Made from a young grass originating from the wheat family, wheatgrass juice is a dietary supplement. Many health food aficionados praise wheatgrass juice and its purported health benefits, such as boosting your immune system. People drink wheatgrass juice as a single shot of highly concentrated juice or, more commonly, blend it with other fresh fruit or vegetable juices to mask the taste. Fresh wheatgrass juice is strong tasting and for those not used to it, may be too intense in taste and for your digestive system. While generally considered safe, wheatgrass juice can cause a number of unpleasant side effects.
Nausea and Headaches
Some people experience nausea and headaches soon after they drink wheatgrass juice -- often after the first several times they drink the juice. According to Steve Meyerowitz, author of "Wheatgrass, Nature's Finest Medicine," some people attribute the nauseated feeling and headaches to detoxification. The American Cancer Society says it may also be a sign of your body’s general intolerance to wheat grass juice. If you experience nausea or headaches after consuming wheatgrass juice, consider drinking less of the juice or blending it with other juices to mask the taste. If nausea and headaches persist, speak with a medical professional and stop consuming the juice altogether.
Another side effect of wheatgrass juice is an allergic reaction. Meyerowitz states that wheatgrass juice is safe for those who have a wheat or wheat gluten intolerance or allergy. But the American Cancer Society suggests that, to be safe, you consult a medical professional before taking wheatgrass juice if you have a known gluten intolerance. Signs of an allergic reaction to wheatgrass juice include hives and a swollen throat. If you have these symptoms immediately after consuming wheatgrass juice, the allergic reaction may only get worse as time passes, so seek medical treatment immediately.
Because wheatgrass is a young, sprouted grass grown in moist conditions, improper care may lead to mold developing on the grass and getting in the juice. While you can wash off some mold on wheatgrass, to be safe, throw the wheatgrass away. The most common type of mold to affect wheatgrass is “blue fuzz” mold, a type of nonharmful “slime mold” that you can wash off, because it only grows on the outside of the plant. But other types of mold, including brown and white mold, are signs of spoilage, and you shouldn't consume either. A bitter and musty tasting wheatgrass juice means your wheatgrass is moldy.
Because wheatgrass grows in either soil or water and people consume it raw, bacteria or other dangers -- in addition to mold -- may be present and can also contaminate your wheatgrass juice. To avoid contamination, sterilize your trays and keep your soil and water clean. Keep your wheatgrass away from areas of possible cross contamination, uncovering your wheatgrass tray only once the sprouts have set root and are hardy enough to grow well, usually the fourth day and after. To avoid contamination after you harvest your wheatgrass, consume your cut grass within seven to 10 days and store in a clean plastic bag in the fridge.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Wheat Grass Juice
- Urban Agriculture Notes: Wheatgrass and Mold
- Wheatgrass Nature's Finest Medicine: The Complete Guide to Using Grasses to Revitalize Your Health; Steve Meyerowitz
- Nutritional Supplements Center: Wheatgrass
- American Cancer Society: Wheatgrass
- Hippocrates Health Institute: How to Grow Wheatgrass