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Chlorophyll water and liquid chlorophyll are trending among wellness enthusiasts after the pigment supplement went viral on TikTok.
Videos on the platform suggest chlorophyll water can deliver everything from clearer skin to better digestion and supercharged immunity.
Health experts maintain that research on the plant-based supplement isn't conclusive, but that those interested in upping their chlorophyll intake may do better by eating it instead.
Chlorophyll water is the latest wellness trend going viral on TikTok, meaning thousands of plant-based dieters and other wellness fanatics are being introduced to the plant-based supplement behind the liquid drink for the first time. Videos on the platform, alongside plenty of marketing material, have made some pretty wide-ranging claims for chlorophyll's health benefits. Popular shares assert that the vibrant green drink can improve your complexion and deliver clearer skin, energize your immune system, improve your digestion and even work to prevent cancer.
On TikTok, videos tagged #chlorophyll have racked up nearly 330 million views, but is there any truth to the health claims about chlorophyll water? Good Housekeeping asked health experts to explain more about this social media wellness trend.
What exactly is chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is a pigment found in plants that makes them green. It plays a key role in photosynthesis, the process where plants turn solar energy and carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy-rich molecules, like glucose, explains Kristin Dean, MD, the associate medical director at Doctor on Demand.
That’s the natural state of chlorophyll, anyway. Chlorophyll supplements used to make chlorophyll water are usually made from chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic blend of sodium copper salts that are derived from chlorophyll, says Jerlyn Jones, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Chlorophyllin has similar properties to chlorophyll and easily dissolves in water,” she adds.
Are there actually health benefits to consuming chlorophyll?
According to a brand representative for Sakara, the producer of a product called Detox Water Drops which contains chlorophyll per its ingredient list, chlorophyll is rich in antioxidants and "extremely potent for [holistic] healing." According to marketing materials and testimony from the brand, the main benefits of chlorophyll are that it can improve acne, as well as gut health and digestion (similar to other supplements). Products like Sakara's also claim to help the blood carry oxygen through the body, which some research suggests can boost energy, clear away impurities, stimulate organs and support the lymphatic system.
Other wellness enthusiasts have suggested that chlorophyll also has cancer-fighting properties and can help with weight loss, Dr. Dean tells us. Alas, there’s little research proving any of these claims to be true.
The plant-based supplement is far from a “cure-all,” Jones explains. “Chlorophyll has certain antioxidants and potential anti-inflammatory benefits such as skin healing; however, larger studies are needed to further evaluate the potential health benefits of chlorophyll.”
That said, smaller studies have shown that chlorophyll could potentially have some impact on health. In a pilot study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2015, 10 adults using topical chlorophyllin for three weeks had mild to moderate improvement in acne and reduction of larger pores. Another small study of just 10 women published in the same journal showed that topical chlorophyllin improved sun-damaged skin after eight weeks.
Are there any risks associated with consuming chlorophyll?
Natural chlorophyll and subsequent chlorophyllin aren’t known to be toxic, as experts at Oregon State University have explained. Jones says some people may experience side effects when consuming the supplement, such as diarrhea, green-colored urine or stool and yellow or black coloring on the tongue. Topical chlorophyll application could cause itching or burning, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should probably avoid chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, Jones says, since the consumption risks for this group are largely unknown.
All of the experts we consulted for this guide agreed: You should discuss chlorophyll supplements with a healthcare provider before you adding them to your long-term routine. This is especially crucial for those who are breastfeeding, taking medications and those with chronic health conditions.
You should also keep in mind that chlorophyll and chlorophyllin supplements (and all other supplements) aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Dean adds. “Taking supplements which are not regulated by the FDA can put you at risk of consuming unknown toxic substances depending on the manufacturing practices of the company you are purchasing from,” she warns.
Sakara representatives suggest following the dosage and instructions on any product's label for the safest results.
If I'm going to try it, what is the best way to consume chlorophyll water?
In the store and online, chlorophyll supplements are sold in many different forms: Tablets, sprays, ointments and liquid drops. “Some people incorporate chlorophyll into their meals by adding a liquid form to recipes,” Jones says. To make chlorophyll water, you can add drops or powder into a glass or bottle of water while following the product's recommended dosage.
Are there alternatives to chlorophyll supplements?
But you don't need to take chlorophyll supplements: Eating foods rich in chlorophyll, like spinach, collard greens, parsley, green beans and peas, can naturally up your dose of chlorophyll too, Jones adds. A cup of spinach, for instance, packs in about 24mg of chlorophyll, whereas a half cup of parsley contains 19mg, she adds.
“People should always be careful before jumping on a popular food trend,” Jones says. “The possible side effects may potentially cause undue stress and harm. These supplements can also be expensive. Instead, make smart food choices by eating more vegetables like arugula, leeks, and broccoli.”
What's the bottom line?
Since officials at the FDA do not regulate supplements, it's hard to recommend one product over another — but most liquid chlorophyll supplements shouldn't pose a risk to a majority of consumers.
As scientists' research into the health benefits of consuming chlorophyll is inconclusive, and since manufacturers aren't required to adhere to quality control in selling these supplements, the easiest way to enjoy more chlorophyll is to eat it. Try incorporating more hearty vegetables in your diet; staples like spinach contains more or as much of this plant-based pigment that supplements provide, and in smaller amounts. Whether you're hoping for a better complexion or improved digestion, fiber-packed and chlorophyll-rich vegetables are never a bad idea.
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