Chlorophyll And Hemoglobin By Viktoras Kulvinskas
For ages men have puzzled over the question – “What makes grass green?” About a century ago, chemists named the green pigment in growing plants chlorophyll.
A certain belief evolved about this green fluid. The fact that herbivora build hemoglobin (blood cell pigment) on a diet composed of leafy greens invites the hypothesis that derivatives of chlorophyll may be used in making hemoglobin. A Dr. Abderhalden, in his textbook, suggests that blood pigment might be made from plants.
Added to this biological relationship is the chemical similarity between chlorophyll and hemoglobin This was suggested by Verdeil in 1851, though on the basis of invalid evidence. It was substantiated in 1879 by Hoppe-Seyler, who showed a similarity between hematin and chlorophyll derivatives.
Willstater’s work between 1906 and 1913 identified chlorophyll as an unstable water soluble magnesium compound characterized by ester groups of methyl and phytyl alcohol. He further showed both chlorophyll and hemoglobin to be closely related; both had some phyrrole fragments.
The years of research that were stimulated by Verdeil’s hypothesis culminated in the series of brilliant investigations by Hans Fisher, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. He and his co-workers finally established the correct structure of hemin, part of the hemoglobin, by synthesis, and showed the true relationship to chlorophyll. They observed that the chlorophyll molecule closely resembles hemin, the pigment which, when combined with protein, forms hemoglobin.
The latter is present in the red corpuscles of the blood, and by carrying oxygen to the tissues, makes the production of energy and life feasible. One of the major differences between chlorophyll and hemin is that chlorophyll contains magnesium, while the hemin molecule contains iron for the central atom. Note, hemoglobin is one of the most important constituents of cells; it makes up three quarters of the solid content.
Owing to the close molecular resemblance between chlorophyll and hemoglobin, it was believed by Frans Miller, another scientist, that chlorophyll is nature’s blood-building element for all plant eaters and humans. He writes: “Chlorophyll has the same fast blood-building effect as iron in animals made anemic.” This has led to a great deal of controversy.
What exactly is anemia? According to Webster’s dictionary, anemia is a condition in which there is a reduction of the number of red blood corpuscles or the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood stream or both. Thus, anemia is an excellent vehicle for the study of the relationship between food and hemoglobin count.
The first scientist to demonstrate the regenerative effect of chlorophyll on animals was Dr. Emil Burgi, who, in 1916, observed that rabbits rendered anemic by bleeding recovered more rapidly when chlorophyll was added to their diet.
Scott showed that a diet of milk, white bread and chlorophyll rebuilt blood faster than bread and milk. Scott and Delor noted that iron-and-copper-free alfalfa extract relieved milk induced anemia.
Patek and Minor, in clinic study with a rare type of anemia caused by pigment scarcity, observed a small positive increase in hemoglobin concentration on intravenous injection of chlorine derivative. Dr. Fisher in Germany announced that for some time he had been using chlorophyll in the treatment of anemia with promising (although by no means conclusive) results.
In another clinic study, Dr. Patek used fifteen adult patients with chronic hypochronic anemia. They were given chlorophyll and allied substances, and were placed on house diets free of meat and eggs, whereas the diet was adequate in all other respects.
The crude chlorophyll was a tar-like substance extracted from alfalfa leaves. It was found that chlorophyll alone was not effective. When chlorophyll and its derivatives were administered, there was an increase in hemoglobin and improvement in the sense of well being.
Other workers have reported curative effects of chlorophyll and its derivatives in a wide variety of anemias: protein deficiency, hemorrhagic, phenyl hydrazine poisoning, pernicious, hypochronic of unknown etiology and “experimental nutritional anemia” of unidentified character. Some of the reports are based on clinical studies, while others are the results of animal experimentation.
J. Howell Hughes and A.L. Latner, from the Department of Physiology, University of Liverpool, in a highly discriminative experiment, finally resolved the question of the blood regeneration capacity of chlorophyll. Rabbits were made anemic by daily bleeding, reducing the hemoglobin level to two-fifths of the normal value. The rabbits were split into two groups. The experimental received in diet chlorophyll in oil, the control only oil.
They performed five experiments. Three were with varying degrees of pure chlorophyll, one with large doses of crude chlorophyll (unrefined), and one with magnesium-free chlorophyll derivatives. The following is a summary of their findings.
- Pure chlorophyll in large doses has no effect on the speed of hemoglobin regeneration after hemorrhage. It seems large doses are toxic to the bone marrow.
- Very small doses of pure chlorophyll markedly increased the speed of hemoglobin regeneration to approximately its previous level.
- Crude chlorophyll is effective even in large doses. Hughes concludes: “It seems, therefore, that the animal body is capable of converting chlorophyll to hemoglobin.” This is in agreement with Zin, who, however, showed the effect of chlorophyll injection on the red blood cell count of animals not rendered anemic.
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Thus we see how chlorophyll can aid in rebuilding the bloodstream. Without correcting all the causes of anemia, the chlorophyll results are temporary in nature and not consistently workable with every individual. If, however, the individual was to be placed on organic live foods and on one of the richest crude forms of chlorophyll, then the results are always the same, and the anemic condition disappears. Rev. Ann Wigmore, in clinical studies, has proven this many times.