Chlorophyll Benefits: The Plant Pigment that Heals + Detoxes Better than All Others – Dr. Axe

Dr Axe | April, 2018

You’ve undoubtedly heard of chlorophyll, and you probably know that plants couldn’t without it. But what is chlorophyll exactly, and are there chlorophyll benefits for humans?

As we learned back in science class, chlorophyll is a type of plant pigment responsible for the absorption of light in the process of photosynthesis, which creates energy. So why is it important for humans beyond sustaining plant life? Turns out, chlorophyll is linked to natural cancer prevention, blocks carcinogenic effects within the body and protects DNA from damage caused by toxic molds like aflatoxin — very similar to way in which chlorophyll-rich chlorella has anticancer effects.

And that’s just one of the five major chlorophyll benefits for human health, all of which help cleanse the body and allow it to function at an optimal level.

5 Proven Chlorophyll Benefits 

1. Helps Fight Cancer

Studies have found that chlorophyll and liquid chlorophyllin —a similar semi-synthetic mixture made in laboratories to be used in supplements, often called liquid chlorophyll — can bind to potential carcinogens and interfere with how they’re absorbed within the human gastrointestinal track. This helps stop them from being circulated throughout the body and reaching susceptible tissues, such as those within the joints or heart.

Download my guide on the benefits of chlorophyll here.

Studies done by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University showed that chlorophyllin and chlorophyll were equally effective at blocking uptake of aflatoxin-B1 in humans and decreasing biomarkers of aflatoxin-induced DNA damage. (1) Findings from several other animal and human studies suggest that these effects help lower the risk for certain types of cancers, including liver and colon cancer.

The mechanism by which chlorophyll decreases the risk for cancer development and cleanses the liver is by interfering with the metabolism of chemicals’ procarcinogen, which must first be metabolized in order to damage DNA. Within the human body, enzymes called cytochrome P450 activate procarcinogens and turn them into active carcinogens, which go on to attack healthy cells. This means inhibiting their effects can help stop the process of chemically induced cancers.

Diets that are high in red meat and low in green vegetables are associated with increased colon cancer risk. This is sometimes blamed on toxins released from cooked meat, including one called haem, which increases colonic cytotoxicity and epithelial cell proliferation. Recently, some research suggests that human colon cancer cells experience “cell arrest” when exposed to chlorophyllin due to inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase activity, which helps protect DNA and boosts synthesis and repair. This is why in recent years ribonucleotide reductase activity has come under investigation for naturally treating cancer and its many side effects.

In 2005, the Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences in the Netherlands studied whether green vegetables could inhibit the unfavorable effects of haem within the colon. Rats were fed either a control diet high in haem or a similar diet supplemented with chlorophyll for 14 days. The results showed that the rats consuming haem experienced about eight times the amount of cytotoxicity of the colon compared to the beginning of the study. The rats given chlorophyll supplements were significantly protected from formation of the cytotoxic haem metabolites, which made the researchers conclude that green vegetables may decrease colon cancer risk because chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative colonic effects of dietary toxins like haem. (2)

2. Improves Liver Detoxification 

Another way by which chlorophyll might protect healthy cells and bodily tissue is by increasing phase II biotransformation enzymes. These promote optimal liver health and therefore the body’s natural elimination of potentially harmful toxins. Some early studies involving animals show that chlorophyllin may reduce the risk for aflatoxin-induced liver damage or liver cancer by increasing activity of these phase II enzymes and removing bodily toxins. (3)

Aflatoxin-B1 (AFB1) is associated with increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cancer because it’s metabolized to a carcinogen that causes cellular mutations. In animal studies, supplementing with chlorophyllin at the same time as consuming high amounts of dietary AFB1 significantly reduced the amount of DNA damage that developed. This is especially important for people who consume high amounts of grains or legumes, such as those living in underdeveloped nations.

In China, a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial involving 180 adults with a high risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic hepatitis Binfection gave participants either 100 milligrams of chlorophyllin or a placebo before meals three times daily. After 16 weeks of taking chlorophyllin, AFB1 levels dropped an average of 55 percent more in those taking chlorophyllin compared tothose taking the placebo, suggesting chlorophyll benefits liver health in a useful and safe way. (4)

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