Taking a Shot of Wheatgrass Juice

Wheatgrass juice is a food prepared from the young leaves of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It belongs to the Poaceae family, along with bamboowild rice (Zizania), rice (Oryza),  corn (Zea), oats (Avena), barley (Hordeum), millet (Echinochloa) and rye (Secale).

Wheatgrass was used more than six thousand years ago by ancient early Mesopotamians. Five thousand years ago, the Priests, Pharaohs, and other powerful ancient Egyptians used wheatgrass for health. Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned from 605–562 BC, reportedly attributed the improvement of his physical and mental health to his consumption of wheatgrass. Almost two thousand years ago, during the first century AD, the Essenes used wheatgrass as a healing food.

In 1915 Dr. Richard Willstätter’s work on plant pigments, especially chlorophyll, was honored with the 1915 Nobel Prize in chemistry. During Dr. Willstätter’s studies, war had broken out across Europe, and in Lithuania, a young girl named Anna Marie Warapicki watched as her grandmother treated soldiers with herbs and natural remedies, including wheatgrass. She later emigrated to America in 1922.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, scientists including Charles Francis Schnabel, an American school teacher and agricultural chemist, were studying grasses and green leafy vegetables. They tested all types of feeds and found that animals thrived on grasses. In 1931, Schnabel discovered that wheat and barley grasses reached their nutritional peak at or just prior to the commencement of the jointing stage. His research proved to be the the most in-depth study of its time proving the nutritional value of grasses and how the nutritional values changed through different stages of the plant’s life. Schnabel started promoting his discoveries to feed mills, chemists, and the food industry. Quaker Oats and American Dairies invested millions of dollars into funding further research. Joined by others, such as biochemist George Kohler, Schnabel’s research inspired the former Anna Marie Warapicki (now known as Ann Wigmore) to explore wheatgrass therapy.

Most of the individual vitamins that we know about today, were identified during the 1930s by scientists working to identify all the nutritional factors necessary for growth and reproduction in humans and domestic animals. In the mid 1930s, at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Kohler and his colleagues were researching a water-soluble extract of grass juice. Scientist found that green, chlorophyll-rich foods provided better health for animals than any other type of supplementation. By the late 1930s, dehydrated and dried cereal grasses were available in several forms for use as food supplements. After many years of research and testing, the scientists at the University of Wisconsin determined that the highest levels of nutritional value was found in cereal grass (wheatgrass), young white clover, peas, and cabbage.

At the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Mott Cannon and his colleagues found that the addition of grass or grass juice brought about dramatic recovery and stimulated growth in animals.

In 1935, Danish researchers discovered  vitamin K, the “koagulation vitamin”. Because this nutrient was difficult to isolate in large quantities, cereal grasses were used in lieu of purified vitamin K—both for research and for medical therapy.

In 1938 folic acid was identified, and named after the green leaves, or foliage, which proved to be its richest source. In 1940, in the American Journal of Surgery, Benjamin Cruskin, M.D., recommended chlorophyll “To clear up foul-smelling odours, neutralize strep infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, cure chronic sinusitis, overcome ear inflammation and infections, reduce varicose veins and heal leg ulcers, eliminate impetigo and other scabby eruptions, heal rectal sores, successfully treat inflammation of the uterine cervix, get rid of parasitic vaginal infections, reduce typhoid fever, and cure advanced pyorrhea in many cases”.

Through the 1940s and 1950s, scientist continued to research the potential of cereal grasses and their effect on humans and animals. They discovered that cereal grass contains factors which support the growth of lactobacilli and other probiotic microbes, block the development of scurvy, and stop the formation of histamine-induced and peptic ulcers.

By 1950, scientists had identified all the nutrients now considered essential to the human diet (with the exception of selenium). Scientists observed the health and growth benefits that the known vitamins and minerals in the cereal grasses provided. Other benefits, however, could not be attributed to known nutrients.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ann Wigmore was injured in an accident and at the same time was diagnosed with colon cancer. She befriended soil scientist and trace mineral expert Dr. George H. Earp-Thomas, who believed that wheatgrass was a healing food. Wigmore began drinking fresh wheatgrass juice and eating natural raw foods, and believed that they cured her colon cancer and her gangrenous injuries. 

Wheatgrass contains vitamins, minerals, essential enzymes, and amino acids. Wheatgrass also contains phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and seem to kill bacterial infections.

Nutrients in 3.5 Grams (1 teaspoon or 7 tablets) Organic Dehydrated Wheatgrass Juice

Nutrient Amount Daily Value
cobalt 1.7 mcg 1417%
vitamin K 35 mcg 50%
vitamin A (100% as beta-carotene) 1500 IU 30%
riboflavin 260 mcg 17%
vitamin C 7 mg 10%
folate 35 mcg 8%
manganese 240 mcg 8%
selenium 3.5 mcg 6%
biotin 4 mcg 6%
iodine 8 mcg 6%
fiber 1 g 4%
iron 1 mg 4%
potassium 103 mg 4%
vitamin E 320 mcg 4%
protein 1 g 2%
phosphorus 14 mg 2%
calcium 15 mg 2%
vitamin B6 39 mcg 1.95%
niacin 252 mcg 1.26%
magnesium 3.9 mg 0.975%
choline 5 mg 0.9%
copper 17 mcg 0.85%
vitamin B12 .05 mcg 0.83%
Calories 15 0.75%
thiamine 11 mcg 0.73%
carbohydrates 2 g 0.67%
zinc 62 mcg 0.413%
pantothenic acid 36 mcg 0.36%
sodium 1 mg 0.083%
lutein 1 mg
sulfur 10.5 mg
chlorophyll 15 mg
lycopene 29 mcg
zeaxanthin 280 mcg
cholesterol 0 0%
sugar 0 g 0%

Some people grow and juice wheatgrass in their homes. It is also available in some juice bars, and in health food stores as fresh produce, tablets, frozen juice, and freeze-dried powder. Wheatgrass contains no wheat gluten.

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