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August 12, 2008

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Heh. Just bumped into this post as I'm watching that episode on my DVR. Missed it on the premiere, but I intend to be watching the jaw episode tonight.

Oop! Here comes the part on grass, now!

Yeah, but have you ever had a crabgrass cocktail? Turns wheatgrass green with envy. And every lawn has a year's supply! Yum!

But----what about the equids???

People drink grass juice? Whuh?

I appreciate your scepticism. I like to question everything that is told to me. I have been drinking wheatgrass many years. I have seen people have amazing results by drinking wheatgrass with a combination of positive thinking, exercise and a raw food diet.

I myself is not ill but I have not taken any medication for as long as I can remember. We are a nation of pill poppers. I believe prevention like daily exercise and consuming wheatgrass is the better alternative.

Based on results by the Irvine Analytical Laboratories:
Wheatgrass contains twelve amino acids including the eight essential amino acids: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, and lysine.
Wheatgrass contains high amounts of vitamins A, E and B. It also contains many minerals and trace elements: Calcium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc.
Wheatgrass Benefits

undigestable foodstuffs aren't necessarily a wash nutrition-wise. Fiber is good, in fact, very very good for americans who don't get nearly enough of it.

Extolling and applying all the other labels to it should be a crime, though.

I've actually never heard anything about wheatgrass, but i would have known it was mostly BS anyhow... the human body can't digest anything that has planty cell walls. That's why all that stuff is roughage. We get some iron, and fiber out of it, but very little vitamins and sugars. (i believe!)

Hey skeptico, post more, in my opinion.

myWheatgrass: links to the studies that determined the content of such amino acids (which surprisingly share a lot of similarities to the names of anti-oxidants! no way!).

Also, be so kind as to explain why we should take your personal experience and testimony as the actual truth? Could it not be that you are experiencing a bias because you believe in holistic (aka nonsense) medicine and remedies?

People didn't have "pills" up until 50-100 years ago. Check out the death rates, sometime... you might realize that "pill poppers" live longer. And then concede that eating grass is probably a really not so good idea.

Cud!
CUDCUDCUDCUD!

@myWheatgrass: I don't understand the exact way it works, but, if we can't digest it in the first place, why does it matter what amino acids it has in it? From my understanding, you won't get the benefits from it anyway.

Also, raw food diet? Mmmm, germs, parasites, and all sorts of other stuff! Unless you're also a vegetarian. Then it just tastes horrible, and is harder to digest. I'm pretty sure the human gut is actually evolved to digest cooked food, since we've been doing so for a few thousand years.

Mywheatgrass, unfortunately the link you provided is largely just a list of assertions. One example: "Chlorophyll has a molecular structure almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule of human blood. Chlorophyll in the wheatgrass juice helps the blood carry Oxygen to all the cells."

The only reference to chlorophyll and digestion that I can find in my meagre library is the following. In response to the claim that chlorophyll is a blood purifier, nutritionist Andrew Weil says "while chlorophyll plays a vital role in the life of green plants, it has no role that I know of in human nutrition." (Eating Well for Optimum Health, p.7)

He may be wrong of course, so how about showing the studies? They must have been carried out, right? Otherwise no one would make such a specific claim.

More for MyWheatgrass

When was the last time you went to a doctor? Just curious.

While I don't question your statements regarding the ability of humans to digest cellulose (or more specifically, our inability to do so), I hadn't thought that the digestion of cellulose was what interested the Wheat Grass crowd. We can't digest the cellulose in spinach, either, but that doesn't mean that spinach doesn't contain nutrients that we can use. This isn't to say that I believe the hype about wheat grass: I haven't even read it. It just sounds like you're disputing an assertion that I'm not at all sure the wheat-grassers have made or would make.

And a little poking around on the internet suggests to me that, outside of unsupported hype, wheatgrass is nutritionally comparable to spinach and other "stems and leaves". Nothing wrong with it, but nothing to get particularly excited about.

Mike & Runolfr,

It's not so much about the claims or even the wheatgrass, rather it's the way it's presented.

High flown claims about its effects on the body, couched in scientific language, and deliberately implying that it has been tested and even "proven".

But then follow the links, chase up the "research" and the line suddenly disappears into thin air. It's a very common strategy for a certain class of products popular among the "new age-minded", and usually promoted with the line "test it for yourself".

But all an individual can test is "does it taste kinda healthy, do I feel kinda ok afterwards". They can't test whether the chlorophyll is really helping the blood carry Oxygen to all the cells, etc. But the company asks them to believe that if it feels like it is, then it must be true, and they run off and tell their friends. Anyone who is negative and judgmental enough to ask for the research, is told "well I tried it and it works".

The person promoting the "Mywheatgrass" company in the comments above, has played exactly this trick.

Chlorophyll has a molecular structure almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule of human blood. Chlorophyll in the wheatgrass juice helps the blood carry Oxygen to all the cells.

LOL! The first sentence is more-or-less true, but the second is a total non-sequitur. Chlorophyll doesn't survive the digestion process. However, it does produce several derivatives which appear to have health benefits (as far as I can tell from a quick skim of a few abstracts), none of which have anything to do with helping the blood carry oxygen.

So, they've ignored real health benefits from a well-studied mechanism in favour of imaginary health benefits from an impossible mechanism. Brilliant!

"So, they've ignored real health benefits from a well-studied mechanism in favour of imaginary health benefits from an impossible mechanism. Brilliant!"

Very funny!...So there's not so much oxygen getting into those wheatgrass addled brains afterall!

There is little scientific research on the effects of drinking fresh wheatgrass juice and most of it shows that wheatgrass is beneficial. Here are a couple of links to these studies:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/wheatgrass
http://www.zhion.com/herb/Wheat_grass.html

Note that they are well cited and deal with the actual effects of consumption of the juice, in contrast to theories on what the juice can or cannot do.

Thomas Hall wrote:

There is little scientific research on the effects of drinking fresh wheatgrass juice and most of it shows that wheatgrass is beneficial. Here are a couple of links to these studies:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/wheatgrass

This link states:

Despite all of the health claims, there is very little, if any, evidence that wheatgrass actually works to prevent disease, detoxify, or do any of the other cures attributed to it

Note: “very little, if any, evidence”

Thomas Hall wrote:

http://www.zhion.com/herb/Wheat_grass.html

The link states:

Without much or even no medical nor scientific evidence, wheat grass is promoted to benefit people at risk of cancers, menopause, colon and liver diseases.

… and goes on to reference the same ulcerative colitis study of only 21 patients – too small to mean anything. It then goes on to reference this Indian Pediatrics study that doesn’t appear to have even had a control group. (The control appears to be the same patients but in the “pre-WGJ [wheat grass] juice” period.)

So your links don’t show that wheatgrass is beneficial.

Okay so let's say that our body doesn't digest grass, so let's not eat it no matter how good it makes you feel right? What about milk or meat? We don't have the right chemical's in our bodies to digest them correctly so meat can start to rot in your intestines. The animal proteins in milk prevent calcium absorbtion, this misconception is a big reason our country has a high rate of oseoporosis. We think we are preventing it by drinking milk when are really just exacerbating the problem. Scientific tests have proved in animals and humans that wheat grass does good things for your body. Maybe not as good as we thought because it is not much better than 1oz of spinach, but we should not be discouraged from drinking. Also, anything you buy mainstream, like at Jamba juice, you risk losing the nutrients from their processing and not to mention added sugar.

Well, at least you recognise that wheatgrass is "not as good as we thought". (Or to put it another way, you realise that the promoters are lying about it.)

But otherwise, no one here is saying you shouldn't drink it if you want to. The issue is that the advertising is deceptive and that certain consumers are resistant to accepting this.

The other things you say may be true (I don't know - some links would help), but just because there are worse things to eat is no reason why consumer protection should be compromised in this case.

I always notice how people like myWheatgrass says that a combination of positive thinking, exercise and eating right, combined with some wheatgrass or whatever they are peddling, is what keeps them healthy, and that somehow proves the effectiveness of their product.

That’s like me telling you that I’ve always been very healthy, and I contribute that to eating right, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air, thinking positively so that I feel good about myself, and drinking a shot of Minttu (a 100 proof peppermint schnapps from Finland. It’s yummy!) now and again.

That’s all true. I’ve never been seriously ill, and besides luck of the draw I attribute that to healthy living. But just because my living ALSO includes some very strong liquor from time to time that doesn’t mean that Minttu has contributed to my overall health. It probably means that it hasn’t had any noticeable effect. Just like I think that a shot of wheatgrass doesn’t do anything really measurable for the people who attribute their health to it.

Sure, they can drink it, and maybe it can do the same good as eating some other greenery like broccoli, but as previously mentioned the issue here is false advertising.

I always notice how people like myWheatgrass says that a combination of positive thinking, exercise and eating right, combined with some wheatgrass or whatever they are peddling, is what keeps them healthy, and that somehow proves the effectiveness of their product.

Eat Chocolate-Covered Sugar Bombs! Adjacent to a complete breakfast!

The sad thing about people that rubbish wheatgrass is that their knowledge of the subject is limited. One needs to go back in history to when the land we live on came up from under the ocean when the soil was rich with minerals that could be used by plant life. Now if you think of wheatgrss as a carrier of those minerals and feed the grass with ocean solids as it grows then juice it it will not taste bad it will taste sweet. I can prove it. Grow 2 lots of wheatgrass one using ocean solution (sea water concentrate) and one without and you will find the one with will have a dark blue green color and when juiced a sweet taste. Goggle what I am writing it is for real. (We have lost the basics)

Original post:
"So not only does it seem unlikely that humans can get any benefit from wheatgrass, even cows don’t get an immediate benefit – it takes days fermenting. Claims of an “instant high” or that its nutrients are “assimilated into the blood in about 20 minutes”, are clearly false."

No, you clearly missed something here. The cow's lengthy digestive process is designed to break down the cellulose so that the cow can get the nutrients from the grass. A wheatgrass juicer does this job for us: it bursts the nutrients out of wheatgrass cells so that we can absorb them right away. No lengthy fermentation process needed.

I know I am reading this blog late, however I found the information helpful. I just began taking wheatgrass shots today after my workout. It was okay. Too early to tell. I came across your blog while surfing the net to find out more about wheatgrass. I appreciate the information. I found it informative and amusing.

Jared, you wrote:
"The sad thing about people that rubbish wheatgrass is that their knowledge of the subject is limited."

- I think that's an unfair representation of the article and the comments. No one is "rubbishing" it simply because it seems counter-intuitive to eat grass, rather because the claims for it have not been backed up.

What you are doing is rubbishing people for asking where the studies are. It's also unfair to accuse people of having "limited knowledge" of the subject, when the evidence we are asking for is not being provided.

The experiment you suggest wouldn't show whether wheatgrass can be digested, let alone all the other things claimed for it.

....................
Robyn,

I can't see how a juicer could do the same job which in a cow is done by single celled organisms in breaking down cell walls.

Also, as the article suggests -

"3. Special microbes and enzymes are necessary in the gut to break down the cellulose in grass. Humans do not have these enzymes, and so humans can't digest grass, whether it is juiced first or not."

Are cows renowned for their longevity, thanks to their super-healthy diet?

Shannon wrote:

We don't have the right chemical's [sic] in our bodies to digest them correctly so meat can start to rot in your intestines.
This claim has been around since at least the 1930s, despite the fact that it was obvious garbage back then, and still is. First, stomach acid and digestive enzymes more than capable of breaking down just about any meat in (generally) under eight hours. Nothing that gets past the stomach is recognizable as having been meat; it's been liquified before it enters the intestine.

Even if the resulting slurry were, in fact, indigestible, it still wouldn't have time to putrefy in the GI tract. (TMI alert!) Speaking for myself, I've had occasions where I've swallowed particularly fibrous bits of plant matter and had them come out the other end in still identifiable state (now there's stuff humans evidently haven't evolved to fully digest). From my own experience, I'd say it takes, say, an undigested lentil less than 24 hours to pass through the entirety of my digestive tract, and I don't think I'm atypical. That being the case, why should be even remotely plausible that meat--especially meat that's already been liquified by my stomach acid--will remain in my GI tract long enough to start rotting?

Thomas Hall wrote:

Note that they are well cited and deal with the actual effects of consumption of the juice, in contrast to theories on what the juice can or cannot do.
Skeptico's already demonstrated that the studies you cited didn't actually support your claims, so I won't dwell on that. Regarding the supposed contrast between the purported results of the studies and "theories on what the juice can or cannot do," bear in mind that said "theories" have been, as far as I can tell, been entirely consistent with the established body of knowledge regarding the digestive tracts of both humans and ruminants, and the nutritive properties of grasses, and that if said studies did indeed contradict these "theories" (which, as Skeptico has pointed out, they did not), that would have placed more doubt on the credibility of these studies than they would on the commenters' "theories." As the saw goes, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and the idea that humans can somehow derive any meaningful amount of nutrition from the stems (as opposed to the seeds) of grasses would be contrary to established biological science.

Grow 2 lots of wheatgrass one using ocean solution (sea water concentrate) and one without and you will find the one with will have a dark blue green color and when juiced a sweet taste.

Assuming this "seawater concentrate" is... well, concentrated seawater, the salt will kill the plants very, very quickly.

JC,
Jared seems to be referring to a product called, paradoxically, "sea water concentrate" which is desalinated. Apparently it's a "health promoting drink" full of minerals and vitamins, according to what I can find about it through google.

So what Jared seems to be suggesting is that you take a health drink (no doubt quite expensive) and instead of drinking it, you use it to water the wheat grass, and then hope that some of it stays in the grass when you juice it and drink it.

Don't ask me why you shouldn't just drink the sea water concentrate itself.

Or maybe he means something different - "Google what I am writing it is for real" is a bit vague. As usual these snooty types don't deem people like us worthy of receiving a link or two to their sources. (Or jeez, do you think maybe they hope we'll just believe them rather than checking up and finding the source is just an advertisement?)

From what he writes, I suspect there is some pseudo-science/marketing propaganda hiding behind all this.

"One needs to go back in history to when the land we live on came up from under the ocean..."

I haven't heard that one before. Maybe he lives in Hawaii.

"....when the soil was rich with minerals that could be used by plant life....think of wheatgrss as a carrier of those minerals....We have lost the basics"

Sounds like he's been told something about wheatgrass being some primordial food or something. I guess the wheatgrass people were facing a bit of competition from the "blue-green algae" sellers and needed some way to argue their grass is just as good as pond slime, so they dreamed up this weird story.

Whatever the case, it doesn't seem to make any sense at all. If sea water concentrate contains all these good minerals etc, then why not just drink it?

"....when the soil was rich with minerals that could be used by plant life....think of wheatgrss as a carrier of those minerals....We have lost the basics"

Sounds like soil depletion nuttery. If there was a shortage of nutrients/minerals/whatever, the plants wouldn't be able to grow.

Plants usually don't grow specifically to be nutritious. Plants grow to make new plants. Grasses adapt to grazing by being mostly unpalatable: It takes critters with specialized digestive tracts to eat grasses, and even they get picky about the parts they eat when they can.

Well, plants can suffer various micronutrient deficiencies which do not completely prevent growth. Of course, whether micronutrient deficiencies have a significant impact on human health is a rather different question...

Thank goodness for this site - I've been downing this stuff, which now repels me with its taste, thinking it was manna for the healthy. Imagine my relief knowing I can just enjoy a spinach salad and get the same effect and lay down the shot glass (well, the wheatgrass one, anyway).
Kristen

Kristen,

That's an intelligent response! Many people (most?) tend to shoot the messenger when they find out something like that.

I just purchased a small packet of wheat grass. Thankfully I only paid $1.40 for it. On the packet it claims that wheat grass "supports body alkalinity." Is this a meaningful claim? I was told I need to go on an alkalizing diet.

Sara:

You could read Orac Acid, base, or woo (revisited).

Thanks.

The issues of "can you digest grass" vs. "can one derive nutritional benefit from grass" are two separate concerns. You seem to be espousing the opinion that in order to gain nutritional benefit, one must also gain caloric benefit ("digest").

So, yes: people cannot "digest" grass, or vegetables, or fruit; they are mostly cellulose and water, along with some sugars, trace minerals, and nutrients. Of those things, only sugars provide energy to humans. Cows, of course, can get energy from the cellulose, though there are not many calories in a mouthful of grass, hence the need to eat a lot of it.

But cellulose is also know as "fiber", and eating it is very important for good health. Ditto the minerals and nutrients (and hell, the water as well).

Intake of vegetables is positively correlated with longevity, and negatively correlated with cancer; intake of animal protein has the inverse relationship. See Oxford University's China Project:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Project

Live long and prosper (and eat your fruits and veggies :) )

That doesn't mean wheatgrass is a super-veggie or something. Just that veggies are good for you.

Joe Ardent wrote:

The issues of "can you digest grass" vs. "can one derive nutritional benefit from grass" are two separate concerns. You seem to be espousing the opinion that in order to gain nutritional benefit, one must also gain caloric benefit ("digest").

No. I said to gain any benefit you have at least to be able to digest it. And you can’t.

So, yes: people cannot "digest" grass, or vegetables, or fruit;

Agreed, people cannot digest grass. You are wrong though about vegetables and fruit – we can digest them. you see, we can digest the carbohydrates in fruit and veg. But grass has cellulose. A cellulose molecule, compared with the carbohydrates that we can digest, has an additional bond that our digestive systems can't break. That's why we can't digest grass.

they are mostly cellulose and water, along with some sugars, trace minerals, and nutrients. Of those things, only sugars provide energy to humans.

And the carbohydrates. And we can digest the carbohydrates

The nutrients and minerals in fruit and veg are good for you. But you have to be able to digest them. And you can with fruit and veg.

But cellulose is also know as "fiber", and eating it is very important for good health. Ditto the minerals and nutrients (and hell, the water as well).

Fiber is a lot more than just cellulose. But hey, if you want to get your fiber from grass, go ahead. Not really what they are claiming for the stuff though, is it? Plus, I think you’d need more than just a 2oz shot.

Intake of vegetables is positively correlated with longevity, and negatively correlated with cancer; intake of animal protein has the inverse relationship.

So what? Intake of grass is not positively correlated with those things. I was writing about grass, remember?

Joe, you seem to be using "hard" words in order to sound "scientific", whereas the concept is easy enough to get over in ordinary language.

For example:

Intake of vegetables is positively correlated with longevity, and negatively correlated with cancer; intake of animal protein has the inverse relationship.

In ordinary English, this is something like:

Vegetables are good for you and may help prevent cancer; meat can cause some cancers and shorten life.

Just a touch more concise, without a "hard" word in sight. Attempting to obfuscate the lector by the employment of jargon shows no positive degree with the facilitation of comprehension.

That is what you really meant to say, isn't it? Please save the "lab English" for times when it's the only way to get the concept across precisely.

Big Al:


Just a touch more concise, without a "hard" word in sight. Attempting to obfuscate the lector by the employment of jargon shows no positive degree with the facilitation of comprehension.

Is the above an attempt at irony?

Anyway, your "translation" sucks. Concise, perhaps. Accurate, no.

Martin:

Is the above an attempt at irony?

Anyway, your "translation" sucks. Concise, perhaps. Accurate, no.

Is the above an attempt at reasoned thought?

Are you, as usual, making a baseles assertion hoping everyone will accept it as fact? Or can you explain exactly how Big Al's translation 'sucks'?

It sucks exactly because Joe was talking about a positive correlation between eating vegetables and longevity, which is a bit more specific and more to the point, than "Vegetables are good for you".

For me, Joe's sentence was better. And when Big Al didn't even follow his own advice I found his criticism unfair.

Martin:

which is a bit more specific and more to the point, than "Vegetables are good for you".

Only, that isn't just what Big Al said, is it?

So, again, how was Big Al's version not accurate? And please try dealing with the whole of the sentence, not just your selectively misquoted part.

And come on, clearly Big Al was making a point about the use of langauge. Really cluching at straws Martin.

Joe's original statement: "Intake of vegetables is positively correlated with longevity, and negatively correlated with cancer; intake of animal protein has the inverse relationship."

Big Al's "translation" thereof: "Vegetables are good for you and may help prevent cancer; meat can cause some cancers and shorten life."

Right on, Big Al. Joe's sentence is full of such "jargon" and "'hard' words" as "intake" and "correlated" and "inverse," words which clearly have no place in a *science* blog...

Seriously though, Big Al's "translation" isn't true to Joe's original statement. Lost in "translation" is the notion that one must *eat* the vegetables in order to get their benefits, an idea made explicit in Joe's original statement; thus, the "translation" is "not accurate."

I'll now offer my own "translation": "Eating vegetables may help you live longer and may prevent cancer; eating meat, on the other hand, may *shorten* your life and may *cause* cancer."

It's not perfect, but it is a reasonable medium between the so-called "lab English" of Joe's statement and Big Al's oversimplification of it. Now will you people please get back to making fun of John Edward and Jenny McCarthy?

Hi Skeptico,

You state, "No. I said to gain any benefit you have at least to be able to digest it. And you can’t."

I tried to understand your use of "digest" there and in the original article. I offered an understanding that your use of "digest" means, "to gain caloric benefit". You did not contradict that understanding.

Given that, I don't understand how your statement is not non-sequitar. The cellulose is non-digestible. Once the cell walls are broken down, all the micro-nutrients and minerals are now available for use. You can't "digest" iron or calcium or zinc, either, and yet, you gain benefit from them. Your example of the digestive systems of ruminants support that as well; the cellulose is fermented into simpler sugars that are then able to be used for energy. One does not need to ferment anything to benefit from micronutrients.

Then there is your hazy use of "carbohydrates". Sugars are carbohydrates. Cellulose is a carbohydrate. It sounds like you use it to mean, "complex sugar from which you can extract useful energy". That's cool, but whether or not a food is beneficial and whether or not it contains "carbohydrates" (or proteins, or fats) are two completely separate issues.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that the claimed benefits of wheatgrass are over-inflated; in fact, I'm quite partial to that sentiment. On the other hand, your claim that there is no possible benefit to consuming wheatgrass is not well-supported by any argument you've presented. The most charitable interpretation for your thesis is that "people cannot get calories from wheatgrass", which is fine and correct.

Skeptico replies to Joe Ardent

I tried to understand your use of "digest" there and in the original article. I offered an understanding that your use of "digest" means, "to gain caloric benefit". You did not contradict that understanding.

Then let me contradict it now. digest: “convert food into absorbable substances”.

Not necessarily anything to do with calories.

Given that, I don't understand how your statement is not non-sequitar. The cellulose is non-digestible. Once the cell walls are broken down…

- ie the bit we can’t do..

…all the micro-nutrients and minerals are now available for use. You can't "digest" iron or calcium or zinc, either, and yet, you gain benefit from them.

You digest the ions – the salts. For example, we digest calcium carbonate- the salt. So yes, we can digest calcium.

Your example of the digestive systems of ruminants support that as well; the cellulose is fermented into simpler sugars that are then able to be used for energy. One does not need to ferment anything to benefit from micronutrients.

You would need to ferment it to make the micronutrients available. Otherwise the grass just passes through you.

Then there is your hazy use of "carbohydrates". Sugars are carbohydrates. Cellulose is a carbohydrate. It sounds like you use it to mean, "complex sugar from which you can extract useful energy". That's cool, but whether or not a food is beneficial and whether or not it contains "carbohydrates" (or proteins, or fats) are two completely separate issues.

I was pointing out that vegetables are not “mostly cellulose and water”, as you claimed. Since I am saying you can’t digest the cellulose, I thought that was worth pointing out.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that the claimed benefits of wheatgrass are over-inflated; in fact, I'm quite partial to that sentiment. On the other hand, your claim that there is no possible benefit to consuming wheatgrass is not well-supported by any argument you've presented. The most charitable interpretation for your thesis is that "people cannot get calories from wheatgrass", which is fine and correct.

You have yet to show anything I’ve said to be wrong, and so your claim is not supported by any argument.

Hi Skeptico,

Thank you for responding. The heart of our disagreement lies here:

You would need to ferment it to make the micronutrients available. Otherwise the grass just passes through you.

This statement is meaningless in the face of juicing, where the cell walls are mechanically broken down by the juicer. If we're talking about un-processed wheatgrass, then we are in agreement. Otherwise, if speaking of wheatgrass juice, I submit that your assertion regarding the need to ferment the substance to make the micronutrients available is unsubstantiated and incorrect.

Anyway, this is making a mountain out of a molehill :) Have a great day.

Joe,

I'm not at all convinced that a juicer can break down cell walls. I don't see how running the grass through the blades of a juicer can do the work that the microbes and enzymes in a cow's gut do over an extended period.

what is interesting is that there are definitely methods to guarantee cell wall breakdown, especially if you have put the plant through a juicer.

Look there I go again, giving woos some ammo in which to make more money. Expect to see a sonicator in every juice bar in america...yeah, even those juice bars.

so, BTW, am I reading this correctly? We agree that wheatgrass may be good for you if we can guarantee cell wall disruption?

No, not really. There’s still very little of value in it (7% daily values (%DV) of Vitamin C; 10% iron; zero percent of everything else). Certainly very little in 2oz. Although perhaps if you ate nothing but grass all day like cows do…

;-)

"Ultrasonic Homogenizers can disintegrate most cells, bacteria, spores or tissue. They can prepare an emulsion down to 1/100 of a micron homogenize "immiscible" liquids...extract DNA & RNA."

OK, that looks a bit more like it! Wonder if Radio Shack have a cheap range of them!

By "homogenize immiscible liquids" here, I imagine they mean "make an emulsion that will coalesce back into its component layers after a short time.

By definition, immiscible liquids cannot be homogenised.

Admit it, nature is always going to be one step ahead of humans and not everything is meant to be understood. I'm going to trust my faith and believe anything from nature is possible.

1) Nature moves far slower than humans. Not only that, but it doesn't really move to stay a step ahead. That's something only an intelligent being could really do. Nature is not intelligent, or even animate.
2) Nothing is meant to be anything.
3) So it's entirely possible nature will turn into a giant mecha sometime in the next 5 minutes?

Travis:

I just killed your god with my mind. Sorry.


KoF:

1) Everything moves far slower than something?

I don't get it.

Well, now that I think about it, we probably should define nature for the purposes of this discussion first. (If he comes back, anyway.)

So, Travis, your definition?

nature is always going to be one step ahead of humans and not everything is meant to be understood

And you know this... how?

BTW, "I just know, all right," is not the most convincing answer you can give to that question.

I'm going to trust my faith and believe anything from nature is possible.

What the hell does that mean?

Yeah, everything that is in nature is possible. If it weren't possible, it wont be in nature.

There are no invisible giraffes in nature, no magical leprechauns. Whats your point?

Heh, taking my turn in addition to all your clever responses to that short bit of drivel:

"Impossible" is mostly a woo word. About the only people who can use it with certainty are mathematicians and people in the act of pointing out genuine oxymorons.

Science is concerned about what is probable, not what is possible.

Even apparent oxymorons may not always be: "The brunette was fair," for example.

wow... ok, let me clear some things up...

you people are ridiculous with your statements. you all think you are experts when i'd be willing to bet none of you are..

skeptico seems to be claiming that eating vegetables is useless because we cant digest them... what a ****ing retarded thing to say.... wow, idiot.

just because regular grass has very little nutrients in it so cows have to have special abilities to live off of it doesn't mean all plants are like that, you moron...

wheat grass has a comparable amount (slightly more) of nutrients in it as spinach or broccoli, normal grass doesn't. So eating wheat grass is as good as eating broccoli or spinach..

skeptico you are a fool..

I'd say there always seems to be one in a crowd, but it actually seems like there is always one every couple of weeks.

wheat grass has a comparable amount (slightly more) of nutrients in it as spinach or broccoli, normal grass doesn't. So eating wheat grass is as good as eating broccoli or spinach

you dont even have to look very hard to prove that stupid statement as demonstrably wrong . It has similar amounts of protein and more Vitamin E, but almost nothing else is similar or as good. This is even more favorable for wheatgrass than the Jamba Juice link skeptico provided.


(don't bitch that this is a wikipedia article, you can go to the sources as see for yourself that the numbers are right. Wikipedia just happened to have the exact comparison you were trying to make)

you people are ridiculous with your statements.

Really which ones?

you all think you are experts when i'd be willing to bet none of you are

I'm not an expert on nutrition or biology. I dont know about anyone else here. However I am relatively versed in weaning out good information from bad. Could you point me to anything that backs up the claim you are making about the good of wheatgrass?

skeptico seems to be claiming that eating vegetables is useless because we cant digest them... what a ****ing retarded thing to say

Yes, that would be a retarded thing to say, if he had actually said that Mr. Strawman. But since he didn't, it looks like you have to redo your homework.

Throughout my life I have been a firm believer in the eye-of the-beholder saying. I believe that not only beauty, but results are sometimes best if individually analyzed. Dont allow people to take away your own experience through what are simply their own OPINIONS; never confuse it with facts. First hand, throughout my life I have had minor illneses: Eczema(skin irritation), Digestive problems,Apetite problems (the list could go on).. My point is this; Clinically speaking I am a very healthy young athlete with a couple minor problems. I'm 24 years old, and for two years I have had my 6oz's of wheatgrass per week. My symptoms have improved profoundly! People need to stop letting people convince them that taking a pill is the only remedy out there. People take pills/antibiotics for every little headache and tummy ache. Eventually we will grow an immunity to these scientifically engineered drugs. Nature has everything that we need to survive and live healthy lifestyles, but people over look based on others opinions. If you are living with cancer and marijuanna makes you feel better, and eases your pain; what gives anyone the right to tell you that its wrong to take (because the government cant tax it lol)maybe if they did it might help our current economic state. I leave you with this, if it makes you feel good do it, and if all you want is to be the Devils Advocate and tell people "scientific facts" about how it cant be digested (re-evaluate your thought process). P.S - I bet the same people talking about human digestion dont have anything to say about "Splenda" or other artificial sweetners *aspertame* - look it up (probably have stock lol)

Berich,

I leave you with this, if it makes you feel good do it [...]

And I'll leave you with some heroin. Cheers.

Berich,

I leave you with this, if it makes you feel good do it [...]

And I'll leave you with some heroin. Cheers.

Berich, you have made a few errors in your argument.

You say: "Dont allow people to take away your own experience through what are simply their own OPINIONS; never confuse it with facts."

So what are the facts -
1. Your symptoms have improved
2. You have been taking wheat grass

Your opinion is that there is a causal connection between these two, and as you note, opinions should not be confused with facts.

Berich,

The formal version of yakuru's reply would be something like this: Correlation does not imply causation [Wikipedia]

Good luck.

Nature has everything that we need to survive and live healthy lifestyles.

Which is why life expectancy has slumped post industrialization. Oh, wait...

Berich,

I'll give you my anecdote likeyou gave your. growing up I had severe asthma, severe allergies to almost everything, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, stomach ulcers and bad skin. I dont mean I had this in my teens (I did), but also my 20's and 30's.

I am now 40. I have not had an asthma attack for 5 years, as the frequency of attacks have been dropping for 2 decades. My allergies are now confined to only horses and pennicillin (alhtough I have not tried penn. for decades but I dont care to repeat those reactions), My last stomache ulcers was in my late 20s,and while I still get a stomache ache once in a while, I found out, after many years, that it was red meat causing my trouble (i thought it was garlic).

I have virtually no problems these days (my skin could be better), and I have had no wheatgrass. I have however learned to stay away from red meat (this is hard), and control my stress and excercise.

So, similar health issues as young, similar improvements, and yet I had no wheatgrass. Why do you say it as the wheatgrass that helped you.

We dont claim here that wheatgrass is bad for you, we are refuting the claim that it is any good for you. If you wish to waste you money, feel free. Will you also waste your money on acupuncture? Homeopathy? Psychic healings? These all feel good so why not?

I mean, What's the harm? right?

Jesus! Who would've thought Feng Shui can be deadly? That's quite a link you've provided, Techskeptic!

Tech:
Quite a link indeed. First you show him how anecdotes fail as evidence, but when you attempt to convince him that non-working treatments are harmful, you link to a site that is nothing but a big collection of anecdotes. How does that work?

What’s the harm in acupuncture, you ask?

Sylvie was diagnosed HIV positive, but pursued alternative treatments for her disease including homeopathy, acupuncture and drinking her own urine. She eventually died of AIDS.

USELESS.

:)

Martin,

There's a smiley face at the end, so I am not quite sure if you are serious or being snarky.

for snarkiness I'll respond with-
:)

in case you are serious, the difference is that I am not saying the acupuncture always cause something harmful (far from it). What I am saying is that acupuncture (or whatever) does nothing and can be harmful.

Berich was trying to claim that wheatgrass helped him (helps people) and if it feels good then why not?

Cellulose is a very long chain solid... juice is liquid; I'm guessing cellulose/hemicellulose is what's left behind in the pulp. Is it possible that if cows put their grass through a juicer, they wouldn't need to ferment the juice?

I drank a wheatgrass shot thingy an hour ago, because the literature said it has as much nutrition as 2.5 lbs of greens... Oops! My hometown sucks when it comes to food.

SL28ave, as far as I can see, a juicer is way too coarse to do the same work that a cow's gut does.

If juicing really does do it, then it would be a fairly simple test for the sales people to run, but I assume they haven't and never will. When there's money to be made, science is only there to make something sound all authoritative and proven. I bet they didn't explain exactly how they calculated that "2.5 pounds of greens".

looks like Skeptoid covered this also pretty well.

I'm really enjoying that guys podcasts, Hey Skeptico! when are you doing one?

Interesting thread.

Humans cannot digest grass. True.

It's the cellulose we do not digest. Cellulose is not what we want from our fruits and vegies anyway, except those types which provide gentle fiber. Wheatgrass is not a fiber which would benefit us. Way too harsh. No one is suggesting that humans eat wheat grass. We want the vitamins, mierals, antioxidents and phytochemicals which are contained inside the cell walls and released by juicing.

Humans derive no benefit from wheat grass juice. False.

That would be like saying we cannot digest maple syrup simply because we cannot digest a maple tree.

Likely many other green vegetables, when juiced, povide similar benefits. Studies would help, but who would fund them?

Here's one, at least.

Dept. of Family Medicine, The Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. eranben@netvision.net.il

BACKGROUND: The use of wheat grass (Triticum aestivum) juice for treatment of various gastrointestinal and other conditions had been suggested by its proponents for more than 30 years, but was never clinically assessed in a controlled trial. A preliminary unpublished pilot study suggested efficacy of wheat grass juice in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC). METHODS: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. One gastroenterology unit in a tertiary hospital and three study coordinating centers in three major cities in Israel. Twenty-three patients diagnosed clinically and sigmoidoscopically with active distal UC were randomly allocated to receive either 100 cc of wheat grass juice, or a matching placebo, daily for 1 month. Efficacy of treatment was assessed by a 4-fold disease activity index that included rectal bleeding and number of bowel movements as determined from patient diary records, a sigmoidoscopic evaluation, and global assessment by a physician. RESULTS: Twenty-one patients completed the study, and full information was available on 19 of them. Treatment with wheat grass juice was associated with significant reductions in the overall disease activity index (P=0.031) and in the severity of rectal bleeding (P = 0.025). No serious side effects were found. Fresh extract of wheat grass demonstrated a prominent tracing in cyclic voltammetry methodology, presumably corresponding to four groups of compounds that exhibit anti-oxidative properties. CONCLUSION: Wheat grass juice appeared effective and safe as a single or adjuvant treatment of active distal UC.

PMID: 11989836 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Well I'm sure I dont need to tell you that a "preliminary unpublished pilot study" where "Twenty-one patients completed the study, and full information was available on 19 of them"
hardly constituted reliable information. However it IS at least something.

But this silly canard always gets me.

Studies would help, but who would fund them?

The global nutraceutical market is around 120 billion dollars. They have coucils, industry advocates, lobbyists, scientists, etc etc.

the juice market in germany alone is 5 billion dollars.They have coucils, industry advocates, lobbyists, scientists, etc etc.

So when you say "who will pay"? Sorry, I have no sympathy for companies who choose to make claims without good scientific data.

It brings me to thinking though, if they did pay and the results were good, like wheatgrass is the best thing ever, some poeple may say..well thats because they paid for the study.

I think a good skeptic can see through that, but in any case, unlike with drugs, I dont think anyone, especially here, is making the remark that any of this is bad for you, its just nonsense that there is reliable data to say that it is good for you.

Stormy,

Unfortunately the details of the study don't seem to provide any comparison between the wheatgrass group and the control group. All it does is mention the control group at the start and then compare the wheatgrass group against a general index. The information is completely worthless without the data for the control group.

Also, as previously mentioned, juicing doesn't break down cell walls. The blades are way too coarse.

May I say lol?

There appear to be at least two problems with this post. First, the claim that since humans can't digest the cellulose in cereal grasses (as cows can, through slow fermentation), then they shouldn't eat them. Wrong. We eat brown rice, whole wheat, leafy vegetables, etc all full of un-digestible, insoluble fiber, because we need that fiber in our diet. We gain no nutritive value from it, but it aids digestion, slows absorption of starches and sugars to maintain even blood sugar, lowers blood cholesterol, promotes a feeling of fullness that aids dieters, etc. The benefits of eating un-digestible, insoluble fiber are well established and undisputed by anyone other than the lunatic fringe.
Second problem, is that no one is suggesting that people eat whole cereal grasses. The article is about wheat grass JUICE, right? The juicing process separates the fibers from the liquid, so every bit of discussion about digestibility, cows eat this, humans eat that, etc is completely moot and immaterial. There is little fiber in the juice that comes out of those machines.
Discussions about the nutritive value of the juice are appropriate, discussions about the ability to digest the fiber portion are not.
You may want to re-write your post so that it at least makes sense on a basic level.

JA:

All of your points have been answered either in the original post or in the many comments above. I'm not going to repeat the points that rebut your arguments AGAIN, but you may want to re-write your comment so that it at least takes into account the discussions that have already taken place.

Drink it especially if you have acid reflux try it for a month then come back and tell us if it worked or didn't , I am a believer in it since I had severe reflux used the powder twice a day just 2 tablespoons full with water and haven't EVER gotten reflux again.

V,

Read Skeptico's comment above.

Wheatgrass juice tastes tongue-shudderingly horrid. Wheatgrass juice is expensive. Wheatgrass juice may not be any good for you. For these reasons, I choose to spend my time and money on yummier vegetables.

I just came across this passage in Richard Dawkins' (brilliant) Ancestor's Tale: (emphasis added)

For digesting cellulose, herbivorous mammals all rely upon microbes in their guts....All herbivorous mammals have bacteria in their lower gut, which the food reaches after their own digestive juices have had a go at it. Sloths, kangaroos, colobus monkeys and especially cud chewing ruminants have independently evolved the trick of also keeping bacteria in the upper portion of the gut, which precedes the mammal's own digestive efforts.

Clearly, juicing wheatgrass is not going to convert cellulose into cellulase, let alone in any way compensate for the absense of microbes in the upper gut. Wheatgrass juice drinkers have probably not yet been subjected to the specific selection pressures necessary for them to have developed into a super-race of sloth-stomached ruminants.

Looking through all these comments it's apparent that many people are convinced wheat grass has no benefit. I would like to say that you're all wrong. Get yourself some 'amazing grass' which is a dehydrated organically grown powder wheatgrass, drink it in a glass of water on an empty stomach every morning, and then see if you do not have more energy and feel better throughout the day.

I always laugh when I see statements to the effect of "There have been almost no clinical studies in humans to support claims that (insert product) has any beneficial effect"... The operating words there are usually 'there have been almost no clinical studies'. Well sons and daughters, there aren't many studies done on a lot of things that are beneficial for you.

Another one is calicium d glucarate. There actually are studies showing it as an anti cancer agent that helps you to excrete harmful excess toxins and estrogens that otherwise just keep re-circulating in the body. Is the American Cancer Society jumping all over this information or funding any studies to further determine it's potential?

Western medicine in general has no interest in funding these types of studies because they have no interest in keeping you well. What what they will do however is get you taking a million prescriptions for each symptom you have, yet most gladly take those and don't think twice because an MD told them to. Medicines can help symptoms, but they don't help the cause.

Just my 2 cents

Buddy,

You've voiced your opinions clearly and raised a whole lot of points for discussion, but you haven't really backed them up. Of course, this can be a bit tricky in a field where few studies have been done, (benefits of wheatgrass) or where it's a general point about medicine. But without backing it up somehow, it's difficult to agree with, or respond to it. It just stays an opinion.

There are few studies of wheatgrass, sure, but that means that there is also little evidence that it is beneficial. Anecdotal evidence is fine for sharing personal experiences, but it's worthless when it comes to evaluating a product. There are too many variables and unknowns for you to be able to claim that because one person feels better, that it is the wgj that did it.

Wheatgrass sellers claim that studies back up their claims (check through the comments again!) but the studies actually don't support their claims at all (i.e. they are lying or ignorant).

Also, while it's valid to criticise the medical system and point out conflicts of interest, you might also notice that many of the comments here are noting the absence of any notion at all of consumer protection relating supposed health products like wgj.

Also, have another closer look at the article and the comments. It's a bit to wade through, but many of your points are already addressed there. You can quote them and argue point by point when you see something to add.

Buddy,

you read all those comments and back and forth and then decided to chime in like that? Here is how I read your comment:

Anecdote
Appeal to "science doesnt know everything"
Baseless claim
Appeal to other ways of knowing


It wasn't even worth 2 cents.

Get yourself some 'amazing grass' which is a dehydrated organically grown powder wheatgrass, drink it in a glass of water on an empty stomach every morning, and then see if you do not have more energy and feel better throughout the day.

Oh well, as long as you feel it then it must be true. I also feel much more witty and intelligent after five beers, so apparently beer makes you much more witty and intelligent. Awesome. I mean, I'd heard the rumours but now I know that my own subjective experience is valid scientifc proof.

Well sons and daughters, there aren't many studies done on a lot of things that are beneficial for you.

Like what?

calicium d glucarate

Presumably you mean calcium d glucarate (note the spelling of calcium)? If you are going to throw around scientific terms, try spelling them properly.

There actually are studies showing it as an anti cancer agent that helps you to excrete harmful excess toxins and estrogens that otherwise just keep re-circulating in the body.

So link to them. We can wait. While we wait though, here's what evitamin.com has to say:

Studies in animals have shown that supplementing with calcium D-glucarate prevents the development of experimentally induced cancers.

...

The amount of calcium D-glucarate used in these studies, however, would be too much for humans to take.

...

No human studies showing the efficacy or safety of calcium D-glucarate have been published.

They gave it a 1 star rating for use with cancer: "For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit."

Is the American Cancer Society jumping all over this information or funding any studies to further determine it's potential?

I don't know. Seems like they may have good reason not to be funding it though.

Shall we see what they say?

Glucarate may have potential as an anti-cancer agent; however, there is no clinical evidence yet to show that the supplement is effective in treating cancer or lowering cancer risk in humans.

Several studies have found higher levels of beta-glucuronidase in the tissues of people with cancer than in those without cancer. The significance of this finding is not fully understood. If beta-glucuronidase does play a role in cancer development or progression, the fact that glucarate can affect the activity of this enzyme may be important.

A number of animal studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals have found that dietary glucarate causes rats to develop fewer breast cancer tumors, and shrinks some existing tumors. Animal studies also found that dietary glucarate slowed the development of tumors in the colon, lung, liver, skin, and prostate.

These results suggest that dietary glucarate is worthy of further study to evaluate its possible role in preventing and treating cancer in humans. One clinical trial was discussed at a conference in 2004, but the short summary (abstract) mentioned only the study design and preliminary safety data. As of yet, however, no information on glucarate’s effectiveness (from this clinical trial or any others) in humans has been published in available medical journals.

Can't imagine why they aren't 'jumping all over' it. Oh let me guess, they are part of the Big Pharma conspiracy, right?

Western medicine in general has no interest in funding these types of studies because they have no interest in keeping you well.

Yet another person unaware of socialised medicine I see. I am getting so tired of this lame argument. Take the NHS in Britain. If you remain ill, it COSTS THEM money. It is in the best interests of countries with socialised medical care to make you better, because then they don't have to spend money on you. Try getting out more, or doing some proper research.

Medicines can help symptoms, but they don't help the cause.

Good grief.

Really? I mean, seriously?

Not one medicine deals with causes?

Boy I wish my wife's Big Pharma cheque would show up.

Do you people ever deal in anything other than cliches, stereotypes and conspiracies?

At 2 cents, Buddy's comment was considerably overpriced.

"Amazing Grass"? Anybody familiar with Kevin "Bloody" Wilson? [NSFW] ;)

I'm a bit out of date in this forum, but still, as a biologist I can tell you that a cell wall can be broken with a juicer and with other mechanical means like chewing (which can be easily observed under a light microscope). Juice comes from the inside of cells. The big difference between a human and a cow is that microorganisms in a cow's stomach can actually digest cellulose from the cell wall (that is brake the beta 1-4 links between glucose units)and use the glucose similarly as we use glucose from starch. So grass is a kind of "spaghetti" for cows but for people cellulose is mainly just dietary fibers (although an insignificant quantity is also digested by our gut flora).

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