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Anti-Cancer Benefits of Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass contains minerals, phytochemicals, active enzymes, and vitamins that can be easily absorbed1,2. This very high nutritional value makes it a perfect nutritional supplement3.

Let’s take a look at the relationship between Wheatgrass juice and cancer.

Wheatgrass and Anti Cancer Treatment

The potential benefits of wheatgrass for cancer prevention and treatment include:

  • Very high content of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase and cytochrome oxidase have capacity to convert dangerous free radicals like reactive oxygen species into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen molecule2,5,6
  • Excellent source of chlorophyll – enhances hemoglobin synthesis due to its structural similarity to hemoglobin. The only difference between the two is the nature of the central metal atom magnesium in chlorophyll and iron in hemoglobin. This is the reason behind the increased oxygen supply to all cells including cancer cells which are highly vulnerable to high oxygen concentration due to the deleterious effects caused by the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) 2,5,6,7
  • Chlorophyll and other chlorophyll-related compounds are significant inducers of mammalian phase 2 cytoprotective genes that protect cells from the harmful effect of oxidants and electrophiles2,5,6,8
  • Another anti-cancer agent present in wheatgrass is the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA). This hormone is 40 times more potent 4 hours after cutting the wheatgrass plant. Abscisic acid has the ability to neutralize the effect of chronic gonadotropins and compounds similar to this hormone which has been found to be produced by cancer cells2,5,6
  • Great source of laetrile or amygdalin (also known as B17), used for cancer treatment2,5,6.
  • Contribute to an alkaline diet (the pH of the wheatgrass juice is around 7.4) and to alkalinizing the environment around cancer cells. An alkaline diet helps reduce microbes and the incidence of secondary infections, and cancer cells cannot survive in a highly alkaline environment2,5,6
  • Other possible mechanisms that may contribute to wheatgrass benefits for cancer include “antioxidant activity preventing oxidative damage to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and lipid peroxidation, stimulation of gap junction communication, effects on cell transformation and differentiation, inhibition of cell proliferation and oncogene expression, effects on immune function and inhibition of endogenous formation of carcinogens5.” 

Scientific Research – Wheatgrass and Cancer

  • Results of a preliminary in vitro study demonstrated that wheatgrass possesses anti-inflammatory potential and that its intake may contribute to decreased inflammation and reduce oxidative stress stimulated by inflammation. The same study suggests that consumption of wheatgrass extracts, especially day 5 and day 7 extracts, may provide health-beneficial effects9
  • A recent study compared healthy controls and colon cancer patients post-surgery, treated by chemotherapy, with or without additional daily wheatgrass juice. Albeit some study limitations, the results indicated that “daily consumption of wheatgrass juice during chemotherapy may reduce vascular damage and chemotherapy-related thrombogenicity, growth factors and cytokines10.”
  • A 2020 study demonstrated that wheatgrass juice has anti-cancer activity on oral cancer cell lines11, which supports previous results that showed that the aqueous extract of wheatgrass had an inhibitory effect on the oral cancer cell line proliferation (OSCC) – a 41.4% of OSCC cell inhibition was observed at 1000 µg/ml dilution of aqueous wheatgrass extract in 24 hours2.
  • A study with breast cancer patients showed that wheatgrass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy12

Other Clinical Uses of Wheatgrass

  • May help increase hemoglobin and reduce transfusion requirements in patients with thalassemia major13,14
  • Treatment of anemia and adjuvant therapy for patients with hemolytic anemia15,16
  • Furthermore, wheatgrass may help in the treatment of other health problems, such as the management of inflammatory bowel disease, as an anti-asthma and anti-allergic agent5 and in the treatment of ulcerative colitis17.

How to consume Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass exhibits a very high nutritional value and can be consumed in different forms, such as fresh juice, powder, or tablets3. Furthermore, when compared to apple, carrot, beet, orange, and lemon juice, wheatgrass juice has better nutritional value, which means it has the potential to be used mixed with other juices to improve their nutritional value3. A 2022 study evaluated the “Effect of Wheatgrass Juice on Nutritional Quality of Apple, Carrot, Beet, Orange and Lemon Juice,” and found that wheatgrass added to apple, carrot, beet, orange, and lemon juice led to an increased concentration of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc in all the juices, while vitamin C concentration increased in apple, beet, and carrot juice, total phenolic content increased in carrot juice, and total flavonoid content increased in apple, carrot, and orange juice3

Wheatgrass Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions

Contraindicated if there is hypersensitivity or allergy to any chemical component of a wheatgrass or wheatgrass-containing supplement5

Precautions – Pregnant and nursing women should avoid wheatgrass-containing supplements. Wheatgrass and its supplements may contain high amounts of vitamin K, and patients on warfarin should exercise caution when using it5.

Adverse reactions – wheatgrass is generally safe, and the incidence of side effects is very low. In excess, it may cause nausea and headache. Throat swelling may occur in hypersensitive individuals5.

Conclusion

Wheatgrass juice demonstrates powerful antioxidant capacity due to its free radical scavenging activity and can be used in the promotion of health and in the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions such as cancer. 

Have You Had Your Wheatgrass Shot Today?

References

  1. Parit SB, Dawkar VV, Tanpure RS, Pai SR, Chougale AD. Nutritional Quality and Antioxidant Activity of Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) Unwrap by Proteome Profiling and DPPH and FRAP assays. J Food Sci. 2018 Aug;83(8):2127-2139. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.14224. Epub 2018 Jul 30. PMID: 30059150.
  2. Gore RD, Palaskar SJ, Bartake AR. Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Jun;11(6):ZC40-ZC42. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2017/26316.10057. Epub 2017 Jun 1. PMID: 28764290; PMCID: PMC5534514.
  3. Grubišić S, Kristić M, Lisjak M, Mišković Špoljarić K, Petrović S, Vila S, Rebekić A. Effect of Wheatgrass Juice on Nutritional Quality of Apple, Carrot, Beet, Orange and Lemon Juice. Foods. 2022 Feb 2;11(3):445. doi: 10.3390/foods11030445. PMID: 35159595; PMCID: PMC8833947.
  4. Sharma A, Yadav M, Sharma N, Kumari A, Kaur S, Meenu M, Garg M. Comparison of wheatgrass juices from colored wheat (white, black, blue, and purple) for health promoting phytochemicals. Food Res Int. 2022 Nov;161:111833. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2022.111833. Epub 2022 Sep 5. PMID: 36192965.
  5. Padalia, Swati, et al. “Multitude potential of wheatgrass juice (Green Blood): An overview.” Chronicles of Young Scientists, vol. 1, no. 2, Apr.-June 2010, p. 23. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A239657567/AONE?u=googlescholar&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=cc9dd2ef.
  6. Chauhan, Manish. “A pilot study on wheat grass juice for its phytochemical, nutritional and therapeutic potential on chronic diseases.” International Journal of Chemical Studies 2 (2014): 27-34.
  7. Matés JM, Sánchez-Jiménez FM. Role of reactive oxygen species in apoptosis: implications for cancer therapy. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2000 Feb;32(2):157-70. doi: 10.1016/s1357-2725(99)00088-6. PMID: 10687951.
  8. Fahey JW, Stephenson KK, Dinkova-Kostova AT, Egner PA, Kensler TW, Talalay P. Chlorophyll, chlorophyllin and related tetrapyrroles are significant inducers of mammalian phase 2 cytoprotective genes. Carcinogenesis. 2005 Jul;26(7):1247-55. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgi068. Epub 2005 Mar 17. PMID: 15774490.
  9. Banerjee S, Katiyar P, Kumar V, Waghmode B, Nathani S, Krishnan V, Sircar D, Roy P. Wheatgrass inhibits the lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory effect in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Curr Res Toxicol. 2021 Feb 23;2:116-127. doi: 10.1016/j.crtox.2021.02.005. PMID: 34345856; PMCID: PMC8320646.
  10. Avisar A, Cohen M, Brenner B, Bronshtein T, Machluf M, Bar-Sela G, Aharon A. Extracellular Vesicles Reflect the Efficacy of Wheatgrass Juice Supplement in Colon Cancer Patients During Adjuvant Chemotherapy. Front Oncol. 2020 Aug 26;10:1659. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.01659. PMID: 32984039; PMCID: PMC7479215.
  11. Hattarki S.A., Bogar C., Bhat K. Triticum aestivum (wheat grass) Exhibited Anticancer Activity on Oral Cancer (KB) Cell Line. Int. J. Pharma Res. Health Sci. 2020;8:3220–3224. doi: 10.21276/ijprhs.2020.05.01.
  12. Bar-Sela G, Tsalic M, Fried G, Goldberg H. Wheat grass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients: a pilot study. Nutr Cancer. 2007;58(1):43-8. doi: 10.1080/01635580701308083. PMID: 17571966.
  13. Singh K, Pannu MS, Singh P, Singh J. Effect of wheat grass tablets on the frequency of blood transfusions in Thalassemia Major. Indian J Pediatr. 2010 Jan;77(1):90-1. doi: 10.1007/s12098-010-0002-8. Epub 2010 Feb 5. PMID: 20135271.
  14. Marawaha RK, Bansal D, Kaur S, Trehan A. Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirement in patients with thalassemia major: a pilot study. Indian Pediatr. 2004 Jul;41(7):716-20. PMID: 15297687.
  15. Mathur S., Mathur R., Kohli G.K. Therapeutic use of wheat grass juice for the treatment of anemia in young women of Ajmer city (Rajasthan, India) Int. J. Nutr. Sci. 2017;2:1014.
  16. Fernandes CJ, O’Donovan DJ, Natural antioxidant therapy for patients with haemolytic anemia, Indian Pediatrics, 2005; 42: 618-619.
  17. 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. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2002 Apr;37(4):444-9. doi: 10.1080/003655202317316088. PMID: 11989836.