The many benefits of wheat germ oil include soothing the skin, preventing signs of aging, stimulate cognition, eliminate acne, protect heart health, strengthen the hair, increase energy, manage diabetes and help with weight loss goals, among others. There are some concerns when using wheat germ oil, such as the risk of gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, skin irritation, and certain complications with pre-existing medical conditions. That being said, the majority of people who use wheat germ oil do not experience any negative side effects, but before adding a potent oil to your health regimen, it is best to speak with a doctor.
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What is Wheat Germ Oil?
Wheat germ oil is derived from the germ of the wheat berry, which is the nutrient-dense core that feeds the plant as it grows. This also means that the majority of usable chemicals and compounds are found in this germ. Since oil makes up roughly 10-14% of the wheat germ, which is an agricultural byproduct, so extract processes like pressing and solvent extraction are used. The more refined wheat germ oil is, the fewer usable nutrients it contains for human health. Some of the uses of wheat germ oil are in culinary applications, but generally, this specialty oil is used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. The many benefits of this oil come from the rich supply of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids it contains, as well as vitamins A, E, B and D and other volatile compounds and antioxidants. However, it is important to note than wheat germ oil has approximately 8 times more omega-6 (linoleic acid) fatty acids than omega-3 (gamma-linolenic) fatty acids, which is far from the ideal 1:1 ratio of these fats.
Benefits & Uses of Wheat Germ Oil
People often use wheat germ oil when they are suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, hair loss, dandruff, dry skin, wrinkles, premature aging, dementia, memory loss, acne, fatigue, psoriasis and various other health conditions.
As mentioned, this oil is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acid, also known as linoleic acid, which is known to be nourishing for the hair. When massaged into the scalp (in a diluted form) or mixed into shampoos and conditioners (10:1 ratio is a proper dilution), this oil can help the appearance and strength of your hair, and even prevent premature hair loss and dandruff.
Eliminates Skin Inflammation
Applying wheat germ oil to inflamed or irritated skin has been a popular practice for generations. Due to the high levels of tocopherols (such as vitamin E) in this oil, it is able to nourish the skin and stimulate blood flow to speed healing, which can also eliminate inflammation and swelling in the affected areas. This makes the oil an effective remedy for psoriasis, eczema and various other common skin conditions.
Improves Heart Health
The omega-3 found in wheat germ oil is known to lower cholesterol levels and help promote good circulation. This can not only cause a decrease in blood pressure, but also lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. Increased circulation also ensures proper growth and healing in various parts of the body. However, it is important to remember that this oil also includes a high level of omega-6 fatty acids, and can contribute to higher cholesterol when consumed in large quantities.
The antioxidant effects of wheat germ oil are well known, not only for the skin, but also for the rest of the body. Applying wheat germ oil to the skin can help reduce oxidative stress, minimize the appearance of wrinkles and scars, and increase collagen formation between new cells. Internally, this oil can also seek out and neutralize free radicals, effectively lowering your risk of developing chronic disease.
Using this oil also comes with a metabolic boost, which promotes more passive fat-burning, which is important for people trying to lose weight. Omega-3 fatty acids are also a rich source of energy for the body that isn’t deposited as fat, so it can help cut down your belly and increase your calorie-burning efficiency, when used in moderation.
Boosts Cognitive Health
The combination of vitamin E, vitamin A and other antioxidants in wheat germ oil have proven it to be quite a brain booster. By neutralizing free radical activity in neural pathways and preventing the deposition of beta-amyloid plaque, these antioxidants can boost memory and attention, while also lowering your risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
One of the other key nutrients found in wheat germ oil is magnesium, an essential mineral for our diet, and also a significant force behind blood sugar regulation in the body. Keeping insulin and glucose levels under control is important for diabetic patients and those at risk of developing diabetes.
Increases Energy Levels
If you often feel fatigued or weak, you may need a more natural energy boost than coffee. The omega-3 fatty acids found in wheat germ oil can rapidly translate into usable energy for the body’s muscles. Furthermore, the increased circulation caused by wheat germ oil can help increase energy levels as well!
Side Effects of Wheat Germ Oil
There are some side effects of wheat germ oil of which users should be aware, such as dangerously low blood pressure and blood sugar levels, skin irritation, cholesterol elevation and stomach discomfort. Although many of the nutrients and compounds in wheat germ oil can have positive health effects, it is important to remember that this oil is still high in certain fats that should only be consumed in moderation.
The preferred ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the body is 1:1, whereas that ratio in wheat germ oil is roughly 1:8. While limited internal use of wheat germ oil can be beneficial for many bodily processes, as explained above, you should use this oil in moderation if you are already struggling with elevated cholesterol levels.
In responsible quantities, wheat germ oil can help to lower blood pressure, but for people already taking blood pressure-lowering medication, this can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Speak to a doctor before adding this oil to your regular diet.
In topical applications, wheat germ oil has occasionally been known to cause skin inflammation, irritation and redness, particularly in people with sensitive skin. Using a small amount on a patch of skin before applying the oil to a larger area is always a good choice.
The ability of wheat germ oil to monitor and regulate blood sugar levels is excellent news for certain diabetic patients and those at high risk of diabetes. That being said, if someone is already on medication for hyperglycemia, this can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels in the body.