It may not be the very first thing that materializes in your mind when you think of, say, health. But wheatgrass does have benefits.
And it has side effects too, just like most things nature gifts us – which is why you must know them.
Wheatgrass – A Brief
Wheatgrass is the young grass of the wheat plant named Triticum aestivum. In the market, it is sold either as juice or a powdered concentrate. And like most plants, wheatgrass contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Commercially, wheatgrass is also available as a cream, gel, spray, and a massage lotion.
The history of the plant can be traced back to over 5,000 years, when it was first thought to be used in ancient Egypt. It is believed that ancient Egyptians preserved the leaves of the plant and used them for improving health and beauty.
The forms of wheatgrass available in the market include juice, capsules, pills, tablets, and powders.
And now for the big question –
Is Wheatgrass Bad For You?
Wheatgrass is known to offer an array of health benefits. Some feel it boosts the energy levels. Others use it as a performance enhancer. Well, it might have all of these benefits.
Though it’s usually considered safe, certain people have reported side effects post its consumption (1). Also, since it is grown in soil and consumed raw, there is an increased risk of contamination that can lead to severe issues.
Also, wheatgrass is not exceedingly nutritious than other vegetables – which is why you must always include a mix in your diet.
More importantly, there is inadequate information on the long-term usage of wheatgrass, especially as a medicine (2).
Side Effects Of Wheatgrass
Some people have reported headache after drinking wheatgrass juice. According to the American Cancer Society, the headache could also be a sign of your body’s general intolerance to the juice. One good way to assuage the symptom is to consume the juice in less quantity. You can also mix it with any other juice to mask its taste. And yes, if the headache persists, visit your doctor right away.
Wheatgrass can also get contaminated, most often by an organism called Listeria monocytogenes. This organism can cause serious side effects, one of them being a severe headache (3).
Just like headache, nausea could also be attributed to your body’s intolerance to wheatgrass. Often, people think the nauseated feeling is due to detoxification, although there is no evidence to prove the truth behind this. Best – check with your doctor if the symptoms persist.
In a study conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, wheatgrass aggravated the symptoms of nausea in six patients involved (4).
Wheatgrass contains gluten, and individuals who are gluten intolerant can experience nausea as one of the ill effects (5).
Wheatgrass could cause allergies, especially when consumed in the pill or juice form. You might develop symptoms in different parts of the body just within a few moments of consuming wheatgrass. This usually happens due to the overproduction of certain chemicals that combat the suspected allergen.
The allergy can affect your digestive and circulatory systems. It can cause nausea, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your skin might get inflamed and break out into hives. Other allergic reactions include shortness of breath and congestion.
If you are allergic to wheat products, it is recommended you stay away from wheatgrass as well (6).
And not just that, if you have celiac disease, you need to talk to your doctor before consuming wheatgrass (7). Often, the side effects might begin just within minutes of consuming wheatgrass. In rare cases, the delay may be up to four hours (8).
Talking about gluten intolerance, wheatgrass is usually gluten-free. This is because it is made out of the stem and leaves, whereas gluten is found in the kernel of the seed. But if one of the seeds is accidentally included, it could get contaminated with gluten – which is why it is better for individuals with gluten intolerance to stay away from wheatgrass. This is why it is important to read the label of any product that you are purchasing that has wheatgrass as one of the ingredients. If the wheatgrass is not mentioned to be gluten-free, it might only be wise to return the product to the shelf.
4. Stained Teeth
In some cases, wheatgrass shots can stain your teeth. One good way to get over this is to brush your teeth after taking wheatgrass juice.
Constipation is one of the other side effects of wheatgrass. Certain individuals can experience constipation after drinking wheatgrass juice. If you encounter similar effects, and the symptoms don’t improve even after a few hours, do visit your doctor.
6. Mold Development
Wheatgrass is a sprouted grass that is grown in moist conditions. Which is why this can lead to mold development – and improper care can allow it to get transferred to the juice. You sure can wash off some of the mold on wheatgrass, but the best practice is to throw the grass away.
The most common type of mold to affect wheatgrass is the ‘blue fuzz’ mold, which is not harmful and can be washed off from the surface of the grass. But other types of mold (like the brown and white types) mean spoilage, and the grass must be thrown away in this case.
One way to check if the wheatgrass is moldy is by tasting its juice – if it is bitter or musty, it contains mold.
7. Loss Of Appetite
Though this could be good news for people looking to lose weight, it is unhealthy in the long run. Certain experts say that consuming wheatgrass supplement can suppress appetite. This might (though there is no scientific evidence) help in the weight loss process, but as we already know, it may not be healthy down the road.
8. Dizziness And Fatigue
Large amounts of undiluted wheatgrass juice can cause dizziness and fatigue. You can instead add a small shot of the juice to other fresh vegetable juices (9).
This also is one kind of allergy. Your skin might get inflamed after drinking wheatgrass juice, eventually leading to rashes.
10. Mild Fever
Fever is often associated with detoxification. Wheatgrass, when taken for detoxification, can lead to mild fever (which is one of the related symptoms). The body would be expelling toxins, and fever (or a cough or nasal congestion) is just a sign of it feeling the burden of the detoxification process.
If the fever or other symptoms persist, it is time to visit the doctor.
11. Might Have Contaminants
We have already seen about mold formation. This is similar to that. As it is grown in a moist environment, the surrounding contamination can be transferred to the grass and then to the juice. This can cause foodborne illnesses, including stomach upsets and vomiting.
One way to avoid this is to sterilize the growing trays of your wheatgrass. Also, seal the wheatgrass in plastic bags to avoid cross contamination in your kitchen.
That’s about the side effects. But don’t worry much. With the precautions in place, you can enjoy the benefits of wheatgrass and dodge the ill effects. At least, most of the time.
Precautions With Wheatgrass
- The juice is usually concentrated, which is why taking it in less quantity or in combination with other vegetable juices can mask the strong taste.
- If your wheatgrass juice is bitter, it is most likely to be moldy. Stop drinking and discard it immediately.
- With regard to contamination, we have already seen how to avoid it. Just sterilize the trays in which the wheatgrass grows.
- Store your wheatgrass powder supplement as advised on the pack. Also, store it in a dry place.
- If you notice any side effects post the consumption of wheatgrass, stop the intake and visit your doctor. Yes, the effects could be due to detoxification (which is healthy), but you never know. Let your doctor make the right guess.
If you have more questions, here you go –
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
What are the side effects of wheatgrass shots or supplements?
The side effects are similar to what we have already seen, more or less. Ensure you don’t have more than two wheatgrass shots in a day. And if you are taking the supplement, don’t exceed the recommended dosage.
Also, if you are purchasing the juice or supplement from the market, check the label to ensure it is gluten-free.
What are the side effects of wheatgrass cream?
Though there is no enough information about the safety of the long-term use of wheatgrass cream, there is one point to be noted – the cream is possibly safe for most adults when applied to the skin for a duration of six weeks.
Can I take wheatgrass on an empty stomach?
Certain sources say that is the only way to take it. But there is no proper evidence. Consulting your doctor is the best option.
For the benefits, don’t rely on wheatgrass alone. Always have a mix on your plate. And as far as the side effects are concerned, take care.
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