If you're wondering what wheatgrass is, it's actually a chlorophyll-rich herb1 that's considered the "young grass" of the wheat plant (Triticum aestivum).2
Although wheatgrass rose to fame recently, its first use can be traced back 5,000 years ago to ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. The Egyptians prized wheatgrass for its effects on health and vitality. Fast-forward to the 1930s, and that's when you'll find that agricultural chemist Charles Schnabel's experiments with young plants paved the way for the discovery of wheatgrass' benefits.3
Nowadays, wheatgrass is known as a nutritious ingredient that's added to various juice blends. Learn more about what wheatgrass, especially the organic variety, has to offer, and see how you can grow it at home.
What Does Wheatgrass Do for Your Health?
Most people know that wheatgrass is good for juicing, and add high amounts of it to their juice recipes.4 However, wheatgrass is also used for medicinal purposes. When taken internally, raw wheatgrass may help alleviate peptic ulcers,5 ulcerative colitis (via ingestion of the plant leaf juice),6 constipation (when used as an enema),7 diarrhea and even in helping to fight cancer.8
Wheatgrass powder was also discovered to help address tooth decay and other dental problems, thanks to the chlorophyll in it,9 and to provide relief from joint pains.10 You can also use wheatgrass juice topically, since it may help:11,12
Exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells
Enhance your skin's youthful glow and elasticity
Aid in clearing up poison ivy
Heal bruises, open ulcers, sores, insect bites, rashes, cuts and scrapes
Soothe sunburn, boils and athlete's foot
Relieve dandruff and dry and scaly scalp
Repair damaged hair
Slow down the signs of aging
Other Wheatgrass Benefits You Should Not Miss Out On
If you're keen on using wheatgrass to your advantage, you're in luck, as the benefits of organic and raw wheatgrass, wheatgrass powder or supplements include:13,14
Helping eliminate heavy metals, toxins and pollutants from the body15
Promoting apoptosis or cell death of colon cancer cells16
Decreasing the effects of radiation, courtesy of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD)
Stimulating the thyroid gland
Lessening over-acidity in the blood17 and helping restore the body's pH balance
Helping raise the body's oxygen levels18
Encouraging weight loss
Helping regulate blood sugar levels19
Combating general inflammation,20 because of wheatgrass' antioxidant abilities21
Wheatgrass' nutrition content is very impressive; just 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice may offer the same nutritional value as 2.5 pounds of dark leafy greens.22 Wheatgrass juice also contains these nutrients:23,24
- B vitamins25 and vitamins A, C, E and K
- Essential minerals such as calcium, selenium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and potassium26
- Antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients27
- Substantial amounts of polypeptides and amino acids28
How to Grow Your Own Wheatgrass at Home
Seeing your labor come to fruition is a rewarding sight for any gardener, more so for those who grow wheatgrass. Patience is essential when growing wheatgrass because the plant requires immense care.29 Here's what to do:
- Organic wheatgrass seeds
- Good-quality soil
- Glass jar
- Pour wheatgrass seeds into a 1-quart glass jar.
- Add filtered room-temperature water, cover the opening with the lid and shake completely to rinse the seeds.
- Carefully drain the water, using a strainer or a lid with tiny holes. If you've removed the seeds, place them back in the jar and cover them again with fresh filtered water.
- Allow the seeds to soak in the water for eight to 12 hours at room temperature. Rinse and drain the sprouts afterward.
- If small white roots haven't appeared yet, allow the seeds to sit inside the drained but moist jar for another eight to 12 hours. During that timeframe, consistently rinse and drain the seeds until roots grow.
Once seedlings are ready, you can cultivate wheatgrass plants in containers that are at least 2.5 to 3 inches deep. Take note that a cup of wheatgrass seeds can cover the surface of a 7- to 8-inch-wide pot. Better Homes & Gardens shares a guide on properly growing wheatgrass plants:30
- Sprouted wheatgrass seeds
- Potting mix
- Spray water bottle
- Plastic wrap or shower cap
- Moisten lightweight potting mix, which is considered ideal for growing wheatgrass plants, and place it in your pot. Leave around an inch of space between the soil and top portion of the container.
- Spread sprouted wheatgrass seeds across the soil. Make sure it forms a dense layer that's one to two seeds deep.
- Gently water the soil to dampen it, but ensure that it won't be waterlogged. A good way to achieve this objective is by using a spray water bottle.
- To prevent moisture from quickly evaporating, take a plastic wrap, shower cap or other similar material and loosely cover the top of the plant.
- Place your plant in a location that's warm and reaches 70 to 75 degrees F, but not in direct sunlight.
Whether growing wheatgrass indoors or outdoors, remember that this plant does not need direct exposure to sunlight.31 Once it reaches 5 to 8 inches in height, begin harvesting by cutting about half an inch above the soil surface. Use clean and sharp scissors, and refrain from cutting close to the soil surface. This way, you lower the possibility of mold from the soil transferring to the scissor blades. Try not to waste any time, as cutting wheatgrass too late may leave you with bitter-tasting produce.32
A caveat of planting wheatgrass is its tendency to be easily contaminated with mold.33 To prevent mold development, ensure that growing areas remain clean, allow air to constantly circulate toward the plant, maintain humidity at 40 to 60 percent and prevent overcrowding by spreading the seeds in a thin layer without overlapping.34 Consuming moldy wheatgrass can greatly increase your risk for sickness.35
Healthy Wheatgrass Recipes You Can Easily Prepare
Raw wheatgrass can be juiced and served either on its own or combined with vegetables and fruits. Wheatgrass powder and supplements (in tablets or capsules36) are also available. If you're wondering how to juice wheatgrass, consider using hand-crack or electronic slow-turning juicers.37 "The Wheatgrass Book" notes that an ounce of wheatgrass juice can be extracted from a bunch of wheatgrass that's around one-half to two-thirds of an inch thick.38
Wheatgrass shots are ideal for those who aren't used to the taste and texture of wheatgrass yet. When making wheatgrass juice or wheatgrass shots, add other green vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit for extra flavor. Take a look at these recipes for delicious wheatgrass juices or shots:39
Green Machine Juice Recipe
- 2 handfuls fresh and organic parsley
- 2- to 3-inch round wheatgrass
- 2 ounces water
- Wash greens thoroughly.
- Juice them and combine with water.
- Serve in shot glasses.
Wheatgrasshopper Juice Recipe
- 3-inch wedge peeled pineapple
- 1 sprig mint
- 2- to 3-inch round wheatgrass
- Wash wheatgrass thoroughly.
- Juice the pineapple and mint in a high-speed juicer. Afterward, juice the wheatgrass.
- Combine juiced ingredients and serve.
Because the wheatgrass juice can be volatile, consume within 12 hours.40 You can also mix wheatgrass into salad dressings. Check out this dressing recipe, for example, wherein you can combine wheatgrass with flax seed oil.41
Quick-and-Easy Wheatgrass Dressing
- 1/2 teaspoon organic wheatgrass powder
- 3 tablespoons flax seed oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 minced garlic clove
- Optional: Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl or jar.
- Add to salad or serve over vegetables.
People who suffer from celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat or grass allergies will be happy to know that wheatgrass is gluten-free. However, for it to be beneficial, wheatgrass must be in its pure form.
Exposing wheatgrass to equipment used to process gluten-containing items, or allowing grasses to begin developing seeds before harvesting can cause cross-contamination, making the finished outcome possess traces of gluten and, therefore, possibly detrimental for your health.42
Common Side Effects of Wheatgrass Consumption
Although wheatgrass is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects such as nausea, constipation or even anorexia. Those who have a wheat or grass allergy, celiac disease or gluten intolerance should consult a physician prior to consuming wheatgrass, since this could cause complications when ingested in high amounts. An allergen patch test may also be taken to spot potential allergies.
Refrain from consuming wheatgrass every day for long periods of time, since it's more of a detoxifying herb rather than a food you should eat in every sitting. It's not meant to be a magic cure or solution for your health concerns.43
How to Store Wheatgrass
Once you've grown wheatgrass, use it immediately. You can store fresh wheatgrass in the refrigerator for about one44 to two weeks inside glass or plastic containers with lids, green eco-storage bags or sprout bags (natural hemp fiber sacks that may allow the wheatgrass to breathe and drain completely).45 Medical News Today advises that you must wash wheatgrass thoroughly prior to use to remove possible contaminants.46