Medicine: A Sweeter Smell

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Chlorophyll, the complex substance that puts the green in grass, has been used for years to take cooking smells out of the kitchen. Occasionally it has been used to make putrefying wounds less obnoxious to patients and nurses. But until 1945 nobody thought of using it to make healthy people smell sweeter, inside & out. Nothing was farther from the mind of Dr. F. (for Franklin) Howard Westcott, a New York City internist, when he started giving chlorophyll to his patients.

Dr. Westcott was trying to find a cure for certain types of anemia. He noted that the odors of vitamin B and of asparagus, usually noticeable in the urine, were greatly decreased when his patients were taking chlorophyll-A (one of the two major chlorophyll fractions). This gave him the idea that chlorophyll might work in the body, through metabolic processes, to deodorize bad breath and perspiration.

After the Bath. First he used a doctor and four nurses as human guinea pigs. They were trained while taking chlorophyll to use an osmoscope (smell measurer) on each other 24 hours after they had taken baths. Sure enough, they found that underarm odor was cut in half, or even abolished, for as long as 18 hours after a dose of chlorophyll. The results were confirmed in experiments with a group of twelve college girls.

Dr. Westcott found that onions present a tricky problem because particles get stuck in the teeth and release volatile oils for hours afterwards. When his college girls took onion juice, which left no particles, chlorophyll greatly reduced the breath odor and sometimes abolished it. The only effective treatment for onion eaters, Dr. Westcott concluded, was to clean the mouth thoroughly and then use a chlorophyll mouthwash or suck a chlorophyll tablet. He found that ordinary bad breath, whether from food, drink, tobacco or an upset stomach, was easily controlled by chlorophyll.

Green Pills. Last week the De Pree Co. of Holland, Mich, offered a chlorophyll preparation over the counter, without prescription, under the trade name of "Nullo." Each bottle ($1.25) contained 30 Paddy-green tablets (a month's supply). Nullo, the label emphasized, "does not stop perspiration." But, claimed the makers, it "is effective in the control of . . . perspiration odors of the underarms and feet; odors associated with menstruation ; and odors that may be the result of faulty metabolism. Nullo, allowed to dissolve on the tongue, quickly neutralizes localized mouth odors."

It takes a couple of hours for chlorophyll to take effect, but then, the manufacturers claim, it gives relief in 90% of cases—even to basketball players.

Veterinarians have found that elderly dogs with bad breath or smelly hides can be turned into more pleasant companions with chlorophyll. One 100-mg. tablet is enough for the average man, but a dog needs six times as much—100 mg. for each 25 Ib. of body weight.