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Can Wheatgrass Juice Really Make You Healthy?

Wheatgrass is becoming much more popular in health trendy circles. Wheatgrass bars are popping up in cities and are instantly popular.

wheatgrass for health

But, is it really worth the hype?

What is Wheatgrass Good For?

Wheatgrass is being used as a detox drink and healthy all-around supplement. Trendy wheatgrass and smoothie bars are adding this little grass bud to help people become healthier. It’s being added to supposed health food-like products to catch the eye of the health conscious.

Many people, especially new age health coaches are attributing all sorts of healthy and miraculous properties to this little sprout. Cancer, diabetes, weight loss, headaches, and digestive complications are all being ‘cured’ with wheatgrass.

It’s promoted as a very healthy detox drink, one that can pull out all sorts of toxins and junk from the body.

Wheatgrass History

Back in the 1930s, agricultural chemist Dr. Charles F. Schnabel promoted wheatgrass powder as a cure-all for just about everything. He promoted, he did studies, but those studies were never published or archived.

Then, in the 1940s, housewife Ann Wigmore began promoting wheatgrass as a cure for cancer, believing herself cured by it. Her claim is that since animals eat the grass, it must to be good for humans. There were no studies or facts to back up this belief.

Since then, the Hippocrates Health Institute has promoted wheatgrass as a cure-all. While they claim multitudes of studies proving the benefits, they do not have links to these studies, nor provide citations. Additional research to locate the studies referenced failed to return a single study. In fact, there are no current studies available that show wheatgrass has any benefit to people, despite over 200 studies performed on it.

Wheatgrass Benefits

According to most medical associations, wheatgrass does not have any more nutrition or benefits beyond the standard vegetable. And as far as a nutritional profile, we agree.

Some people have linked curing cancer, digestive problems, and allergies with drinking wheatgrass. Unfortunately, the many studies that have been done on wheatgrass fail to reproduce these claims and in many cases, the studies were called off due to other side effects.

Most studies performed looking for the detoxification properties failed to show a decrease in toxic materials released from cells that could be detected in blood, urine, or sweat. However, a not yet confirmed study, conducted at the Technion Rambam Medical Center, did find that taking 2 oz of wheatgrass juice each day may  reduce the blood toxicity among chemotherapy patients without interfering with the treatment.

So, while many websites will claim all sorts of benefits, there is no clinically supported evidence wheatgrass helps any medical condition.

Wheatgrass Nutrition

What vitamins are in wheatgrass? Not many compared to other superfoods. It is low on most of the vital nutrients. The reason for this is that wheatgrass is the sprout of a commercial grain crop. It has been selected for fast growth and abundant seed production. Your lawn is grown for lush and rich leaf growth. The plant puts the nutrition where we want it: in the seed for wheatgrass and in the leaf for lawn grass.

wheatgrass nutrition infographic

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Plus, when the wheatgrass is harvested it is at the lowest nutritional point of growth. It is just after all the nutrients are used up for initial growth and root development, but before the chlorophyll and root uptake systems are fully functional.

The nutrient wheatgrass has going for it is chlorophyll. This component of the plant is helpful to people by stimulating the detoxification pathways in our body. However, most people are made sick by the level of chlorophyll required to stimulate the detox. The recommended amount and the safe amount do not match.

But, again, wheatgrass isn’t the greatest. You get the same amount of chlorophyll from a fresh salad as from a single serving of wheatgrass.

You will find varying information on other websites, including the ridiculous statement that 2 oz of wheatgrass juice is the equivalent of 5 pounds of vegetables.

The problem is, there a huge difference in nutrition in the way the plants are grown. The commercially grown crop is the lowest nutrition you can get, and most of the wheatgrass consumed is this commercial crop. In order to be in top nutritional for, the wheatgrass needs to be organic *, harvested within 1 hour of use, and be slightly older than what is considered tasty.

Possible Wheatgrass Side Effects

wheatgrass side effects

Can you take too much wheatgrass? Yes, most definitely. Many people experience diarrhea and nausea from too much wheat grass. People who use wheatgrass for extended periods of time begin developing the same symptoms of people who eat white bread.

Initially, nausea and headaches are common. These are not detox side effects, despite the popular opinion of the internet and certificate health coaches. Medical doctors, nutritionists, and naturopathic doctors all confirm people are having serious physical reactions to the wheatgrass.

Digestive complaints are also very common. Nausea, diarrhea, gas, ulcers, and other digestive problems occur frequently. The chlorophyll is the cause of this. We are not able to handle concentrated doses of chlorophyll. We are physically unable to do it. We lack the proper enzymes to digest it and obtain a top benefit.

Can wheatgrass make you sick? Yes, you can become sick.

People who are sensitive to gluten and/or wheat products should not consume wheatgrass because it does contain gluten. People can have reactions ranging from swelling to breathing issues to full anaphylaxis.

How Much Wheatgrass Should I Drink?

If you are going to use wheatgrass, we recommend you stick to 4oz or less of whole wheatgrass per day. Unfortunately, that means all those drinks from the trendy places are off limits. They can be 8, 12, even a horrific 16oz of wheatgrass.

Powdered wheatgrass * can contain 4 to 6 oz of wheatgrass concentrate per teaspoon. Using the standard scoop, this means that you are getting too much wheatgrass.

See our answers above. This much wheatgrass can harm your body.

What Does Wheatgrass Taste Like?

what does wheatgrass juice taste like

If you go out and chomp on a mix of old hay and lawnmower cut grass, that’s what wheatgrass tastes like. It is a bitter green with slightly acidic undertones.

It’s grown to be bitter and unappetizing. As people bred the good grain content into the wheat, they also bred into it the ability to survive bugs and grazers to survive until it produced grain. That meant making it taste bad.

It’s the reason many wheatgrass bars add tremendous amounts of super sweet fruits to the drinks. They are trying to cover up the bitter taste of the wheatgrass. Of course, adding all these sugars negates the health benefits of the wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass Detox

While many websites promote wheatgrass does a wonderful detox ritual, clinical evidence shows it does not help the body detox any more than standard vegetables.

Chlorophyll is an active detox agent and wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, when grown correctly (most is not). However, the juice of wheatgrass causes digestive problems when we consume the amount required for a detox.

Is Wheatgrass Organic?

Most wheatgrass is actually GMO. You would need to make sure you are obtaining non-GMO, organic wheatgrass. Otherwise, assume you are getting the bad stuff.

Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?

And, wheatgrass is not gluten free. While 99% of the gluten resides in the seeds when ripe, before seed production, the plant is high in gluten protein. It’s the reasons why celiac allergy people are told to stay away from wheatgrass.

The Big Problem with Wheatgrass

Proponents of wheatgrass ignore the biggest problem with wheatgrass: the way it’s grown.

Wheat is a very slow growing crop and requires 12 hours of sunlight to grow properly. Growing correctly, the sprout is highly bitter and tough.

In order to soften the sprout and reduce the bitterness, GMO wheat is used and the sprouts are grown in the dark.

What Does This Do to the Nutrition?

Growing in the dark, the chlorophyll does not develop. The highly touted health benefits are lost. Rather than a dark, near-brown green of natural wheat sprouts, the GMO dark-growing sprouts are a lighter, pale green.

Plus, since the plants cannot produce even a little of its own energy, the other nutrients, especially the vitamins A, B, C and E, are degraded and hydrolyzed.

Yes, this is what you are getting in most of the bars, supplements, powders, and commercial wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass & Weight Loss

wheatgrass juice benefits weight loss

Wheatgrass alone will not make you lose weight. As part of a diet that is rich in vegetables and healthy meats, you don’t even need wheatgrass.

While it is used in many weight loss programs, studies have not shown any effects of wheatgrass on weight loss.

Wheatgrass & Cancer

Detoxification is something that is important to those receiving cancer treatments. However, there are components to the wheatgrass that are not compatible with chemotherapy drugs and could reduce their effectiveness.

We do not recommend using wheatgrass without the direct supervision of your cancer doctor.

Despite the stories of people curing themselves with wheatgrass, there is not a single clinically document case where wheatgrass even reduced the symptoms.

Wheatgrass & Energy

wheatgrass for energy

Some people say they feel much more energy and health after taking wheatgrass. This may be true, but it is not attributed to the wheatgrass. We believe it is attached to a healthier way of eating and the sugars that come with the high use of fruits.

Wheatgrass & Your Skin

One of the side effects of consuming too much wheatgrass is that your skin may take on a green tone. When you have too much chlorophyll, your body will deposit it in fat cells, including the fat cells just under your skin.

While using wheatgrass masks externally is a great way to tone your skin, there is not much to back up drinking wheatgrass is good for your skin internally. What does help is an increased amount of water consumed and the detoxification properties.

When you help your body detox, it passes toxins through your elimination organs. Your skin is your largest elimination organ. When you start to detox, you may find skin problems worsening, then getting better.

Wheatgrass & Your Eyes

wheatgrass juice benefits for eyes

There are no links to wheatgrass directly helping your eyes. As a green and containing chlorophyll, the blood pressure reduction could help reduce eye pressure and other eye problems.

Wheatgrass & Your Brain

There is no evidence to show wheatgrass can help your mind or concentration levels.

The opposite is nearly true. Too much chlorophyll can cause brain fog.

Wheatgrass & Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

wheatgrass juice during pregnancy infographic

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It is not recommended pregnant women or breastfeeding women consume wheatgrass.

Where Can I Buy Wheatgrass?

There are many ways to get wheatgrass. One of the biggest issues with wheatgrass is that you obtain organic, non-GMO seeds. In many places that do not name where they get their seeds or what type of seeds they are, you may be sold GMO seeds. While the debate over GMO is still going on in some places, we feel it is better to get non-GMO and organic seeds * just to be on the safe side.

Several websites will sell you starter kits *, containing seeds, jar, growth media, and filters.

Other companies will sell you bulk seeds.

Many supplement companies are getting in on the trend and will sell you pills * and powders to reduce the bitter tastes.

And of course, if you live in a major city, you’ll find health bars that sell wheatgrass drinks.

We do recommend you try one of these drinks. In small quantities, it is not harmful. You may enjoy the combination. Just don’t rely on it to replace real food or to become a standard in your daily fare.

Growing Your Own Wheatgrass

The best way to ensure your wheatgrass is the best is to grow it yourself. You actually don’t need a kit or expensive equipment.

The hardest thing is to obtain non-GMO and organic seeds. You just won’t find them in the store or at a farm outlet. You will need to order them online, from a certified source.

Buy Organic Non-GMO Wheatgrass Seeds from Amazon Store

Other than that, just a large mason jar, a cheese cloth, water (preferable clean, spring water), and abundant sunlight (6+ hours per day).

mason jars for juice storing
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cheese cloth
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Put 1/8 cup of seeds in the mason jar. Fill jar with water. Cover with cheesecloth. Let sit overnight.

The next day, drain and sit in direct sunlight.

Wash seeds with fresh water every day and keep in direct sunlight.

Once sprouts stop fast, obvious growth, use as desired.

What’s Better than Wheatgrass?

Nearly all other sprouts are tastier and healthier than wheatgrass. We actually recommend using legumes (beans and peas) or the cruciferous vegetable seeds (cabbage, broccoli, cress).

Smaller seeds produce sprouts faster. The legume sprouts are sturdier and have a higher carbohydrate concentration. With the higher carbs, the sprouts are sweeter.

Mung beans are typical of Chinese cooking. Lentil sprouts are often used in Middle Eastern cooking. Broccoli sprouts are often used in Northern European cooking. And in the Americas, all sorts of sprouts are eaten in the spring. There is a huge variety.

For top nutrition, go with fenugreek and alfalfa sprouts. They have the most nutrients and phytonutrients.

If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below for any questions. Thank You!

About the Author: Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Traditional Naturopath, and Herbalist. She has a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition and an advanced degree in Traditional Naturopathy. Further certifications in herbalism and metabolic typing. She owns and operates Crystal Holistic Health Consulting based in PA, the USA since 2010.

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Leave a Comment:

  • Lemon says:

    As you means, drink standard vegetable juice is similar to wheatgrass juice?

    • Christina Major says:

      Hey Lemon!

      We’re not quite sure what you’re asking for here.

      Many of the vegetable juices that we recommend are more nutritious than wheat grass.

      The main benefit of the wheatgrass is the chlorophyll content compared to juices of other colors.

      We recommend rotating out the various juices so that you get the maximum amount of nutrition possible.

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