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A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Wheatgrass

Triticum aestivum

Herbs gallery - Wheatgrass

Common names

  • Common Wheat
  • Bread Wheat

Most of us are aware of the fact that when we talk about Triticum aestivum we actually mean bread wheat or the common wheat. The name of the species 'common wheat' itself indicated that this is the most widespread cereal grain that is grounded to produce flour, which is subsequently used to make bread. It is possible because this plant encloses elevated levels of gluten. Whether we use it to make bread, biscuits, cakes or pastry, the fleshy blonde kernel of this wheat which is harvested in spring is involved in all these things.

In fact, the common wheat is the most familiar as well as most extensively grown among all varieties of wheat. This species is mainly grown for its grain, which is used after grounding it as flour.

When grounded finely, the seeds of wheatgrass form the main source for flour - which is extensively used across the globe to make bread. The wheat grain is also an excellent resource of beer, alcoholic beverages, and industrial alcohol that is used to manufacture explosives and synthetic rubber. The bran obtained from milling flour also forms a vital feed for livestock, while the wheat germ is an important add-on to feed concentrate. The grain that is fed to livestock is either left whole or grounded roughly. The straw of the plant is used to make carpets, mats, baskets and also used in the form of packaging material. In addition, the wheatgrass straw is also used to prepare bedding for cattle as well as manufacture paper. Some amount of the straw is also cut for use as hay.

Wheatgrass or bread wheat is an annually growing grass having simple clumps. The grasses are pithy or hollow, erect and usually grow up to a height of 1.2 meters. They bear flat, slender leaves that grow up to a length of 20 cm to 38 cm and are about 1.3 cm in width. They have long spikes, dorsally compacted, and rather compressed. The stem of the plants is tough and is not separated from the spikelet when they mature. The spikelets bear two to five flowers and are comparatively farther away from the stem. They are somewhat overlapping, almost erect and pressed on the point of the rachis. The glumes are rolled over in the upper half of the plant; they are glabrous or without any hair and shorter in length compared to the lemmas. The lemmas may or may not have awns (hairs) on the seeds and grow to a length of 1.3 cm. The length of the palea is similar to that of the lemma and remains all through the period till the plants become mature. The caryopsis may be soft or firm and are free thrashing. They are hexaploid or have a chromosome number six-fold more than the haploid number.

People in West Asia were the first to domesticate the common wheat or wheat bread as early as during Holocene. From there, the plant spread to East Asia, Europe and North America during the ancient times.

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Wheatgrass was introduced into North America for the first time by Spanish missionaries' way back during the 16th century. Since the 1870s, North America became the largest exporter of wheat grain after the occupation of the prairies. When the production of grains stopped in Russia during the First World War, Kansas in North America nearly doubled its production of wheat grain.

Throughout the world, it has been proved that wheat has been adapted well for contemporary industrial (commercial) baking, thereby displacing several other types of wheat, rye species and even barley which were once extensively used to make bread, especially in Europe.

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Parts used

Seeds.

Uses

The immature stems of wheatgrass are employed to treat intoxication and biliousness (problems related to the liver or too much bile secretion). The ash of these stems is used to get rid of skin blemishes. The fruit of this plant is sedative and antipyretic (a medication that checks fever). The grain is antihydrotic and is employed to treat spontaneous sweating as well as night sweats. It is said that the seed of this pant encloses sex hormones and it has been employed in China to encourage fertility among women. The sprouts of wheatgrass seeds are anti-vinous, anti-bilious and constructive. These sprouts are often used to treat a number of conditions like sore throats, malaise, spasmic pain, abdominal coldness and even thirst. This plant also possesses anti-cancer attributes.

The wheatgrass straw too has multiple uses - it is often used in the form of biomass for fuel and other, used to thatch roofs, provide mulching in gardens and so on. The wheatgrass stems yield a fiber, which is used to make paper. Usually, the stems of this plant are harvested during the later part of summer when the seeds have already been harvested. After harvesting, the stems are cut down into utilizable pieces and immersed in clean water for about a day (24 hours). Subsequently, they are boiled in soda ash or lye for about two hours and after that put in a ball mill for beating them for about 1.5 hours. The paper made from the fiber present in wheatgrass stem has a greenish-tan color. The starch extracted from the plant's seeds is employed in sizing textiles, laundering and so on.

Apart from the uses mentioned above, wheatgrass is also consumed in the form of a drink and it is said to possess anti-aging properties. Wheatgrass encloses chlorophyll, lots of vitamin and plenty of antioxidants, making it a super food. In addition, wheatgrass or bread wheat is also said to be beneficial for people with thalassemia. It lessens the number of blood transfusions required by such patients.

Consuming wheatgrass shots on a regular basis is also said to be useful in controlling ulcerative colitis. Generally, wheatgrass is considered to be an excellent food that helps to augment our overall health - its augments the energy levels, purifies the blood, reinforces the immune system and also helps to detoxify the body.

Several healthcare professionals have come to the conclusion that the chlorophyll enclosed by wheatgrass is especially similar to hemoglobin found in our bloodstream. The sole fixed dissimilarity between hemoglobin and the chlorophyll present in wheatgrass is that the central element of chlorophyll comprises magnesium, while in the case of hemoglobin, it is iron.

Drinking the beverage prepared from wheatgrass helps in reinstating the natural alkalinity of our body and, at the same time, it counteracts the production of acid in the body to avoid the accumulation of toxic substances in our body, especially the arteries. In addition, wheatgrass also possesses the aptitude to facilitate recuperation from any ailment, lessen the cravings for foods, which eventually aids in sustaining the ideal body weight and also obtain elevated nutrition levels for improved health.

Similar to a number of other vegetables that enclose elevated amounts of fiber, wheatgrass too is important, because it encloses twice the fiber amount, making it a perfect food for good digestion of other foods. In addition, wheatgrass also encloses a phytonutrient - chlorophyll, which aids in transporting oxygen through the bloodstream.

Chlorophyll possesses anti-bacterial properties and it may be used inside as well as outside the body for healing it naturally. In addition, chlorophyll also facilitates the transportation of all nutriments to all the cells of our body at a rapid pace. This is the primary reason why consuming green leafy vegetables like wheatgrass which enclose chlorophyll helps to make one further strong, healthy as well as mentally more attentive.

You can get wheatgrass very easily from any supermarket in your neighbourhood. It is always better for your health to consume more natural and fresh wheatgrass. Always bear in mind that wheatgrass is an extremely potent as well as a healthy vegetable. It is advisable that you do take some time to drink at least one glass wheatgrass juice, as this will help to improve your overall health.

Owing to the very close resemblances between chlorophyll contained by plants and hemoglobin present in human bloodstream, our body possesses the aptitude to easily make hemoglobin from plant chlorophyll. In a way consumption of green leafy vegetables like wheatgrass helps to augment the red blood cell count and also supply more oxygen plus other nutriments further effectively.

Findings of several scientific studies have demonstrated that chlorophyll possesses the aptitude to make red blood cells (erythrocytes), regulate the blood pressure to normal levels by means of dilating the veins, get rid of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the body and also improve the metabolic process. In addition to other different benefits, consuming chlorophyll is an excellent way to get extra energy as well as make the blood alkaline.

As far as cleansing or detoxifying the body is concerned, wheatgrass is extremely beneficial. This vegetable possesses detoxifying properties. It has been proved that consumption of wheatgrass juice or powder is a 'complete' food - denoting that it supplies the body with nearly all types of nutriments that are necessary for generating energy as well as our very existence. Consumption of as little as 140 grams of wheatgrass supplies us with an equal amount of nutriment that is supplied by 3 kg of any other freshly obtained green vegetable.

When we consume wheatgrass, it also supplies us with several vitamins, including vitamins B, C and E, in addition to carotene - which are all necessary antioxidants that aid in scavenging as well as getting rid of the harmful free radicals from our body. Wheatgrass is familiar for its excellent aptitude to cleanse or detoxify the blood, our gastrointestinal tract, as well as all our organs.

As wheatgrass encloses great amounts of saponins, this plant has the ability to perk up our lymphatic system and, in this manner, it also eliminates all toxic substances from the cells in our body. Findings of scientific studies have revealed that wheatgrass enables our body to detoxify itself by means of augmenting the elimination of crystallized acids, fecal substances and also solidified mucous.

In case you desire to rinse your body or wish to change your diet permanently, consumption of wheatgrass will help you to achieve both.

It has been found that wheatgrass encloses elevated quantities of amino acids that are essential for protein building. The amino acids are also essential for the renewal as well as the growth of all the cells of our body. This is the reason why professional bodybuilders who desire to augment their muscle and also tone it up consume sufficient amounts of wheatgrass either fresh or its powder before as well as following their every day exercise schedule.

The juice extracted from wheatgrass encloses several different amino acids, which include alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glycine, leucine, phenylalanine, methionine, serine, tryptophan as well as valine.

It has been found that wheatgrass is effective in protecting us against as well as combating specific ailments. Juice as well as the powder of organic wheatgrass are very useful for perking up the immune system, which enables our body to combat ailments and also recuperate from various dissimilar ailments rapidly. In addition, wheatgrass is also an excellent source for beta carotene, the nutrient that encloses vitamins C, E, H, and K as well as B vitamins. Wheatgrass also encloses over 90 different minerals plus more than 19 dissimilar amino acids. It also contains a number of different types of enzymes. All these enzymes are helpful in breaking down fats, supporting weight loss and promoting a variety of biological functions.

Wheatgrass provides us with numerous health benefits and this is owing to the fact that wheatgrass comprises live foods. Since it possesses anti-bacterial properties, consuming wheatgrass helps to detoxify the blood as well as the lymph cells, in addition to getting rid of toxic and poisonous substances from our body effectively as well as efficiently.

Chlorophyll present in wheatgrass or bread wheat is effective against substances that cause cancer (carcinogenic substances). In fact, compared to other foods, it is more useful in combating cancer. Findings of scientific studies undertaken on animals have shown that consuming wheatgrass helps to lessen the absorption of carcinogens by our body. At the same time, wheatgrass makes the cells stronger, counteracts toxic substances and also helps to detoxify various organs, especially the liver.

Culinary uses

The seed of the wheatgrass or bread wheat has a number of culinary uses. It is mainly consumed after cooking. Although it is possible to cook and consume the wheatgrass seed in the form of a whole grain, generally it is pounded into a powder and used in the form of flour to make bread, biscuits, cakes, pasta and other fermented foods. The seed of this plant contains elevated levels of gluten. In addition, you may also sprout the wheatgrass seeds and subsequently incorporate them into salads or even prepare a juice, which is considered to be a healthy drink.

Habitat and cultivation

Wheatgrass or the bread wheat plant can be grown without much difficulty. This plant has a preference for a fertile, properly drained soil and a sunlit position. Currently, wheat is cultivated extensively in nearly all regions across the globe, but little less in Asia, for the plant's edible seeds. There are several named varieties of wheatgrass, which are actually a hexaploid species. Wheatgrass grows excellently when grown together with small quantities of chamomile and also maize. This species loathes growing with cherry, dogwood, pine, tulips and poppies.

It grows well in soils having suitable pH - basic or alkaline, acid or neutral soils. Wheatgrass plants have the aptitude to endure strong winds, but cannot tolerate exposure to maritime conditions.

The wheatgrass crop that is cultivated during the winter is extensively employed in the form of a short-term pasture crop. It is possible to graze winter wheat devoid of causing any apparent harm to the grain crop, conditional that the plants are not grazed harshly for a prolonged period or grazed very delayed during the spring. You should never start pasturing during the fall till the plants have established firm roots. In addition, you ought to discontinue grazing just prior to the plants beginning to grow straight - preparing themselves for jointing. Moreover, it is advisable that you delay the harvesting of the grain till the wheat has become mature enough for proper storing. Under normal situations, the moisture content of the grains should ideally be 13.5 per cent before harvesting. In fact, wheat is harvested ensuring that the grain loss during the process is the least possible. Before storing the grains, it is necessary to clean as well as treat the storage bins properly. When stored in dry bins, the grains can be stored for a maximum period of three years.

Wheatgrass is mainly propagated by its seeds. Ideally, the seed should be sown in early part of spring or during autumn directly in their permanent place (in situ). The seeds should be lightly covered. Normally it takes only a few days for the seeds to germinate.

The precise date for sowing the wheatgrass seed is subject to the place where it is being grown, the variety of wheat as well as the problem related to hessian fly. Even the rates of seeding vary with the variety of the wheat, and even the size of the seed. Before you use any fertilizer, it is important to have a soil test done so that you may use the appropriate fertilizer. There are three main fertilizer types that are used in wheat cultivation - potash, phosphorus and nitrogen. Nevertheless, the fact is that moisture in the soil and the atmosphere and not the nutrients for the plant are the restricting factor in wheat production in nearly all seasons when cultivation is done in arid land. When nitrogen fertilizer is applied to the soil, the yield of the crop depends on several factors, including soil, moisture, the kind of seedbed as well as crop stand. It is advisable that you supply nitrogen fertilizer together with nitrogen solution, anhydrous ammonia or in a dry state like urea, ammonium nitrate or blended with other fertilizers.

Ideally, phosphate should be supplied along with superphosphates or in the form of a blended fertilizer. Similarly, it is best to supply potassium with muriate of potash or in a blended fertilizer. You may broadcast potash and nitrogen fertilizer and work them into the seedbed prior to sowing the seeds or during the time of seeding by employing an arrangement of fertilizer-grain drill or you may apply them in the form of a top-dressing in winter immediately before the spring growth. Generally, superphosphates are put in the row along with the wheat seeds.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of wheatgrass has shown that it encloses as many as 90 minerals, counting calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. In addition, it also encloses 19 dissimilar amino acids.

Besides the above mentioned nutrients, wheatgrass or bread wheat also encloses significant amounts of vitamin C. It also encloses several enzymes, including amylase, cytochrome oxidase, lipase, protease and transhydrogenase.

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