It’s not hard to grasp the allure of âchlorophyll water,â the Internet’s new wellness obsession. In addition to the Instagram-worthy swirl of green that chlorophyll drops – which can retail up to $ 40 per 2 ounce bottle – create, they were presented as a remedy for everything from acne and obesity to cancer and body odor. Intended to be mixed with water and consumed once a day, the drops are primarily made up of chlorophyllin, a synthetic version of chlorophyll, which is the green pigment that gives vegetables their rich color.
The fandom spike is far from the first time that chlorophyll has been backed up as a quick fix. In the 1950s, it gained popularity thanks to an uncontrolled study suggesting it reduced both body odor and infections in an army hospital, according to New York Times. Other studies, which have not been replicated since, suggested that it can cure cancer. The ‘chlorophyll tradition’ quickly developed and companies began to introduce it into a variety of products, including ‘toothpaste, mouthwashes, dog food and … cigarettes’.
Today, the claims are not very different. On TikTok, the hashtag #chlorophyll has garnered over 115 million views, with influencer videos recording the miraculous disappearance of stubborn acne, a flattened stomach in days, or boasting of improved mood and energy. As humans, our desire for a simple and universal remedy is nothing new, but experts tell Yahoo Life that this trend, like many before it, is mostly wishful thinking.
Claudia Del Vecchio, nutrition educator with the USC Keck School of Medicine, says that while it is true that a diet with a lot of vegetables can help with many health problems, there is no clinical research showing that isolating chlorophyll achieves the same results. âIt’s kind of taken out of context,â she says. “We know that plant foods contain antioxidants and all kinds of nutrients that promote healing, health and prevention, so we want everyone to include more plants in their diet.”
But the bright green drink, she says, isn’t necessarily a substitute for a well-balanced diet. âTo sit there and say we’re just going to extract the chlorophyll and make it this miracle cureâ¦ they just focus on one aspect and make it the panacea,â Del Vecchio told Yahoo Life. “[Chlorophyll] helps in many areas, but that’s because it’s part of a factory. ”
Video: Demystifying the Chlorophyll Fashion
Dr Uma Naidoo, Harvard-trained nutrition psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and best-selling author This is your brain on food, agrees. âIn nutritional psychiatry, I firmly believe that eating healthy, whole foods is the key to your mental health and physical well-being,â says Naidoo. “I think food fads and diet wars confuse people even more about nutrition.”
She says chlorophyll has been tested for certain medical conditions, but mostly not on humans. “The scientist proof that we have so far told us that chlorophylls have incredible antioxidant properties. … These effects are all associated with an improvement in overall health, which may include the symptoms we see in these claims; however, such properties have been found thanks to in vitro studies, which means they were done in a lab with microorganisms, cells or molecules outside of their normal biological context, “says Naidoo.” Clinical trials, or those done in humans, from which we derive the strongest scientific evidence, have not been made to test these claims. “
And what about dermatological claims? Probably too good to be true, says Dr. Rachel Nazarian of the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “There is no real evidence to suggest drinking [chlorophyll] can make any difference [with acne]Nazarian told Yahoo Life. She adds that topicals containing chlorophyll “have been shown to be helpful” in the treatment of acne caused by inflammation (compared to acne caused by bacteria), through brands such as Organic clarity, but these require topical application on the skin.
Likewise, she is not convinced that the drops can reduce or even eliminate body odor. âThere is little or no evidence to suggest this would be true,â said Nazarian. “Technically, our gut flora is linked to our surface bacterial flora on the skin, which is ultimately what determines our body odor (skin bacteria mixing with sweat), but evidence is lacking in this area.”
While she doesn’t care about the safety of the many #chlorophyllwater followers, she also says there is an easier option. âI don’t have any real concerns about this trend other than wasting people’s time and money,â she says. “[But] remember, chlorophyll is ubiquitous in most green things, so if people want to eat a leafy diet, more power goes to them. “
All three experts stressed that those who are still interested in incorporating the drops into their diet should consult a healthcare practitioner first. âA good rule of thumb is that anyone interested in trying out new nutritional or medical trends promoted by social media influencers should always see their own doctor first to ensure their safety,â says Naidoo.
So before you start turning your water green or replacing vegetables with a $ 40 tincture of green liquid, try seeing your doctor. Or, better yet, each of the spinach.
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