Chlorophyll. Healer or humbug?

What is chlorophyll?

We know it’s a photosynthetic pigment that absorbs red and blue-violet light thereby reflecting green light so plants, including wheatgrass and other cereals can display their characteristic green colour. It is of course, very important in the process of photosynthesis, nature’s way of producing the oxygen we breathe.

The fresh juice squeezed from wheatgrass has been called by some, “liquid sunlight”. Since around 1940, this sunlight has been attributed with a plethora of healing powers and properties, many of which I can vouch for and have personally observed using my wheatgrass extract.

Take any book about wheatgrass or the cereal grasses (there are many), and chlorophyll invariably takes pride of place at the head of the healing team. One such book claims therapeutic effectiveness for sinusitis, osteomyelitis, pyorrhea, peritonitis, gastric ulcers, anemia, arteriosclerosis and depression. And then there is the oft quoted American Journal of Surgery (1940) article that recorded 1,200 cases ranging from deep internal infections such as brain abscess, peritonitis and skin disorders that had been treated with chlorophyll and were ‘discharged as cured’.

I believe this to be true – but not because of chlorophyll.

Ann Wigmore (1909-94), the lay healer who led the wheatgrass juicing craze back in the 70’s, even resorted to using wheatgrass enemas as a means of cleansing the body and her followers pursue the same “treatment” to this day. She also claimed cures for almost everything including cancer. In 1988, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued her for claiming that her “energy enzyme soup” could cure AIDS. She had earlier received a rap over the knuckles for claiming that fresh wheatgrass juice could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in diabetics, and could obviate the need for routine immunization in children.

Ann Wigmore’s “soup” may well have been a valid therapy or palliative for some types of cancer. To quote: “the presence of chlorophyll in the human diet has been shown to have beneficial effects, specifically because it is not absorbed. Experiments using Chlorophyllin (CHL), a solubilized form of chlorophyll, have demonstrated that chlorophyll can help to prevent liver and colon cancers by binding carcinogens commonly associated with these cancers and preventing their absorption by the intestines. So, eating foods containing a lot of chlorophyll should be part of a healthy diet, but not because the chlorophyll somehow alleviates anemia. In that chlorophyll, although not absorbed through the gut wall, can prevent some carcinogens entering the systemic circulation.”

There has been substantial scientific research into wheatgrass and other cereal grasses since the 1930s. Most if not all have been comprehensively analysed, and of all the numerous components detected, chlorophyll led the therapeutic field. The magic molecule was an overnight success, appearing in everything from toothpaste to toilet paper. It became widely known as a miracle healing agent, a phenomenon that seemed to the layman like green magic and from one molecule, a huge industry developed. Yet, as shown in the above article, and another by messrs W.R. Bidlack and M.S. Meskin in “Nutritional quackery: selling health misinformation,” (Calif Pharmacist 1989;36:(8):34+, ) chlorophyll is simply not absorbed! That is, not through the gut wall and much less likely through the skin. It therefore can not be chlorophyll that brings about the healing processes I describe in my writings and case histories.

Besides, the wheatgrass extract I use therapeutically does not contain chlorophyll!

I firmly believe therefore that chlorophyll has very little, if anything, to do with healing or wellness. After all, how could wheatgrass extract be as effective as the dark green, chlorophyll-rich juice from wheatgrass sprouts? Well, based on numerous clinical observations, I can assure you it is every bit as effective.

In fact, wheatgrass often heals when no other remedy can be found.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

Read more about the chlorophyll myth.