Nutrition is a significant part of being healthy in general, but even more so if you have been diagnosed with cancer. Wheatgrass juice is a health food supplement that may provide nutrition and health benefits to individuals with cancer, although more research needs to be performed for definitive results. Before consuming wheatgrass juice, ask your treatment team if it is safe for you to consume.
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What is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass, also called couchgrass, is a plant that can be made into juice, tablets, extracts and tinctures. The plant has been used in folk medicine to help treat cystitis, gout, constipation and chronic skin problems, according to the American Cancer Society. It is typically used as a health supplement, but there are some individuals who believe that this substance can help boost the immune system, eliminate harmful bacteria and rid the body of toxins.
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.
According to the American Cancer Society, wheatgrass may be grown in conditions that contain bacteria or mold, so pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume this substance. Your immune system may be weakened by cancer treatment, so consult with your doctor before taking wheatgrass. Do not use wheatgrass in place of the treatment plan your doctor has developed; it should be used as a supplement if your doctor says it is safe to use.