A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown that wheatgrass juice given to stage II-III colorectal cancer patients along with their adjuvant chemotherapy may have some benefit in reducing the chemotherapy associated vascular damage while having no impact on overall survival.
What is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is essentially just the freshly sprouted leaves of wheat plants. This is a kind of superfood that has gained a reputation of being taken by health and fitness freaks in the form of ‘wheatgrass shots’ or smoothies, in the juice bar of a fancy gym. Wheatgrass is usually squeezed into a juice form because it is hard to digest and rest assured, it has a very pungent taste. However, like many other foods and health routines, people would not go through the pain and trouble if they didn’t believe that what they were doing lead to some kind of unparalleled health benefit. Those who stand by wheatgrass believe that it can cure a range of health problems from simple colds and digestive problems to more serious conditions as well such as Cancer and AIDS. While there is currently a lack of studies to back many of these claims, there have been a few testing out the potential benefits of wheatgrass on different cancers.
Wheatgrass Juice & Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a relatively common cancer of the colon or rectum that generally affects older members of the population. In a study done in 2019 by researchers from the Rambam Health Care Campus in Israel, researchers looked at the effect that wheatgrass juice had on patients with stage II-III colorectal cancer. After dividing the patients into the control and experimental group, the researchers examined the results of the patients through exacting samples of blood and looking at the patients’ extracellular vesicles (EVs). EVs are particles that are naturally released from cells and carry significant biological information about the cell. After examining the EV’s of patients from both groups, the researchers concluded that while there was no difference in the overall survival rates, a “daily consumption of wheat grass juice during chemotherapy may reduce vascular damage and thrombogenicity” (Gil Bar-Sela et al, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2019). Vascular damage refers to any injuries that blood vessels suffer and thrombogenicity is the tendency of a material that comes in contact with blood to form clots, both of which can cause serious complications with a chemo procedure. But why does wheatgrass have such a major effect on one’s blood and blood flow?
Other than consisting of a myriad of nutrients and antioxidants, many of which perform very specific roles in helping strengthen the body’s immune system, up to 70% of wheatgrass is made up of chlorophyll, a common pigment found in plants that is integral in the process of photosynthesis and is also what gives plants their shade of green. The reason why this is so beneficial is because the chemical composition of chlorophyll very closely mirrors that of hemoglobin, the main protein responsible for transporting Oxygen through blood flow throughout our bodies. Thus, consuming such a high proportion of chlorophyll directly correlates to an improved supply of oxygen throughout the circulatory system as well as cleansing and detoxifying the blood and different organs.
Another study done by Indian medical researchers studied the effect that wheatgrass had on rats who had been experimentally induced with colon cancer. The cancer was injected into the rats through a drug called DMH and the rats were split into four different groups including a control, one solely injected with DMH, one with DMH and wheatgrass supplementation, and one group who was just administered wheatgrass. After analyzing the results, they found that “supplementation of wheatgrass in colon carcinogenesis has positive beneficial effects, reducing adverse effects of DMH” (S V Rana et al, J Cancer Sci Ther., 2014).
The hope now is to have much larger clinical trials conducted on the effects of wheatgrass juice to get concrete proof of its benefits. In a review of wheatgrass by Israeli researchers, they found many small studies to show that “ In animal experiments, wheatgrass demonstrated benefits in cancer prevention and as an adjunct to cancer treatment, as well as benefits to immunological activity and oxidative stress. Clinical trials show that wheatgrass may induce synergistic benefits to chemotherapy and may attenuate chemotherapy-related side effects, as well as benefit rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, hematological diseases, diabetes, obesity, and oxidative stress” (Bar Sela G et al, Europe PMC, 2014). However, all these benefits come from various small trials and could also be due to chance error.
Should we start taking Wheatgrass Juice for Colorectal and other Cancers?
In addition to colorectal/colon cancer, there has been scientific interest in testing how wheatgrass juice could potentially benefit other cancers as well. Even though this has been consumed for centuries, you probably shouldn’t start over dosing on wheatgrass. However, based on the direction of how recent scientific studies are heading, wheatgrass can potentially prove to be very effective in living up to its name in aiding a whole range of health problems. Include wheatgrass as part of the cancer patients’ diet post consulting with healthcare professionals.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer.Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.