Wheatgrass Juice for Ulcerative Colitis

In the editorial that accompanied the landmark study showing an extract of the spice turmeric could be used to fight ulcerative colitis, the authors congratulated the researchers on performing the largest study ever on complementary or alternative medicine approaches to treat inflammatory bowel disease. But that’s not saying much.

Two of the only other high quality trials tested aloe vera gel and wheat grass juice. No significant improvements in clinical remission rates or endoscopy findings on aloe vera were observed, but the wheat grass findings were impressive.

“The use of wheat grass…juice for treatment of various gastrointestinal and other conditions had been suggested by its proponents for more than 30 years, but was never clinically assessed in a controlled trial”…until now.

Wrote the researchers: “The use of wheat grass juice in the treatment of [ulcerative colitis] UC was brought to our attention by several patients with UC who attributed improvement to regular use of the extract.” So, in a pilot study, the researchers gave 100 cc of wheatgrass juice, which is between a third and a half cup, daily to ten patients for two weeks. “Eight patients described clinical improvement, one had no change, and one got worse.”

Why had I never heard of this study? Because it was never published. They thought they were really onto something, so they wanted to do it right. Therefore, the “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was designed to examine the effects of wheat grass juice in patients with active distal UC.”

The study found that treatment with wheatgrass juice was associated with reductions in overall disease activity and the severity of rectal bleeding. Ninety percent of the wheatgrass patients improved, and none got worse. The researchers concluded that wheatgrass juice appeared effective and safe as a single or added treatment of active lower ulcerative colitis.

No answer is available at present as to the site of wheatgrass juice action. Does the active substance get absorbed into the body and have some kind of general anti-inflammatory effect, or does it act locally right in the colon? How would you figure that out? Well, you could juice in the opposite direction (test wheatgrass enemas).

A study like this raises so many questions. How would wheatgrass juice perform head-to-head against other treatments? Does it have any role in preventing attacks, or does it only work when you already have one? Should we be giving it to people with Crohn’s disease, too? What’s the best dose? It’s been over ten years since the publication of this study, yet nothing has been published since. How sad. Yes, no one’s going to make a million dollars selling wheat berries, but what about the wheatgrass juicer companies? I wish they’d pony up some research dollars.

Until then, though, the researchers “believe that wheat grass juice offers a genuine therapeutic advantage in the disabling disease of UC.” That is, if you can stand the taste.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations—2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016: How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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60 comments

Marie W
Marie W16 days ago

Thanks

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Danuta W
Danuta Watolaabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Parisabout a month ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Carole R
Carole R1 months ago

Interesting idea. Worth a try if you need it I would think.

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Marija M
Marija M1 months ago

tks

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Cindy S
Cindy Smith1 months ago

cool

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Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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