherosclerosis, bad breath, blood disorders (porphyria), body odour, constipation, detoxification, diabetes, gastrointestinal conditions, hyperlipidemia.
So many of the claims and health promises you see online need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Taking liquid chlorophyll isn't very risky for your health if you are a generally healthy person. Yes, it can interact with certain medications, and there have been reports that it may stain teeth, but sticking to a reasonable dose likely does not pose a health threat for most people.
But is taking this supplement a must-do for a healthy lifestyle?
“If you eat your green veggies, you'll get plenty of chlorophyll,” Young explains. “However, most Americans don’t eat enough veggies.”
Young also cautions that “the best dose and the potential side effects are unknown. (Liquid chlorophyll use) has also not been studied in pregnant and lactating women.”
Her advice? Don’t lean on chlorophyll intake via a liquid supplement as a first-choice. Instead, eat your greens from fresh or frozen veggies, which can offer you many health benefits.
Dr Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a New York-based registered dietitian and author of The Better Period Food Solution, tells her TikTok users that “liquid chlorophyll is a great addition to your diet as a way to mop up valuable nutrients and antioxidants.” However, she cautions that it shouldn’t be a route people take for weight loss. “The science isn’t there yet to show its link to weight loss and warrants further research to explore this potential link,” she adds.
Supplements are not regulated in the same manner that food is in the United States. Therefore, taking any supplement comes with the risk of not getting what you paid for. Choosing brands that are third-party verified can help overcome this challenge.
And with anything supplement-related, make sure you get the OK from your healthcare provider before taking liquid chlorophyll. Even though foods or supplements are natural, it doesn’t automatically mean that all are safe for you in every situation.
Will it hurt you to take this trendy supplement? Probably not. Is it the cure-all you may be hoping for? According to the available data, we need to learn a lot more before it can be recommended — despite what TikTok users want you to believe.