Wheatgrass is just as it’s name implies, it is the grass of a wheat plant. Many people are interested in it because of it’s potential health and nutrition benefits, such as strengthening the immune system, ridding of the body of toxins, and curing constipation. It can be consumed as a juice, capsule, or tablet.
Natural health enthusiasts rave about the plant as a superfood. It is rich in nutrients and antioxidants like: Vitamins A, C, E, Calcium, Selenium, Magnesium, Amino Acids and Iron. It also contains chlorophyll, which can help deliver more oxygen to blood cells. It is such a complete source of nutrition, that one ounce of it’s juice is equivalent to two pounds of fruit and vegetables. Some proponents suggest that the array of minerals, vitamins, and proteins it contains make it an effective healer for ailments such as infections, joint pain, and even cancer. Others use it to fight the common cold, lower blood pressure, or to treat acne. One of the most publicized uses is for detox and killing harmful bacteria in the digestive system.
Despite all of the reported benefits, there is no solid body of scientific literature to back up these claims. The lack of evidence does not mean that this plant has not have any health benefits, rather, that more research needs to be done. There are some initial studies which suggest that consumption is linked to fewer chemotherapy side effects and improved symptoms of colitis.
There are several ways to obtain and consume the plant. Online retailers and several brick-and-mortar stores sell seeds and starter kits for growing it. Growing is more time consuming than simply buying wheatgrass drinks or capsules, however, in the long run it is less expensive. A few online retailers sell trays of harvested wheatgrass which stay fresh for about one week. Many users prefer juicing raw leaves to make wheatgrass shots. Juicing raw leaves preserves all of the nutrients. Small wheatgrass shots can be taken on their own or added as a supplement to smoothies. Wheatgrass drinks are often on the menu at smoothie bars and prepackaged juice is available at health food stores. Some people prefer to chew it raw, as the most pure option. Alternatively, for those who cannot stomach the bitter taste of raw versions, it can be dried into a powder and mixed into juice or taken as capsules. Supplements like powder, capsules, and tablets are often sold at health food stores and vitamin retailers.
There are some side effects associated with consuming this plant. The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea or constipation, and headaches. A few precautions and considerations should be taken before consumption. For those who are allergic to wheat, who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, the grass should only be taken under the supervision of a health care provider. For those who consume it raw, it may be contaminated with bacteria or mold from the soil. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also consult a doctor before consumption.