Rheumatoid arthritis: Wheatgrass helps reduce corticosteroid dosage

Effect of a fermented wheat germ extract on rheumatoid arthritis. Preliminary data.

Bálint G., Apáthy A., Blazsó G., Hidvégi M., Paksy A., Resetár A., Shoenfeld Y., Szende B., Telekes A., Ehrenfeld M., Falkay G, Gaál M. 2006. Clin. & Exp. Rheumatol. 2006; 24:325-328.

Background: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints that causes pain, stiffness and, over time, disfigurement of the joints (especially hands). Current treatment includes corticosteroids and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Even with modern treatments, rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to treat and patients experience a significant decrease in their quality of life. Moreover, chronic steroids can have several damaging effects on the body (e.g. abnormal fat distribution, changes in hair and skin, elevated blood pressure, fluid retention, and mood disturbances).

Clinical Study: Researchers enrolled a group of 15 women with rheumatoid arthritis who had failed to achieve remission with two different DMARDs (refractory RA). The women underwent a number of tests to assess the severity of their disease including the Health Assessment Questionnaire, the Ritchie Index, and subjective tests of stiffness severity. These tests were performed at the start of the trial and again after 6 and 12 months of taking a fermented wheat germ product. All study participants continued to receive steroids and DMARD. The women who consumed the wheat germ product enjoyed a significant reduction in disease activity as assessed on the Ritchie Index at 6 and 12 months. After 6 months of taking the wheat germ product, 45% of patients could reduce the amount of corticosteroids they were taking. Health outcomes (quality of life) were significantly improved, especially at 6 months after treatment. Impressively, most women had reduced morning stiffness after 6 months; at 12 months, almost all women (92%) had either less stiffness or no stiffness at all.

Conclusion: An oral fermented wheat germ product significantly improved quality of life and reduced disease severity, including stiffness, in patients with refractory (treatment-resistant) rheumatoid arthritis.