2007: Breast cancer chemotherapy. Wheatgrass protects blood status

Wheat grass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients: a pilot study.

Bar-Sela G, Tsalic M, Fried G, Goldberg H. Nutr Cancer. 2007;58(1):43-48.

Chemotherapy has greatly improved our ability to treat cancer, but the treatment comes with a physical cost. One of the most troubling and dangerous side effects of chemotherapy is hematological toxicity. Chemotherapy is designed to kill human cells. Ideally it would kill just cancer cells, but the chemotherapeutic drugs are not always that selective and may destroy healthy, important cells. One of the most commonly affected cells are those of the blood. When chemotherapy destroys red and white blood cells and platelets, it causes anemia, immune system deficits, and blood clotting disorders, respectively.

Clinical Study:
Cancer researchers in Israel studied the effect that wheatgrass juice has on patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. They followed 60 patients receiving cytotoxic (cell-killing) chemotherapy; approximately half the patients received wheatgrass juice and the other half simply received routine care. Significantly fewer patients in the wheatgrass juice group had serious events of blood toxicity than the standard care group. The wheatgrass juice group had fewer instances of neutropenic fever, leucopenia with infection, and prolonged neutropenia (low white blood cells). Hemoglobin levels were negatively affected by chemotherapy in both groups, but to a much lower degree in the wheatgrass juice group. Patients taking wheatgrass needed fewer drugs to support blood cell number and function. The one reported side effect of wheatgrass juice was that a majority of patients had difficulty consuming the juice because of its strong odor and taste. This led to increased nausea.

Wheatgrass juice, when taken along with chemotherapy, helped maintain healthier levels of blood cells and reduced the need for additional supportive medications. The use of wheatgrass juice may be limited because of the strong flavor of the substance in its raw state.