Chlorophyll therapy and its relation to pathogenic bacteria

Preparing to load PDF file. please wait...

0 of 0
Chlorophyll therapy and its relation to pathogenic bacteria

Transcript Of Chlorophyll therapy and its relation to pathogenic bacteria

Volume 9

Butler University Botanical Studies
Article 21

Chlorophyll therapy and its relation to pathogenic bacteria
Mabel M. Esten Albert G. Dannin

Follow this and additional works at: The Butler University Botanical Studies journal was published by the Botany Department of Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1929 to 1964. The scientific journal featured original papers primarily on plant ecology, taxonomy, and microbiology.
Recommended Citation
Esten, Mabel M. and Dannin, Albert G. (1950) "Chlorophyll therapy and its relation to pathogenic bacteria," Butler University Botanical Studies: Vol. 9 , Article 21. Available at:
This Article is brought to you for free and open access by Digital Commons @ Butler University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Butler University Botanical Studies by an authorized editor of Digital Commons @ Butler University. For more information, please contact [email protected]

Butler University Botanical Studies
Edited by
Ray C. Friesner

The Butler University Botanical Studies journal was published by the Botany Department of Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1929 to 1964. The scientific journal featured original papers primarily on plant ecology, taxonomy, and microbiology. The papers contain valuable historical studies, especially floristic surveys that document Indiana’s vegetation in past decades. Authors were Butler faculty, current and former master’s degree students and undergraduates, and other Indiana botanists. The journal was started by Stanley Cain, noted conservation biologist, and edited through most of its years of production by Ray C. Friesner, Butler’s first botanist and founder of the department in 1919. The journal was distributed to learned societies and libraries through exchange.
During the years of the journal’s publication, the Butler University Botany Department had an active program of research and student training. 201 bachelor’s degrees and 75 master’s degrees in Botany were conferred during this period. Thirty-five of these graduates went on to earn doctorates at other institutions.
The Botany Department attracted many notable faculty members and students. Distinguished faculty, in addition to Cain and Friesner , included John E. Potzger, a forest ecologist and palynologist, Willard Nelson Clute, co-founder of the American Fern Society, Marion T. Hall, former director of the Morton Arboretum, C. Mervin Palmer, Rex Webster, and John Pelton. Some of the former undergraduate and master’s students who made active contributions to the fields of botany and ecology include Dwight. W. Billings, Fay Kenoyer Daily, William A. Daily, Rexford Daudenmire, Francis Hueber, Frank McCormick, Scott McCoy, Robert Petty, Potzger, Helene Starcs, and Theodore Sperry. Cain, Daubenmire, Potzger, and Billings served as Presidents of the Ecological Society of America.
Requests for use of materials, especially figures and tables for use in ecology text books, from the Butler University Botanical Studies continue to be granted. For more information, visit

Although the green parts of plants have been used in the treatment of various diseases for many centuries, it was not until the scientific investigations of Willstaetter and Stoll in 1913 (10) that actual proof of the worth of such remedies began to be found. The close similarity of the chemical character of the chlorophylls found in the chloroplasts of green plants to that of the hemoglobin in human blood led to the theory that the chlorophylls might be the factors in green plants which give them therapeutic value, so a great deal of scientific investi­ gation has been undertaken in laboratories, hospitals and in the private practices of many physicians to determine the efficacy of chlorophyll therapy. Many reports of excellent results in treatment of various diseases with chlorophyll were made in scienti fie publications and medical journals prior to 1940, but research and applications of the results have been greatly accelerated since that date. Professors and physicians in medical and dental colleges and in private practices have cooperated with manufacturers of chlorophyll preparations and deri­ vatives, and the results of their work are shown in a large number of reports in medical and dental journals. Much of this research, ac­ companied by relief and cure for hundreds of patients, has been due to the efforts of the Rystan Company of Mount Vernon, New York, who have furnished chlorophyll preparations to physicians and re­ search workers, under the trade name of Chloresium. Although it is not the purpose of this paper to discuss fully all the results gained during the years since 1913, a few statements will be made as to the general therapeutic uses of chlorophyll preparations.
Chlorophyll and its derivatives are used primarily in the form of ointments or liquids in a hydrophilic or an oil base, with variations to meet the therapeutic need. It should be emphasized that these prepar­ ations are not the direct extract from green plants but are derivatives of chlorophyll. In Chloresium products, for example, only the water soluble derivatives of chlorophyll A are used, chiefly in a hydrophilic base. In the natural state chlorophyll OCCurS in a colloidal form but

it is amorphous when isolated, and is ordinarily secured in a crystal­ line form for medi.cinal use. The preparations are applied topically, orally or systemically. In both topical and oral treatments they are used as wet dressings, ointments, irrigations and sprays. The sys­ temic treatments are chiefly by means of packings, sprays and direct internal injections.
In the medical fields the following are the main types of diseases treated with chlorophyll preparations: cysts, ulcers and tumors of various kinds, wounds, burns, anal fistulae, ulcerative colitis, diseases of the perineal cavity, bed sores, gynecological and orthopedic condi­ tions, ear, nose and throat infections, dermatoses, anemia and car­ cinoma. In dentistry the following have been treated with chlorophyll : Vincent's stomatitis, gingivitis, osteomyelitis, pyorrhea, post-operative conditions, malodorous breath and conditions requiring peridontal sepsis. A few of the outstanding results of chlorophyll therapy are the rapid acceleration of healing, rapid and sustained proliferation of normal tissue cells. formation of healthy granulation tissue, reduction of bacterial action, relief from pain, itching and burning, and the. deodorization and clearing of malodorous suppurative conditions.
Chlorophyll products are apparently non-toxic, which gives them great advantage over many other substances. However, Burgi (3) reported in 1932 that cyanosis might be callsed by extremely large internal doses of chlorophyll and that a cumulative effect might also occur. Becker (1) gave a report of one patient who showed a sensi­ tivity to an isotonic solution of chlorophyll used as nasal packs in the treatment of sinusitis, but the absence of control conditions make this inconclusive. An extensive search of literature on the subj ect of chlorophyll therapy does not reveal any other reports of toxicity re­ actions and the concensus of opinion of all other writers is that chloro­ phyll preparations are completely non-toxic. Hein and Shafer (7) state that there are no toxic complications and the preparations may be used safely in concentrations up to 2% in the oral cavity. Gruskin (6) reports cases in which as much as 250 cc of a chlorophyll prepara­ tion was given intravenously for a period of six days without any toxic reactions whatever. Smith (9) states that 240 cc of a 2% solution was given orally for three days to a normal healthy male volunteer and there was no toxic effect. He also reports a case of subacute bacterial endocarditis in which 400 cc of a 0.5% cholophyll solution was given daily for eight days, with no toxic symptoms appearing at any time.

The excellent results gained in the treatment of various conditions in which pathogenic bacteria are involved have raised the question as to the exact relation of chlorophyll to the causal organisms. Impetus to research has been greatly stimulated by the work of Gruskin (6) and his colleagues at Temple University. Chlorophyll solutions and ointments prepared by the Department of Experimental Pathology at Temple University were used in the treatment of more than 1200 cases of "widely diverse character, ranging from acute infections of the upper respiratory tract and accessory sinuses to chronic ulcerative lesions of various types associated with varices, sinuses, and fistulae." Some cases were in the fields of proctology, gynecology, surgical in­ fections, ear, nose and throat infections, and others were simple and complex dermatoses. Ulcerative carcinoma with much putrefaction and foul odor was cleared very promptly of odor and the chlorophyll preparation also stimulated production of connective tissue. The prompt relief from the odors of such suppurative diseases led Gruskin to conclude that chlorophyll has an apparent bactericidal effect upon the various pathogenic bacteria, although not actually bactericidal. He suggests that chlorophyll increases the resistance of cells in some physio-chemic~l manner so that enzymatic digestion of the cell mem­ brane by invading bacter-ia or their toxins is checked, and that bacteria may be inhibited from forming their toxic compounds by the chloro­ phyll action. Since chlorophyll has the ability in the living cell where it is produced to break down carbon dioxide and free oxygen, he be­ lieves it may have the same action in the medicinal preparation and thus inhibit the action of anaerobic bacteria which cause malodorous lesions. Gruskin also reports a case of streptococcic septicemia which had an uneventful recovery with the sole use of chlorophyll deriva­ tives. In a case of subacute bacterial endocarditis, the blood cultures remained negative for the bacteria as long as- the patient received chlorophyll but became positive again after the treatment had been discontinued for three days, evidently as a result of a continuous dis­ charge of septic emboli into the circulation.. As a result of his experi­ ments, Gruskin concludes that chlorophyll preparations do not have a definite bactericidal effect but do have some bacteriostatic effect, apparently by the stimulation of cells and tissues and the creation of adverse environmental conditions for the bacteria. However, he be­ lieves there may be a more direct action.

Goldberg (5) I in a study of 300 dental cases, reports that odors due to anaerobic bacteria invariably disappear with a few chlorophyll applications, and he attributes this result to the oxidizing properties of chlorophyll. In cases of Vincent's stomatitis he came to the con­ clusion that chlorophyll therapy is almost a specific against the fusi­ form bacillus and the spirillum responsible for this condition. His results, however, seem to indicate a bacteriostatic and not a bacteri­ cidal action.
Rapp (8) reported a study of the effect of a chlorophyll prepara­ tion on the Lactobacillus acidopkilus count in human saliva. Twenty­ six per cent of the subjects had a negative count at the end of ten days, 42% at the end of the fourth week, and 90% at the dose of the twenty-sixth week of the experiment. The results in the control group of subjects who had used other normal oral hyg'iene procedures showed a slight reduction in count, but not of any significant value. While there is some question of the relation of Lactobacillus acidophilus to tooth decay, there seems no reason to doubt that chlorophyll does have an inhibiting effect upon the organism. The report does not attempt to explain the action of chlorophyll upon this particular pathogen.
Carpenter (4) has recently investigated the llse of chlorophyll preparations clinically in a carefully selected and controlled series of cases. One outstanding result of his study is that the wounds which were resistant or slow in healing or failed entirely to heal contained a form of bacteria which he calls "Pseudomonas aerogenes." The percentage of failures, however, was remarkably low. Carpenter concluded that chlorophyll is bactericidal in vitro in large concentra­ tions but that its action in vivo is by means of its stimulating ef fect upon tissue cells rather than as a direct bactericidal agent.
Bowers (2) records his own experiences and those of more than thirty officers of the surgical service in an army hospital in the treat­ ment of various types of cases with water-soluble derivatives of chlorophyll. He states that "they possess direct antibacterial activity, especially in relation to the secondary saprophytic, proteolytic organ­ isms associated with wound.infection, which give rise to the foul odor associated with this type of lesion." He concludes that the action is actually bacteriostatic and that its beneficial effect is by means of stimulation of host cells instead of direct action against the bacteria themselves.

Smith (9) conducted experiments both in vitro and in vivo in an effort to determine the action of chlorophyll preparations upon various diseases, using a saponified metal complex derivative, such as sodium copper chlorophyllin, which was provided in a saline solution in strengths ranging from 0.2% to 5% and also as ointments in lano­ lin, cholesterol and hydrophyllic bases. His preliminary studies in­ dicated that chlorophyll alone in dilutions of from 1: 100 to 1 :500 would not support the growth or viability of staphylococci, strepto­ cocci or coli form bacteria over a period of twenty-four to forty-eight hours. There was a definite bacteriostatic effect upon the growth of these organisms when dilutions up to 1 :20qo were used in a broth medium, but growth was not completely inhibited in this medium be­ yond a 1 :5000 dilution. The deodorization and clearing of such in­ fected, ulcerated lesions as carcinoma and varicose ulcers in a short period led Smith to conduct experiments in vitro to attempt a deter­ mination of the action of the chlorophyll derivatives upon the causal org·anisms. He used eight pathogens with various dilutions of chloro­ phyll, with veal infusion and one per cent amigen broth as media. The innoculations averaged about 9000 colonies, except in the case of the two anaerohes in which 1000 colonies were used. Inhibition of growth was noted in Escherichl:a coli and Pseudomonas pyocyaneus in 1 :50 dilutions; in Streptococcus mastitidis, two strains of Strepto­ coccus hemolyticus, Clostridl:um perfringens and Clostl-idiU11~ histoly­ ticum in 1 :1600 dilutions; and there was no inhibition of the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. Repeated experiments indicated that chlorophyll might have an action which interferes with the oxidation­ reduction mechanism of anaerobic bacterial respiration, which might explain its bacteriostatic and even bactericidal effect in clinical cases. As a result of his studies, Smith states that the ordinary pathogenic bacteria will not survive for twenty-four hours in a simple isotonic saline solution of chlorophyll up to dilutions of 1 :5000, which seems to be due to an oxidation action. The experiments on the more com­ mon pathogenic bacteria indicate that there is no direct action but bacterial growth is inhibited as a result of the production of an un­ favorable environment. Smith states that "chlorophyll is not strictly bactericidal but that it does exert a definite bacteriostatic and even a bactericidal ef fect under suitable environmental conditions."
In brief summarization, it may be stated that investigations and e.xperiments in chlorophyll therapy and in laboratory research indi­

cate that strong solutions of chlorophyll preparations have a bacteri­ cidal action on some pathogenic bacteria in vitro. However, in vivo, the effect seems bacteriostatic rather than bactericidal, chiefly through the action of the chlorophyll in stimulating tissue cells and creating an environment unsuitable for bacterial growth. The ability of chloro­ phyll to release oxygen is cited as a possible cause of the inhibition of anaerobic bacteria which are particularly active in suppurative dis­ eases. Research to date indicates that chlorophyll has a definite place in the treatment of diseases caused by bacteria, but further research is necessary to determine the exact nature of the effect of chlorophyll upon the causal organisms.
The writers acknowledge with sincere appreciation the assistance given by the library staffs of the School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry of Indiana University in locating published material; and that given by Mr. James H. Stanton a11d Mr. Edward Ahearn of the Rystan Company of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., in supplying literature and chlorophyll materials.
1. BECKER, ALAN. Osteopathic Physician, Jackson, Mich. Personal letter, 1945.
2. BOWERS, WARNER F. Chlorophyll in wound healing and suppurative dis­ ease. Amer. Jour. Surg. 73 :37 -SO. 1947.
3. BURGI, E. Das Chlorophyll aJs Pharmakon. Monograph. G. Thieme, Leipzig. 1932.
4. C/\l{PENTER, EARNEST. Clinical experiences with chlorophyll preparations with particular reference to chronic osteomyelitis and chronic ulcers. Amer. Jour. Surg. 77 :167-171. 1949.
5. GOLDBERG, S. L. The usc of water-soluble chlorophyll in oral sepsis. Amer.
Jour. Smg. 42:117. 1943. 6. GRUSKTN, BENJ. Chlorophyll: Its therapeutic place in acute and suppura­
tive disease. Amer. Jour. Surg. N. Ser. 49 :49-55. 1940. 7. HEIN,]. W. AND W. G. SHAFER. Effect of chlorophyll on experimental
dental caries. Pennsylvania Dental Jour. 16 :221-225. 1949. 8. RAPP, G. W. Meeting of International Association for Dental Research,
Chicago, Illinois, June 24-25, 1949. 9. SMITH, LAWRENCE W. Chlorophyll: An experimental study of its water­
soluble derivatives. Amer. Jour. Med. Sci. 207 :647-654. 1944. 10. W1LLSTAETTER, R. AND A. STOLL. Untersuchungen ueber Chlorophyll.
Monograph. Berlin, Springer. 1913.
ChlorophyllBacteriaActionChlorophyll PreparationsButler University