Inside the Growing World of Chlorophyll Supplements

Lots of anecdotal evidence, less scientific research

Measuring chlorophyll
A scientist measuring chlorophyll in various plants.
Hanuman Jatav/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / November 17, 2019 6:11 am

Like electrolytes, chlorophyll has what plants crave. But a new market has emerged for chlorophyll in the 21st century; one that’s less green and more ambulatory. Humans have embraced chlorophyll supplements: the industry producing them is a growing one. (No pun intended.) Even as chlorophyll increases in popularity, though, another question comes to the foreground: do chlorophyll supplements actually have health benefits? 

At The New York Times, Dawn MacKeen explored the world of these supplements, as well as the history of human consumption of chlorophyll. Not unlike The New York Times Magazine’s in-depth look at CBD from earlier this year, the results that emerge are more complex than simply “it’s good for you” or “you’re making a huge mistake.” 

MacKeen writes that “most of the available scientific research for chlorophyll and chlorophyllin comes from cellular and animal studies; there haven’t been many human trials.” In other words, if you’re looking for conclusive findings from the scientific community, you’re out of luck. 

What MacKeen does unearth is a lot of fascinating history, from chlorophyll’s use to fight odors in a military hospital in the post-World War II period to its inclusion as an ingredient in breath-freshening gum. (Clorets, anyone?) She also explores some of the scientific studies that have explored chlorophyll as a means of combating everything from cancer to flatulence. 

The article’s findings suggest some benefits for skin care, though those benefits might be related to other factors. Chlorophyll may not heal all that ails you, but MacKeen’s insightful article does shine some light (pun possibly intended) on its increased prominence in our everyday lives. 

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