Wheatgrass for thalassemia

Wheatgrass for Thalassemia: How to use it and why

Over the last three months, I have embarked on a journey to see if drinking wheatgrass juice could treat my illness, thalassemia. I learned that Charlotte Gerson has a green juice recipe that is more beneficial. You’ll find her recipe below.

According to a study done in India in 2004, wheatgrass consumption was shown to reduce the need for transfusions in thalassemia major patients by 25% or more per year.

Unfortunately, three months worth of wheatgrass juice did not at all reduce the number of transfusions that I was required to receive. I will discuss my thoughts on why I believe this was the case in the paragraphs below.

Wheatgrass For Thalassemia

In her book “The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program” grass expert Dr. Anne Wigmore states “wheatgrass (and its juice) has several definite missions to perform in the bodies of modern men: blood alkalization, cleansing, and generation and oxygenation of red blood cells.”

Many people mistakenly believe that wheatgrass is a pharmaceutical drug, but it is not.

Wheatgrass is a food that is made from the young sprouts of a wheat plant.

The Nutrition of Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is considered a “superfood” because of it’s high mineral, vitamin, and chlorophyll content.

Wheatgrass has an extremely high concentration of chlorophyll.

According to Wigmore, “One of chlorophyll’s more important functions is oxygenation of the bloodstream. Without sufficient oxygen in our blood we develop symptoms of low energy, sluggish digestion and metabolism.”

All plants that are green in appearance contain chlorophyll. Therefore, wheatgrass is not the only source of concentrated chlorophyll.

Other greens with high chlorophyll content include alfalfa, buckwheat greens, kamut grass, parsley, spinach, swiss chard, chlorella, and blue-green algae.

As you can see in the diagram below, the only difference between a heme (blood) molecule and a chlorophyll (plant) molecule is its nucleus (center).

The center of the heme molecule contains Fe (iron) and the center of a chlorophyll molecule contains Mg (magnesium).

Chlorophyll Molecule

Heme molecule compared to chlorophyll molecule.

But why is oxygenation of the blood so important? The simple answer is: disease (cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.), bacteria, mold, and viruses cannot live in a well oxygenated body.

According to Dr. Wigmore, “Healthier blood can lead only to a healthier, more vital body, better able to withstand stress without injury.”

On the other hand, there are scientists who believe that consuming wheatgrass juice is not the best way to oxygenate one’s bloodstream.

In her book, “Defeating Arthritis, Bone and Joint Diseases” Charlotte Gerson states “wheatgrass juice contains many valuable nutrients, but it is difficult to digest, tends to irritate the stomach and can only be taken in 1-ounce portions.”

Instead, she recommends that patients drink four 8-ounce glasses of Gerson Green Juice, which is highly digestible, contains similar nutrients, and can be enjoyed without any unpleasant side effects.

Gerson green juice is to be used in lieu of wheatgrass juice due to higher bioavailability of nutrients and decreased stomach upset. Dark Green Lettuce (1/4 to 1/2 of Head); Medium Green Pepper; 2-3 Red Cabbage Leaves; Young Inner Leaves of Swiss Chard; Medium Granny Smith Apple. Rinse all ingredients thoroughly before juicing. Drink promptly after juicing to maintain enzymes.

One reason why I believe wheatgrass had zero effect on me is because I am a vegetarian who eats a diet that is already high in oxidizing leafy greens.

I also exercise frequently and vigorously — which is yet another means of oxygenating one’s blood.

Furthermore, I meditate daily — deep inhalations during meditative practice further oxygenates blood.

It’s important to keep these things in mind, because we shouldn’t think of wheatgrass as a miraculous substance that is going to cure us. Sure wheatgrass is high in vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll, but those elements can be obtained from a variety of other sources.

So, how can you go about creating juice from wheatgrass or the various vegetable types found in the Gerson Green Juice recipe?

1) There are Wheatgrass-only juicers that are manually cranked in order to squeeze the juice out of grass blades. These manually cranked juicers are the least expensive ones on the market, but they can only juice blades of grass. The slow motion grinding of this juicer allows the juice to maintain a high concentration of nutrients while also reducing cell destroying exposure to oxygen in the air. They’re also extremely tiring to use!

2) There are juicers that cannot juice grass, but can juice all other vegetables and fruits. They are called centrifugal juicers. These juicers are typically the cheapest type of juicer you can buy. Centrifugal juicers also spin very fast and allow a lot of air into the juice which makes it break down and die (oxygenate) faster than the other juicer types.


3) Masticating Juicers are moderately priced and have the ability to juice everything from grasses, to fruits, to vegetables. This is the type of juicer that I have. The apparatus that grinds the food spins slowly and reduces the amount of air that mixes with the fresh juice. Because of this, more juice gets squeezed from each cell and it also lasts longer.

4)The mack daddy of all juicers that can juice the heck out of anything that’s placed inside of it is the Norwalk Hydraulic Press Juicer. This juicer costs about $3,000 and is what is used when people refer to store bought “cold pressed juice.” It helps the juice maintain the greatest density of nutrients and reduces the amount of cell destroying oxygen.


Powdered Wheatgrass

Of course, you don’t have to buy a juicer to get the benefits of wheatgrass. There are also dry versions that are equally beneficial.

Here are the three brands of wheatgrass powder that I have tried. All of them taste basically the same, but each brand varies in nutritional value. Always buy organic non-GMO powder/pills to make sure you’re getting the best quality for your health.

Anything else could have pesticides, herbicides, and growth stimulants that could negatively affect your health. The word “raw” indicates that the food hasn’t been heated at a high temperature, thus destroying its nutrients.

This product is organic, raw, non-GMO and higher in minerals and vitamins than the other brands. There’s also more iron in this product, so be careful. Also, since wheatgrass is actually young blades of wheat it’s hard to believe that this powder is completely free of gluten. Contains 33mg of chlorophyll.

Garden of Life Perfect Food claims that one serving equals 15 shots of wheatgrass, but this brand actually has less vitamins and minerals than the product above. Fortunately, it is organic, raw, non-GMO, and doesn’t claim to be gluten free. Oddly enough, the package does not display how much chlorophyll it contains, but at 1mg of iron per serving, it comes in 2mg lower than other brands. That might be information enough to make this brand a winner.

Amazing Grass Organic Wheat Grass Powder comes close to the first product in terms of nutrient density. However, this powder contains the most chlorophyll of the bunch with 42mg. This brand claims to be gluten-free, GMO-free, organic, and raw. At 3mg per serving it is also on the higher side of iron content.


Wheatgrass Side Effects

Even though wheatgrass is a food, there are certain ways to consume it. Just remember that wheatgrass juice can be extremely upsetting to the stomach. This is why one should never drink it in quantities larger than one ounce at a time, especially if you have never had it before.

I definitely wouldn’t give wheatgrass juice to a young child who might have trouble digesting the juice. Kids may not be interested in drinking the juice anyway, because it tastes the way freshly mowed lawn smells. It’s not so bad if you cut it with pineapple juice though. It’s actually pretty good this way.

Never try to make a smoothie using raw wheatgrass blades or try to eat them in a salad. You will absolutely get sick from doing so. Have you ever seen your dog go out in the backyard and eat grass in order to make himself throwup? That’s exactly the effect that raw grass will have on your digestive system.

Be sure to drink the juice on an empty stomach and wait 1/2 hour or longer before eating so the nutrients completely absorb into the stomach. Cutting the juice with fruit juice should be avoided, because you want the wheatgrass to maintain its alkaline state. Alkalinity decreases when sugar from fruit is added. Green apple juice has a lower glycemic index than most other juices, which is why Gerson Green Juice includes it in their recipe.

For those of us who receive transfusions, we should not forget that each time we receive blood, the foreign cells that we receive are most likely causing inflammation and a heightened immune response in our bodies. That’s why eating/drinking foods that are highly oxygenating and high in free-radical fighting vitamins is extremely beneficial. The complete opposite effect happens when we eat carcinogenic (cancer causing) animal products. Something to keep in mind!

To read about the research from India about wheatgrass for thalassemia, please check: pubmed.gov.

To your best health,

About the Author

Josephine Bila

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I’m Josephine Bila, LMSW, a licensed social worker for you — the health seeker who craves an energized body, strong relationships, and the willpower to overcome any obstacle.

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