Wheatgrass is a natural source of nutrients including vitamins A, C and E, amino acids, calcium and magnesium. The juice from the leaves is extracted and consumed raw since the leaves are fibrous and hard to digest. Wheatgrass is sold as a dietary supplement in tablets, capsules, liquid extracts and juices. Kits are also available to grow wheatgrass at home to make tea or juice. Proponents claim wheatgrass has numerous health benefits. Always check with your health care provider before using herbal remedies.
Wheat grass is prepared by sprouting wheat seeds in water for a week to 10 days prior to harvesting the leaves. People typically drink wheatgrass juice as a dietary supplement but it’s sometimes mixed with water to be used as an enema to cleanse the liver, according to the American Cancer Society. Wheatgrass juice can also be added to smoothies and other beverages to boost their nutritional value.
Wheat grass juice is suggested to help neutralize toxins and carcinogens in the body, improve digestion, prevent tooth decay, relieve constipation, reduce high blood pressure, and even relieve chronic fatigue. Wheat grass enthusiasts equate the chlorophyll found in wheatgrass to hemoglobin and believe it can increase oxygenation in the body. Chlorophyll is the part of the plant that gives plants their green color. However, such claims are not backed by clinical studies.
A small study involving 23 patients found that wheatgrass juice may help treat ulcerative colitis when used in conjunction with conventional medical care. UC is a serious and chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum. Participants who drank 3 ounces of wheatgrass juice daily for a month reported less pain, rectal bleeding and diarrhea than those in the placebo group. The study was published in April, 2002 in the “Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.” Lead researcher of the study was E.Ben- Arye of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.
Despite claims to the contrary, wheatgrass isn't a miracle cure in any form and shouldn't replace conventional medical care or nutritional diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Wheatgrass is generally considered safe but some people may experience headaches, nausea, hives or swelling of the throat. Talk to your doctor before using wheatgrass, particularly if you have a wheat or grass allergy, celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.