Background: The use of wheat grass (Triticum aestivum) 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. A preliminary unpublished pilot study suggested efficacy of wheat grass juice in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC).
Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. One gastroenterology unit in a tertiary hospital and three study coordinating centers in three major cities in Israel. Twenty-three patients diagnosed clinically and sigmoidoscopically with active distal UC were randomly allocated to receive either 100 cc of wheat grass juice, or a matching placebo, daily for 1 month. Efficacy of treatment was assessed by a 4-fold disease activity index that included rectal bleeding and number of bowel movements as determined from patient diary records, a sigmoidoscopic evaluation, and global assessment by a physician.
Results: Twenty-one patients completed the study, and full information was available on 19 of them. Treatment with wheat grass juice was associated with significant reductions in the overall disease activity index (P=0.031) and in the severity of rectal bleeding (P = 0.025). No serious side effects were found. Fresh extract of wheat grass demonstrated a prominent tracing in cyclic voltammetry methodology, presumably corresponding to four groups of compounds that exhibit anti-oxidative properties.
Conclusion: Wheat grass juice appeared effective and safe as a single or adjuvant treatment of active distal UC.