Naturopaths angry up the blood
Posted by apgaylard on August 14, 2009
You might have thought that the oxygen in your blood came from taking air into the lungs, which extract oxygen and deliver it into the blood pumped into the lungs by the heart. I certainly did.
Then again, I don’t have a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) degree in Naturopathy. Annelie Whitfield does, and on an episode of The Kitchen Pharmacy I saw her demonstrating how to concoct something she called ‘Anti-Age Green Juice’*. You can see the video here. During this segment she claimed, in part:
“Interestingly the chlorophyll molecule, which is why all these vegetables are green, is almost identical to haemin which is a protein found in haemoglobin and haemoglobin carries oxygen around our body so when you look at dark green leafy vegetable you have to think that’s instant oxygen, therefore instant energy which makes you feel more youthful.”
Interestingly haemin is, “a porphyrin chelate of iron, derived from red blood cells; the chloride of [haeme].” I think that Whitfield is probably talking about haeme, the key constituent of haemoglobin. This is an iron-porphyrin complex, with an iron atom held very firmly at the centre of the porphyrin ring by four Nitrogen atoms.
Chlorophyll is, of course, the green pigment that is used by plants, algae and cyanobacteria to perform photosynthesis. So, Whitfield is correct that chlorophyll is the reason why plants are green. But that is as far as it goes. Whilst it is fair to say that haemoglobin has structural similarities to chlorophyll, it is not “almost identical to haemin”, or haeme.
(above: centre – chlorophyll, left – haemin and right – haeme)
Chlorophyll has a magnesium ion (Mg) at the centre of its porphyrin ring, not iron (Fe) like haemin or haeme. It also has a long hydrophobic side chain (phytol): haemin and haeme do not. Even Dr Mercola doesn’t countenance this kind of nonsense.
As an aside, some chlorophyll pushing sites minimise or conveniently omit the side chain to make them look more similar.
Neither can chlorophyll carry oxygen; though during photosynthesis in the presence of sunlight it does produce gaseous oxygen (O2). Given the lack of sunlight in the human gut and our voracious digestive system, once ingested, chlorophyll cannot provide, “instant oxygen, therefore instant energy which makes you feel youthful.”
This is just nonsense made up to sell Naturopathy to the unwary. It’s nothing more than vaguely plausible bait to draw new customers into this particular therapeutic fantasy**.
Usefully though, Whitfield’s pitch does underline the sheer worthlessness and futility of BSc. degrees in hokum. Of course, Whitfield is not alone in spouting this baloney: ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith ‘PhD’ has been known to make similar claims. But there again, her PhD is a vanity qualification*** as well.
So, by all means, let’s eat our veggies: they look good, taste good and may do us some good as well. The cause of promoting healthy lifestyle choices is not served by promoting lies, like eating (or drinking) green leafy vegetables will give us “instant oxygen” or “instant energy”.
I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice. If you need that please consult a properly qualified and registered medical doctor.
Equally, if you think I have got anything wrong in this piece, please let me know. I try to be careful, but anyone can be mistaken. If you are right I will happily correct what I have written.
***What I mean is that it’s not a proper PhD. According to Ben Goldacre, “It’s from a non-accredited correspondence college in the US, so no trustworthy government body attests to their standards.” The college also refused to allow Goldacre to see the thesis. It turned out to have been published as a 48 page pamphlet; very thin for a doctoral thesis. Goldacre’s view is that it shows, “inadequate standards of referencing and evidence.”
For more Whitfield ridiculousness see Cooking up arthritis treatments.
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