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Benefits of Wheatgrass

Chlorophyll and Haemoglobin

The effects of wheatgrass are attributed to its high chlorophyll content – over 70 percent of the plant’s solid content is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a plant’s version of haemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen in humans. Chlorophyll and haemoglobin are similar in structure, the main difference being that in harmoglobin the central element is iron (which gives our blood the red color) while in chlorophyll it is magenesium. Chlorophyll converts sunlight into energy, which is stored in the plant – a reason why wheatgrass juice is sometimes nicknamed ‘liquid sunshine’.

A Powerful Antiseptic

Chlorophyll is a powerful antiseptic and detoxifying agent, explaining why wheatgrass has been used successfully for a variety o finternal and external infections (e.g. sinusitis), as well as to hasten skin grafting and wound healing as a gargle for sore throats and to prevent tooth decay, and in bowel cleansing programs. Research also indecates chlorphyll has anti-mutagenic properties, and therefore may be able to inhibit or reduce cancer formation.

Vitamin-rich Superfood

Wheatgrass contains vitamins (A, C, E and various Bs), amino acids, antioxidant enzymes that aid in fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, minerals (calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, manganese, potassium and selenium), plus it’s a good source of MSM, a sulphur containing molecule that reduces inflammation and allergy-type reactions and detoxifies the body. Enthusiasts who take it regularly often comment on the energy ‘hit’ they get from wheatgrass; this is most likely a combination of teh concentrated nutrition present and its detoxification properties.

Research Briefs

– Thalassemia Major. This hereditary disease affects the harmoglobin in red blood cells. Patients are usually dependent on repeated blood transfusions and are at risk of anemia, spleen enlargement and bone marrow problmes. An Indian pilot study (2004) found that taking 100 ml of wheatgrass juice daily dramatically reduced the transfusion requirements of patients with thalassemia major – by over 25 percent in half the patients in the study, and by over 40 percent in thress cases. The average interval between transfusions also incrased by 29.5 percent.

– Foetal Haemoglobin. A wheatgrass extract has been used in a preliminary trial at the Murdoch Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The extract was tested on cells to see if it could cause a significant increase in fortal haemoglobin. (This harmoglobin develops in the foetus and has an extremely high affinity for oxygen. After birth it is not so essential and the levels fall in adults to only around two percent of our total haemoglobin.) The trial found that using the wheatgrass extract over a 5-day period suggested a 3 to 5 fold incrase in the production of fortal haemoglobin. This could explain why some thalassemia patients in the Indian study experienced benefits from the juice although it also indicates these benefits are not due to the chlorophyll content, as the extract contains almost no chlorophyll.

– Ulcerative Colitis. A 2002 double-blind Israeli study showed that regular use of wheatgrass juicecan be useful in the treatment of active ulcerative colitis. Patients took either 100 cc of wheatgrass juice or a placebo daily for a month. Treatment with the wheatgrass juice was associated with significant reductions in the overall disease activity and in the severity of rectal bleeding.

User’s Guide

Wheatgrass is widely available at juice bars, health food shops and cafes. You can also buy wheatgrass sprouter kits from healthfood stores and juice your own sprouts at home.

When drinking wheatgrass juice, mix it well with your saliva before swallowing – this improves digestion as well as supporting oral hygiene.