Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Chlorophyll

Definition

Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes plants green. Chlorophyll poisoning occurs when someone swallows a large amount of this substance.

This article is for information only. Do NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Chlorophyll can be harmful in large amounts.

Where Found

Chlorophyll can be found in:

  • Green plants
  • Plant foods
  • Some cosmetics
  • Natural supplements

Other products may also contain chlorophyll.

Symptoms

Chlorophyll is considered nonpoisonous. Most people who swallow chlorophyll have no symptoms. In rare cases, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loose bowel movements (stools)
  • Stomach cramps

If someone does swallow chlorophyll, their tongue may appear yellow or black, and their urine or stool may appear green. If chlorophyll touches the skin, it may lead to mild burning or itching.

Home Care

Do NOT make a person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the substance
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.

The person may not need to go to the emergency room, but if they do go, they may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Laxatives

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the amount of chlorophyll they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Recovery is very likely because chlorophyll is relatively nonpoisonous.

References

Crinnion WJ. Environmental medicine. In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2013:chap 35.

Radbruch L. Antibiotics. In: Walsh D, Caraceni AT, Fainsinger R, et al, eds. Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 131.

Zosel AE. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 143.

Review Date:11/19/2015
Reviewed By:Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No