The benefits of wheatgrass can be difficult to ascertain from a neutral perspective. Internet vendors of wheatgrass juice are quick to cough up a list of 40 wheatgrass benefits, some of which are harder to swallow than that notoriously odd-tasting drink. While there are some arguments over the best way to harvest wheat for drinking, and many more arguments about what the real benefits of wheatgrass are, clearly, the plant offers a boost to health and good reason for further study.
Wheatgrass evangelists tout the energizing properties of the plant, claiming that just two ounces of fresh wheatgrass juice has the energizing power of two cups of coffee, though it contains no caffeine. They also claim this drink has the nutritional equivalency to three pounds of organic vegetables.
No one can argue against the claim that Wheatgrass juice is nutritious. Clearly, it provides a multitude of vitamins and minerals. It has natural antioxidants, so it makes sense that wheatgrass juice is good for you. It is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur, cobalt, and zinc.
Some say wheatgrass juice can build red blood cells, primarily citing the large quantity of chlorophyll found in the plant and chlorophyll’s remarkable similarity to human hemoglobin. If it is true that wheatgrass rebuilds red blood cells, this would explain its reported energizing qualities. One might also point out that chlorophyll has been shown to reduce bad breath. While not exactly a vital life-saving property, this can be useful nonetheless.
There are also many claims that wheatgrass is a detoxifying agent, clearing the lymph system of mucous. Such claims are impossible to verify given the glaring lack of studies on the subject. Weight control is another claim that remains unverified. The logic is that wheatgrass juice is so nutritious that the body will not crave foods to fill nutritional gaps.
One area where wheatgrass juice has shown the most promise is cancer therapy. This alternative medicine is believed to have anti-mutagenic properties because of its high beta-carotene concentration. Personal stories of the curative properties of this plant abound. There are also some convincing case studies like this one. [add link: http://www.cancerlynx.com/peritonealcase.html] Here, an 89-year-old woman took wheatgrass, coenzyme Q-10 and bovine cartilage in lieu of chemotherapy after her cancer surgery. She beat the cancer, even a year after the surgery.
Of particular note is this portion of the study: “There are potential moderating factors and alternative clinical explanations for the results. It is possible that no cancer cells remained after the surgery. There have been reports of such outcomes. However, these outcomes are unusual.
Another possibility is that the cancer cells remain but are inactive at this time. The primary peritoneal cancer, or a metastic form, then could express itself at a later time. Given the mature nature of the patient’s cancer and its rapid development earlier, however, it seems improbable that a recurrence would be delayed beyond a year with no conventional treatment. Moreover, there seems no reason for the inactivity in the cancer.”
Problems with Wheatgrass
Now before you run out and buy yourself a wheatgrass juicing kit, you should understand a few things about it first. Many people report reactions such as nausea and headaches after drinking wheatgrass juice. Some have even reported hives. These reactions may be lessened by drinking the juice of wheatgrass that was grown outdoors.
Wheat grass can be grown indoors, but the plant is highly susceptible to mold. Indoor growers will go on about mold non-toxicity until they are as blue in the face as the mold on the wheat plant. It will be hard to convince many that there are no ill effects from that mold. Clearly, anyone sensitive to mold would have a problem consuming such a product.
The solution is to grow wheat outdoors. Some claim that winter wheat is best because the cold weather kills the mold. Perhaps fresh air may be enough to reduce levels of mold to a tolerable level, whether in winter or not. The problem with outdoor growing, however, is that the cycle takes 200 days, while the indoor plants grow in 7 to 10 days. However, many wheatgrass juicers will tell you that outdoor-grown wheat grass tastes much better and creates less stomach upset.
The Wheatgrass Experience
So what exactly does wheatgrass juice taste like? In the case of outdoor-grown wheatgrass, some say it tastes like ground snow pea shells. Others think of a fresh-cut lawn. Some of you are wrinkling your noses and others are taking in a deep breath, remembering that fresh fragrance. It is purely a matter of preference. Proponents of outdoor growing claim that wheatgrass juice from indoor plants tastes bitter, while outdoor plants create a sweeter juice.
Wheatgrass juice is made by taking fresh plants and grinding them in a juicer. The result is a deep green pulpy beverage. Raw food dieters seem to have a particular fondness for this juice. Those who can drink as much as three ounces are often quite proud of themselves. It is not something for the faint of heart.
With the high potency of this plant, perhaps those idyllic country images, lying back and chewing on a blade of wheat grass set the best example. Chewing on the grass seems like a good alternative for anyone who is unable to stomach the juice.