Photosynthesis just may be the most important biological process on earth. Without it, plants wouldn’t be able to produce the oxygen and complex nutrients that sustain every other form of life. Without chlorophyll, the entire process falls apart.
But what role does it play in our health specifically?
Why chlorophyll is important to life
In nature, chlorophyll is a pigment that helps plants absorb sunlight for energy. It’s what gives green vegetables their color. The two plant-based forms, chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b, absorb most forms of visible light except green, which it reflects.
In many ways, it's the reason we associate deep greens with health, nature, and organic products. Experts joke that even if chlorophyll had no direct benefits for people, it would still be responsible for getting us to eat more vegetables. This brings us to its role in our health.
Chlorophyll and wellness
Chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b are naturally occurring. They’re the compounds produced and used by plants, which we absorb by eating them. Liquid chlorophyll, typically found in supplements, is a semi-synthetic version made with sodium-copper salts.
Both forms can offer a range of health benefits, but only in the right context. Liquid chlorophyll is an extraction, so it's more concentrated. That makes it effective as a dietary supplement, and versatile enough to add to topical health products like skin creams.
Plant-based chlorophyll isn’t necessarily better because it's found in nature. Some of its benefits come from the food we absorb it through. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and wheatgrass are also packed with extra fiber and nutrients we need in our daily intake.
Picking one is often just a matter of how it aligns with your lifestyle and needs. Whichever way you go, here’s where both can improve health and wellness.
Health benefits of chlorophyll
For all its amazing internal benefits, chlorophyll may even be better for our skin. After all, the evolution of both was driven by the same thing – the sun. While chlorophyll uses sunlight as an energy source, its harsh UV rays can damage skin cells.
Sun exposure is responsible for photoaging, also known as premature aging. Overexposure to UV light is responsible for 90% of visible changes in the skin, including wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines.
When applied as a topical, chlorophyll can reduce photoaging. A study found that sodium copper chlorophyllin — liquid chlorophyll – had beneficial effects on photoaged skin, especially in products that also contained retinols.
Topical chlorophyll may also reduce the severity of facial acne and visible pores. The anti-inflammatory properties of copper-sodium chlorophyllin help reduce inflammation caused by acne. But that’s only half the effect.
Acne also triggers more sebum production. Sebum is a natural oil in the skin. Normally, it protects and hydrates the skin, locking in moisture for longer. When there’s too much of it, though, it traps irritants on the surface, forming a sebum plug – a bump.
Topical chlorophyllin gel soothes irritation while closing large pores so they don’t form a plug.
Scarring is one of the more severe signs of acne, but many things can leave us with cuts and nicks. Skin wounds may be sore, but the real danger is infection. They’re prime sites for bacteria.
Chlorophyll’s ability to reduce inflammation helps the wound seal quicker. It has two other properties that help here, related to blood cells and odor, but their benefits are worth looking at in detail.
Hemoglobin is a crucial protein in our bodies. Red blood cells use it to carry oxygen from the lungs to other organs and carbon dioxide back the other way. Low hemoglobin is the main cause of iron deficiency anemia, where the body can’t produce enough red blood cells to support key functions.
Chlorophyll is almost chemically identical to hemoglobin. As a result, researchers suggest it could be used as a supplement to treat hemoglobin deficiency. This is why chlorophyll is sometimes called a blood builder, and it's especially abundant in wheatgrass.
The second benefit may not seem related to healing, but you only have to look a little deeper. People have used chlorophyll for decades as a natural deodorant. It's shown an ability to neutralize certain odors and even reduce bad breath.
What’s the biological force behind both conditions? Bacteria. Some cause bad breath, some cause infection. In either case, chlorophyll’s anti-odor properties support the body’s fight against them.
Weight loss (direct)
Early research suggests chlorophyll might even help with weight loss. It may help to split this benefit into two parts: direct and indirect effects.
We’re still learning about the mechanism behind chlorophyll and weight loss. Consuming it may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce appetite, There are suggestions that it may even affect how fats are absorbed, but the other two effects stand out.
Diet plays a major role in weight loss, so being able to manage LDL cholesterol and hunger is key. Even as experts study the direct effects, the indirect benefits are more intuitive.
Weight loss (indirect)
Chlorophyll’s ability to improve red blood cell quality has a butterfly effect on our health. Our organs need oxygen-rich blood to function, including the stomach and intestines. It’s key to the immune system, metabolism, and brain health. In short, it supports the natural processes that already manage weight.
Carrying carbon dioxide back to the lungs is just as important. While plants use it as food, CO2 is a waste product our bodies remove by exhaling. This is also one of those areas where the form you consume chlorophyll can change the results.
In concentrated form, it's easy to apply directly to improve skin conditions and treat specific sites. When in food, it supplements our diets with nutritious fruits and vegetables we need regardless.
Chlorophyll – nature’s driving force
Despite being so essential to life everywhere, it's hard to view chlorophyll in isolation. Its beauty comes from its ability to support a wide range of natural processes. From helping saplings grow to soothing skin irritation and fighting bacteria, its potential is boundless – if we use it right.