For some folks, the word “wheatgrass” conjures up images of juice bars and health food stores filled with, well, health nuts.
But have you ever wondered just what it is and why so many folks are so eager to chug down wheatgrass concoctions? They know what they’re doing, so please keep reading…
Wheatgrass is typically sold as a juice made from the young grass of the wheat plant. Health food stores may sell the produce itself or products such as wheatgrass tablets, powder, or frozen juice.
As for why the plant has so many fans—a major reason is that it packs a punch when it comes to nutrient density!
Wheatgrass contains at least 13 vitamins as well as all 21 amino acids (including the nine “essential” amino acids that your body is unable to make for itself). You need all these nutrients to power up your immune system to protect you from damaging diseases.
Plus, it’s a rich source of the plant pigment chlorophyll. This amazing body detoxifier provides the perfect alkaline balance for the acidic foods Americans commonly eat. It’s this combination of nutrients that many people believe is the secret to optimal health. And here’s why many folks are convinced that wheatgrass could be an effective cancer treatment, too…
How can wheatgrass help cancer patients?
According to the Livestrong organization, chemotherapy treatments may suppress bone marrow activity, which can cause:
- A decreased capacity for carrying oxygen throughout your body
- Insufficient blood cells to boost your immune system
- Decreased blood clotting ability
This condition is called myelotoxicity and it significantly compromises a cancer patient’s immune system. But wheatgrass juice may be able to boost low levels of white blood cells, helping to prevent this condition from occurring.
This claim is supported by a study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer involving 60 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Researchers found that patients receiving a daily serving of wheatgrass juice during the first three cycles of chemotherapy experienced a significant reduction in myelotoxicity. These patients also had a reduced need for drugs to help boost their white blood cell production.
Another study showed that wheatgrass juice could be an effective alternative to blood transfusions for terminally ill cancer patients. I’m not quite ready to buy into that, but studies suggest wheatgrass provides abundant benefits to the blood even if it’s not quite a direct substitute for red blood cells.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers examined the effects of wheatgrass juice on 348 terminally ill cancer patients at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute in India.
Researchers wanted to know if the plant juice could help improve hemoglobin levels, serum protein and overall patient health performance. They found that these patients experienced significant improvement in total protein and albumin levels.
Although white blood cell and platelet counts remained the same, the patients’ overall health performance increased from 50 percent to 70 percent! But wheatgrass has the potential to do far more than work as a complementary cancer treatment.
Peek inside Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet!
According to the respected Hippocrates Health Institute, proponents of wheatgrass use it to treat a wide variety of health disorders. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests wheatgrass can:
- Cleanse your colon. This is done by inserting a rectal implant that contains a small amount of juice and allowing it to remain in the lower bowel for about 20 minutes.
- Detoxify your liver. Nutrients from the juice protect you from pollutants and other carcinogens.
- Freshen your breath. Freshens breath when the juice is used to gargle.
- Protect against radiation damage. Lessens the effects of radiation through its enzyme SOD, an anti-inflammatory compound that may prevent cell damage.
- Treat hair and scalp problems. Mends damaged hair and itchy scalp when rubbed into the scalp before shampooing.
- Detoxify the body of heavy metals. Protects your brain and organs by neutralizing heavy metal toxins such as cadmium and mercury, as well as other toxins such as nicotine.
- Lower blood pressure. Reduces blood pressure by dilating pathways blood travels throughout your body.
- Balance pH. Restores proper pH balance to your body by improving blood alkalinity.
- Improve digestion. Treats gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, peptic ulcers, and ulcerative colitis.
- Protect against signs of aging. Slows the aging process by cleansing your blood and rejuvenating aging cells.
- Treat skin problems. Soothes and heals sunburn, cuts, burns and itching when applied externally to your skin.
- And much, much MORE!
Lowered cholesterol in laboratory study
One animal study suggests that wheatgrass may help lower cholesterol. In the study from Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, scientists found that treating rats with wheatgrass juice helped reduce total cholesterol and lowered LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in rats with abnormally high cholesterol levels.
Granted, there are no studies yet demonstrating whether wheatgrass might have the same cholesterol-lowering effects in humans. But the superfood nutrients in wheatgrass certainly shouldn’t hurt you either!
Remember, the chlorophyll in wheatgrass is a rich source of oxygen. Boosting the oxygen flow in your body helps power up every cell in your body. It also can help increase your immune defenses to protect you from diseases.
Wheatgrass is generally safe for use, but some people experience digestive upset when they first start taking it, as it begins its detoxifying work. As your system begins to flush toxins, you may experience mild nausea. You may need to start slowly by drinking a minimal amount of wheatgrass juice or powder (e.g. one ounce daily), then slowly build your tolerance level.
As with any treatment, be sure to consult your medical professional before using this alone or in combination with other medications. And as with so many foods, wheatgrass is most beneficial when fresh. True devotees grow their own wheatgrass (for instance, in a window box) and make their own juice.
Wheatgrass does not contain gluten and shouldn’t pose a problem to people who are wheat- or gluten-sensitive. Gluten is present only in the wheat grain. Wheatgrass is harvested when the shoots are young, well before a seed head forms.
- Bar-Sela, Gil; Tsalic, Medy; Fried, Getta; Goldberg, Hadassah. Wheat Grass Juice May Improve Hematological Toxicity Related to Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study. Nutrition and Cancer 2007, Vol. 58, No. 1, Pages 43-48.
- Dey, R. Sarkar, P. Ghosh, et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2006 ASCO Annual Meeting Proceedings Part I. Vol 24, No. 18S (June 20 Supplement), 2006: 8634
- Kothari S, Jain AK, Mehta SC, Tonpay SD. Hypolipidemic effect of fresh Triticum aestivum (wheat) grass juice in hypercholesterolemic rats. Acta Pol Pharm. 2011 Mar-Apr;68(2):291-4.