Chlorophyll water has been gaining popularity since 2016, when celebrities touted its health and beauty benefits. Now, TikTokers are claiming in viral videos that it can help treat acne and inflamed skin, lessen body odor, prevent cancer and support gut health.
The most popular TikToks ― which have garnered 1.5 to 2 million “likes” to date ― promote cholophyll water’s transformative effects on the skin. In the videos, TikTokers show their skin’s progress over time and advise adding liquid chlorophyll drops to water rather than applying chlorophyll topically or swallowing a chlorophyll pill.
“Drinking liquid chlorophyll seems to hit on people’s intuitions about naturalness and purity, because you are taking water and adding something that comes from plants, which are instinctively viewed as pure,” noted Andrew Shtulman, a professor of psychology at Occidental College.
It is also easier to swallow chlorophyll than, say, cook green vegetables or exercise. After all, these health-boosting activities “take more effort, or we might not have the resources to purchase the materials or access to a space where we need to do them,” Shtulman said.
That said, don’t expect it to be the cure TikTok users are making it sound. Like most things related to your well-being, there isn’t one magical solution or a quick fix. Here’s what to know:
Does liquid chlorophyll benefit the skin?
First, it is important to remember that dietary supplements do not go under any type of Food and Drug Administration approval, said Judy Simon, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington.
“Anyone can make all kinds of claims about chlorophyll supplements,” said Simon, so approach cautiously when you see them on your TikTok “For You” page.
To assess the true effectiveness of liquid chlorophyll, you need to look at chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic form of chlorophyll found in liquid chlorophyll that is different from the natural version contained in plants, Simon said. This form allows it to be mixed into water and dissolve well.
Board-certified dermatologist Joyce Park emphasized that better research is needed to uncover the benefits of using topical or liquid chlorophyll supplements.
She did note that chlorophyll may hold potential benefits for the skin because “its antioxidant properties help with anti-aging and it also has anti-inflammatory properties to help treat acne” — but again, research remains limited.
Ultimately, Park advised against relying on cholorophyll as your sole antioxidant or acne treatment. And you can reap the benefits of natural chlorophyll by eating green vegetables, drinking matcha or consuming spirulina, Simon said.
Does liquid chlorophyll offer other health benefits?
Existing studies are still inconclusive when it comes to drinking liquid chlorophyll for other health reasons. Some viral videos claim it can do everything from reduce body odor to prevent types of cancer, but there’s no solid evidence to suggest this is true.
A single study on mice did find that drinking chlorophyllin mixed with water may regulate the gut microbiome. But Simon said this doesn’t provide enough evidence for her to recommend it to her clients to boost their gut health.
Is liquid chlorophyll safe?
After drinking chlorophyll water, you may experience side effects like diarrhea or green-colored stools. Some experience an allergic reaction or have stomach cramps, prompting some people to seek medical help.
Drinking chlorophyll water isn’t likely to damage your skin, Park said. But it is still unclear whether chlorophyllin has other adverse impacts on your body when you use it long-term, since the only safety data that currently exists is for taking 300 milligrams daily for up to three months, Simon said.
And for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, safety data does not yet exist, Simon said. If you fall into one of these groups, your doctor will likely advise you to avoid drinking chlorophyllin during these periods. You may also be advised to avoid it if you take medications that increase your sensitivity to sunlight, like some antidepressants or blood pressure medication, as chlorophyllin can increase your chances of sunburn.
If you’re really into trying chlorophyll, talk to your doctor first. But honestly? There are other, more well-proven ways to boost your health.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.