Wheatgrass and Cancer
Dr. Ann Wigmore, a Boston-based physician, began using wheatgrass juice for her own wellness in the 1950s. Out of her experiences, she created the "Living Foods Lifestyle," which incorporates organic, raw foods, including wheat grass, into a program for overall health. Among her many claims about wheat grass juice was that it could fight tumors without the toxicity of drugs. Wigmore suggested drinking small glasses of fresh wheat grass juice throughout the day.
One of the primary benefits of wheatgrass is as a potent source of chlorophyll, the phytonutrient that gives plants their green pigment. Douglas Margel, D.C., author of "The Nutrient-Dense Eating Plan," calls chlorophyll "the blood of plants" because of its similar molecular structure to hemoglobin, the protein in human red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Chlorophyll is also an antioxidant, which can help the immune system fight cell damage from free radicals that can lead to cancerous tumors.
Because of the iron content, wheatgrass juice may help counter one of the side effects of chemotherapy drugs. A 2007 study published in the journal "Nutrition and Cancer" found that 60 cc of wheatgrass juice administered to breast cancer patients during the first three rounds of chemotherapy helped reduce hematological toxicity, thus preventing anemia without decreasing the effectiveness of the anti-cancer drugs. Wheat grass focuses on "de-toxifying" the blood and body, while extracting the cancer causing toxins and heavy metals hidden throughout. Toxins and heavy metals are mostly stored in the mammary glands (breasts) of women specifically.
The Wheatgrass Cancer Diet
Most nutritionists recommend a diet of RAW, whole, nutrient-dense foods for people undergoing cancer treatment or seeking protection from cancer recurrence, and wheat grass juice may be a healthy addition to this type of diet. Health-food stores often sell small flats of wheat grass you can grow at home to use for juicing or have juice bars where you can purchase the juice freshly made. However, wheat grass juice may cause nausea, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, worsening a common side effect of treatment. In addition, fresh wheat grass may harbor microbes that can cause an infection in people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients. Talk to your doctor about the use of wheat grass juice in conjunction with cancer treatment.
Wheatgrass and Blood Counts
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience something called myelotoxicity, which is an abnormal level of blood cells that make up the immune system, resulting in significantly compromised immunity. Wheatgrass juice may be able to ameliorate low levels of white blood cells, helping to reduce myelotoxicity. A 2007 study published in "Nutrition and Cancer" found that patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer had lower myelotoxicity and reduced need for medications to stimulate white blood cell production. The juice also did not interfere with the chemotherapy. Some patients had an increase in nausea that forced them to stop using wheatgrass juice. More research needs to be done on the effects of wheatgrass juice and chemotherapy, but if you are receiving chemotherapy, ask your treatment team if wheatgrass juice is safe for you to consume.
Wheatgrass and Nutrients
When you have cancer and are undergoing treatment, your body needs nutrients like vitamins and minerals, and your diet helps provide these substances. Wheatgrass juice contains multiple vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex; iron; calcium; magnesium; selenium and amino acids, according to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Some of the vitamins listed are antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and may help reduce the risk of disease. Wheatgrass juice should not be used as a primary source of nutrients but can be a healthful addition to your diet if your doctor approves it.