Whether it’s wheatgrass shots or green juices, sipping verdant drinks in hopes of reaping health benefits is far from a new health trend. Now, though, another green beverage called chlorophyll water has stepped onto the scene — this time, by way of TikTok.
Chlorophyll water is made out of water and chlorophyll drops, and influencers claim it can make your skin glow, trim your waistline, and boost your energy.
We consulted health experts to get the lowdown on this buzzy drink and whether you should try it.
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What Are Chlorophyll Drops?
Chlorophyll is a constituent that exists in plants and is a pigment that gives them their green color, says Gary Soffer, MD, integrative medicine physician at Yale Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “As you might remember from eighth grade science,” Dr. Soffer says, “[chlorophyll] is an essential part of photosynthesis, the process that allows plants to derive energy from light.” Natural sources of chlorophyll include green leafy veggies such as spinach and kale, herbs, and sprouts, he adds.
Chlorophyll drops, on the other hand, aren’t made of 100 percent of chlorophyll but instead contain chlorophyllin, a water-soluble version of chlorophyll that combines sodium and copper salts with chlorophyll. The claim is that compared with chlorophyll, chlorophyllin is more absorbable by the body, says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. Soffer adds that it is often derived from alfalfa (Medicago sativa), silkworm droppings, and algae.
Yet none of these qualities make chlorophyll drops more beneficial than natural sources of chlorophyll — that is, whole, green foods.
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What Are the Health Claims Behind Chlorophyll Drops, and Are They True?
Weight loss, cancer prevention, anti-aging, and wound healing are just some of the perks that influencers are crediting to chlorophyll water. Here’s what you need to know about the most popular claims circulating on social media.
Claim No. 1: It Will Help Clear Up Your Skin
Influencer @lenamaiah has shared a video claiming that drinking chlorophyll water cleared up her rosacea, adding that it reduces inflammation, is full of vitamins A and C (which helps with skin regeneration), and helps blood carry more oxygen to the skin.
What Research Suggests Gans confirms that there are anecdotal reports chlorophyll can help with skin issues, including rosacea, but current scientific evidence is lacking.
Claim No. 2: It Takes the Odor Away From Your Sweat
User @Han.tidote shared a video on TikTok that has been viewed over 1.9 million times, claiming that chlorophyll water can remove odor from your sweat. Her “favorite” benefit? “When I’m at the gym I literally don’t even smell bad. I just sweat,” @Han.tidote exclaimed.
What Research Suggests In 1953 (yes, nearly 70 years ago) F. Howard Wescott conducted research published in JAMA claiming that chlorophyll could stave off bad breath and body odor. While there have been a few small studies and clinical trials supporting this theory in the decades since, experts, including Gans and Soffer, maintain that there is not yet enough persuasive scientific evidence to recommend using chlorophyll for this intention.
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Claim No. 3: It Will Give You Energy
The user @Han.tidote added that chlorophyll water is basically like coffee, and that “your energy is through the roof” after you drink it.
What Research Suggests Gans points out that any evidence supporting chlorophyll as an energy booster is very limited. One study from China published in March 2019 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine determined that chlorophyll tablets with a similar molecular structure to hemoglobin may improve anemia symptoms, which includes fatigue. The specific tablets were called shengxuening, which are extracted from the excrement of the silkworm and are used as a component in traditional Chinese medicine herbal therapy.
Although the study was a randomized clinical trial in about 2,000 people — factors that make the study model more rigorous than, say, a small observational study — researchers studied these effects in a specific patient population and using this tablet formulation, so the results aren’t necessarily applicable to a general population without anemia. More research studies would be needed before recommending chlorophyl to reduce fatigue.
Claim No. 4: It Can Help You Lose Weight
“My stomach has never been flatter,” TikTok user @katsofia444 captioned on a clip of herself in a crop top sipping on the green water.
What Research Suggests One small, previous study offered limited evidence that subjects who consumed green plant membranes, similar to chlorphyllin, for three months did experience more weight loss than those who didn’t take the supplement,claiming that it reduced cravings for sweets and chocolates. But this study has a weak spot: Only 40 subjects were involved in the study. Therefore, more research is needed.
Claim No. 5: It Can Boost Your Immune System
Another claim making the rounds on social media — this time, Instagram — is that drinking chlorophyll water can boost immunity. Instagram user @allys_eats shares that amongst its many benefits, drinking the green concoction “supports immune function.”
What Research Suggests Antioxidants can help fight cellular damage from free radicals, improving immunity and warding off a variety of diseases, including cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute. There are limited rigorous studies supporting the antioxidant properties of chlorophyllin. The majority are either lab based or animal studies, and not done in human studies.
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Claim No. 6: It Can Fight Cancer
Instagram user @healthy.and.wellthy says chlorophyll is effective at “fighting certain types of cancer.”
What Research Suggests There is currently no high-quality scientific evidence that chlorophyll supplements can treat, prevent, or “fight” certain types of cancer. There is very limited scientific evidence that chlorophyll can help reduce your body’s absorption of aflatoxin B, a toxin found in plant products (such as peanuts) or by consuming meat or dairy products from animals linked to liver cancer, per the NIH.
Claim No. 7: It Can Help With ‘Detoxification’ and Digestion
Instagram user @allys_eats shares added that chlorophyll water “Detox’s your body by binding and removing toxins and heavy metals,” improves gut health “by keeping a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut” and aids with “optimal digestion.”
What Research Suggests A past review debunked the majority of claims made about the potential benefits of chlorophyll, noting that there is no substantial evidence that it can help with detoxification, or digestion.
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Should You Try Chlorophyll Drops?
Most of the claims made on TikTok are anecdotal, meaning that other than the endorsement of individuals on TikTok, there is little scientific evidence that chlorophyll drops can do anything more than turn your water green.
“As of now most scientific research showing benefit has been done in lab settings or in animals,” Soffer explains. “There have been no large scale trials demonstrating it’s benefit.”
That said, if you want to try them, the risk of harm, as reported in studies and other adverse event reporting, is essentially nonexistent. Both Soffer and Gans explain that there aren’t any known serious health risks of chlorophyll drops. Given that quality of supplement production isn’t regulated in the same way that pharmaceutical drugs are, though, there is always some added risk when taking liquid or pill form supplements. Opt for a trustworthy company whose products have undergone testing from third parties such as ConsumerLab.com, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), and NSF International.
The fact of the matter, though, is you don’t have to invest in a new product to get in on the potential claimed benefits of chlorophyll.
“Probably the best way and the most inexpensive way is to simply get your chlorophyll naturally from green vegetables,” Gans explains. “At the very least, you will be reaping the proven benefits of eating lots of antioxidant-rich green veggies known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to balance immune health, decrease risk for cardiovascular disease, and prevent certain cancers,” Gans points out.
One highly cited study, published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association, found that fruit and vegetable consumption was incredibly beneficial for controlling inflammation and oxidative stress, reducing risk for chronic disease.
Soffer suggests green leafy vegetables, herbs, and sprouts if you want to get your chlorophyll fix.