TikTok Tuesday: Chlorophyll for weight loss?

Latest challenge claims chlorophyll drops can help with a slew of health concerns from acne to weight loss to yup, even cancer.

Emma Jones 5 minute read October 26, 2021
woman buying kale

Green leafy vegetables also contain chlorophyll. GETTY

Another Tuesday, another TikTok wonder product. This time it’s chlorophyll drops, which users on the platform claim can help with a slew of health concerns from acne to weight loss to yup, even cancer.

Chlorophyll is a pigment essential to photosynthesis in plants, which allows them to absorb light and turn it into energy. When ingested by humans thorough leafy green veggies, chlorophyll is thought to have antioxidant properties, improve the immune system and combat anemia.

Since pure Chlorophyll is not water soluble, the green solution made famous through TikTok is a derivative. Depending on the type of chlorophyll, there is some question as to whether the body absorbs it, or if it is broken down in the highly acidic stomach environment. Chlorophyllin, the most common supplement, is a sodium copper salt that lacks the magnesium found in naturally occurring chlorophyll. Promisingly, one study found that individuals who took chlorophyllin regularly had higher levels of copper-containing compounds in their blood, indicating that the body was able to absorb this supplement.

Taking a chlorophyllin supplement does increase the amount a single person can get in a day. One cup of spinach has just under 24 milligrams of naturally occurring chlorophyll while one cup of parsley has about 19 mg while a supplement can contain anywhere from 100-300 mg per serving. But does such a high intake of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin really have so many health benefits? The experts aren’t so sure.

“If something truly worked for all of that,” dietitian Beth Czerwony told Cleveland Clinic, “it’s safe to say it wouldn’t be a secret just exposed to the world through TikTok. There’s reason for skepticism.”

Reduced acne
In one video, user @ellietaylor929 claims to show the results of a week of drinking water with chlorophyll, where her red and inflamed acne slowly begins to fade. Another user, @lenamaiah, claims that the green drink helped clear up her rosacea, although she adds the caveat that she paired it with a healthy diet.

“There are small trials that show benefits in treating acne,” Dhaval G. Bhanusali, dermatologist from New York City told Alllure. “While research is very limited, it is certainly promising.”

While there may be some truth to the claims, although such dramatic results won’t necessarily come from just adding this one ingredient to your diet. The promising results seen in these videos may be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of chlorophyll, or even to an increase in water consumption.

“Liquid chlorophyll has not been proven to have any effect on acne or redness, but given its anti-inflammatory properties, it could have some benefit,” dermatologist Muneeb Shah told Insider. “Also, users are drinking more water as a result of this liquid chlorophyll trend, so adequate hydration may also be playing a role.”

Weight loss
In one small study, 38 women witha BMI between 25 and 33, who did not have diabetes, food allergies, or IBS were given a smoothie every morning, with half the group receiving smoothies that also contained a green membrane supplement with 150 mg of chlorophyll (not the water-soluble chlorophyllin). On top of the drink, both groups were told to have a low-intensity exercise period for 30 minutes every day, three meals a day containing a large quantity of vegetables and fruit, and to avoid sugary drinks and snacks. After three months, the green membrane supplement was correlated with higher weight loss and lower cholesterol levels.

While the green plant membrane did include chlorophyll, it also included lutein, zeaxantin, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E and folic acid, so success may vary based on the supplement taken. The research is still limited, however, so if weight loss is a goal, pinning hopes on a green drink might not be the best route.

“Liquid chlorophyll is a great addition to your diet as a way to mop up valuable nutrients and antioxidants.” Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a dietician from New York, told Verywell Health. “The science isn’t there yet to show its link to weight loss and warrants further research to explore this potential link.”

Cancer prevention
Some research suggests that chlorophyllin may help protect against cancer, especially liver cancer. In one double-blind, controlled study 100 individuals from Qidong, China were told to take either 100 mg of chlorophyllin or a placebo three times a day for four months. At the end of the study, those who took the chlorophyllin had, on average, lower concentration of specific biomarkers associated with developing liver cancer than the placebo group. The article, however, doesn’t indicate how many of the participants actually went on to develop liver cancer.

While there do seem to be some weak connections to some health benefits, there have been some reports that chlorophyllin may turn a users’ tongue yellow or black, may tint urine or poop green, may cause sensitivity to the sun, or may cause some digestive problems. A study by Oregon State University noted that chlorophyllin has not been extensively studied in those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and should probably be avoided until more is known.

Despite some promising studies, a chlorophyll supplement will never be a replacement for a diet rich in a variety of veggies — both the leafy green kind and otherwise. Many other minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins found in these foods are also demonstrated to support benefits like clear skin, weight loss, cancer prevention, so unless you have some extra cash to spend (these drops aren’t cheap) this might be a trend you can skip.




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