The local drink called chlorophyll in the Virgin Islands is similar to a blended iced tea. Made from extracting the chlorophyll out of plants and tea bushes, through the process of blending and straining of the excess bulk of the plants, what remains is a light iced tea flavored beverage usually served cold. Many who make it locally use guinea grass as their base ingredients, and then add lemongrass and other medicinal plants.
Found normally in health food stores, vegetarian restaurants, farmers markets or at some pharmacies, both forms are readily available for purchase in the Virgin Islands. The medicinal properties of either can vary depending on their ingredients.
According to Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet, of Corvia Natural Healthcare Services (CNHS), “the international version is made from a species of alfalfa, while the local version is usually made from guinea and or lemon grass.” Both guinea and lemongrass grow wild in the Virgin Islands.
Dr. Wendy went on to explain that in cases of iron deficiency anemia, chlorophyll is used to help with blood building as well as oxygenation. She said that, “it is a good source of energy and provides adrenal and immune support.”
A post on Pinterest shared much of the same information plus the benefits of chlorophyll with increasing red blood cell formation, blood purification, and blood pressure regulation even to helping with bad breath.
She continued saying that it is also used in some forms of cancer, is a good source of nutrients, can be used for general health maintenance and in cases of fasting due to its mineral and vitamin content.
Just as they both have benefits; there are potential risks from overconsumption, or in some cases, consumption period, from those who have reactions to various herbs. “The main concern is the overuse of any herb or supplement that renders it non-effective over time or induces harm to the patient,” said Dr. Wendy.
“There are no regulations in place to ensure that the product is the same every time it is made,” she added, expressing a concern more related to quality control specifically to how the herbs are grown and prepared.
In search of information concerning other concerns, a tweet from Wellness Wednesday stated,“This was concerning RE: Risks of Liquid Chlorophyll” and shared a link to a Livestrong.com article that shared concerns from allergic reactions to digestive tract disturbances as well as that some of the plants used when making liquid chlorophyll could potentially expose consumers to,” heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins from the water or soil. Pesticides can interrupt hormone function, damage the nervous system or cause cancer”.
Another tweet stated that, “The green chlorophyll also produces compounds called glycoalkaloids, such as solanine, that are toxic.” Researching further on the subject, one can find a scholarly study of the toxic hazard that might be associated with the consumption of green potato tops.
Classically trained chef, who became an executive chef at the age of 24, food and lifestyle blogger Christopher Stewart shares in her post, why she drinks liquid chlorophyll. “I drink chlorophyll because of its healing properties,” said local artist, Jahweh David, who grew up learning about herbs from her mother (just as her mother learned from her grandmother) as well as local herbalists, also mentions similar reasons. “It tastes great and is refreshing,” she added.
With an increasing number of people in the Virgin Islands learning about and consuming liquid chlorophyll, the need for more education has become apparent and there are those knowledgeable about and interested in helping the community by cooperating with each other. In addition to physicians, local researchers like Toni Thomas, Extension Agent at the UVI Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES), known for her book on Traditional Medicinal Plants in the Virgin Islands, is willing to help with educating the community with research-based information.
Affectionately known in her hometown within the Virgin Islands as Dr. Wendy, she is available at CNHS on Wednesdays between 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm and the third Saturday of the month in suite 104 at the Foothills and also has office hours at Synergy, in Red Hook. CNHS is an established whole family health and wellness office serving the Virgin Islands community using the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine. For more info visit www.corvianhs.com, email email@example.com or call (340) 774-0224. Stay connected on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corvianhs.