What Does Wheatgrass Do For Your Body? Health Benefits & Side Effects

Wheat (Triticum aestivum) has been a food staple since the dawn of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. Although cultivated mostly for its grain, wheat was also prized for the health benefits of its dark green leaves, called wheatgrass.

Fast forward to the 20th century, when wheatgrass benefits first became popularized in the 1930s by the agricultural biochemist, Dr. Charles F. Schnabel. His work earned him the unofficial title, “Father of Wheatgrass.”

The health benefits of wheatgrass were further immortalized by Ann Wigmore (1985), who described its use in treating a wide variety of diseases.

More recently, scientific research on wheatgrass has begun to explore many of the folk medical benefits from this phenomenal plant.

Let’s take a look at some of the studies that answer the question, what does wheatgrass do for your body?

Cancer

Ann Wigmore’s successful treatment of her own colon cancer led her to conclude that wheatgrass was a key component of her recovery. Recent studies have begun to discover how it works for battling this disease.

In 2009 scientists discovered that wheatgrass inhibits the activity of certain kinds of protein complexes that enable cancer cells to continue growing. In so doing, wheatgrass mimics anti-tumor drugs that are currently being developed for this same activity.

According to a 2011 study, wheatgrass demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of leukemia cells. The authors of the study concluded that wheatgrass has potential as an alternative supplement for leukemia patients.

Another study in 2011, using cells from a different type of leukemia, confirmed the anti-leukemia potential of wheatgrass.

A 2014 study revealed the anti-cancer potential of wheatgrass against human breast and cervical cancer cells.

Researchers found that wheatgrass has the ability to short-circuit the nearly eternal life span of cancer cells.

They also demonstrated a synergistic effect between wheatgrass and the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin.

The deep green color of wheatgrass comes from chlorophyll. At least one of the mechanisms of its anti-leukemia properties involves a metabolite of this pigment. This substance, called pheophorbide, kills cancer cells by causing their DNA to disintegrate (2000).

These anticancer activities depend on the benefits of green wheat grass, the darker green – meaning more chlorophyll – the better.

Membrane Protection

Cell membranes regulate what goes into or out of cells throughout your body. Inflammation that disrupts this basic function is the core cause of many diseases.

The value of wheatgrass for your health against a variety of diseases may rest on its ability to protect membrane integrity.

A model study in 2014 showed that the membranes of diseased liver cells can be restored to health by wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass was able to preserve membrane integrity in the face of damage by alcohol and oxidized fatty acids from fried food.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of mortality worldwide, and its incidence is increasing. Chronic high blood sugar leads to insulin resistance, which is the main factor in the development of diabetes.

Wheatgrass is known in folk medicine as a cure for diabetes.

Modern research is beginning to confirm this role. A study in 2016, for example, showed how wheatgrass can reverse several factors that characterize the onset of diabetes. The authors of this study concluded that wheatgrass is a potential treatment for reducing high blood sugar.

The anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties of wheatgrass also provide significant cardiovascular benefits. These include raising levels of HDL cholesterol and reducing levels of triglycerides and of LDL cholesterol (2013).

Science Behind Wheatgrass

Compared with its long folk medical history, modern research on wheatgrass is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, recent reviews of research already demonstrate its potential in treating many diseases.

As mentioned above, cancer and diabetes are just two of the topics now under study. The list is growing. It now includes rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, blood diseases, and obesity (2015).

It is no wonder that the wheatgrass supplement industry has grown so fast over the past few decades.

In addition, wheatgrass side effects are so rare that consuming this green superfood is like having a power salad for your health.

(NEXT STEP: Supercharge your day with 8 of the most nutrient-dense organic superfoods created to boost your nutritional health.)

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2018-08-08T17:14:41+00:00

About the Author:

Dr. Dennis Clark is a research scientist in plant natural products chemistry and herbal medicine. He enjoys teaching others how to get and stay healthy naturally.