Can Wheatgrass Juice Up Your Health?

Find out whether this chlorophyll-packed juice-bar staple can really help

wheatgrass juice
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Many health-conscious folks swear by wheatgrass juice, a type of juice made from newly sprouted shoots of the common wheat plant. A longtime juice-bar staple, wheatgrass juice is high in chlorophyll, flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), and vitamins C and E. The fresh juice is typically taken in "shots", but is also available in frozen juice, powder, or tablet form. 

Why Do People Drink Wheatgrass Juice?

By taking wheatgrass juice shots or adding the intensely flavored juice to their smoothies, wheatgrass juice fans aim to boost their immunity, detox their systems, and increase their energy.

Some proponents claim that chlorophyll can raise the body's oxygen levels and stave off or treat conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer.

The Benefits of Wheatgrass Juice: Can It Really Help?

Very few studies have looked into the effect of wheatgrass juice on human health. The studies that have been done were laboratory or animal studies. Most of the studies have been small with a number of problems with the study design or quality. 

Preliminary research suggests that wheatgrass may reduce symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease). In a 2002 study published in the Scandanavian Journal of Gastroenterology, participants who drank 100 cubic centimeters (just under half a cup) of wheatgrass juice daily for one month had a significant drop in disease activity and rectal bleeding compared to those who received a placebo.

Possible Side Effects

Since introducing large amounts of wheatgrass juice into your system too quickly can cause nausea and diarrhea, it's important to start with no more than two to three tablespoons daily.

Some individuals are allergic to wheatgrass. Avoid it if you have a wheat allergy, and seek immediate medical attention if you experience hives or swelling in your throat after ingesting the juice.

Although pure wheatgrass is not believed to contain gluten, it would be wise to avoid wheatgrass if you have a gluten allergy due to possible contamination.

While people might not have trouble with the occasional small serving of wheatgrass juice, the safety of high doses or long-term use of wheatgrass juice isn't known. In a Thai survey of people with chronic kidney disease published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2013, wheatgrass juice was reported to be associated with a perceived worsening of symptoms.

It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using wheatgrass juice for any health purpose, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first.

The Takeaway

Although it may not wipe out your health woes, using wheatgrass juice can add a considerable nutrient boost (much like other, more affordable antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries and strawberries). 

Check out other healthy ingredients to use in your juicing, such as beet root.

Studies suggest that beetroot juice may curb inflammation, boost exercise stamina, and keep blood pressure in check.

Sources:

Ben-Arye E, Goldin E, Wengrower D, Stamper A, Kohn R, Berry E. Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 2002 37(4):444-9.

Tangkiatkumjai M, Boardman H, Praditpornsilpa K, Walker DM. Prevalence of herbal and dietary supplement usage in Thai outpatients with chronic kidney disease: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Jul 1;13:153. 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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