- Chlorophyll has been proven to aid in healing wounds.
- It is an excellent source of antioxidants that are beneficial for the skin.
- Despite certain proven benefits, there are some unsubstantiated claims.
Chlorophyll is an excellent supplement to add to your health regimen. A good source of essential vitamins, chlorophyll’s health benefits include improved skin healing. That said, it is not a miracle cure – especially if acne is a significant concern.
What is chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that allows them to absorb energy from the sun to create their own food. The molecular structure of chlorophyll is similar to hemoglobin, which is a critical part of human blood. The only difference is the central atom which is iron for hemoglobin and magnesium for chlorophyll. Due to this particular quality, liquid chlorophyll has been said to perform the same function in the body as hemoglobin – transport oxygen throughout the body.
Chlorophyll may be obtained directly from plants or through the use of supplements. Supplements may be less effective as chlorophyll doesn’t survive digestion long enough for absorption. Chlorophyll supplements are in fact chlorophyllin, which contains copper instead of magnesium.
Chlorophyll benefits for skin
Dr. Richard Willstatter, a German organic chemist and Nobel Prize winner, declared in 1913 that chlorophyll is to plants what blood is to humans. But how much evidence is there that chlorophyll can benefit us and what proven benefits does chlorophyll provide for the skin?
Since the 1940s, chlorophyllin has been used in ointments to heal persistent open wounds. Chlorophyllin also reduces local inflammation and aids in the promotion of healthy granulation – when lumpy pink matter containing new connective tissue is formed in the healing process.
According to Rebecca Lee, a registered Nurse from New York, “Chlorophyll is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It has antiviral properties which help speed up wound healing.” Chlorophyll can, therefore, be used to stop cold sores and genital lesions from developing or spreading. It also works to decrease inflammation, redness and itchiness. Reliable studies have demonstrated that ointments containing chlorophyll reduce the number of sores and significantly accelerates the healing of wounds and sores. Interestingly, injecting chlorophyll directly into the skin has been proven to be more effective than applying it as an ointment or lotion.
A proven antioxidant
Chlorophyll contains many antioxidants, which are absorbed better in its liquid state. Antioxidants are important in neutralizing free radicals that damage cells. This substance has been shown not only to reduce inflammation but also to improve the overall health of the skin.
The key to chlorophyll’s skin benefits lies in the individual antioxidants it contains. Liquid chlorophyll has high levels of vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin A plays a vital role in cell and tissue growth. It stimulates fibroblasts – the cells responsible for developing tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy. Vitamin A also prevents free radicals from breaking down collagen, which is the protein that provides elasticity to the skin and prevents aging. Vitamin C is crucial to collagen production as well. It helps heal damaged skin and, in some cases, reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Sufficient vitamin C intake can also help repair and prevent dry skin. Vitamin E serves to protect skin from sun damage as it absorbs harmful UV rays and can help prevent dark spots and wrinkles from forming. Lastly, according to Nurse Lee, chlorophyll is also a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is thought to help improve certain skin conditions, such as stretch marks, spider veins, scars, dark spots and circles under the eyes.
Though topical chlorophyll may have potential as an acne treatment, there is still insufficient evidence to support this claim. One study found that a gel containing chlorophyllin helped reduce acne among ten people who had mild to moderate acne. In another study, researchers compared a combination of topical chlorophyll and phototherapy to phototherapy alone for the treatment of acne. Among the 24 candidates, the people who received the combination had fewer acne lesions, less severe acne and less oily skin than those who did not. These studies, however, were relatively small and were all conducted on people of Asian descent. For now, there are more effective products on the market with a proven track record that should be used for acne treatment.
Dr. Bobby Buka, a dermatologist from New York, concludes that “While chlorophyll doesn’t do anything to kill bacteria, rob it of its food supply or slow its growth, chlorophyll may help your acne heal up faster because of it´s pro collagen effect.” Hence, if acne is an issue, chlorophyll can be used in conjunction with other more proven treatments. Claims that chlorophyll can be used as an effective acne treatment alone are, for the time being, overly optimistic.
Environmental toxins and pollutants such as heavy metals and small particulates can be very damaging to human health. Chlorophyll may be able to aid in the cleansing of the human body. According to Dr. Edward Group III, PhD, the founder and CEO of the Global Healing Center in Houston, TX, “Chlorophyll binds with toxic metals to hamper absorption, and research has shown it can do the same with some carcinogens.” Unfortunately, no large studies have been conducted to confirm this claim either.
Add to your glow
As an addition to your established skin regime, Dr. Buka recommends taking chlorophyll supplements. Ingest it as a liquid rather than using it as a topical treatment as it is more effective when taken in this form, he advises. He recommends the Nature’s Way brand that offers 134 mg per serving. He claims that “One or two daily servings of this extract, or a similar product, would likely bring about real benefits to your skin’s health and appearance.”
Closing the case on chlorophyll
Some of the hype for chlorophyll is well merited and has garnered the approval of medical professionals. There is enough evidence to support its healing benefits as well as the procollagen effects it has on the skin. It may act as a detoxifying agent and it does contain antioxidants that are great for overall skin health. It does make a great addition as a supplement to boost your health and fulfill certain nutritional needs that may be lacking in your diet. Just make sure to take it in liquid form. The use of chlorophyll exclusively as an acne treatment, however, remains unsubstantiated. As part of a complete skincare regimen, chlorophyll can make a marked difference but isn’t likely to be useful on its own.