Wheat Grass: Fact or Fiction

Natural Healing and Prevention with Dr. Joseph Russo — By on July 1, 2009 10:00 AM

By Dr. Joseph Russo

Wheat Grass is ubiquitous in the health food arena. In almost every health food store it is for sale in one form or other. Also, there are many “Juice Bars” all over the world that offer this grass, available as either a shot or a supplement to the juice blend that you order. Wheat grass has become so popular that I have even noticed it in my local chain supermarket in the produce section.

Fresh Wheat Grass

Fresh Wheat Grass

Wheat grass looks like grass and it is usually sold as a very small patch of grass that is in soil and has roots. If you have been in a healthy or organic juice bar you most likely have noticed such a small patch of grass on or near the counter for all to see. In fact, there is a juice bar in the Chicago airport that offers wheat grass shots or as an addition to juices. They call it an immune booster. But it has also been referred to as a gastrointestinal aid, or energy boost, depending on the flavor of the store that you visit.

People appear to buy this stuff as if it were well proven to influence your health. However, the available information concerning the grass is much less forthcoming. I have strayed from my usual vitamin and mineral discourse to shed some light on this peculiar grass because everywhere I go I see it for sale Inone form or another. I see store employees touting its benefits and people adding it to there diets. Are these “wheat grassers” really adding any benefits to their life or not?

First of all, Wheat Grass is just what the name suggests; it is the grass part of the sprouted seed or “berry” as it is also called. It looks like grass from ones lawn. And it is supposed to be juiced immediately after it is cut from its roots and consumed fresh. Additionally, it is not meant to be cooked because it is suggested that cooking causes the deactivation of the alleged enzymes that come from the blades of the grass.

The idea that Wheat Grass can benefit people was conjured up by a person named Ann Wigmore, who claims to possess several degrees, has written numerous books on the subject, and founded a group called the Hippocrates Health Institute in 1963. The institute suggests that the grass be consumed in small amounts, not more than one or two ounces at a time. Ideally, it should be consumed fresh and on an empty stomach. They recommend mixing the grass with another juice and to sip it slowly to prevent nausea or stomach upset. And if you are using Wheat Grass juice for healing, the regimen is one or two ounces three times per day or every other day. They don’t specify the length of treatment needed.

Along with the availability of “freshly squeezed”, Wheat Grass can be purchased in tablet form. Although there aren’t any conclusive studies that show the benefits of Wheat Grass, there are no studies or information that claim Wheat Grass is toxic either.

Ms. Widmore’s premise concerning the healing power of Wheat Grass was extrapolated from a biblical story. It was the story of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who spent seven insane years living like a wild grazing animal and eating grass from the fields. After the seven years he fully recovered from his insanity, so Ms. Widmore reasoned that the Wheat Grass he ate, during this period, directly contributed to his healing and complete recovery. (For those of you familiar with the stories of the bible, this reference comes from the book of Daniel 4:31:37)

The key to the detoxifying and healing powers of Wheat Grass, according to Widmore, is the chlorophyll found in the green part of the plant. From a botanists point of view, the chlorophyll enables the plant to change the energy of sunlight to energy that the plant can use for growth. Widmore believed that the enzymes found in Wheat Grass, along with the chlorophyll, could boost your immune system enough to prevent cancer and cure diseases.

It is unlikely that chlorophyll does what she states because it is well known that chlorophyll cannot be absorbed it the human intestine. Additionally, there have not yet been any studies done that identify enzymes in Wheat Grass that may benefit the human immune system.

One should ask if Wheat Grass has a nutritive value even if it has not been proven to boost your immune system or cure diabetes or AIDS. According to the Institute for Natural Resources, Wheat Grass contains very small amounts of protein, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Iron.

What’s the skinny on Wheat Grass?

I’ve tasted Wheat Grass before as a shot and/or mixed in with another juice. By itself it is a bitter liquid, but mixed in with another juice it’s more palatable. I wouldn’t drink it on an empty stomach and I wouldn’t rely on it to boost my immune system, protect me from cancer or cure me from an immune system disease. It does have some very limited nutritional value and probably provides some fiber, but until more legitimized studies are performed, I wouldn’t put any stock in its healing properties.

Remember, the next time that you see a crazed looking man, out in a field eating plants, he just might be trying to get his fill of Wheat Grass.

Until next time, fly low and avoid the radar.

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1 Comment

  1. Sylvia says:

    This 2009 article is totally out of date with scientific evidence on the significant benefits of chlorophyll from Oregan State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. Scientific research on human nutrition by University scientist show that the benefits of chlorophyll are quite significant and that chlorophyll binds on a molecular level with toxins and carcinogens taken into your body and prevents you from absorbing them. They state it even mitigates the effects of smoking to some extent. Go to the Linus Pauling Institute to read scientific papers from research studies from learned scientists for most things related to human nutrition.

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