What Is Chlorophyll?

This green pigment in plants is available in liquid, capsule, and tablet forms

Foods containing chlorophyll

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Chlorophyll is a fat-soluble pigment found naturally in plants. It is the substance that gives plants their green color and helps them create energy via photosynthesis.

While essential to the life of a plant, chlorophyll may also provide health benefits for humans.

Proponents of chlorophyll believe the pigment detoxes the body, strengthens the immune system, and boosts energy, among other things. However, research to support these claims is both lacking and conflicting.

While chlorophyll is naturally found in various plant foods, supplements may contain chlorophyllin, a water-soluble alternative to chlorophyll. Both are thought to act as antioxidants.

This article discusses chlorophyll and its potential uses. It also covers side effects, precautions, dosage, interactions, and food sources of chlorophyll.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF. 

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Antioxidants
  • Alternate name(s): Chlorophyl, pigment, chlorophyll A
  • Legal status: Legal and available over the counter in the United States
  • Suggested dose: No suggested dose
  • Safety considerations: May cause diarrhea, loose stools, and stomach cramps

Uses of Chlorophyll

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian (RD), pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

Chlorophyll has many suggested health benefits in humans. However, these are not all well-supported by scientific evidence.

Below is a look at some of the science behind popular uses of chlorophyll.


Click Play to Learn All About Chlorophyll

This video has been medically reviewed by Allison Herries, RDN

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Some research suggests that chlorophyll may aid in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia. Although, research on the topic is limited.

A 2019 clinical trial looked at the effect of a supplement that contained both chlorophyll and sodium iron chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll. In the study, children and adults with iron deficiency anemia were treated with low, moderate, or high doses of the supplement for one month.

By the end of the study, the supplement was correlated with improvements in total red blood cell counts and the health of red blood cells in all groups. Hemoglobin levels were also improved in all adult groups, as well as in children who received moderate and high doses of the supplement.


Many supplements and nutrients have been looked at for their potential role in cancer treatment or prevention, including chlorophyll. Unfortunately, chlorophyll’s potential cancer-fighting effects have only been studied in animals or in vitro (in test tubes).

According to a review of such studies, chlorophyll may be antiproliferative, which means it may be able to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. The review also points out the potential antioxidant effects of chlorophyll that may be useful in treating cancer.

Human trials are necessary to support these and other claims surrounding chlorophyll's role in cancer prevention. As with other supplements, chlorophyll should only be used as a complementary (additional) treatment and should never replace first-line treatments for cancer.

Skin Care

Topical chlorophyll (applied to the skin) may help treat various skin conditions, including acne and sun damage.

A small pilot study of 24 women with mild to moderate acne found that topical chlorophyll may help treat the skin condition. After eight weeks of treatment, the 21 women who completed the study had improvements in acne parameters (as well as aging parameters). However, despite the positive findings, the results were limited by the small size of the study as well as the lack of a control group.

A 2016 study implied that topical chlorophyll might have antiaging properties that may help reduce the signs of aging from sun exposure. However, like the previous study, these findings were also limited by the small study size (just four participants) and the lack of a control group (a group not taking the substance in order to compare results).

Stronger research is needed in this area to confirm chlorophyll's potential role in skin care.

Other Uses

Chlorophyll may have other uses, but research is severely lacking.

Proponents of chlorophyll believe the pigment may play a role in the treatment of such conditions as:

However, once again, there is no scientific evidence to support these and other health claims. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before using chlorophyll.

What Are the Side Effects of Chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll supplements may cause side effects that can range from mild to severe.

Mild Side Effects

Though chlorophyll is generally considered safe in supplement form, some people may experience mild side effects.

Although rare, the following side effects of chlorophyll supplements are possible: 

Topical chlorophyll may cause a mild skin reaction, causing the skin to itch or burn.

Severe Side Effects

Chlorophyll supplements rarely cause severe reactions. In fact, very few have been reported.

However, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to chlorophyll supplements. Signs of an allergic reaction may include:

If you experience a severe allergic reaction to chlorophyll supplements, seek medical attention immediately.


Chlorophyll is thought to be safe for most people. However, some people should take extra precautions.

There is not enough research to know if chlorophyll supplements are safe to use during pregnancy or lactation (breastfeeding). People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a healthcare provider and may need to avoid using chlorophyll.

It is also unknown if it is safe for children to use chlorophyll supplements.

As research is still emerging, it's best to play it safe and consult your healthcare provider before starting chlorophyll supplements, especially if you have any health conditions.

Dosage: How Much Chlorophyll Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

Due to a lack of quality research, there are no approved dosage guidelines for chlorophyll supplements.

As a general rule of thumb, do not exceed the dose printed on the product label. Your healthcare provider can help you find the best dose for your specific needs.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is not considered toxic or poisonous. In most cases, taking chlorophyll supplements by mouth won't result in adverse events.

However, consuming more chlorophyll than recommended may increase your risk of side effects.

To prevent any negative reactions, only use chlorophyll supplements as directed.


Chlorophyll supplements may interfere with certain medications, herbs, and supplements. However, these interactions are not well-documented.

In one case report, a male with relapsed cancer experienced delayed clearance of a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate after using chlorophyll. Although it has not been completely proven, researchers believe the delayed clearance of methotrexate was due to chlorophyll.

It's important to note that this interaction has only been reported in this one case. If you're receiving methotrexate or another cancer therapy, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using chlorophyll.

Other interactions between chlorophyll and drugs, supplements, or foods may exist. More research is needed in this area before we can know the full safety profile of chlorophyll supplements.

Before purchasing a supplement, carefully read the ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients are in the product and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review all supplement labels with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Chlorophyll

Store your chlorophyll supplements in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Some chlorophyll supplements may require refrigeration. This information should be listed on the product label or packaging. Be sure to follow storage directions as listed.

Keep supplements out of the reach of small children and pets, and make sure they are properly sealed. Discard chlorophyll supplements once they pass their expiration date.

Similar Supplements

Other herbs and supplements are thought to work similarly to chlorophyll. Typically, you should only take one herb or supplement for any given health condition at a time, so check with your healthcare provider about which options are best for you.

There are many supplements that are similar to chlorophyll. Below is a look at just a few of these similar supplements:

  • Chelated iron: Probably the most common supplement for iron deficiency anemia is iron itself. There are a few options when it comes to iron supplements, including chelated iron. In some studies, chelated iron has been associated with a faster rate of improvement in hemoglobin levels in people who were iron deficient.
  • Zinc: Several studies have shown promise in the use of zinc for acne. A 2020 meta-analysis on the topic concluded that zinc might be an effective treatment for acne, especially when it comes to decreasing the number of inflammatory pimples.
  • Vitamin C: A popular antioxidant, vitamin C has many benefits, including repairing damaged skin. According to one review, topical vitamin C may possess photoprotective properties that may heal skin damaged by the sun.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to drink liquid chlorophyll?

    Liquid chlorophyll is thought to be safe to drink in moderation, but it may not be the health elixir it is purported to be.

    Liquid chlorophyll contains various nutrients and antioxidants, but little scientific evidence supports its use to prevent or treat any condition.

    More research is needed to confirm the safety and potential health benefits of drinking liquid chlorophyll.

  • Is chlorophyll good for your skin?

    Some research suggests that chlorophyll may benefit the health of your skin. In particular, chlorophyll has been reviewed in the treatment of such conditions as acne and sun damage.

    However, much of the research has been performed on very small sample sizes, and some results have been conflicting.

  • Does chlorophyll help with body odor?

    Influencers and chlorophyll enthusiasts may have you believe that the pigment will cure body odor.

    Unfortunately, though, there is no concrete scientific evidence that this is true. No recent research has been conducted on the effects of chlorophyll on body odor.

Sources of Chlorophyll & What to Look For

Many foods naturally contain chlorophyll, which means you may not need to take a supplement to reap the potential benefits.

It's always best to take a food-first approach to nutrition. This means getting all the nutrients you can from food instead of supplements. A healthy, well-balanced diet will always top herbs and supplements.

Food Sources of Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is found naturally in various fruits and vegetables.

It's easy to tell which ones contain chlorophyll, as the pigment causes many vegetables, in particular, to be green. Although, even fruits and vegetables that aren't green may contain chlorophyll.

Some fruits and vegetables that contain chlorophyll include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cress
  • Dill
  • Golden apple
  • Green apple
  • Green bean
  • Green bell pepper
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Purple basil
  • Scallion
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

Chlorophyll Supplements

Nutritional supplements containing chlorophyll are sourced from various plants that contain the pigment.

Chlorophyll supplements are available in tablet, capsule, gummy, and liquid form. Some supplements may contain chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll, instead of chlorophyll itself.

Most chlorophyll supplements are naturally vegan and gluten-free, but be sure to check the product label to confirm any necessary dietary restrictions.

The FDA does not strictly regulate nutritional supplements. Because of this, the quality of supplements from one manufacturer to the next may vary.

To better ensure safety and quality, opt for brands that have been voluntarily submitted for certification by a third-party authority like USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF International. Certification may not necessarily mean that the supplement works, but it does confirm that the ingredients are present in the amounts listed on the label.


Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives many plants their green color, and it may offer various health benefits. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.

When taken as a supplement, chlorophyll may cause green stools, stomach cramps, loose stools, and other gastrointestinal side effects.

Chlorophyll should not replace prescribed medications or other conventional treatments you may need. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before using chlorophyll supplements to make sure they're right for you.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Lubeck, RD
Brittany Lubeck, RD, is a nutrition writer and registered dietitian with a master's degree in clinical nutrition. 

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process