Drugs A - Z
Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum)
Generic Name: Triticum aestivum
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
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.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. 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 healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
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.
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.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
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.
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, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Wendy-Diem Che, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Northeastern University).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: 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.
Forgionne GA. Bovine cartilage, coenzyme Q10, and wheat grass therapy for primary peritoneal cancer. J Altern.Complement Med 2005;11(1):161-165.
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.
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.