Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes plants green. Chlorophyll poisoning occurs when someone swallows a large amount of this substance.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Green plants
- Plant foods
- Some cosmetics
- Natural supplements
Note: This list may not include all sources of chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is considered nonpoisonous. Most people who swallow chlorophyll have no symptoms. In rare cases, the following symptoms may occur:
Loose bowel movements (stools)
If someone does swallow chlorophyll, their tongue may appear yellow or black, and their urine or feces may appear green. If chlorophyll touches the skin, it may lead to mild burning or itching
Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the substance
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.
The person may not need to be seen in the emergency room, but if they are, they may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Medications to treat symptoms
How well the person does depends on the amount of the substance swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Recovery is very likely because chlorophyll is relatively nonpoisonous.
Do not touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Do not take food supplements or vitamins without reading the label. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Radbruch L. Antibiotics. In: Walsh D. et al, eds. Palliative Medicine. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 131.
Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.