Your Guide to Natural Healing

Chlorophyll and Vitamin K


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Chlorophyll is "plant blood." It absorbs sunlight and converts it into energy through a process called photosynthesis. It is the basis for life on this planet. Its chemical structure is almost identical to hemoglobin, one of the components of human blood, except the central atom of chlorophyll is magnesium and the central atom of hemoglobin is iron.

From a practical standpoint, research and decades of clinical experience have shown that chlorophyll can be 1) a very effective tool to help heal external wounds and lesions, and 2) a good, safe dietary source of vitamin K. Let's take a closer look at these two benefits.

Wound and Lesion Healing

During World War II, chlorophyll ointments were used on combat wounds with a great deal of success--even in cases where sulfa creams and penicillin weren't effective. (New York State J Med July 15;Vol.55:2041)

Chlorophyll doesn't work as a strong antibiotic. However, it does break down carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which can be lethal to certain forms of bacteria. Chlorophyll's strong suit tends to be its ability to accelerate the formation of granulation tissue that forms the base for new tissue growth in wound healing.

Chlorophyll can also be used on skin and leg ulcerations, especially those related to poor circulation, rectal lesions, surgical wounds, abscesses, and burns. It is non-irritating, soothing to the skin, and totally non-toxic. At worst, it may leave a temporary green stain on the skin.

A Great Source of Vitamin K

Chlorophyll is also a very good non-prescription source of vitamin K. Unfortunately, this vitamin receives little attention. Few people, including doctors, ever treat vitamin K deficiencies.

Vitamin K was discovered by a Danish scientist Henrik Dam, and three forms have been identified. Two are natural and the third is synthetic. In nature, vitamin K is an oil-soluble vitamin found mainly in green vegetables (vitamin K1) and also formed by bacteria in our lower bowel (vitamin K2). Vitamin K3 is the synthetic form.

Within our bodies, the liver uses several steps to convert vitamin K into a compound called thrombin. This compound aids in blood clotting, or coagulation. The Danish spelling of coagulation begins with a "k," which is why the substance is called vitamin K.

The richest food sources of vitamin K are greens like kale, spinach, endive, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and cabbage. However, polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease the absorption of vitamin K. So if you eat a nice spinach salad but use a typical salad dressing made from polyunsaturated oils, chances are you won't absorb much of the vitamin K from the spinach.

Vitamin K Deficiencies

It is difficult to accurately determine whether a person is getting adequate amounts of vitamin K from the diet and intestinal bacteria. But there are several symptoms and conditions that might indicate a shortage of vitamin K in the body. Many of these symptoms are related to excess bleeding of one kind or another.

One of the most common signs of a deficiency is bleeding under the skin. In the elderly, who are very often vitamin K deficient, it is fairly common to find huge black and blue marks, called purpura, just beneath the skin. Purpura can also be a sign of vitamin C and vitamin P deficiencies, but adding those two vitamins alone often does not correct the problem.

Other bleeding problems that can be a result of lower-than-normal vitamin K levels include excessive menstrual flow and clotting, nose bleeding, bloody vomit or stools, and eye hemorrhages. One other symptom that is often overlooked is the occurrence of stroke--especially in the form of several "mini-strokes."

Vitamin K is also necessary for the calcification of bone. Women with osteoporosis, especially those who have experienced fractures, have been shown to have lower levels of vitamin K. Such deficiencies also appear to be a factor in the development of hardening of the arteries (artheroscleroses).

When you step back and take a look at the broader picture, it's not hard to see why vitamin K is a fairly common deficiency. Since it is fat-soluble, if a person has had their gallbladder removed, or has difficulty digesting fats, getting sufficient vitamin K could easily be a problem.

Sulfa and aspirin both destroy vitamin K so, if you take aspirin on a regular basis, it could help explain why you bruise so easily. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin K from the bacterial flora is not an adequate alternative to dietary vitamin K for most people.

There has not been much research into chlorophyll in the last couple of decades but there have been small clinical trials and independent reports of several benefits stemming from its use. Chlorophyll taken internally may help heal stomach and gastrointestinal ulcerations or damage and, early on, it was used as a treatment for anemia.

There are also a couple of early studies suggesting that chlorophyll might help retard the formation of kidney stones. (Investigative Urology 80;18(2):86-89,90)  And there is a study suggesting that 5 milligrams of vitamin K along with 25 milligrams of vitamin C has been shown to effectively treat the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. (Am J Obstetrics Gyn 52;64:416)

Getting K Every Day

Unless you eat a lot of greens and fermented foods like sauerkraut, borscht, yogurt, buttermilk, etc. or if you have a family history of stroke, osteoporosis or atherosclerosis, you may want to seriously consider increasing your vitamin K intake. Natural vitamin K is safe in doses up to 15 milligrams. Generally 1 to 6 milligrams is adequate for those showing signs of a deficiency, but please keep the following in mind.

Since vitamin K functions as a coagulant it should not be taken if you are using anti-coagulants like Coumadin. And since it is fat-soluble, you may need to take bile salts to help assimilate it. If you're not digesting your fats, you won't be able to digest vitamin K.

There are not too many suppliers that sell vitamin K directly to the public. Scientific Botanicals (206) 527-5521 sells Vitamin K Drops that contain 2 milligrams per drop but they sell only to physicians. Progressive Labs sells Chlorophyll Perles that contain only 2 megs of vitamin K per pearl.


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