Wheatgrass natures blood builder

Wheat grass is a nutritious food that is best known for its cleansing, alkalising and antioxidant properties.  It is made from young nutrient dense shoots of wheat grass, which are harvested above the ground ensuring that none of the grain is present.  Since the allergenic protein gluten is only present in the wheat grain, wheat grass is gluten free. 

Wheat grass is naturally alkaline and helps to neutralise excess acidity in the body.  This may be partly to do with wheat grass being an extremely rich source of chlorophyll.  It also contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and every amino acid (except tryptophan)[1]; along with antioxidant compounds superoxide dismutase, P4D1 (a unique glycoprotein) and mucopolysaccharides[1].   

Traditional uses of wheat grass as a blood builder, antioxidant and digestive tonic, have also recently been supported by scientific studies.

 

Chlorophyll – The Green Healer

Chlorophyll is the green pigment that is made by plants via photosynthesis.  Chlorophyll is one of the most potent alkalising plant nutrients needed to maintain an alkaline body.  It’s chemical structure is identical to haemoglobin (the iron carrying protein in red blood cells) except instead of containing a single iron atom, it has a central magnesium atom[9].   

Chlorophyll has been shown to have antioxidant and antimutagenic properties[2], with one study showing that the higher the chlorophyll content the greater the antimutagenic effect[3].  This antimutagenic effect has also been shown to result in a decreased risk of colon cancer in red meat eaters when chlorophyll rich foods are consumed[4]. 

Chlorophyll makes up 70% of the solid component of wheat grass juice[9], making it an extremely rich source.

Traditional uses:

The founder of the Hippocrates Health Centres, Ann Wigmore, was a huge advocate for the benefits of wheatgrass.  She believed that a raw, living food diet including wheat grass juice could heal the body from practically every disease, including cancer.  Although labelled an extremist by the orthodox medical community, her cancer treatments still remain popular today[5].  

 A study of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use in Cancer Patients in Northern Ireland found that Ann Wigmore’s treatments were followed by up to 13% of the CAM users studied.  These treatments included the consumption of wheat grass shots and also the use of wheat grass enemas[6]. 

Claims about the potential uses of wheat grass are overwhelming, as it is stated to be useful for almost every known ailment and condition.  Obviously this is unlikely, however one would think that at least some of these rumours and beliefs must have an element of truth. In fact, traditional uses of wheatgrass are gradually being supported by scientific studies.  Although these studies are not conclusive, they are promising and deserve further research.

Scientific Studies:

Wheat grass may improve symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.Wheat grass has been shown in one trial to aid in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.  Wheat grass consumption was found to significantly reduce the disease progression as well as reduce rectal bleeding[7]. 

Wheat grass juice may decrease the side effects of Chemotherapy.

Myelotoxicity, the reduced production of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets by the bone marrow, is a serious side-effect of all chemotherapy medications.  Currently additional costly medications are used to counteract these effects, but these medications are also not without side-effects.  Wheat grass juice supplementation during chemotherapy was shown to reduce the incidence of myelotoxicity and avoid the use of additional medication without altering the effectiveness of the treatment[8]. 

Wheat grass may benefit the serious blood disease, thalassemia.

Wheat grass supplementation of 100ml for greater than one and a half years was reported in an uncontrolled study to reduce the need for transfusions in patients with β-thalasemia major[9]. 

Wheat grass has significant antioxidant activity.

Wheat grass was found to have a higher antioxidant activity as measured by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) than many natural extracts or vegetables.  Phenolic compounds including flavonoids were thought to be the main compounds responsible for the antioxidant activity[10].  Furthermore, wheatgrass supplementation of 500mg twice daily for 30 days was shown to reduce oxidative stress in healthy volunteers during a randomised double blind placebo controlled study[11].

Suggested Use:

Adults: Mix 1-2 teaspoons of Wheat Grass Powder into juice, smoothies, salad dressing or other foods; build up to twice daily. Children: ½ to 1 teaspoon daily. 

It is best to first mix a small amount of water with the wheat grass powder to form a paste, and then gradually add the rest of the water.  This will ensure that the powder doesn’t clump together. 

Wheat grass powder is best taken on an empty stomach to improve absorption.  

Potential side-effects and interactions:

Wheat grass is a natural food and is not linked to any significant adverse effects.  However, due to its detoxifying properties it is best to start at a low dosage and gradually increase the dosage to avoid any detoxification symptoms. 

Common symptoms of detoxification include headache, fatigue and flatulence.  These symptoms should cease within 24-48 hours, however many people do not suffer any detoxification symptoms at all.  Ensure you drink plenty of filtered water and eat a healthy diet to support your body’s detoxification efforts. 

Wheat grass is a rich source of vitamin K, which is an important vitamin for blood clotting.  Therefore it is important to discuss this with your doctor if you are taking blood thinning medication.

References:  


[1] Meyerowitz S (1999) Wheat grass Nature’s Finest Medicine. Sproutman Publications. [2] Ferruzzi M, Bohm V, Courtney P, et al (2002) Antioxidant and Antimutagenic Activity of Dietary Chlorophyll Derivatives Determined by Radical Scavenging and Bacterial Reverse Mutagenesis Assays. J. Food. Sci.; 67(7): 2589-2595. [3] Lai C, Butler M, Matney S (1980) Antimutagenic activities of common vegetables and their chlorophyll content. Mutat. Res.; 77(3): 245-250. [4] Vogel J, Jonker-Termont D, van Leishout E, et al (2005) Green vegetables, red meat and colon cancer: chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon. Carcinogeneis; 26(2): 387-393. [5] Wigmore A (1985) The Wheatgrass Book: How to grow and use wheatgrass to maximise your health. Avery Publishing Group. [6] Geva H, Bar-Sela G, Dashkowsky Z, et al (2005) The use of complementary and alternative medicines by cancer patients in Northern Israel. IMAJ; 7: 243-247. [7] Ben-Arye E, Goldin E, Wengrower D, et al (2002) Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Scand. J. Gastroenterol.; 37(4): 444-449. [8] Bar-Sela G, Tsalic M, Fried G, et al(2007) Wheat Grass Juice May Improve Hematological Toxicity Related to Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study. Nutr. Cancer; 58(1): 43-48. [9] Marwaha R, Bansal D, Kaur S, et al (2004) Wheat Grass Juice Reduces Transfusion Requirement in Patients with Thalassemia Major: A Pilot Study. Indian Pediatr.; 41: 716-720. [10] Kulkarni S, Tilak J, Acharya R, et al (2006) Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum L.) as a function of growth under different conditions. Phytother. Res.; 20(3): 218-227.

[11] Shyam R, Singh S, Vats P, et al (2007) Wheat Grass Supplementation Decreases Oxidative Stress in Healthy Subjects: A Comparative Study with Spirulina. J. Altern. Complem. Med.; 13(8): 789-792.

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