Chlorophyll is the green pigment present in most plants and aids in manufacturing food for the plants through a process known as photosynthesis. Over the years, chlorophyll has been used by physicians as well as laymen to do away with bad breath and also to lessen the pungent smell of urine, feces and wounds infected by bacteria or fungus. It is important to note here that chlorophyll possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant as well as wound healing properties. These remedial qualities of chlorophyll have made it popular among the people since ages.
Chlorophyll is not only found in plants, but also in some algae and even in some bacteria that can soak up sunlight that is essential for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is found in abundance in the plant leaves and is also often present in some other plant tissues or parts like the stems and imparts the green color to the plants. The chlorophyll present in the leaves is camouflaged by other pigments as well. This is proved from the fact that during the winter chlorophyll present in the leaves declines and the leaves change color owing to the prevalence of the other pigments. Primarily, chlorophyll absorbs violet-blue and orange-red light emitted by the sun.
Generally, chlorophylls are large molecules that mostly comprise carbon and hydrogen. A single magnesium atom encircled by nitrogen-containing group of atoms called a porphyrin ring can be found at the center of each chlorophyll molecule. The arrangement inside a chlorophyll molecule bears a resemblance to that of the dynamic ingredients of hemoglobin in the blood. A long and uninterrupted chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms carries on from the core of the chlorophyll molecule and links it to the internal casing of the chloroplast – the cell organelle where the process of photosynthesis occurs. When a chlorophyll molecule soaks up a photon of light, electrons present in the molecule become active and move to higher energy planes. In turn, this kicks off a series of complex chemical reactions in the chloroplast enabling the energy obtained from the sunlight to be stored in chemical bonds.
Interestingly, there are several kinds of chlorophylls and each of them is at variance with the other. They also differ in their molecular structure and absorb somewhat diverse wavelengths of light. Among these, the most common type is the chlorophyll a – this comprises almost 75 % of the chlorophyll present in most green plants. Chlorophyll is also present in cyanobacteria, which was earlier known as blue-green algae. The green pigment can also be found in more composite cells. In fact, chlorophyll is an associate pigment that can be found in green plants and other complicated photosynthetic cells that absorb diverse wave lengths of sunlight and transmits them to the chlorophyll for eventual alteration into chemical energy. Some chlorophylls that are of lesser significance are also found in some micro-organisms.
Going by the history, in earlier ages people used chlorophyll to heal gastro-intestinal ailments like constipation. Chlorophyll was also widely used to boost formation of blood cells in people suffering from anemia. Some introductory studies conducted on chlorophyll also indicate that the green pigment found in plants may also be beneficial in detoxifying substances that lead to cancer or cancerous growth.