Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, and Alfalfa: The Green Grasses


Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, and Alfalfa: The Green Grasses

Everyone from our mothers to the Surgeon General has told us to eat dark green vegetables every day. But most of us don't do it....Either we don't like them or we just don't go to the trouble to prepare them. Cereal grasses concentrate the health-giving properties of the dark green vegetables we need.

Today more and more people are concerned about their health. They may want to eat more vegetables, but find it hard to do. Cereal grasses are complete foods in a concentrated form. They are freeze- dried with all their nutrients and enzymes in tact. They can give us the vegetable nutrition we need -- in an instant.

Grasses are in a class of by themselves. They are the only land-bound plant on Earth that could serve as our sole nutritional support from birth to death. Further, of the 4,700 known species of this beneficial assemblage -- from the 100 foot high bamboo to the one inch shoot of Arctic tundra to the famous bluegrass of Kentucky -- not one is toxic.

Currently, three grasses are particularly popular for human health. These are barley grass, wheat grass (including kamut), and alfalfa. Both wheat and barley are harvested as shoots. This is when they contain the most nutrition. People who take the resulting products invariably assert feelings of enhanced well-being along with improved energy and stamina. In addition, these grasses have been found helpful with allergies, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, pancreas and liver problems, asthma, eczema, hemorrhoids, skin problems, fatigue, anemia, constipation, and unpleasant bodily odors. There have also been reports of effectiveness with oral infections, bleeding gums, the reduction of tissue destruction (including from radiation), burns, athlete's foot, mucous membrane problems, and cancer.

Undoubtedly, the cause of most illness is the lack of sufficient, necessary nutriment. For optimum health the cells and tissues of the entire body must be consistently and constantly inundated with live organic nourishment. All plants have the extraordinary ability to transform and vitalize inanimate substances from soil, water, and sunlight into living cells bursting with nutrient energy. Masters of this miracle, the green grasses contain all the essential nutritional elements: protein, carbohydrate, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, they are replete with chlorophyll and both soluble and insoluble fiber. (These substances not only benefit health, they are also known to support the growth of beneficial bacteria.)

Young grass shoots contain about 20-25 percent protein. There are several important facts about this protein. It is complete, containing all the amino acids known to support life. It has an amino acid profile very similar to that of the Ideal Protein for humans established by the World Health Organization. It is in a form that is easily utilized by the body.

The protein in cereal grasses occurs in a smaller molecular structure than that provided by the mature plant. Called peptides, these amino acid chains can be absorbed directly into the blood where they promote cell metabolism. They support the nervous system, work as antioxidants, and provide material for the formation of the nucleic acids, RNA and DNA. Enzymes are also proteins. This food is processed so that the enzymes are left in tact. The presence of literally hundreds of enzymes in the grasses helps in the digestion and absorption of other nutrients that we eat.

The grasses seem to contain all the known mineral elements. They are exceptionally rich in calcium, and also contain magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium as well as providing a treasure of trace elements. These minerals are essential to the formation of all other bodily material. In addition, the grasses also contain a natural and balanced range of vitamins, including vitamin B12, normally elusive in the plant world, and the popular carotenoids (beta carotene is one). Both the vitamins and minerals are easily assimilated.

Perhaps the most therapeutic ingredient of the green grasses is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is best known for its action in the process of photosynthesis, the highly complicated chemical reaction of plants which converts energy from the sun into food energy for the plant's future use. Extensive laboratory investigation has shown that tissue cell activity and it's normal regrowth are definitely increased by using chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is absorbed directly through the cell membranes in the mouth and throat, stomach, and intestines. That which is absorbed through the intestines acts primarily as an oxidant in the process of metabolism, the bodily process occurring within the cells to give us energy.

It is thought that the effectiveness of chlorophyll in our bodies is due to its molecular structure which is nearly identical to human blood. There is one very important exception. The center atom of chlorophyll is magnesium while in human blood, it is iron. Yoshihide Hagiwara, the king of barley grass, hypothesizes that it is this molecular similarity which contributes to the ability of cereal grasses to relieve anemia. Anemic animals treated with chlorophyll have returned to normal within 4-5 days.

Chlorophyll's deodorizing effect is due to its ability to eliminate the bacteria which cause the odor in the first place. These bacteria are anaerobic (without air) and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen or oxygen-producing agents such as chlorophyll. This is also the reason chlorophyll is effective on chronically infected or ulcerated wounds, and in powder form, as a dentifrice while treating gingivitis, pyorrhea, and even trench mouth.

The green grasses began to be used as a food source and for chlorophyll content during the 1930s. As great as they are for us, it is not surprising that so many people are now turning to them for nutritional support and improved health. The remarkable thing is that it didn't happen sooner.


Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., physician and pharmacist, is the hero of green barley grass. He spent more than 10 years in his search for a food that could counteract the devitalized modern diet that is even found in Japan. After completing trials with over 200 plants, he concluded that barley was the most excellent source of the broad spectrum of nutrients he was seeking for the growth, repair, and well- being of the body. It also met his taste requirements.

Dr. Hagiwara's years of experience with young barley shoots have uncovered some of the nutritional bases for the remarkable healing benefits of cereal grasses. One of these is DNA repair. Damage to DNA is caused by mutagens, carcinogens, various dyes and food additives, various petroleum products, agricultural chemicals, medical drugs, radiation, including X-ray, and physical condition, including stress, illness, low immunity, and lack of enzymes. DNA damage can cause sterility, spontaneous abortion, deformed offspring, and genetic abnormalities. It can also cause premature aging.

In the early eighties, Dr. Hagiwara and his colleague Dr. Hotta presented the results of a joint work at the Japanese Society of Pharmaceutical Science. The doctors had been able to restore a DNA gene infected by cancer to a normal state by applying the components of juice from barley shoots. Dr. Hagiwara believes that it is the active enzymes found in green barley juice that are responsible for these incredible effects.

In his book Green Barley Essence, Dr. Hagiwara writes, "We are living amidst a flood of these carcinogenic substances. We can reduce their danger to us by making a regular habit of taking [green barley juice] for our self defense....In truth, any green raw vegetable would do." Of course, any green raw vegetable would have to be eaten in larger amounts than green barley powder or tablets, and it would not be as convenient.

A teaspoon a day of green barley powder in juice or water is recommended to correct the imbalances of current eating habits. That spoonful contains the equivalent of a head of cabbage. Several million people in Japan have been taking this advice, and thousands of them have written to Dr. Hagiwara recounting their healing stories.


Wheat grass owes its fame as a curative to the work of the late Ann Wigmore. Dr. Wigmore stated that to rebuild health, "We must feed the body living, organically grown, uncooked foods." Originally, Dr. Wigmore was looking to herbs for "a simple, homemade beverage." However, after several years, she decided that the toxic factor of some herbs made them undesirable for general use. A deeply religious woman, she looked to her Bible for guidance. Turning to "The Book of Daniel," she found the verse in which King Nebuchadnezzar is instructed to go into the fields and "eat grass as do the oxen."

With this inspiration, Dr. Wigmore put her focus on cereal grasses and experimented with 100s of them before selecting wheat grass. She reported wheat grass juice as the richest nutritional liquid known, containing the greatest variety of minerals, trace minerals, and vitamins of any vegetable. She found three pounds of fresh wheat grass to be equal in nutritional value to 70 pounds of the most choice vegetables.

Following her findings, Dr. Wigmore developed her famous Wheat Grass Therapy. She used this therapy successfully with a number of people who had been labeled as "incurable" by the medical community. In the ensuing years, the Hippocrates Health Institute was established in Boston. There, her philosophy of healing was applied. At one point she stated, "I am continuously receiving testimonials from individuals all over the globe who, using the wheat grass therapy and living food, have helped to eliminate cancerous growths and other physical and mental health problems."

Dr. Wigmore was a purist who recommended wheat grass not more than one hour old. Now, however, it has been demonstrated that wheat grass that has been grown out-of-doors in soil and sunshine is superior to wheat grass grown indoors in shallow flats. Wheat grass juice concentrate which has been processed to preserve the integrity of the enzymes is available in tablets and powder, often in combination with barley grass.

Persons suffering from cancer to rheumatism claim to having been cured by Dr. Wigmore's therapy. If you are interested in knowing more about her and her work -- she was totally devoted to serving humanity -- locate a copy of her autobiography Why Suffer? or the more philosophical Be Your Own Doctor.


Alfalfa was originally discovered by Arabian Moslems. It was so important to them that they named it alfalfa, "Father of All Foods." It was carried to the United States from Asia around 1850. It is one of the richest mineral foods known, pulling up nutrients from root depths as great as 130 feet. Like its cousins, alfalfa has abundant amounts of the principal nutrients needed by the human body. The perfect balance of these nutrients encourages complete absorption. In this way, it helps to sustain well-being and to treat illness.

Although tablets are available and have been used successfully for decades, alfalfa is best known as a base for liquid chlorophyll. This amazing extract is so potent that the yield of chlorophyll is two-tenths of a percent of the original weight of the fresh cut leaves. Liquid chlorophyll has all the salutary effects of chlorophyll (mentioned earlier in the newsletter) and can be purchased in a water base or as capsules. Alfalfa is also used in combination with other green grasses.

Speaking of combinations, many companies are now producing super green food formulas. Generally, these are powders to be mixed with the organic juice of your choice. Ingredients you may find in these products include spirulina, chlorella, Klamath blue-green algae, oat grass, rye grass, bee pollen, apple pectin fiber, wheat germ extract, sea vegetables (like kelp and dulse), flax seed, ginseng, and beneficial bacterial flora or FOS. (Fructoligosaccharides feed our intestinal flora and encourage their growth).

Regular readers of Nutrition News know that I am a major advocate of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark green vegetables. Do it the easy way. Add any of these products -- straight green grasses or algae or any of the green food and super food combinations -- to your diet. There are any number of wonderful green food products available. Try one and get on the Green Foods Bandwagon toward better health today!

Nutrition News.

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