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Wheat germ: Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

By NS Desk | Herbs | Posted on :   23-Dec-2020

Wheat germ (Triticum aestivum) is an essential part of the wheat kernel (it is actually the embryo of the wheat kernel) and is obtained as a byproduct of wheat flour milling. Due to its high nutritional value, wheat germ's potential to be used commercially for healthcare purposes is gaining significant attention. It can be added to cereals, cornbread, and smoothies and, it is also a popular topping on fruit pies, yogurt, and ice cream. It can be used as a healthier alternative to breadcrumbs in cutlets, meatloaves, and meatballs. It is readily available in liquid or gel cap form and can be used as a food additive or nutritional supplement.
 
How did ‘Wheat germ’ originate?
 
Wheat 'germ' is the shortened version of the word 'germinate,' i.e., the embryonic center of the wheat grain that comprises the enzymes and nutrients that initiate the wheat plant's growth. The origin of wheat dates back to ancient times and has been in use commercially ever since. However, the history of wheat germ is quite new to mankind.
 
Initially, it was used as animal fodder, which proved to be quite beneficial to them; its oil was used to set fire during shifting cultivation as it burned for a long time due to the presence of the high amount of calories in the oil. Thus, it was a major byproduct of the wheat milling industry before it became commercially used itself.
 
As scientists discovered more and more about how plants reproduced and how we could use even the germinating embryo of a plant, the use of wheat germ came into being. Studies and multiple research pieces were conducted to find conclusive results as to the health benefits of the same.
 
Historical uses of Wheat germ
Wheat has been among the oldest cultivated crops in the World. It enjoys the distinction of being one of the most cherished and relished grains in the universe. Its cultivation dates back almost 10,000 years. The earliest traces of wheat have been found in modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. Research has yielded that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has had a history of using wheat germ oil to treat night sweats and build healthier immune systems.
 
Ayurveda has used Wheat germ oil in many concoctions and herb juices to supplement better health and enhancing cellular regeneration; thus, healing wounds and scars effectively. 
 
Benefits of using Wheat germ in Ayurvedic and medical treatment
Wheat germ, in its natural form or its oil extract, has many Ayurvedic and scientifically recognized factors that make it an excellent part of medicines and concoctions used in scientific and ayurvedic treatment. It is rich in Vitamin B and E, which helps cells replenishing skin cells and prevents aging. They are known to balance the three doshas by facilitating digestion, blood pressure, and excretion through sweat, stool, and urine. 
 
It is beneficial for people with heart problems and a previous history of strokes due to plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Wheat germ oil is rich in Phytosterols, which remove bad cholesterol from the body and contributes to good cardiovascular health. Moreover, wheat germ is a good source of Omega3 fatty acids that has benefits on its own.
 
Wheat germ is also a good source of minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and manganese.
 
Treating diseases using Wheat germ
1. Cancer- colon and rectum:
Modern scientists concur that wheat germ may be useful in dealing with colon or rectum cancer due to its anti-proliferative property. It inhibits the multiplication of mutated cells and prevents the spread of the same throughout the body via the blood. It strengthens the immune system of the body naturally. Research suggests that a combination of Chemo or radiotherapy with regular use of wheat germ extract can increase colon/rectal cancer patients' survival rate.
 
2. Skin Cancer:
Modern scientists concur that wheat germ can benefit patients with melanoma (a type of skin cancer) due to its anti-proliferative property when used as a supportive element to the other medical therapies.
 
3. Arthritis:

                       Ayurvedic View:

 

                    Modern scientific view:

 

Ayurveda attributes arthritis to an imbalance in Vata dosha. This leads to pain, dryness, and inflammation in the joints. Wheat germ helps in dealing with arthritis due to its Vata-balancing and Snigdha (oily) properties. It reduces swelling and pain in the joints to a large extent.

 

Wheat germ has anti-inflammatory property that makes it helpful in dealing with arthritis and its related pain and inflammation. It inhibits the inflammatory mediators and thereby curbs the chances of swelling in the joints. 

 

 

 
4. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):

                       Ayurvedic View:

 

                 Modern Scientific View:

 

Ayurveda attributes SLE to Raktadhik Vatarakta. This condition occurs due to an imbalance in Vata dosha, leading to contamination of blood tissues and weakened immunity. It results in joint pain and inflammation as major symptoms. Wheat germ has Vata-balancing and Balya (strength) properties, which help in reducing the major symptoms and provide strength to the bone and joints, thereby providing relief.

 

SLE is an autoimmune disease. Wheat germ can be useful in strengthening the immune system by improving the immune response sequence. It is thus, used as a preventive agent in people who might be at risk of SLE.

 

 
5. Sunburn:

                           Ayurvedic view:

 

                     Modern Scientific view:

 

Ayurveda attributes burns and inflammation to an imbalance in Pitta dosha. Sunburns usually represent redness, blisters, inflammation, irritation, and burning sensation in the affected area. This is due to Pitta imbalance at the skin level. Wheat germ helps in dealing with sunburns due to its Pitta balancing and Sita (cold) properties. This results in reduced symptoms and a cooling effect on the affected area.

 

Wheat germ contains polyphenols that absorb solar radiation and protect the skin from any harm caused by UV rays in sunlight. It is also rich in Vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that help nourish and retain moisture in the skin. It also helps by facilitating skin cell regeneration, thereby healing the affected area a lot quicker.

 

 

 
6. Metabolic disorders:
Metabolic disorders like obesity can be treated with wheat germ. It is rich in vitamin B and consists of several other minerals like niacin, thiamine, and foliates. These are vital for cellular metabolism helping in the transformation and absorption of nutrients of the food.
 
By enhancing metabolism, most of the body's problems are repaired with aplomb as cellular regeneration is facilitated by the secretion of enzymes in the body efficiently. This results in more energy, quick muscle repair, and helps during rehab of injury. 
 
7. High blood pressure:
A regular intake of Wheat germ can be beneficial for people with elevated blood pressure levels. This is because Wheat germ, likes other antioxidant foods, has a depressive effect on the Central Nervous Amounts if taken in trace amounts (a doctor's assent is recommended). This lowers blood pressure and enhances cardiovascular functioning by preventing plaque build-up in the blood vessels.
 
Forms of Wheat germ in Ayurveda with the recommended dosage
 
1. Wheat Germ powder- 5-10 grams 
 
2. Wheat germ oil- 
For therapy: 24 gram limit
For normal use: 10 grams.
 
3. Wheat germ capsule- 1 capsule a day as it is rich in Vitamin E, and too much Vitamin E content in the body could cause side effects.
 
Tips: It is extremely important to note that Wheat germ can become rancid if not stored properly in a freezer or away from sunlight.
 
Types of Ayurvedic care with Wheat germ
 
1. Using Wheat germ in Breakfast:
5-10 grams of Wheat germ is taken and sprinkled over cereal during breakfast. This helps in adding extra nutrients to the first meal of the day. The food's fiber content is enhanced, which helps people with arthritis by curbing the symptoms for the rest of the day.
 
2. Wheat Germ in meals:
Whole wheat pieces of bread, wheat germ oil during the preparation of a meal can be added daily to strengthen the immune system day by day.
 
3. Wheat germ supplements and shakes:
5-10gm of Wheat germ is taken and added to protein shakes and glutamine supplements. This results in an increased Vitamin E content, which is acts as an antioxidant facilitating the secretion of certain enzymes that keep the digestive processes going.
 
Side effects of Wheat germ
The gluten content in Wheat germ is quite high and can be fatal if consumed by gluten intolerant people. People who are on a low carb diet should be mindful while consuming wheat germ as one cup contains nearly 60 grams of carbohydrates. It is also rich in triglycerides, a type of fat which could result in plaque build-up in the vessels. People with heart disease should monitor wheat germ intake.
 
It can cause diarrhea, nausea, gas due to its potent laxative properties when taken in significant amounts. Wheat germ also has a depressive effect on the CNS (Central Nervous System), leading to dizziness when taken in irregular intervals. Excess consumption of Wheat germ can lead to fat accumulation as it is high in calories and total fat per 100 grams.
 
Also, an increased amount of wheat germ consumption can result in liver damage and an imbalance in the metabolism. Increased consumption of fibers present in the oil can lead to excessive water retention by the body and lead to colon damage caused by the stool's dryness.
 
Precautionary guide while using Wheat germ
 
1. Gluten allergy:
Wheat germ contains gluten in significant amounts. It might cause allergies in people who have celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance. So it is recommended that such people consume wheat germ in trace amounts or avoid it completely.
 
2. Breastfeeding:
Modern scientists have not found conclusive evidence to suggest the effects of wheat germ intake during breastfeeding. So, it is recommended that its use be monitored under the supervision of a doctor or avoid it completely.
 
3. Pregnancy:
Modern scientists have not found conclusive evidence to suggest the effects of wheat germ intake during pregnancy. So, it is recommended that its use be monitored under the supervision of a doctor or avoid it completely.
 
FAQs about Wheat germ
 
1. Why is wheat germ good for you?
 
                        Ayurvedic view:
                   Modern Scientific View:
 
Wheat germ is good for your health as it is rich in Vata balancing properties and provides power and endurance due to its Balya (strength) property. It is also helpful in improving sexual health due to its Vaishya (aphrodisiac) nature. Also, due to its Snigdha (oily) nature, it reduces dryness in the body.
Wheat germ is beneficial for the body's natural strength and endurance. It improves heart health by expelling bad cholesterol and plaque build-up in the blood vessels. It also helps in managing blood pressure levels and is anti-inflammatory. It is a powerful antioxidant, purifies the blood, and provides strength to the immune system.
 
2. Can Wheat germ help in getting pregnant?
 Yes, wheat germ and its extracts (oil) can help in increasing the chances of pregnancy. It is rich in minerals like zinc, Vitamin E, vitamin B2, and B6, selenium, etc., which increase the production of reproductory cells in the body (ova and sperm). It keeps the endocrine system in balance and helps maintain a regular menstrual cycle in females, and increases sperm motility and sperm count in males. It also prevents the chances of miscarriages. 
 
3. Does wheat germ lower cholesterol?
Wheat germ is rich in phytosterols, which decrease the breakdown of lipids in the body, preventing cholesterol absorption in the body. Therefore, wheat germ can be used to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
 
4. Is wheat germ helpful in diabetes?
Wheat germ is rich in antioxidants and can help in preventing pancreatic damage caused by free radicals. It facilitates the secretion of insulin and can be helpful for diabetic people or prevent it for a prolonged time in people at risk of it.
 
5. Can wheat germ help in obesity?
Wheat germ helps obesity as it has high fiber content that gives the feeling of fullness and thus, prevents you from eating more. It reduces appetite and inhibits the accumulation of fat in the body due to its antioxidant nature. It is a good source of thiamine (the deficiency of which can cause obesity).
 
6. Does wheat germ cause constipation?

                       Ayurvedic view:

 

                    Modern Scientific View:

 

Wheat germ is rich in Rechana (laxative) and Snigdha (oily) properties, helping to clear bowels efficiently. The primary cause of constipation is dryness in the large intestine. So, the regular use of Wheat germ oil reduces the intestine walls' dryness and makes the stool softer and, thus, easier to pass. So taking wheat germ might not cause constipation.

 

No conclusive evidence is present to suggest its effect on constipation. However, it might be useful due to its high fiber content.

 

 
7. Is wheat germ good for oily skin?
Wheat germ is good for oily skin as it reduces irritation, burning sensation, and acne due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
 
8. Does Wheat germ oil contain ceramides?
Wheat germ oil contains ceramides that can easily penetrate into the skin and help in the skin's nourishment and moisturization. It protects the skin from aging and irritants.
 
9. Is Wheat germ oil good for hair?

                          Ayurvedic View:

 

                 Modern Scientific View:

 

Wheat germ oil is beneficial for hair due to its Snigdha (oily) property. It helps by preventing scalp dryness, hair fall, and itching. It provides good nourishment to hair roots as it is rich in keratin.

 

Wheat germ oil is rich in vitamin E, which gets easily absorbed by the scalp and moisturizes it. It prevents dryness of the scalp and strengthens the hair.

 

 
10. Can Wheat germ oil cause allergies?
Wheat germ oil is rich in gluten and can prove to be fatal to gluten intolerant people. It is recommended that people with such allergies consume wheat germ oil in trace amounts or avoid it completely.
 
13. Is wheat germ oil good for skin?

Ayurvedic view:

 

Modern Scientific View:

 

Yes, Wheat germ oil is good for the skin as it is rich in Snigdha (oily) factors. This helps in maintaining the softness of the skin and the regeneration of skin cells. Its regular use enhances skin complexion due to Varnya (skin complexion improving factor) properties.

 

Yes, wheat germ oil is good for the skin as it maintains the skin and keeps it moisturized. It is rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant in nature. It prevents skin cell damage by keeping UV rays from harming the upper cell layers. It also prevents melanin production, a pigment responsible for skin color, thereby enhancing skin complexion.

 

 

 
14. Does wheat germ oil used to result in blackheads?
There is an absence of conclusive scientific proof to suggest wheat germ oil's role in causing breakouts and blackheads. However, some studies show that wheat germ oil can prevent such breakouts and blackheads due to its anti-inflammatory property.

NS Desk

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