I still have fond memories from the 1980’s of reading and listening to one of the forefathers of Naturopathic Medicine, Dr Bernard Jensen, tell about his clinical experiences with Chlorophyll and wound healing – and I mean major wound healing.

For athletes in training, tissue regeneration and would healing is occurring in the body with the same constancy as you breathe – and is needed, just as much.

Tissue regeneration, it’s one of those miraculous mechanisms, where old tissues evaporate, evidence of new cells magically appear, new skin emerges captivating our minds, and in some thrilling way these new cells take their place and assume responsibility where the old left off. The magic is happening in all cells – and begins, before we are even born.

It’s clear now after going back and reading Dr. Jensen’s texts, that his clinical observations through the 1970’s and 80’s of thousands and thousands of patients were way ahead of the science being able to explain how this tissue cleansing and rebuilding was occurring. While he employed many modalities in his Sanitarium, his work of applying Chlorophyll for internal and topical application to heal wounds and tissues, was truly pioneering.

For the record, this isn’t a pitch for vegetarianism, or veganism. As much as Dr. Jensen preached the role of greens, vegetables and plants in the diet – he also witnessed the role of non-plant foods like Whey, eggs, cheese, butter, oils, fish, meats and goat milk had, in bringing patients back to full health.

Before exploring some of the more recent science behind Chlorophyll and tissue regeneration, here’s a quick baseline of what Chlorophyll is and how it comes about.

Chlorophyll. What and where from?

The basics, yes its that green pigment we see in plants. It’s actually critical to plants for making their own food through a process called photosynthesis. In a fascinating way it is this green pigment which absorbs certain wavelengths of light, as energy. Actually there are six different types of chlorophyll all with various light wavelength absorption characteristics. There is a lot more to it, but for now – we’ll keep this article to Chlorophyll A and B, the two ‘green energy absorbing pigments’ in found in plants and marine algae.

Obviously there is a vast array of plants, all which have unique and highly complex chemical compositions. Multiple factors like plant growth, storage, heat, light and cooking methods have an effect on Chlorophyll levels in foods. While plants obviously differ in their Chlorophyll levels, the following plant-foods are well recognized for their higher levels – wheatgrass, the phytoplankton algae’s, spinach and parsley.

Recent research on Chlorophyll and Tissue Regeneration

At a biological level when we refer to cellular regeneration and tissue healing, the cells most responsible for this function are the fibroblasts. It’s fibroblasts that manufacture the extracellular matrix of tissues, and (with Vitamin C) secrete collagen which produces the structure and framework of tissue.

For athletes it’s important to remember that the majority of the extracellular matrix of skeletal muscle tissue is synthesized by fibroblasts and it plays a critical role in muscle structure. This matrix provides stability to not only the muscle fibers, but also the supportive blood vessels and nerve tissues.

In 2019, an interesting study looked at the Chlorophyll (A and B, green pigmented type) levels of various Wheat, Oat and Barley grass juice extracts, and their effects in triggering heightened activity of fibroblast cells. Aside from looking at normal human fibroblast cell lines, the study also evaluated the effect of the green juice extract on cancer cell lines. In summary, the study highlighted –

  1. All grass extracts exhibited a ‘lowering’ of metabolic activity of fibroblasts in cancer cells (that’s good), and wheat and barley grass showed a heightened metabolic activity of normal human fibroblast cells (that’s very good).
  2. Only in normal human fibroblast cells did the grass extracts trigger the hormonal pathways (IGF-1), which along with Growth Hormone promotes normal bone, tissue growth and development.
  3. At the final point (48hours) of review of wounded cells – wound closure was ~25% higher in normal cells, undergoing the grass extract treatment, vs. control cells not receiving the grass extracts.
  4. Notably for these grass extracts, the positive effect of heightened metabolic activity of human fibroblast cells was most prominent at lower concentration/doses, and on the contrary they had a negative effect when taken at higher concentrated doses.

But what happens to Chorophyll, in human digestion?

For many foods and compounds, digestion (heat, acid, enzymes etc.) has a dramatic effect on the absorbed levels of nutrients. This is certainly the case for fat-attracting compounds better known as, lipophilic compounds.

Chlorophyll is a lipophilic compound, and therefore it’s digestion mostly begins in the intestine. When plant food particles are broken down, the chlorophyll pigments are separated and then dissolved into micelles (fatty acids within the small intestine) at which point they’re ready for absorption through the gut membrane. But it’s this multi-step process which changes the structure of Chlorophyll and determines how much is actually absorbed.

Research into optimizing lipophilic nutrient (and drug) delivery is showing that by combining nutrients with certain fatty acids, improvements in nutrient bioavailability, solubility and permeability can be realized.

Notably, combining lipophilic nutrients with Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) and natural emulsifiers in food, is showing promise in improved bioavailability (absorption). After MCTs are absorbed in the small intestine, they directly move through the liver and into the systemic circulation. This is a unique characteristic of MCTs, in that they avoid being sent through the lymphatic system, and therefore enjoy a rapid and optimized delivery of nutrients into the systemic circulation.

Optimizing Chlorophyll Intake for Tissue Healing

  1. Blend fresh organic natural green foods, and consume them immediately, rather than storing them. Powdered forms are worthwhile, though the Chlorophylls have undergone some structural change (drying process) and lost a portion of their nutrient value.
  2. Mix some MCT oils (C8 best for absorption and taste) to your blend to optimize solubility, digestion and absorption of chlorophylls into the body.
  3. It’s not uncommon to see lowered ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) levels in endurance athletes. While most green foods have appreciable amounts of vitamin C, adding some non-acidic (ascorbate) vitamin C to your blend, will support collagen formation in the body. Critically, avoid taking sugars, simple carbohydrates (including commercial fruit juices) at the same time you are taking you vitamin C supplements, as glucose will compete (and win, vs. vitamin C) for intake into the cells.

Best Green Smoothies – based on above Best Practices

These daily smoothies, have very little/no simple sugars, and fuse the green-spinach chlorophyll pigments with the C8 (best form of MCT for absorption and taste) MCT oils from coconuts, plus collagen and sodium. We highlight Spinach here, as its easy to find, it’s low cost – but feel free to use wheat and/or barley grass. Feel free to add marine algae powders, though I would refrain from only using dried green powders – keep them for when you’re travelling.

  • Spinach Lime-Coconut Blend (24 oz blender bottle)
    • 3 handfuls/cups of baby Spinach (Spinach has very light/no taste)
    • 1 scoop of SFuels TRAIN Coconut-Lime
    • handful of ice, fill bottle with water and blend.

  • Spinach-Berry Blend (24 oz blender bottle)

  • Spinach-Chocolate Blend (24 oz blender bottle)
    • 3 handfuls/cups of baby Spinach (Spinach has very light/no taste)
    • 1 scoop of SFuels LIFE powder
    • 1 heaped table spoon of Cacao powder (undutched is best)
    • 1 table spoon of whole fat cream
    • handful of ice, fill bottle with water and blend.

We hope this helps you get your daily serve of greens in the best possible way and optimizes your tissue regeneration to stay on top of your training regime. On top of all that, you’re skin will look brighter than ever!

Be well, and Go Longer. Team SFuels.