If you’ve been keeping up with health trends, you’ve probably heard about wheatgrass. In juice form, wheatgrass can be found at health cafes, local gyms, and maybe even your favorite spa. So, what’s the big deal? Some say that it’s a “superfood” – a term that healthcare experts aren’t ready to back just yet. Others call it “green blood,” thanks to its high chlorophyll content of 70 percent.1
There are even claims that it can purify your blood, working as a hemoglobin surrogate. This might be why it has suddenly shot to superfood stardom. And while more research is needed on this, wheatgrass is a good choice for detoxification, cleansing, and healthy digestion.
More Than Just A Green Food
While the primary part of wheatgrass is green chlorophyll, it also has healthy amounts of vitamins A, C, and E and minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.2 With just one shot of this juice, you can get in a lot of nutrition. Another plus is that it’s gluten-free – unlike wheat itself – because the grass doesn’t develop gluten until it grows and matures.3 Just know that it doesn’t count toward your “5 a day” of vegetables and fruits according to nutritionists.4
15 Health Benefits Of Wheatgrass
Let’s take a look at the ways wheatgrass can improve your health.
1. Can Aid Digestion
Like most grasses, wheatgrass is a rich source of fiber. It can quickly give you a feeling of fullness and keep your gut clean. As a result, wheatgrass has become a noteworthy colon cleanser. It’s used for treating indigestion, flatulence, constipation, nausea, acidity, and vomiting. Sometimes, an enema of wheatgrass is used to treat bleeding piles, chronic constipation, and colon disorders.5
2. Can Ease Asthma
Wheatgrass has zinc and magnesium, both of which can reduce your inflammatory response. The latter can also help dilate airways in the lungs (bronchodilatation), boosting air supply and easing symptoms of asthma and allergic inflammation in the airways.6 Another natural remedy for allergic airways diseases is pineapple juice.
3. Can Treat Ulcerative Colitis
Wheatgrass provides relief from colon ulcers. One study showed that wheatgrass was significantly efficient at reducing disease activity and rectal bleeding. To top it off, there were no side effects. Test subjects with ulcerative colitis were given 100 cc of wheat grass juice every day for a month. These participants felt much better than the control group. Researchers recommend it as a good supplemental or even single treatment for the condition.7
4. Can Increase Hemoglobin Levels
Under a microscope, chlorophyll is structurally similar to hemoglobin. This similarity between the two may explain why chlorophyll is used as a blood substitute in conditions like chronic anemia, thalassemia, and other blood disorders. Perhaps, this is also why it is called green blood.
One study looked at patients with thalassemia major, a blood condition that calls for frequent blood transfusions in order to prevent death. A supplementation of wheatgrass juice for 1.5 years lowered 50% of the patients’ need for blood transfusions by 25%, with some of them even reporting a 40% drop in transfusion requirement.8 The patients also felt better, reporting improved appetite and reduced pain.9
However, the medical community is still on the fence on this one. Organizations like the National Health Services and British Dietetic Association maintain that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that the green grass can actually increase hemoglobin production.10 Bigger studies with more controls will be needed before the scientific experts can back wheatgrass in this way.
5. Can Reduce Oxidative Stress
When your body cannot cope with the cell damage that harmful free radicals trigger, it suffers from oxidative stress. Research suggests that wheatgrass may be able to protect against oxidative stress. While it doesn’t have high levels of antioxidants like berries do, it still has adequate levels of nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin E, minerals, and the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD).
In one study, healthy individuals were given wheatgrass with their physical training routine. Wheatgrass could reduce a process called lipid peroxidation – where free radicals oxidize the fat layer in cell walls and trigger inflammation – even more than spirulina, a supplement known for antioxidant protection.11
6. Can Boost Blood Oxygen Levels
A shot of wheatgrass juice before exercise can increase blood oxygen levels by an average of 0.31%. This means you can endure a longer run. The oxygen level was also higher by 0.21% from that of the control group during recovery.12 This rise in the blood oxygen level, however, is not seen when you have wheat grass juice during the resting phase. Further research can help us understand this effect of wheatgrass.
7. May Delay Aging
Superoxide dismutase is also said to have anti-aging properties. Studies show that this enzyme present in all cells of the body promotes longevity of the cells by protecting them from free radicals called superoxides. When produced in an excess amount, superoxides can damage them and decrease their lifespan. When SOD production is low, cells become poisoned, lose their ability to renew, and die prematurely. SOD splits the harmful superoxides in hydrogen peroxide and an molecule of oxygen. Another enzyme called catalase then splits the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Wheatgrass being a natural source of both SOD and Catalase can display anti-aging properties of the enzyme.13
8. May Prevent Graying Of Hair
When your body has excess hydrogen peroxide, it collects at the root of the hair and bleaches it. Catalase, which is an important and effective antioxidant present in significant quantities in wheatgrass, can break down excess hydrogen peroxide and fight premature aging and graying of the hair. This is how onions prevent hair graying too.
Although there is no scientific proof, some proponents of wheatgrass also claim that it can reverse the oxidation process in hair, thereby bringing their natural color back. Application of wheatgrass juice on the scalp also helps in preventing dandruff and itchiness.14
9. Can Improve Oral Health
With its antimicrobial properties, wheatgrass helps maintain oral health. Wheatgrass juice kills the harmful microbes and bacteria present in the mouth, prevents several oral diseases, and treats bad breath. The juice is also believed to prevent and treat bleeding gums and other gum diseases. Consumption of wheatgrass is also considered beneficial in relieving toothache. In some cultures, wheatgrass juice is also used as a substitute for mouthwash.15 While none of these claims have yet been clinically proven, there’s reason to trust in the antimicrobial effect of wheatgrass and the vitamin C in it.
10. Can Treat Skin Disorders And Burns
The high chlorophyll content in wheatgrass is good for the treatment of skin diseases, such as psoriasis, gangrene, and eczema. Wheatgrass juice acts as an efficient skin cleanser, aiding in the nursing and treatment of first and second degree burns as well. The healing property of wheatgrass can be attributed to its ability to reduce inflammation, modulate your body’s immune response, and stop bleeding. All of these are essential for wound healing and to cure several skin disorders.16
11. Can Aid Weight Loss
Wheatgrass juice, an energizing drink, cleanses the body and helps manage weight. Wheatgrass does not get digested rapidly, thus controlling over-eating and obesity. Wheatgrass extract may serve as an efficient dietary supplement for preventing and treating obesity even when you are on a high-fat diet. In fact an anti-obesity formula using wheatgrass extract as the active ingredient has already been patented.17
12. May Improve Fertility
Inclusion of wheatgrass in the diet may help maintain reproductive health. Wheatgrass juice may improve fertility, heal painful period, and sexual debility. This feature of wheatgrass is not scientifically proven, although there are several testimonials to this claim.18 Wheatgrass contains a considerable amount of folate, about which makes it good for pregnant women.
13. May Reduce Arthritis Symptoms
In a study conducted by International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, it has been observed that the risk and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis was significantly lower when the participants consumed wheatgrass drink. Joint pain is also associated with inflammation, which can also be relieved by the chlorophyll content in wheatgrass.19 20
14. Can Help Cleanse The Blood
The liver is the primary organ responsible for the detoxification of the blood. Apart from the benefits provided by the regenerative activity of the chlorophyll, wheatgrass also contains choline, a macronutrient necessary for the proper functioning of the liver. Choline keeps fats from depositing in the liver even when you eat a high-cholesterol diet. In addition, according to studies, wheatgrass also has indol, which activates the enzymes responsible for deactivating carcinogens in the liver. Experiments also suggest that the animals fed with healthy amounts of wheatgrass were healthier and had purer blood.21
15. May Help In Cancer Treatment
There is anecdotal evidence supporting the use of wheatgrass as a supplementary therapy for cancer treatments. Some research also suggests that the antioxidants in wheatgrass could benefit cancer patients. Wheatgrass juice has actually become a key part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) diets for anti-cancer therapy.
According to some researchers, the juice may enhance hemoglobin synthesis. This results in a boost of oxygen supply to all body cells including cancer cells, exposing their vulnerability to high oxygen concentration.22 Yet, there is still a long way to go before any of this can be confirmed without an element of doubt. For now, sticking with existing treatments may be the best choice.
Have No More Than 1 Oz Twice A Day
Wheatgrass is usually consumed as a freshly squeezed juice. It’s also available as a dried juice concentrate, whole leaf powder, and tablet. And while it’s typically safe, wheatgrass may cause nausea, headache, or a swollen throat if too much is consumed. Your best bet is to take it in moderation. Instead of clubbing it with other veggie or fruit juices, treat it like a medicine. It has potent detox powers, after all. Drinking it in copious amounts can cause a very rapid detox if you drink too much too fast. Instead, stick to a single shot of no more than 1 oz twice a day. This should be fine as long as you’re not allergic to it and are in good health.
|↑1, ↑6, ↑9, ↑22||Padalia, Swati, Sushma Drabu, Indira Raheja, Alka Gupta, and Mamta Dhamija. “Multitude potential of wheatgrass juice (Green Blood): An overview.” Chronicles of young scientists 1, no. 2 (2010): 23.|
|↑2, ↑4, ↑10||Wheatgrass: detox tonic or just juice?. NHS.|
|↑3||FAQ. Coeliac Australia.|
|↑5||Mujoriya, Rajesh, and Ramesh Babu Bodla. “A study on wheat grass and its nutritional value.” Food Science and Quality Management 2 (2011): 1-9.|
|↑7||Ben-Arye, E., E. Goldin, D. Wengrower, A. Stamper, R. Kohn, and E. Berry. “Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.” Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology 37, no. 4 (2002): 444-449.|
|↑8||Marwaha, R. K., Deepak Bansal, Siftinder Kaur, and Amita Trehan. “Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirement in patients with thalassemia major: a pilot study.” Indian Pediatr 41, no. 7 (2004): 716-720.|
|↑11||Shyam, Radhey, Som N. Singh, Praveen Vats, Vijay K. Singh, Rajeev Bajaj, Shashi B. Singh, and Pratul K. Banerjee. “Wheat grass supplementation decreases oxidative stress in healthy subjects: a comparative study with spirulina.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 13, no. 8 (2007): 789-792.|
|↑12||Handzel, M., J. Sibert, T. Harvey, H. Deshmukh, and C. Chambers. “Monitoring the Oxygenation of Blood During Exercise After Ingesting Wheatgrass Juice.” The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine 8, no. 1 (2008).|
|↑13, ↑21||Wigmore, Ann. The Wheatgrass Book. Penguin, 1985.|
|↑14, ↑18||Mujoriya, Rajesh, and Ramesh Babu Bodla. “A study on wheat grass and its Nutritional value.” Food Science and Quality Management 2, 2011.|
|↑15||Karimi, M. “Grandma remedies and herbal medicines for relieving toothache.” Open Access Journal of Dental Sciences, 2016.|
|↑16||Shafi, Sabeeha. “Green blood therapy in modern medicine.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical, Chemical & Biological Sciences 5, no. 3, 2015.|
|↑17||Lee, Young-Mi, Dae-ki Kim, and Sun-Hee Lee. “Composition for treating and preventing obesity, containing wheatgrass extract as active ingredient.” U.S. Patent Application 14/353,240, filed November 5, 2012.|
|↑19||Mogra, R., and P. Rathi. “Health benefits of wheat grass–a wonder food.” International Journal of Food and Nutritional Sciences 2, no. 4, 2013: 10-13.|
|↑20||Chauhan, M. “A pilot study on wheat grass juice for its phytochemical, nutritional and therapeutic potential on chronic diseases.” Int. J. Chem. Stud 2, 2014.|