Chlorophyll is a natural ingredient that purportedly banishes all types of bodily scents, including underarm odor and even bad breath. But before you believe marketing claims made by chlorophyll supplements, hang on to your antiperspirant. Although used traditionally to improve body odor, chlorophyll supplements are classified as dietary in nature by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Within this drug classification, there is not enough clinical evidence to prove chlorophyll's efficacy.
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Chlorophyll is a naturally occurring chelate, explains Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. It absorbs energy from the sun and turns it into energy through the process known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll also gives plants their healthy green color.
The University of Michigan Health System indicates that you can get chlorophyll through the food you eat, such as dark leafy greens, wheat and barley grass, and algae, such as spirulina and chlorella. Several herbs are sources of chlorophyll, states the Natural Standard website, including parsley, alfalfa and nettle. Dietary supplements may be sold in tablets and capsules, powders and drinks.
A July 1950 "TIME" magazine article extolled the benefits of chlorophyll, which was subjectively studied by a New York City doctor named Franklin Howard Westcott, who gave it to anemia patients to curb the smell of their urine. Suspecting that chlorophyll may also work for bad breath and other body odors, he used other doctors and nurses as a part of an informal study group. Purportedly, Dr. West found that when they took chlorophyll, underarm odor was either considerably reduced or nixed completely 24 hours after a chlorophyll bath. The same year the article was published, a product, Nullo, which contained chlorophyll, was released to consumers. Nullo claimed to get rid of body odor and bad breath within a couple of hours after taking the tablets.
What Medical Experts Say
The deodorizing properties of chlorophyll were dispelled in 1955, when researcher John C. Kephart, of the National Chlorophyll and Chemical Company, published a study in "Economic Botany" indicating that "No deodorant effect can possibly occur from the quantities of chlorophyll put in products such as gum, foot powder, cough drops." National Council Against Health Fraud vice president James A. Lowell, Ph.D., and integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil both say that chlorophyll cannot be absorbed by the human body when taken internally.
As noted by Dr. Weil and Dr. Lowell, marketers continue to claim that chlorophyll supplements work wonders on a variety of medical conditions, the aesthetic problem of body odor included. In fact, Nullo, one of the original chlorophyll products manufactured, continues to be available as of June 2010. The University of Michigan Health System states that there's no optimal dosage of chlorophyll that is suggested for use. However, the 1950 "TIME" magazine article claimed that 100 milligrams was enough for the "average man."