OK – so we had a team meeting here at 877MyJuicer.com and noticed a lack of a well researched, cited article describing the History of Wheatgrass, What Wheatgrass Is, The Benefits and Uses of Wheatgrass, the Scientific Analyiss of Wheatgrass, Side Effects of Wheatgrass and Growing Your Own Wheatgrass. If you have 10 minutes, really read this article. Not only is it very interesting, but it answers all of the questions we have received since 2004 when we launched the business!
So – what do you do when you see a problem? You solve it. 877MyJuicer sought out a professional research writer to gather all of the latest and reputable information on wheatgrass, consolidate it and put it in an easy to read article! Here you go! The full description.
Wheatgrass: One of Nature’s Finest Creations
Wheatgrass is an edible grass, grown from wheat seeds that has, for many centuries, been a nutritionally dense supplement used by humans and animals alike. Many different civilizations have been known to use wheatgrass – both the blades themselves, as well as the roots – for medicinal purposes. Many health food “junkies” also swear by wheatgrass juice as the ultimate feel-good, cure all for pretty much anything. But what is wheatgrass exactly, where did it come from, and is there any supporting evidence behind all the health claims surrounding this mysterious grass?
Throughout history, this humble common wheat plant has been purported to cure any number of ailments, as well as serving the purpose as a high quality nutritional supplement. The plant is easy to grow oneself, and is alsoreadily available in a number of forms, most often as a juice – either served in “shots”, or in a mixture of fruit and vegetable juice – it can also be found in powder and pill form. Gaining popularity in the United States during one of the first natural health movements, wheatgrass has a storied history and has continued to be propped up as one of the world’s best superfoods.
A Brief History of Wheatgrass
There are implications from far back in history, with reports as far back as the Egyptian Empire, to the use of wheatgrass for the enhancement of wellbeing and vitality, and this was some 5,000 years ago. Wheatgrass – in terms of its use for basic nutritional supplementation, as well as a cure for many different health anomalies, has been seen in many other contexts as well, with references to this special grass found in the Old Testament of the Bible. However, the first modern “discovery” of wheatgrass occurred in the early 1900s. According to Creighton School of Medicine, Edmund Bordeaux Szekely discovered a religious text that purported wheatgrass to be “the perfect food for man” (Parker, S. Creighton School of Medicine. wheatgrass: History, 2007).
Empirical, scientific study of wheatgrass really began in the 1930s, when food chemist, Charles Schnabel (Olguin, K. The History of wheatgrass. 2009.) started to look at the chemical composition and nutritional benefit of this grass that, throughout history, has been seen as the world’s first superfood. In groundbreaking studies done on common hens, Schnabel’s
research seemed to back what many had been saying for centuries – that wheatgrass has many beneficial properties, far in excess of pretty much any other vegetable.
Schnabel was trying to rejuvenate ailing hens, and the hens regained their health and then some (Seymour, K. Illinois State University. Wheatgrass. 2011.). These hens, due to the reduced level of their health and well being, were also incredibly poor egg producers. What Schnabel found was that when feeding fresh wheatgrass to the hens, along with their traditional feed, was that not only did the health of the hens improve significantly, but their egg production went from a paltry 38%, to an amazing 94% (Olguin, K, et al.). These levels were higher than that of his healthy and unaffected hens (Seymour, K. et al.).
With this discovery, Schnabel started a campaign to increase the popularity of this very special grain.
But What Is Wheatgrass Exactly?
Wheatgrass is grown from either hard red winter wheat or spring wheat seeds. When the plant is grown, in “grass form”, it is considered to be a “green” on the same lines as spinach, kale, and cabbage. As there is growing concern about wheat allergies, gluten allergies in particular, many wonder about the safety of wheatgrass for those with gluten allergies. The good news is, wheatgrass, when consumed in juice, powder, or any other form, is gluten free. When wheatgrass is grown, the gluten breaks down through the soaking and sprouting process, thus leaving it gluten free when it gets to the stage of its growth process that humans would consume it. The broken down components actually make the nutrients in the wheatgrass easier for the body to digest.
Another great thing about wheatgrass is that it is considered to be a live food. Living foods have far more nutrients and health benefits than any sort of processed foods, and even fruits and vegetables found at the store. The process of growing wheatgrass is the process of sprouting the seeds and consuming the live young shoots.
Uses and Purported Benefits
There are many claims that surround the consumption of wheatgrass – particularly in juice form. According to the Hippocrates Health Institute, wheatgrass can boost your metabolism, lower blood pressure, and even has blood purification properties. Many who consume wheatgrass juice claim that doing so gives them feelings of vitality, energy, mental clarity, and happiness. With many claims of such a wide range, the consumption of wheatgrass juice has become a phenomena amongst the natural health and whole foods communities, and is used as a daily maintenance aid, or to cure a particular ailment.
It is most often consumed orally in the form of juice. Bunches of the wheatgrass are processed by a wheatgrass juicer and two to four ounces is the general “dosage” for the average individual (Hippocrates Health Institute, 2009). Remember that you need a specific wheatgrass juicer to actually extract juice. Not any juicer can work! The Manual Healthy Juicer ($44.95) or the Electric Healthy Juicer ($179.99) (both available at 877MyJuicer.com) are perfect for this. While it can also be consumed in powder or pill form, as with most vegetables, consuming wheatgrass juice in its fresh state is the most beneficial way to get the nutrients available in the plant.
It is used for the above stated reasons, as well as for improved vascular and respiratory functioning (Dufault, M. 2006. wheatgrass). Many claim that is has detoxifying properties, and can even improve mental clarity (Dufault, M. et al). It is also said to aid in the healing process of wounds, infections, and more (Parker, S. et al). All this sounds well and good, and there are many first hand accounts as to the supposed benefits of this humble juice, but is there any science to back up these claims?
Scientific Analysis of Wheatgrass
Based on analysis, wheatgrass is shown to be incredibly high in nutrients. According to Illinois State University professor, Kent Seymour, wheatgrass is one of the best ways to get living chlorophyll in the plant kingdom. As the chemical structure of chlorophyll is incredibly similar to that of the human hemoglobin (blood) cell, it is shown to aid in the purification of the blood and spurn the production of red blood cells (Olguin, K. et al).
Foods that have a high alkaline value are helpful in maintaining the proper pH balance of the body. A proper balance is a good indicator of overall health and wellness. Wheatgrass has been shown to be the best alkaline food from the plant kingdom – better than broccoli and spinach, which were thought to be leaders in that category (Olguin, K. et al). The alkalinity of wheatgrass helps to restore the balance to the blood.
Analysis has found that wheatgrass contains the full spectrum of B-complex vitamins, which are vital to many bodily processes including brain functioning and proper cell development. Wheatgrass is also very high in amino acids, which are known to help aid in the repair and renewal of cells (Parker, S. et al).
The American Cancer Association shows that the consumption of wheatgrass has been found to be very useful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, or the inflammation of the large intestine. The study they cite used a test and control group of individuals suffering from ulcerative colitis, the test group was given 3 ounces of freshly “squeezed” wheatgrass juice a day, the control group was given nothing. Those who consumed wheatgrass were found to have fewer bloody stools, and less pain when compared to the control group.
WebMD states that while the evidence supporting the many health claims about wheatgrass is limited, it has widespread use for a huge array of different conditions. While the evidence is still needed to really be sure, to be able to make heads or tails of these claims, what we do know is that wheatgrass is incredibly high in nutrients, as well as antioxidants, which are vital to a healthy immune system and bodily repair.
Potential Side Effects of Wheatgrass Consumption
For the most part, wheatgrass is considered to be a very safe plant to consume. There has not been a good deal of empirical research done on wheatgrass, but according to WebMD, when consumed in “medicinal levels” (that range of 2 to 4 ounces a day) is said to be “likely safe”. There is relatively little research about any long-term effects of sustained wheatgrass consumption, but there is also no evidence that should warn anyone off from consuming it as a preventative or supplemental aid.
Those who have reported side effects, according to WebMD, tend to complain of minor gastrointestinal difficulties such as constipation. Reports of appetite loss and nausea have also been reported, but these appear to be in a minority of users and is minor in nature.
This information about the potential for stomach discomfort should be caveated with the fact that many of the cases of stomach discomfort are a result of “bad grass”. This would be wheatgrass that wasn’t grown properly, was allowed to mold, or otherwise improperly handled and cared for. This is a great case for growing your own – and it is simple as can be too.
Growing Your Own Wheatgrass
Growing your own wheatgrass is an incredibly easy thing to do. Using a simply wheatgrass sprouter does the trick. Not only is there therapeutic value in growing living things, but you have complete control over the process. This means that you can arm yourself with the information you need to grow your wheatgrass in the optimal conditions and ensure that it is as sweet and delectable as it can be. Wheatgrass can be easily grown in the home – even those with the smallest of free spaces.
For a bit of advice on proper soaking, planting, watering, and when to harvest the grass for optimal sweetness and nutritional benefit, look no further than the internet. There are many great sites out there that will give you all the information you need, as well as sources for hard red winter or spring wheat seeds.
Properly grown wheatgrass will always be sweet – never bitter. It will have a pleasant “grassy”, but very sweet flavor. To get the most benefit from it, swish it around in your mouth a bit before swallowing, as allowing it to mix with the enzymes in your mouth make it easier to digest, and makes the juice all around more effective. Wheatgrass juice is tasty and shouldn’t need anything to cover up the flavor as most do not find it in any way offensive. If anything, a glass of water afterwards for some added hydration is all you need.
Throughout history, wheatgrass has been consumed as both a nutritional supplement and an aid to healing and treating all number of conditions. Many different peoples have relied upon, and swear by wheatgrass. While empirical scientific evidence to back up the claims made by wheatgrass users is lacking, the number of reports of increased vitality, as well as a whole host of other beneficial effects should give us pause, and the evidence tells us that it doesn’t hurt to consume it. Science has shown wheatgrass to be a safe substance to consume, high in essential vitamins and nutrients. And the first hand accounts tell us that it has the potential to do a good deal for our health and wellbeing.
American Cancer Society. 2008. wheatgrass. Accessed from
Dufault, Melanie. 20 September 2006. wheatgrass: 1 Shot of wheatgrass Juice = 1 Kilogram of Vegetables? Accessed from <http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/WheatGrass.htm>.
Hippocrates Health Institute. 2010. Benefits of wheatgrass. Accessed from <http://www.hippocratesinst.org/benefits-of-wheatgrass>.
Olguin, Andrea. 28 August 2008. The New Way to Grow Wheatgrass: Using Bio Technology to Grow Wheatgrass with the Highest Nutrients. Version 41. Knol. Accessed from <http://knol.google.com/k/andrea-olguin/the-new-way-to-grow-wheatgrass/1sitjsg5s3ol5/2>.
Parker, Sarah. 2009. History of Wheatgrass. Accessed from <http://altmed.creighton.edu/wheatgrass/history.htm>.
Seymour, Kent. 2011. The Nutraceutical Garden : The Grains & Legumes Component
. Accessed from <horticulturecenter.illinoisstate.edu/gardens/documents/grain.pdf>.
WebMD. 2011. wheatgrass. Accessed from <http://www.webmd.com/vitamins- supplements/ingredientmono-1073-WHEATGRASS.aspx? activeIngredientId=1073&activeIngredientName=WHEATGRASS>.
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