The grass is greener over here…

When Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon (1460-1521) was searching the New World for the fountain of youth, he had no idea he was walking on it! Grass. Specifically the young grasses of wheat, barley, rye and oats, juiced and drunk.

Wheat grass and barley grass, in particular, have been extensively researched, the former by American health educator Ann Wigmore (among others) and the latter by Japanese researcher Yoshihide Hagiwara (1). The health promoting and rejuvenating effects of wheat grass and barley grass juices are very similar. Wigmore had a preference for wheat grass and Hagiwara for barley grass but anyone who finds crawling out of bed a major chore (or whose mirror is being increasingly rude) would benefit from trying wheat grass or barley grass, either in supplement or freshly juiced form.

I have tried wheat grass and barley grass and I love both (I just can’t choose!). My flirtation with wheat grass began in 2003. I had just undergone a difficult dental operation; my hypersensitive tooth needed lots of anaesthetic and in the days that followed I was exhausted to the tips of my toes. I had read about wheat grass juice and decided to give it a try. Now, wheat grass juice is powerfully detoxifying and I worried I might feel worse before I felt better but I was so drained I reckoned nothing could be worse than the way I was already feeling.

I chose a supplement (excellent but expensive) called Sweet Wheat and started adding it to freshly made carrot juice. I also drank it in water. I definitely took more than it said on the tin but I felt I needed it. In spite of having read that wheat grass juice tastes sweetly foul, I really liked the flavour. And I really liked its effects. Within three days my energy levels had returned. But a few other things started happening too. I had a bony lump at the top of my spine, which, up to that point, had only been fixed by manipulation. A few days on wheat grass and carrot juice straightened it out completely. My eyesight improved. A scar I had had since I was 18 began to tingle. It may well have healed had I not run out of cash and abandoned Sweet Wheat. But now that I work in a certain health food shop and have access, once again, to high quality wheat grass, who knows? Soon there may be no evidence that 18-month-old Catherine Hilliard (are you reading this?) locked her babysitter in the loo, forcing her to smash a window to escape and landing her in hospital with a slit wrist…

I have started experimenting with barley grass too. The main differences I have found so far are taste and gentleness of detox. Wheat grass tastes sweet; barley grass tastes neutral to bitter. Both taste great in fruit juice, e.g. Ekoland’s grape and berry juice. Barley grass seems to detoxify the body more gently but that may just be my own experience. A customer told me that barley grass and spirulina had changed her life (2). At Christmas 2007 she felt very low and was so tired she could barely get out of bed. Her brother gave her Naturalife’s Green Barley juice capsules, Synergy spirulina capsules and A. Vogel’s Passiflora, a tincture excellent for calming the nerves and known as ‘a hug in a bottle’ (3). We met at the beginning of March 2008. Her eyes sparkled, she exuded energy and she credited barley grass, spirulina and Passiflora with turning her life around in two short months.

Wheat grass and barley grass contain oodles of minerals, vitamins and amino acids (the building blocks of protein), as well as oxygen and chlorophyll (4). They are also powerfully alkalising, especially barley grass. The modern diet is too acid forming, leading the body to become a breeding ground for disease and encouraging early ageing. Barley grass and wheat grass help redress the balance. When a body’s tissues are correctly alkaline its owner is more resistant to illness and superior health and rejuvenation become distinct possibilities!

I would encourage anyone interested in the properties and benefits of grass juices to do Internet searches for wheat grass, barley grass, Ann Wigmore, Yoshihide Hagiwara and ‘Sproutman’ Steve Meyerowitz. Sproutman has written an excellent book called Wheatgrass: Nature’s Finest Medicine, which is available from The Hopsack.

Barley grass and wheat grass are available in supplement form (powder and capsules) from the shop. Fresh grasses in trays or bags are also available to order. To juice grass at home you need a special juicer, such as the Green Star (pricey but worth it) or a hand-held wheatgrass juicer (much cheaper and also worth it) (5). Both are on sale at The Hopsack and staff will be happy to advise you.

I would encourage anybody who is not on medication to try wheat grass and barley grass in whatever form appeals. If you do, I’d love to hear your stories. Please feel free to post replies to our blogs. We’d be delighted to hear from you (we’re not desperate for company or anything, but…!).

N.B. If you are on medication, it is imperative that you consult with your doctor before taking wheat grass or barley grass in any form. If you are on blood thinners, such as Warfarin, aspirin or any other blood thinning medication, do not take wheat grass or barley grass in any form. They are rich in Vitamin K and are contraindicated.

(1) Check out the following web sites:,
(2) More about spirulina next week!
(3) All products mentioned in this blog are available from The Hopsack.
(4) Pop into the shop for leaflets detailing the nutritional content of wheat grass and barley grass.
(5) Check out The Hopsack’s featured articled on juicing for more information on the hows and whys of juicing.

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