Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Agropyron, bread wheat, bugday, cheng ping, common wheat, Elytrigia, Eremopyrum, fou mai, frumint, Gramineae (family), Hsiao mai, hui mai, hui mien, ka shih tso, lai, mai ch'ao, mai fu, mai fu tzu, man tou, mien, mien chin, mien fen, mo mo, pai mien, Pascopyrum, Poaeceae (family), Pseudoroegneria, tarwe, trigo, Triticum aestivum, Triticum hybernum, Triticum vulgar, Triticummacha, Triticummuticum, Triticumsphaerococcum, vegan diet, wheat, wheat berry, wheat grass.
There are several varieties of wheatgrass in the following plant genera: Agropyron, Elytrigia, Eremopyrum, Pascopyrum, and Pseudoroegneria. Wheatgrass is often used in vegan diets or other "living food" diets. Wheatgrass has become popularized in the United States and marketed toward the health-conscious individuals. In folk medicine, practitioners used wheatgrass to treat cystitis, gout, rheumatic pain, chronic skin disorders, and constipation.
Despite its name, wheatgrass is gluten-free and is suitable for patients with gluten intolerance. Fresh leaf buds of this plant can be crushed to create a juice or dried to make a powder. The unprocessed plant contains high levels of cellulose, which cannot be digested. Wheatgrass juice is the juice extracted from the pulp of wheatgrass and has been used as a general-purpose health tonic for several years.
Wheatgrass is a complete protein with about 30 enzymes, and it is about 70% crude chlorophyll. The chlorophyll molecule is similar in structure to hemoglobin, leading some to believe that wheatgrass helps blood flow, digestion and general detoxification of the body. However, despite wheatgrass' popularity in the United States, there are no high-quality clinical trials for wheatgrass.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Beta-thalassemia (transfusion dependent)
Evidence suggests that wheatgrass may be beneficial for patients with beta thalassemia, and decrease the number of blood transfusions needed. However, further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
One study reported potential benefits of wheatgrass in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
AIDS, acne, alcohol dependence, antibilious (removes excess bile), antiperspirant, antipyretic (fever reducer), blood flow disorders, bruises, burns, cancer (peritoneal), chronic skin disorders, circulation, constipation, cough, cystitis, detoxification, diabetes, digestion, eczema, energy enhancement, eye strain, fever, gout (foot inflammation), hypertension (high blood pressure), infection, gingivitis, malaise, pain (abdominal), poison ivy, psoriasis, scar healing, rheumatoid arthritis, sedative, skin ailments, sore throat, sterility, thirst, tooth disease prevention, weight loss aid, wound healing.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older):
For transfusion dependent beta thalassemia (blood disorder) or ulcerative colitis, 100 milliliters of wheatgrass juice daily has been found effective. Traditionally, 8-32 ounces of wheatgrass juice has been administered via enemas, rubber bulb syringes or colonics for colon cleansing.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for wheatgrass, and use in children is not recommended.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to wheatgrass. Most wheat allergies are due to the gluten found in the wheatberry. However, wheatgrass does not have any gluten because it is cut before the plant forms a grain (berry).
Some individuals have reported nausea, headaches, hives or swelling in the throat within minutes of drinking its juice. Hives and swollen throat are often signs of a serious allergic reaction and should be handled as an emergency. Anyone having these kinds of symptoms after ingesting wheatgrass may have even more severe reactions to it later.
Side Effects and Warnings
Wheatgrass is generally considered safe. No serious side effects were found in several studies using wheatgrass juice daily for up to one month. There have been no other reports of adverse effects in the available literature. Because it is grown in soils or water and consumed raw, wheatgrass may be contaminated with bacteria, molds or other substances.
Some individuals have reported hives, nausea, or swelling in the throat within minutes of drinking its juice.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Because it is grown in soils or water and consumed raw, wheatgrass may be contaminated with bacteria, molds or other substances. Wheatgrass is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Insufficient available evidence.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Insufficient available evidence.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Ben Arye E, Goldin E, Wengrower D, et al. Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Scand.J Gastroenterol 2002;37(4):444-449. View Abstract
Forgionne GA. Bovine cartilage, coenzyme Q10, and wheat grass therapy for primary peritoneal cancer. J Altern.Complement Med 2005;11(1):161-165. View Abstract
Marawaha RK, Bansal D, Kaur S, et al. Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirement in patients with thalassemia major: a pilot study. Indian Pediatr. 2004;41(7):716-720. View Abstract
Rauma AL, Nenonen M, Helve T, et al. Effect of a strict vegan diet on energy and nutrient intakes by Finnish rheumatoid patients. Eur.J Clin Nutr 1993;47(10):747-749. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017